June 9, 2024 | Brandon Cooper

This sermon discusses the church in Thyatira tolerating a false prophetess who taught idolatry and immorality. Jesus warns the church about the consequences of compromise and calls them to cling to Him rather than seek power in the world. The sermon encourages believers to persevere in following Christ through lovingly confronting sin. It promises that those who are faithful to the end will receive authority to reign with Jesus.


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Good morning church. Go ahead grab your Bibles open up to Revelation chapter two and we’ll be starting in verse 18. This morning looking at the letter to Thyatira. Revelation two starting in verse 18. As you’re turning there, in 1780, British Major John Andre was a captured by the colonial forces here in the what would be the US while spying. So he was spying, you know, working for the British. He was working with a guy you probably heard Benedict Arnold. So he was the British guy working with Benedict Arnold. By all accounts, Andre was the consummate British officer. And then just a charming a man of high character and all of that so much so that Washington’s staff, including people like Hamilton, although this didn’t make it into the musical, but if people like Hamilton were pleading for his life, because of his character, and we don’t need to take care of him what’s not, you know, execute him. Washington refused. They said, Okay, well, if, if you’re not going to spare his life, at least let him be shot like an officer, as opposed to being hanged like a spy. And Washington refused, again, for the simple reason that regardless of how charming he was, or his character, he was a spy. He was a spy, and had he succeeded in doing what he was trying to do, he could have turned the tide of the war in favor of the British. In other words, Washington knew the stakes. He understood right and wrong, and he acted accordingly. He was a man for that season. We’re going to see in our passage this morning is a similar need for men and women who are gripped by God’s word, who understand right and wrong, in other words, who understand God’s will for his people, and who act accordingly, even when it’s hard, especially when others are teaching in the church, what is false and leading others astray. Because ungodly teaching inevitably leads to ungodly living. What that’s gonna look like in our letter this morning is a thirst for power, status influence, right? That thirst for power that’s going to lead people to be willing to compromise in order to get it and not to lose it. By the way, if that sounds really similar to last week’s sermon. Yep, sure is. Okay, so it’s the next letter in the series. I don’t know why exactly. This is like this. But it’s, Hey, you know, we’re gonna preach the Word of God and preach it faithfully. And in order, I don’t know, maybe what’s happened here reminds me of Mark eight, if you guys remember the story, and Mark eight where Jesus heals the man who was blind, and he heals him once, and he says, How’s it going? And the guy’s like, good. Like, I can see people, but they look like trees. So like, still kind of fuzzy. And so Jesus prays again, and he’s completely healed, and he sees with clarity. Maybe after last week, we were seeing like fuzzy spiritually speaking, and so we just need a second time through it. I don’t know. I will say there are a few differences though. So my highlight them for you. Now, first of all, I mentioned the structure of these seven letters last week. The first and last are like the frame, right. And then the second and sixth letters are like the the matting around the picture, which is those middle three letters. But within those three letters, we do see escalation. So last week, we were looking especially at the scourge of false teaching. Well, this week, we’re going to see a church where false teaching is actually lead to false living. And then next week, we’ll see the results of what happens in a church that lets that slide. So there’s escalation here. But I think the other difference is that there’s a very specific focus on Power Authority in our passage today. So we’ll see that you’ll actually see that reflected even in the outline, this is the same outline that we’ve had for all of the letters the same four points Christ Church, charge and cheer and you’ll get your big idea in that third section as we’ve been doing. So let’s dive in. First of all, what does this passage teach us about Christ? We see it there chapter two, verse 18. I read it for us to the angel of the church and fire Tierra right. These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. So we see here Christ if you’re filling in your outline the gaze of the all powerful the gaze of the all powerful, let me explain this. So first of all, this is a letter to the church and society route, which is the least important of the seven cities that we get here. And what is modern day Turkey. Thyatira is not really known for much all the other letters I’ve been able to say, well, you know, it’s kind of famous rather than just weren’t really famous for anything. They had two kind of important trades. One of them you might have found out in the book of Acts because Lydia who’s from Thyatira was a dealer in purple cloth and wool was one of the main trades here in theory. The other one, interestingly is bronze, which of course shows up even in this verse. The trades though were important in the sense that it was just about impossible to practice your trade in Thyatira unless you were a part of a guild. And participation in these traded guilds, in this era, would have included attending these common meals dedicated to the local trade God. So you know, a little similar to you know, having to belong to a union if you’re going to practice your trade, but when you show up at the union meetings, you know, everybody starts by bowing to Shiva. And you’re like, Okay, well, that’s what I want to keep being a pipe fitter, or whatever, then I guess I got to bow to Shiva, you can see the questions that would be asked to what extent then Can Christians participate? I’m gonna we’re gonna say Yeah, well, the these local trade gods, they’re not real anyway. So it’s no big deal. It’d be like a teacher asking you to read your horoscope for class and you’re like, whatever, I can read it, it doesn’t really matter. It’s just words, or is it more dangerous? Like that’s the situation here in Thyatira. Now, who speaks into this situation? Who is the Jesus who is addressing this church, he is called the Son of God, first of all, which might not strike you as interesting because Son of God has, you know, pretty common title for Jesus. Should be interesting, though, because this is actually the only place in Revelation where Jesus is called the Son of God. And it’s not being used generically here. Like he’s, well yeah, he’s the divine son or something like that. No, it’s actually drawing from Psalm two, which we already had a read for us this morning. And which we’re gonna see quoted later in the letter. So Psalm two is really important. So here’s some two snippets of it, he said to me, You are my son. Today I have become your father, speaking of the king of David, in this case, therefore, you king and it goes on to say, you know, be wise and what does being wise look like it looks like submission to the sun, kiss his son. So this phrase, Son of God here is not about Jesus’s divinity. It actually never really is. Ironically, Son of Man is the divine title, but that’s another sermon another day. So it’s not about divinity. It’s about authority. It’s about authority. That is son of God is used of kings, which is why David is called God’s Son. And of course, Jesus is the true king with a capital K. How is this King described? The imagery is taken from Daniel 10 Verse six, this is describing an angel that is speaking to Daniel but it says this his body was like topaz, his face like lightning, his eyes, like flaming torches, his arms and legs, like the gleam of burnished bronze and his voice like the sound of a multitude, which is also quoted in Revelation. So what is this telling us about the the True King? Well, the true king knows his subjects. First of all, he sees everything his eyes are like a blazing fire, meaning that they penetrate to the heart. Nothing is hidden from His gaze, and then his feet are like a burnished bronze, and probably hinting at his purity. There’s nothing mixed in this metal, but also his strengths. He will trample his enemies which we will see later in the letter. Now, this word for burnish it’s the only time it’s used anywhere in the New Testament, it’s actually not really used anywhere else in Greek literature. Most likely it is a specific word used of the bronze trade in Thyatira. Because they had a world renowned bronze and they had this secret process for making this world renowned bronze. And yet Jesus is himself made a bit where it’s like Jesus is saying, you think it’s hidden, but Jesus knows everything. Again, he sees everything knows everything. And that’s what’s needed in this setting a king who searches hearts, King who has the authority and goodness to judge and who will ultimately trample wickedness under his feet. That is terrifying news. But good news, as we’ll see, as we progress in the letter, the God’s Son, the Royal Messiah has all power and knowledge to rule. Second point then the church, what is Jesus, the True King?
What does he have to say about the church? And we’re gonna look here at the power that the church is seeking as we look at it. So starting in verse 19, through verse 23. Jesus says, I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance and that you are now Doing more than you did it first. Nevertheless, I have this against you. You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching, she misleads My servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrifice to idols. I’ve given her time to repent for immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely. unless they repent of her ways, I will strike her children dead, then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. So you see in verse 19, at least that we’ve got a there’s a lot going for one of the groups in the church, and one that’s holding fast to Orthodoxy. They’re known for their deeds for their love and faith and service and perseverance. And what’s especially good is that they’re doing more of it than they used to. In other words, they’re increasing in holiness, they’re growing in Christ’s likeness. And this is the ideal picture right here, a group of Christians being transformed by the gospel in daily becoming more like Jesus sounds good, except that they’re tainted by compromise, and get a lot like what we saw last week in Pergamum. It’s actually interesting. They’re kind of the opposite of Ephesus, where we started in the first letter, you’ll remember in Ephesus, they had the right doctrine, there was no way they were going to listen to a false teacher, but as a result of their zeal for orthodoxy that actually become unloving. They were skeptical of other people. Not here, it’s the other one. This is a church that is absolutely loving, you know, servant hearted, but as a result, they’ve gotten squishy on truth. And so false teaching has just crept right in there allowing a false prophetess to lead people astray. So that we got these two groups side by side in the church and you know, the image that Paul often uses, you know, where you get a little bit 11 works its way through the whole batch of dough, and that’s what’s happening. More and more people are being affected by the false teaching. Jesus calls this false teacher Jezebel. Now Jezebel is a name for the Old Testament. She was the pagan wife of Ahab, probably the wickedest King in Israel’s history. And certainly Jezebel is the most immoral woman in Israel’s history. I’ll just give you some of her greatest hits. You can read about them in First Kings, she introduced the call to bail to the nation of Israel. She murdered most of God’s prophets, and kept trying to kill Elijah, although she was unsuccessful there. And she also had a neighbor murdered because her husband wanted his vineyard. This woman here in Thyatira, is Jezebel’s heir, spiritual heir, leading people astray, introducing a cult of idolatry into the church. Do you notice that she calls herself a prophet? So this is a self designation, she’s given herself the title, this is not something that God has said of her, I think is always a good question. Like, when someone comes to you with a spiritual claim to authority, it is always worth asking. gabot says, Who? Like is this authority actually coming from God or not? And in this case, no. She is another imposter. And we’ve seen this throughout the letters. I mean, we met in Ephesus, this group that called themselves apostles, and they weren’t. And then in Smyrna, we met those who say that they’re Jews, but who are actually a synagogue of Satan. And here we have this false prophet Jesus is blazing eyes. In other words, they can spot fakes pretty easily he spots, fakes, imposters, and we can trust Jesus, we can trust that His Word is true. One way we trust Jesus is by trusting his word and holding his word up as the standard, the objective standard by which we measure the claims of other people. By holding fast to what is true, we can actually judge what is counterfeit and fake. Well, what you see teaching that is counterfeit and fake. Like Jezebel, she’s teaching idolatry and immorality. Most likely what she’s teaching would be something like this, we know that Idols aren’t real. And so eating meat to them doesn’t actually matter. It’s eating meat sacrifice to nothing. So whatever, it’s just meat. And on the other hand, with the immorality piece, most likely something like you know, for those who are as deeply spiritual as she is, you start to understand that the body doesn’t really matter. We just did a whole series on this core. So the body is just a vessel, you know, it’s just dirt and stuff and and it It houses the eternal the immortal soul. That’s the important part. So you can do whatever you want with your body, it doesn’t matter, which means she has now granted permission to the church to participate fully in these trade guilds where they practice idolatry. And as we talked about last week, the banquets will almost always end in sexual immorality. In other words, she’s saying there is no need for your faith to cost you anything. And isn’t that good news? We can just keep doing what we want to do. And know that we’ve got grace on top of it. Dennis Johnson and his commentary on Revelation says it sarcastically like this he says how convenient in a city dominated by trade guilds for a prophetess to reveal the deep secret that Christians need not suffer loss by refraining from the guild’s immoral and idolatrous celebrations. And that’s her siren song that is so seductive, right? profit and power are yours for the taking. And just to think how seductive that would be. Like, we need to understand how drawn to that we would be ourselves. Sin will always make excuses. You can always rationalize sin. And you can probably always find someone who’s claiming spiritual authority who will give you permission to sin. And our hearts seek that out. Like I think we see this in it’s just a little bit before Jeff Bell, in fact, but in one of the strangest stories and all of the Bible, it might be the strangest story. First Kings chapter 13. What happens, the kingdom is split into the southern kingdom, Judah and the northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom has got Jerusalem in it, the temple of God, the actual altar where the sacrifices need to be offered, and the northern kingdom doesn’t and they’re jealous. So they make a fake altar. So God sends a prophet, a man of God from the southern kingdom to the northern kingdom to preach against this altar. And he does. So the king is none too pleased with him, the northern King and so he starts to wag his finger at him, and when he wags his finger, his hand turns leprous. And he goes, oops, hey, I take it back. Would you see if God would take the leprosy back? And so the man of God praise and sure enough, his hand isn’t leprous any longer. And so the king feeling very chastened is like, hey, why don’t you come over for dinner? I’ll have a feast for you. And the man of God says, No, God told me in no uncertain terms, I was the eat nothing and drink nothing, not even water. While I was in the northern kingdom, I will eat and drink again, when I get back home to the southern kingdom. Well, northern Prophet catches wind of all of this. And he’s feeling you know, nationalistic, territorial and whatnot, who’s this southern dude coming up here to tell us how to live and whatnot. So he goes after the guy and says, Hey, great news. And angel, the Lord just told me to tell you that actually, you can come over and have dinner with me. And the guy does, and he eats and he drinks. And he’s judged by God and gets eaten by Lion. Weird story. Like I said, we’ll talk more about it when we preach kings. But here’s what I want us to see right now. Why would he have listened to the guy who just claimed Oh, an angel told me it’s okay for you to disobey God’s word. Why? Because he was hungry. And because he was thirsty. He wanted something and someone gave him permission to go after it, even though it was against God’s word. You understand how seductive that is? Go back and read the sermons of speaking of northern and southern southern preachers in the US in the 1850s and 1860s. On the subject of slavery, making excuses for gross immorality. Like, this is just history. This is this is what it looks like. And of course, that means that temptation is still there for us today. You get people who would tell you, it’s okay to hate them. Whoever they are, because we know that they’re the enemies of God. So all that stuff about, you know, loving and praying for other people. No, that doesn’t apply here. Or whatever else it might be, you know, you can you can gossip because really, it’s just sharing a prayer request. Or you can express yourself, however you want, sexually. Because that’s how God made you. And God would want you to be happy and love his love.
Now, it’s even more tempting, of course, when, when what’s being offered to us, gives us power, that status that influence or keeps us from losing the power and status and influence that we have. This feels really timely, because it’s June. You know what June is? You couldn’t possibly miss what June is, is Pride Month. What happens in Pride Month, we are asked to bend the knee to a false god in order to participate in a marketplace like this happen there’s a Muslim soccer player you know me like all my world news comes through soccer anything’s happening that doesn’t touch soccer, no idea about it. Muslim soccer player in France who was suspended for four matches, because on all the jerseys, they had a Pride Month logo and being a an orthodox Muslim, he was having none of it, and he covered it up with tape. So he’s suspended. And like, we know what that looks like. I mean, some of you will send me emails this week about what your company is doing. We’re being asked to bend the knee to a false god. The false god, by the way, is expressive individualism, right, you need to figure out what is in your heart, and then you need to express it. You can do whatever I want, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. We need to know that that is false teaching. First of all, because there is a God. And he made us which means we belong to Him. But second of all, it’s false teaching anyway, like it contradicts itself. I mean, did you ever notice how expressive individualism actually makes love impossible. We’ve talked about this at length before, but if the most important thing is discovering and expressing yourself than other people are simply tools for your self expression. makes love impossible. It also creates just this crushing burden of self definition. Like who you are, is up to you, you got to create this myth out of nothing. So it’s actually unloving to bend the knee to false god, it always is. But if you don’t play along, like you could lose your job, or lose influence in your company. So why not just wear the shirt? I mean, the rainbow is good anyway, right? Comes from Genesis. Why not just use the pronoun. It’s just a word. And I think those questions help us understand what’s going on here. Because I mentioned this last week, it’s so easy to sneer at the people who aren’t doing what they should be doing in the Bible, without realizing that this is a good description of us and what’s going on in our lives to it helps us understand why the people in this church would tolerate this. And then the word The answer is fear. That’s why they’re tolerating it. The perfect love casts out fear. But if we’re so caught up in self centeredness, well, then fear can become all consuming. Fear drives some in this church to accept the false teaching, and to live it out. The fear of losing that status and wealth by not participating in the marketplace. But fear leads others in the