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Letter to Pergamum 2

Revelation 2:14-16
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: there are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (NIVUK)

Although one of their leaders, Antipas, was roasted alive in their city, Jesus commended the church in Pergamum for not renouncing their faith. Despite Satan thinking he was in charge of the city, the church had stayed true to Jesus (Revelation 2:13). But He also needed to rebuke them very strongly because they had failed to reject false teaching. They thought that they could have Jesus and still accommodate the evil patterns in their society, in which business was thoroughly integrated with pagan idol worship – the temple to Zeus dominated the city; also the cult worship of Athena, Asclepius, and Dionysus was accompanied by pagan feasts, corruption and immorality.

Balaam was a mystic from Mesopotamia who was hired by Balak, king of Moab, to manipulate God into cursing the Israelites (Numbers chs.22-25). Four times the Lord would not let Balaam curse Israel; instead he predicted their victorious growth. But Numbers ch. 25 describes how Moabite women seduced the men of Israel into immoral pagan worship. Numbers 31:16 explains that it was Balaam who advised Balak how to subvert God’s people. God then had to act and 24,000 Israelites died through plague. They had thought that the Lord would not mind them mixing true worship with immoral idol worship: but He was very angry.

The same problem arose in Pergamum. Eating the food sacrificed to false gods and indulging in sexual immorality was an essential part of business in the city. To say ‘No’, risked their faith being exposed and the believers being persecuted along with loss of income, social isolation or worse. So the easy course of action was to go along with what everybody was doing; and enjoy the sin which was socially approved. The Nicolaitans probably taught that it was necessary or even right to both worship Jesus and adopt a lifestyle of socially acceptable immorality. But Jesus was angry. He commanded them to repent or He would speak against them in judgement (Numbers 25:4-5).

Syncretism, merging the worship of Jesus with a lifestyle which He hates, is doomed. God cannot bless it and, in His holiness, He will take action against His own people if His warnings are not heeded. Claiming that integration with society's accepted standards is a witness to the love of Christ is a tragic delusion. It is wrong. Fighting against what is wicked will have its cost, but that is nothing compared to the terrible result of fighting against God (2 Chronicles 13:12). Wherever you live and work, do not compromise with the world's standards, or pretend you can amalgamate righteousness and wickedness (2 Corinthians 6:14). Do your business well, as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23), but do not be seduced into business and social practices which deny His Lordship over you (Luke 9:26). Repent and follow only Jesus to receive His blessing. Refuse to repent and risk Him fighting against you.

Father God. Thank You for being holy and right all the time. I repent of the times when I have compromised my faith, accepted ungodly standards and even thought I could do good by advising people to do what You hate. Please help me to live and work in a way which demonstrates that I only follow Jesus. And please help other believers who are caught in a compromise trap to know how to repent, and live righteously. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams