Called to be Holy not Tolerant
· Coffee – a whole new world – what was bitter is now good – what I despised now I crave – this is how sin works – what we despise – when we begin to compromise - we ultimately embrace and crave.
· Tolerance is the most admirable characteristic in American culture. In American culture, tolerance means to accept and embrace everyone’s lifestyle and beliefs regardless if it opposes God or not. What might be true for you isn’t necessarily true for someone else. Don’t try to change anyone. Don’t be a bigot. Don’t be so close-minded.
· G.K. Chesterton: “Tolerance is the virtue of a man without convictions.”
· Tolerance – I’m not going to judge anyone, and I’m not going to let anyone judge me. I’m simply going to embrace everything – good or bad.
· The church is called to be holy – set apart from the world to declare a message of absolute truth to a world that says, “It doesn’t matter what I believe – Don’t judge me!”
· God has called us to call sin what it is: an absolute attack on His righteous character. We’re not to rationalize it, ignore it, excuse it, nor tolerate it. This morning, three ways to hold fast to holiness instead of tolerating tolerance.
· Notice how Jesus uniquely introduces Himself to Thyatira. You know “the look.” “Eyes like a flame of fire.” He sees right to the heart of you. You can’t hide from Him. Feet of burnished bronze – perhaps bronze making was one of the industries of Thyatira – connotation of strength. Also, note “Son of God.” Only time in Revelation Jesus is called Son of God – a reminder to Thyatira – He is God in the flesh – the essence of truth - the standard for right and wrong. If He calls something sin, it’s not up for discussion. If Jesus is the Son of God, we can’t say, “His Word is outdated. It just doesn’t work in today’s culture.” If Jesus is God His truth is unchanging.
· Thyatira was a small city. It wasn’t a political center or a religious center. It was a military outpost that served to warn Pergamum of invading armies. Over the years it had been captured time and time again. It was a small town, but it received the longest letter from Jesus.
· The city was a prosperous industrial center. Many trades in Thyatira. A purple dye was extracted in Thyatira that was used to make expensive purple garments. Lydia from Thyatira. (Acts 16:11)
· We don’t know of any major temples to emperors or gods built in Thyatira, but we do know there were trade guilds – maybe like a modern-day labor union. If you were a blacksmith, or a carpenter, or a clothing manufacturer, you would go to your particular trade guild for business connections. It was nearly impossible to establish yourself in your given trade if you were not a part of a trade guild. Trade guilds like family – supported you in time of need.
· Problem: Each trade guild had a patron god. Trade meetings would turn into worship services for these gods, and a similar situation to that in Pergamum. You would eat meat sacrificed to idols and the trade meetings would end in sexual promiscuity. So, for a Christian, to be a part of a trade guild would violate your faith.
· Notice: Church is doing some things well. Commended for love, for service and patient endurance. Unlike Ephesus, they had grown in these things. However, with what Jesus is about to say, you have to wonder if they had grown in their knowledge – what they believed about God. Did they have devotion without doctrine?
· Jesus makes it clear: TOLERANCE was the sin in the church. Particularly, they tolerated a woman who was like Jezebel of the Old Testament.
· Jezebel – King Ahab was a wicked king of Israel who married a foreign woman: Jezebel. Jezebel brought Baal worship into the Kingdom of Israel. She seduced and enticed people away from the true God.
· In Thyatira, a woman doing much the same. She’s a seducer, an enticer, and probably telling the believers it was ok to participate in pagan worship. And, the church is doing NOTHING to stop her. Why? Her message was appealing – believe and live how you want. Have the best of both worlds. And, the church lacked boldness to put a stop to it.
· Thyatira has gone a step further than compromise by fully accepted sinful lifestyles. “You can have it all – Jesus and sexual immorality. Jesus and the worship of false gods. Jesus and sinful practices.” After all, who’s to say we’re 100% right in what we believe? Maybe there’s something to these other religions. Why should we be so close minded? Maybe we can learn something from them. And, if we don’t conform, we’re not going to get ahead in society. Sure, believe in Jesus, but don’t be so dogmatic.
· In the name of tolerance, Christians in Thyatira were blatantly sinning against the God of all creation.
· AMAZING: Jesus has been patient with this Jezebel. He gave her time to repent (2 Pet. 3:9) but she refused, and now judgment has come. Jesus is patient with you – some of you are in this room this morning living in blatant opposition to God and He is being patient with you. Repent!
· Turn the bed that she had used for sexual pleasure into a sickbed. She would suffer and die for what she had done in the church. Those who commit immorality with her will be thrown into a great tribulation. Those who follow her teaching (Her children) will be struck dead.
· The Church at Thyatira was not serious about removing sin from their church, but Jesus was. Jesus is always serious about removing sin.
· ENCOURAGEMENT: To the faithful in Thyatira (Always a faithful remnant): No more burden. This will be the most difficult season you go through. Jesus will spare.
· Hold fast. Hold fast to what? Hold fast to holiness and do not tolerate tolerance. How?
1. Never let down your guard.
· As culture becomes more anti-Christian, culture will attempt to sway you away from your convictions.
· Hudson lying, “Daddy, Can I have candy?” Me, “Go ask your mom.” Hudson, “Daddy said I could have candy.” (Can’t for a moment let your guard down with kids. They lie and manipulate.)
· To stay on guard you need:
o Decisiveness – Are we going to live a life that is informed by the Bible or not? Really, how important is it that you live a life conformed to God’s Word? Reality, most of us want just enough Jesus to get to get to heaven, but not so much Jesus that He actually changes us. If you determine to not live by the Word of God you can expect the world to fit you into its mold. You will become tolerant because you will not have any conviction.
o Discernment – Unfortunately, there will be people who claim Christ who will try to sway you from the truth. You will only discern God’s will as you know the Word. (Ill. - Church in Macon) We must be convinced that the Word is our source of truth.
o Discipline – You need discipline in your Bible reading, in your prayer, in your church attendance. Walking by faith isn’t just getting goose bumps when you hear a good worship song, or getting a holy hunch every now and then. (Goose bumps will not sustain your faith when the enemy entices you) (Playing piano)
2. Never lose sight of the goal.
· The goal of life is not to be tolerant. One goal in life: to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus and making the Gospel known. Some of us have the wrong goal…
· How do we achieve the goal?
o Daily dependence. We’re not going to achieve the goal with the Spirit’s help. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Ph. 1:6) 40 Days of Prayer – an expression of dependence.
o Daily repentance. How many times in these letters do we hear Jesus say repent? Yet, how little time do we actually take to repent of sin? You cannot become like Christ if you are tolerating sin in your own life. For some, you’ve tolerated sin so much, you’re numb to it – you don’t even recognize it as sin anymore. Today, ask God to reveal it and deal with it. Daily dependence coupled with daily repentance will bring about a renewed people who will accomplish God’s goal! Revival!
3. Never let go of the Gospel
· Promise to rule with Christ for endurance – wow! You’ve been ruled over but the tide is going to change. You are going to rule. (Encouraging words for oppressed people)
· Will receive the Morning Star – Jesus Himself (Rev. 22:16) – Hold on to holiness and your reward is Christ!
· Today, you can receive the Morning Star – the One who paves the way for a new day. Turn to the One who paid the penalty for your sins. Surrender.
· Believer – What sins in your life are you tolerating? Don’t ignore. Don’t overlook. You are missing out on what God has for you. You will never regret obeying the Lord and seeking Him, but you will regret disobedience.
· Church – Let’s pray that holiness would be a priority. Lets’ pray that we would take seriously the call to not tolerate sin and to live lives that are pure for the sake of the Gospel.