Idolatry and Immorality: Jesus Speaks to the Churches – Revelation

I love the Book of Revelation. It’s the last book of the Bible and it’s awesome! I must have done over 20 Bible studies on Revelation. The first time you read through it you may think it’s something between a fantasy, sci-fi thriller and fire-and-brimstone preacher with a little “Ghostbusters” mixed in.

It isn’t easy to understand. However, the BEST Bible Study on Revelation is one I discovered in the Bible.com app by Pastor Kris Langham of ThroughTheWord.org. That was also my introduction to the ThroughTheWord app. Pastor Kris explains it so well that it was an epiphany for me.

The Book of Revelation Opens with…

This is a revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:1-2

So, the Apostle John — the “one whom Jesus loved” — was the last of the apostles living around 96 AD. All the other apostles were martyred for spreading the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus Christ. John wrote this from his exile on the Isle of Patmos in Greece.

As in all heavenly apparitions, Jesus comforts a shocked John…

“Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.”

Revelation 1:17-18

After this, Jesus dictates 7 letters to 7 churches in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia (not PA), and Laodicea. You can go on Google Earth and look for these cities. Some still exist. Some are just ruins.

There are varying opinions on which churches these represent. Some say they represent not just existing churches of that time, but future churches and the varying issues they had and are presently having.

Today, I want to look at the letter to the Church of Pergamum. Pergamum, according to Pastor Kris in “Through The Word” is the “compromised church”. The word Pergamum means “objectionable marriage” — that is a marriage between church and state. Where the church takes on the appearance of government. Hmmmm….

Here’s a video with a short history of the Church of Pergamum…

From the YouVersion Bible App Study, “Prophetic Gallery Series”

Revelation 2:12-17…

“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword: [The Word of God which pierces and separates]

“I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.

“But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin…. Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches…

So, you can be loyal and devoted to Jesus, yet sin terribly…

The first sin mentioned is idolatry. God explains very clearly how he feels about worshiping idols in…

St. Francis of Assisi

Exodus 20:4-6 – the 2nd Commandment

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.”

God couldn’t be any clearer!

I remember when I toured Italy, I loved going to the cathedrals. In one church, there was a statue of a saint — I forget which one — and the statue’s foot was rubbed down so it look deformed. As people entered the church, they would rub the statue’s foot for a blessing or good luck so much so that the stone was worn down.

I’ll talk more about idolatry in future podcasts and blog posts. Subscribe so you don’t miss it.

The warning in this letter is to stop worshiping idols!

The Catholic Church passes on the worship of Mary and the saints from generation to generation and it’s just plain wrong! It’s clearly against God’s 2nd commandment!

OK, let’s go on to the next big whopper of sins — sexual immorality. I won’t get into details, but we all know that many church leaders — both Catholic priests and Protestant pastors — have been caught in immoral acts.

In 2 Peter 2:14-19 we read…

They commit adultery with their eyes, and their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lure unstable people into sin, and they are well trained in greed. They live under God’s curse. They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong. But Balaam was stopped from his mad course when his donkey rebuked him with a human voice.

These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness. They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting. With an appeal to twisted sexual desires, they lure back into sin those who have barely escaped from a lifestyle of deception. They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

It continues and I encourage to read it. There are all kinds of sin in the church. We all need to take a step back and look at who our “spiritual teachers” or leaders are and ask ourselves if they are truly teaching the truth of the Word of God, or are they watering it down and twisting it to fit their agendas.

I’ll leave you with this message from Paul to the Galatians…

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions…

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.

Galatians 5:17-24

Do you belong to Christ Jesus? Or do you just go to church because your parents went to church? Each Sunday, do you participate in rituals or do you truly worship our Savior, Jesus Christ?

It’s time to stop and seriously think about it.

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