Letter to Thyatira 3
Not everybody had succumbed to the Jezebel personality in the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:20-23). That woman sought to lead the church astray, into idol worship and sexual sin. She claimed to be a prophet but what she said with such authority was not consistent with the Old Testament law, or the teachings of Jesus or the doctrine taught by the apostles. However, she was not rebuked or disciplined, but rather tolerated (1 Corinthians 11:19-20). Weak leadership offered no censure: they could not stand up to her powerful and manipulative personality. And so they allowed her to dominate and contaminate the church. But some refused to believe her false prophecies.
'Jezebel' claimed to deal with Satan by fighting him on his own ground. She probably taught that to beat Satan they had to get into his dark domain. Like the early Gnostics, it is likely that she separated physical unrighteous activities from the righteous thoughts about Jesus – teaching that what they did with their bodies is of no consequence as long as their thoughts were pure. That is heresy, and some of the believers knew it was wrong – seeking to live godly lives in honour of Jesus.
The Lord Jesus Christ knew the struggles of the faithful few. He did not demand that they should usurp the church's weak leadership by challenging them publicly. His judgement on them would come soon enough (Romans 12:19). They could concentrate on keeping close to Jesus, ensuring that their faith and their lives were consistent. They would have to say 'No' to ungodliness (Titus 2:12), distance themselves from the apostate church members and keep themselves pure in actions and words as well as thought (1 Timothy 5:22). Even though it might be lonely and hard to be part of that kind of church, it was the only church in the city. If they could not hold onto some of the other so-called believers, they must hold onto all that is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22) by holding onto Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-3). And He gave the promise that He would come to rescue them (Exodus 3:7-8).
Being part of a church that has false teaching, is hard to bear. The challenge is to recognise the danger of being pulled away from the truth by high-sounding ideas (Colossians 2:8), and of being compromised by participating with others in activities which displease the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). If there is no alternative fellowship, seek the company of those who love the Lord, value the gospel and want to obey the apostles' teaching. It can be lonely, but it is the time to invest in your personal relationship with the Lord Jesus through Bible study and prayer. Choose to receive the Lord's love and wait for the Lord to bring you through the lonely times (Jude 1:21), as you do good to all you come across, especially to those who honour the Lord Jesus (Galatians 6:10).
© Dr Paul Adams