church simply to tolerate the false teaching. What do they fear, rejection, conflict, you know, all the sorts of things we fear today, too. So what is needed in this moment, is the Christ’s likeness described in verse 19, where he had commended the church I know your deeds, your love, your faith, your service, your perseverance, that’s what’s needed in this moment. You need love. And love is always sacrificial. Which means love is willing to risk without fear. And we need faith, trust in God that he has us the world can’t harm us that love and that faith will lead us to then perseverance, and doing what is right, but also service service, like doing what is best for other people, which in this case might include rebuke. Now, you’ll notice as I’ve been preaching through this, so far, I’ve talked kind of about all of us as if we’re in one of those two groups. Can I just suggest the possibility that we should at least be asking ourselves the question, Am I actually Jezebel? Might I be the false teacher? Not me, I’m all of us, me and all of you. You might be Jezebel, and that you might be giving people a way out. Because that temptation is there, too. I ended the drive, I understand God would want you to be happy. And the answer is, yeah, absolutely. But it is a deep happiness, not a surface happiness, and does not involve giving us whatever we want. Every parent knows that’s not how you increase happiness and your children. But God would want you to be happy and so we start making excuses. It’s fine to date that person, you know, you shouldn’t be dating. Because, you know, I mean, otherwise you might not find true love, or I have heard people, you know, giving counsel to a marriage that is in bad shape. But that doesn’t have biblical grounds for divorce. I’m not talking about abuse, adultery, abandonment, I’m just talking about conflict that happens in marriage and you have a God would want you to be happy. It’s fine for you to walk away from This marriage, do you see how easy it is for us to be jealous about in this situation? Can I say also, I think this is an especial danger for parents. And again, I get this as a parent we want so desperately the best for our kids. But the best can very quickly be defined by the world. So that we want them to have that status, and comfort and ease. You know, our motto and Family Ministries is you know, we’re trying to raise kids the world can’t ignore. But tell me, there’s not something in you that goes, no, I’d be okay. If the world ignores my kids, they can just just slide through culture, and get a good job, get married, have kids, you know, American Dream kind of stuff. And so we start making excuses here as well. We don’t want them to be too different. So we don’t wanna miss them out on you know, sports, which might mean they miss out on church, but you know, that’s okay. to compromise we’re willing to make because, like, it’s easy for us to do this for ourselves, to say, I’m going to deny myself and take up my cross. But it’s so much harder to say that about our kids, because I don’t know if you know what the cross is used for. But it’s something we want to spare our kids from, for the most part, watch out that you’re not just bill. But notice, if you’re looking back and you’re going to actually there is a little decibel in me notice God’s mercy to Jezebel in this passage. He says I gave her time to repent. Some moment where she was warned perhaps was a trial that should have woken her up. But she was worn, she had this opportunity to respond in repentance walk away from her false teaching. God doesn’t look at the false teaching and go, gotta zap her with lightning. Now. We know that God’s not slow and keeping his promises. He’s patient, wanting all to come to repentance. The Bible tells us God himself says in his ego 18 I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He’s gonna wake up and turn. But it didn’t take. He says she kept going with it. It means it’s worth asking ourselves, of course, you know, how do you respond when you have been confronted by your sin? When God opens your eyes to see your sin, how do you respond? And maybe it’s a sermon that expose something in you maybe it is a rebuke from a loving friend, maybe it’s a trial. How do you respond in that moment, meant to wake us up doesn’t always work that way. Like, I think a pharaoh in this situation, right? Like God gave him time to repent, here’s a sign and another one and another one and another one and another one and another one. And he just keeps going and he gets harder and harder and harder. And so God escalate. And that’s what he says will do to God says here he will escalate again. This is still grace. Grace, by the way. When God escalates, that means he is still trying to hammer out this stony heart. The ultimate judgment of God in this life is when he hands you over to your sin. Romans one talks about when he just says Fine, do what you want. And you’ll just have this slow slide into perdition. It is grace, when he is still knocking at the door of your heart. That’s what he’s doing here. He says I will cast her on a bed of suffering doesn’t say of suffering in the original language, although that’s a very fair interpretation of it, but it is this kind of harsh upon he says I’m just gonna cast her on a bed. Why? Well, because she’s an adulterous. You know, I’m a caster that with her adultery, you know, those who are committing adultery with her. And then of course, it’s the same word that’s used for reclining at the banquets. So the punishment fits the crime they hear. You want to recline? In a bed of adultery, great, you’ll be cast in a bed, a bit of sickness and suffering. The question though, is again, will it be enough? Will she repent? And then he says will cause her followers to suffer also, unless they repent? And think about that, though, they’re getting advanced warning.
