This past week, a few of the Living Stones Pastors were studying the church in Thyatira (Rev. 2:18-29) and we were reminded of the fact that we as humans, as created beings, don’t necessarily like the words of correction from Creator Jesus. For if we were to listen to them, we would have to get off the throne of God that we think we deserve to sit on and let Jesus take back his seat. We try to convince ourselves (and Jesus) that we were only trying to help keep His seat warm.
The correction that Jesus has for his church in Thyatira hits a little too close to home for most. Jesus is clear in stating that he will not tolerate our sin, nor is he pleased with us when we tolerate sin ourselves.
This is a day and age where tolerance is king, and where challenging someone's self-esteem and pride is off limits. Tolerance is a volatile issue to discuss, and I could write a response to those within our culture who claim that Christians are intolerant to others beliefs. However, many of those who hold that view seem to miss the point that they are just as intolerant and hypocritical as they claim Christians to be.
But we don’t desire to get into a debate, nor do we have the time to respond to all the emails that an inflammatory blog like that could potentially generate. Instead, I’d rather go after your heart… literally.
It would be quick and easy to simply write a list of things that Jesus does and does not tolerate, but that wouldn’t change our heart, nor exalt Christ as King, Savior, and Lord. Scripture makes it clear that there is not much within us to be proud of (if it weren’t for the fact that we were made in His image, there wouldn’t be anything at all). The Bible gives numerous reminders of the depravity of man and the sickness of our hearts (Genesis 6:5, Psalm 51:1-19, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:20-23). We are in need of a heart transplant – and we are unable to do it ourselves.
Fortunately, Jesus doesn’t leave us with a sick heart. Through belief in the Gospel He gives us a new life, a new heart, and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-27, 1 Peter 1:3).
The question that immediately arises is this: how do we live as Christians who don’t tolerate sin, and how do we not fall victim to the subtle seduction of sin, like we see the church in Thyatira doing because of the teachings of Jezebel (Rev 2:20)?
"Our sin triggers a bad case of Gospel amnesia, where we forget that Jesus has changed us."
James tells us that “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14). Yes, Jesus does give us a new heart, new spirit, and even new desires – but if we are being honest, when we start to stray, when we start to pursue sin instead of Jesus, it’s because we have lost sight of what Jesus has done for us, what it actually cost Jesus to bring new life to us. Our sin triggers a bad case of Gospel amnesia, where we forget that Jesus has changed us. James reminds us that when these subtle seductions start to grow without being addressed they give birth to sin, which brings death (James 1:15).
So what is the trick for not falling into the subtle seduction of sin? Is it simply looking for the right moralistic fences to put up? Is it making a list and checking it twice, to make sure we aren’t naughty and we stay nice? No! Here’s a quote by Susanna Wesley (old dead lady) that helps guide us, and gives a suggestion as to how we could identify these subtle seductions in our life. Wesley states:
“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”
Take a long look at what is warring for preeminence and attention in your heart. Make an honest assessment. What subtle seductions is Jezebel using to lead you away from savoring and seeing Christ as Savior and Lord? What are you going to do about it? Are you going to tolerate it?
The bigger question is this: would Jesus tolerate it?