In Revelation 2-3 Jesus Christ sends a series of letters to seven churches in Asia Minor. These churches are intended to awaken them from a variety of states of spiritual slumber, and while most offer some form of commendation, the primary intent is to address sins in the churches that are worth of Christ’s condemnation and correction.
Yesterday we considered the facets of the churches that were commended. Today, consider the condemnations incurred by the churches. What sins crept into those churches and became “acceptable” to the members but not to the Head, Jesus Christ?
Here are the activities and attributes that the Lord condemns:
Obedience of Christ without love for Christ.
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Rev 2:4)
Toleration of unbiblical teaching and participation in ungodly sins.
“But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. ‘So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” (Rev 2:14–15)
Acts of immorality and enjoyment of worldly licentiousness.
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.” (Rev 2:20–22)
Verbal ascent to Christ without regeneration from Christ — they assume spiritual life when they are, in fact, spiritually dead.
“I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” (Rev 3:1)
Self-reliance instead of Christ-dependence and a dispassionate attitude toward Christ.
“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev 3:16–17)
So we might ask these questions of ourselves today — are we listening to the Lord? Have we allowed ourselves to assume that activity for Christ is the same as love for Christ? (It’s not.) Are we discerning about the teaching we listen to and tolerate? Are we vigilant against fleshly indulgences and immorality? Do our lives reflect that we really are alive? Are we consciously and passionately dependent on Christ? These are among the things that the Lord condemns when they are absent from our lives.