Jesus just said it, John just said it to the churches, will that be enough? Will that warning be enough for them to go? I need to think about this or not. It is interesting. There’s this distinction between her followers and her children. And the followers, you know, suffer unless they repent. The children are struck dead though what’s going on there? I think we’re talking kind of present and future. There’s we got a group of people who are currently following this false prophet, but they might repent still, versus her children. If you know anything about how children that work in the Bible, the way these words are used, especially children grow up to take their parents places. So if your dad named Joseph was a carpenter, guess what you’re gonna be when you grow up. As a carpenter no other options, you don’t get to pick your major or anything like that. You’re just you’re gonna grow up to do what your dad did. Well, here we’ve got Jezza bells, kids growing up to be just like, mom. That’s what we’re talking about. And there is no hope at that point. That is they haven’t repented. Their hearts have been hardened, hardened irrevocably. This is an important and it’s not a pleasant but it’s an important reminder that a day of reckoning is coming for us all. There will come a time when we can no longer turn from sin and turn to Jesus. Either because we’ve died. Or because we have hardened our hearts past the point of no return. We need to feel that urgency. That sense of the day that is coming. We will be judged repaid. according to our works. It says here by the one who searches hearts and minds so he knows exactly what is inside of us. There’s almost a quote from Jeremiah 1710. You guys probably know 17 Nine famous passage in the Old Testament, the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure who can understand it? And the question seems to be saying you cannot understand your own heart because your heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it? I the LORD searched the heart and examined the mind, for word each person according their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve. The one who knows is the one who will repay. In other words, no one will get away with anything. Which is kind of good news and bad news. Justice will be done in the end, absolutely every wrong ever committed will be punished, will either be punished in Christ. So that those of us who hide ourselves in Christ are freed from that punishment, and experienced grace or it will be punished in Hell. So I mean, the question is just hang in there. Will you trust in Jesus? And how do you know you trust in Jesus, the mark is repentance. Turning from your sin, it doesn’t mean there’s no sin in your life. That doesn’t happen until glory. But it means there’s no peace with the sin in your life. You are waging war against sin in yourself and in those around you. And certainly invite you to pray you even now have time to do this in a moment at the Lord’s table to join with David who understood that I don’t know what’s going on in my own heart thing and he prayed, search me Lord, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there’s any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. In other words, we’re praying to God, I want to be holy, yours, I want to repent, I want to turn from my sin, I want to be more like Jesus. Certainly that desire takes us then to the charge. And give you the main idea here in a moment. Let me read verses 24 and 25. For us. Now I say to the rest of you in FAIA, Tierra Do you who do not hold who are teaching, and I’m not learning Satan, so called deep secrets, I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come. So after addressing the ungodly group in the church, the false teachers, the false livers, he then turns to the rest of the church. What’s he going to say to that group who does not hold to Jezebel is teaching? It is a little bit curious. It actually says that she calls her teaching the deep things of Satan, that she understands the deep things of Satan so interesting, because of course, she’s not saying, hey, it’s cool. Let’s go worship Satan, unlikely to get a lot of followers in a church when you say that. So this isn’t being used. Ironically, the way synagogue of Satan is being used in the earlier letter. Now, she’s saying it so she’s not calling herself or her teaching satanic. What she’s saying is that she has insight into what is really satanic. And this ain’t it. Good news, immorality and idolatry, not a big deal. So keep calm and carry on in your immorality and idolatry. But this group, the godly group, they don’t buy it. They don’t buy that. So what should they do? And Jesus says, I impose no other burden on you, which of course raises the question, Well, what was the initial burden, then? This is an important phrase. It’s taken from Acts chapter 15, at the Jerusalem Council. What happens in Acts is that we got a group of Jews, Jesus’s initial followers, who are now Christians, and now we start having pagans become Christians. And so there’s this big question. What do we do with the pagans? Basically, do they have to become a Jews in order to become Christians, the whole book of Galatians right there, but they also deal with an axe 15 And this is the letter they send out to all these pagan churches listen for the important phrase, it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements. There it is right no other burden, just this right here and look at how relevant this is to the situation in via Tierra, you are to abstain from food, sacrifice to idols, from blood from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality, you will do well to avoid those things. These are common issues, common questions that the pagans the Greeks would have had, because this is what life in the city looked like. So the burden is simply right, well, what was said back then hold to that you’re going to have to separate yourself from the immorality and idolatry of paganism in order to follow Christ. Keep to that don’t compromise there for the sake of power and influence. Plus, then he says, I’m not gonna add any other burden except for this. Hold on to what you have. Hold on to what you have. In other words, cling to Jesus. We talked about this last week, right, the grip on the rock climbing wall, and they’re saying, Don’t change your grip, keep clinging right where you are, let go of the world’s power, the status and influence it offers and embrace Jesus’s power instead. That’s our big idea, by the way, right here, act powerfully in love and truth. Act powerfully in love and truth. But it is a different sort of power than the world was offering. Because it’s not about yourself, not about your status and your wealth. It’s about God, and others love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, love your neighbor as yourself, like true love, in other words, and Jesus is here telling the church get strong in that get strong in the love and in the truth and get strong, like, like a power to love to serve to lay yourself down. What kind of power is that? Well, that’s gospel power, of course, is the power that we see in Philippians. Two. And Paul, speaking of Jesus, and he says, he did not consider equality with God, something to be grasped, come to, used to his own advantage, rarely made himself nothing. taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself with becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. You see, he had all power and authority, status, wealth influence, because you know, he’s the king of the universe, and he laid it all down, willingly relinquished it, what happens as a result, therefore, God was altered into the highest place came from the name that is above every name, the name of Jesus. every knee should bow in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, there’s the reward of obedience, true status, true wealth. That’s what happens when God says, I’ll exalt you totally different from what the world offers. But it doesn’t happen without self-denial. I mean, think about it like this. If Jesus isn’t willing to let go, of his status. We have no salvation. That’s how powerful this is this this is gospel power is and then Jesus tells us what I did. That’s what you should do to lord it over other people. That’s what the Gentiles do. Now, whoever wants to be first must become last. Whoever wants to be greatest. Gotta make yourself a servant of that service. Again, same word that’s in verse 19. Right? That service includes zeal for the salvation of others, prayer and evangelism.
But also things like rebuke, and discipline, as needed. Because that’s the loving thing to do. I mean, just, you know, play make believe for a moment. What if Washington had actually pardoned, Andre, sent him back to the British, he could keep working with Benedict Arnold. Would that have been the loving thing to do? No. Not to Andre because he’s not going to deal with his traitorous heart, but not for Washington’s troops either. We’re about to get obliterated and massacred. Is it merciful to tolerate an abusive leader in a church? No, it’s hateful. It is absolutely hateful. You’re hating the abusive leader because you’re not applying the pain that God ordains in order to lead him to repentance and of course it’s hateful for the church. It’s being harmed by his abuse. Love disciplines when it sees wrong again, every parent knows that sin destroys people. So if we love people, we will hate sin, and we will do everything in our power to see it defeated. So we don’t tolerate sin. We don’t tolerate those who excuse sin any more than we would tolerate cancer. You put it to death. But I have to say this, it’s not in this passage, but it’s a teaching of the Bible, we got to have this balance. Okay, just quick reminder here. Jesus clung to the truth more than any man who ever lived. He was himself the truth, of course, and sinners flocked to Jesus. They flocked to Jesus. So don’t tolerate sin doesn’t mean be a jerk. You can be rude to people who are sinners, which would include you, of course, the world should see our love, in our cleaning to truth, they have to be able to see it. I’m saying this, because I love you too much to let you keep going down this road, with tears in our eyes. You know what this looks like? It’s there in first Peter to verse 12, where Peter is talking about the fact that we live as exiles, outsiders in this culture, he says, Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds, be ashamed of their slander and glorify God, do you see the tension in that? They’re gonna accuse you of doing wrong the world will hate us for clinging to the truth? How could you possibly think this is immoral? You’re such a hateful bigot. And at the same time, we’ll see how we live our lives and the love we have for them and go, that’s the kindest person I know. And that should cause cognitive dissonance in their minds, how can that be, I thought it’s hateful bigotry. And yet, that’s the most loving person in the office. And that’s what God uses. To open eyes and change minds might be true of us. Everything I just said is really hard. And if we’re going to do it, we’re going to need some encouragement on the way good news for you. That’s the last section cheer, the power we receive to persevere in this, we read the last section here 26, to 29. To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations that one will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery, just as I have received authority from my father, I will also give that one the Morningstar Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. So as usual, it is this promise at the end of the letter that keeps us on the hard and narrow road of discipleship, all the way to the end, until the victory we have in Christ doing His will, all the way up to it. So I like this balance there, by the way, because we’re not just victorious. And remember, that’s Christ’s victory that’s given to us by grace through faith, not just victorious, but we’re also keeping his works, the one who’s victorious and does my will to the end. So we’re both believing and becoming like Jesus together. Now doing His will includes dealing with sin in the church. And so we have here this encouragement to use gospel power, and truth and love, because notice that he ends where he begins with authority with power. It bookends the passage was why I think it was the central theme in this letter. Like we might lose power, influence, status, wealth, a job friends, if we follow Jesus, but look what we receive in the end, everlasting power. The quote is taken from Psalm two as I mentioned earlier, the authority that is given to the royal Messiah, Messiah now shares with his followers, we will reign with Christ. And so here’s the thing if we’re gonna reign with Christ in the end, well, we probably need to be faithful to him now. And we need to be learning to rule with Him. We’re like Crown Princes and princesses. like growing up okay, what does it mean to be royalty? What is it going to mean to lead this peoples we’re growing in it? It means doing the hard work of confronting sin and error not all of that, but that’s part of it, which is an act of love sparing people from the judgment to come. And the judgment is pictured here. Right You’re gonna be dashed to pieces. The nation’s these clay pots not fun to consider but we’ve talked about this you got more questions about it encouraged to go back and listen to our series people God killed that we did a few years ago. We asked these questions at length, but it is. It is still an act of love judgment because if God doesn’t deal with the sin in our hearts, we will just bring ascend into heaven. And if we bring sin into heaven, we will quickly make hell out of it. Because that’s what we’ve done here. So when we get to heaven, we have to be the people who repent, who say, No, I want to leave my sin behind. And if that’s not you, you cannot come in. That’s what’s been talked about. Here’s why wishy washy, cheap grace fails, because it doesn’t deal with the root issue of sin, it doesn’t actually eliminate the cancer. And so it will kill the body in glory. If God were to leave it. Then Jesus says, he’s also gonna give us the Morningstar, which sounds pretty cool. The morning star is Venus, the brightest object in the night sky. Which seems like a nice promise too, because the church, which is now seen as unimportant is going to shine with glory and significance. I think that’s some of it. But it’s interesting that in Revelation 22, verse 16, Jesus calls himself the Morning Star, likely a reference to number 24, verse 17, by the way, that was Balam’s prophecy. So tie in from last week, where it says that a star will arise from Jacob and a scepter from Israel to pointing to Jesus’s authority, again, your authority of the coming Messiah. But in calling himself the Morningstar and then telling us he’s gonna give us the Morningstar, it means he’s promising us not just power and status, which are okay, but something much better. He’s promising us himself. He’s gonna give us himself. So why would we settle? Why would we compromise to gain fleeting status? It is so much better to reign with Christ forever. As Sin always makes excuses, you can always find someone to give you permission to do what you should not be doing. But why would you look for that permission, Jesus is better, to hold fast to him, do his will to the end. Let His gospel the gospel of victory in defeat. In in self sacrifice, and self denial, let that gospel shape your thinking and your living, and lean into that true gospel power. Power that looks like the cross before the empty tune. Act powerfully in Christ’s love, and truth to the end. Let’s pray. Jesus, our morning star, our Messiah and King, we gladly submit ourselves to now we would so happily kiss the sun. Because we see Your goodness and Your glory. We see what you have done for us on the cross. In your resurrection, we see the goodness of your rule, the wisdom of your reign, and we would be willing subjects in your kingdom. Help us Lord. Because you’ve called us not just to be subjects, but ultimately to rain with you in your forever kingdom. Help us to learn how to do that. By acting in love and truth now, and may the world see our good deeds. Be ashamed of what they’ve said of us that isn’t true. And ultimately glorify you open eyes and hearts and minds to see and understand and receive what you have for them. We pray in Christ’s name, Amen.

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