“But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.“Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering, and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve. “But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of youexcept that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations.They will rule the nations with an iron rodand smash them like clay pots.They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. – Revelation 2: 20-28 (NLT) The Revelation given to the Apostle John begins with Jesus Christ writing to seven churches and warning them about the various states they are in or heading towards. These should be sobering words for those of us in Christ today but unfortunately, leadership often has the most difficult time seeing what might be within their own church. The truth is that we dance with the devil long enough and we start to lose discernment of what is right and wrong. The Bible describes it as being convinced that our darkness is really light. We have talked about idol worship in the past. A subject so important to God that it was the first commandment He ever gave – we shall have no other Gods before Him! Yet from the beginning of the Bible through today, all we see are idols in the lives of believers. The Israelites were constantly following the false idol gods of their neighbors. Fast forward to today and we see the majority of the church steeped in idol worship that is even promoted by the church. The god of greed and mammon are celebrated in the modern church today as Christians across this land chase the earthly pleasures of this world. The god of pseudo-intellectualism has taken over entire denominations that have seen fit to rewrite the Bible. Recently, a church leader claimed that if Jesus came back today He would have to admit that He “got some things wrong.” The unbridled arrogance of man. Idolatry is so difficult to avoid sometimes in this country, where we have so much to distract us from God. If we are not ever vigilant, we can end up setting something up before God. Realize once that has happened we have an idol in our lives and God teaches us through His Word that idolatry is akin to witchcraft. That is how serious He takes it. Perhaps the most insidious form of idol worship however goes largely unchallenged. It is rarely taught on. It is rarely preached about. Quite frankly, it is rarely noticed because we have become so adept at it. This idol worship is when we place the church before God. Wait a minute preacher! That doesn’t make sense! Oh but it does beloved. Look at the church at Thyatira from the key verses. Look at the accusations being leveled at them by Christ. Before the key verses Jesus pointed out what they were doing right but then He cuts to the chase. That is the first lesson for us today. Just because some things might be right, that does not mean we throw out our discernment regarding the rest. I have heard this twisted logic too many times when people defend their favorite false teacher. We often like to talk about the transcendent nature of the Gospel. How it is relevant today as much as it was relevant 1000 years ago. How it cuts across all cultures and peoples. While I think we believe this, we fail to apply it correctly. I have heard well intended Christians bend over backwards to defend Joel Osteen. I have heard the lament that they know someone who was saved through his ministry. I do not doubt that someone genuinely seeking God will find Him in any situation, even in Joel Osteen’s arena. But do you want to know why Joel Osteen’s message is not the Gospel? Because it could not possibly cut across cultural lines in this world. It is a feel good, positive self speak, motivational, prosperity driven message. That might work well in America but how do you think these Osteen quotes would go over in earthquake ridden Haiti or the slums of Panama: It's God's will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty. It's God's will for you to pay your bills and not be in debt. God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us. I am not worried about the occasional one person who gets saved through his efforts because that person would have been saved in any church probably. I am worried about the 45,000 people who attend every week and how many of them think they are going to heaven when they really have never been saved. But you cannot speak truthfully without being branded as a troublemaker or a legalist. We need to stop the silly argument that because we find one thing positive we can safely ignore everything else. Leaven is still leaven. Jesus shows us the contrast here. The church at Thyatira was doing some things right but that did not stop Jesus from pointing out what was wrong. The picture we see Christ painting for us is remarkably similar to the church today. There are essentially two factions. You have the bulk of the people, who are being led astray by the false teachers and prophets in the pulpits and then there are the true sheep of God who refuse to be led astray. The Jezebel spirit of control, idolatry and lust is alive and well in the church today. Don’t believe me? Just read the news. Three mega church pastors in the Orlando area alone, all fell from sexual sin within a six month period. If that is the effect of Jezebel in the pulpit – imagine what is going on in the congregation! What is being taught today is spiritual food that has been offered to idols. I am tired of hearing the mantra of eat the meat and spit out the bones. If the bone is rotten, why in the world would I trust the meat? The prosperity gospel has been sacrificed to the god of greed and mammon. The sugar coated seeker friendly gospel has been sacrificed to the god of human reasoning and high sounding nonsense. The purpose driven gospel has been sacrificed to the same spirits that drove the construction of the Tower of Babel. Human pride and arrogance. There are two distinct messages today for the two factions Jesus describes. The first message is for those who choose to sit under false teaching. Sometimes I think we assume that it is only the leadership that is accountable but here Jesus also has harsh words for those who allow it. I have heard well intentioned Christians say that they do not bother with the issues of doctrine because they are “just serving God.” It doesn’t work that way. We serve God by obeying God. Our life serves God – not our intentions or our words. What we permit matters to God beloved. What we allow. What we are willing to turn a blind eye to. All for the idol the church has become in our hearts. I have witnessed more church worship then I ever would have cared to see. It is imbedded within seeker friendly and purpose driven theology. The unsaved are referred to now as the unchurched. Those who would bring up the Bible to object are sent out of the sheep pen because nothing can disturb the unity of the church building – not even the kingdom of God. Look at the way Christ mocks the false teaching. Saying that those who offer it do so as “deeper truths” but Jesus says they are from the depths of Satan actually! Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas. Your strength comes from God’s grace, not from rules about food, which don’t help those who follow them. – Hebrews 13: 8-9 (NLT) The second message is for those who refuse to sit under the false teaching. For those who reject it as the ear tickling, high sounding nonsense that it really is. The past few decades have seen an explosion of strange new ideas in the realm of the church. The seeker friendly theology proposes that Gospel is no longer relevant and needs to be somehow altered to draw people to the church. The purpose driven theology has taken the responsibility for church growth, which the Bible clearly says belongs to God – and places it in the laps of pastors. The grace alone theology does not emphasize the whole Gospel. All “deeper truths” straight from the pits of hell to lead the elect astray. We need to stop being attracted by all the strange new ideas. The strange new doctrines. The strange new paradigms. The strange new worship that is man centered. All of it is designed by Satan to lead people away. This message from Jesus is plainly put to us beloved – hold tightly to what we have received. Do not let go of the Gospel we have been given. Many will come and try and take it away. Many will come and scream legalist! Many will come and say – obsolete! Many will come and say – not relevant! Hold tight beloved! Hold tight until the end! There is a church that is overrun with the spirit of Jezebel. There is a church that is being built upon new age ideas and secular leadership principles. Its walls are painted pretty but like Jesus warned once, they are like white washed tombs – filled with the bones of dead men. If the church has become our idol today we must tear it down and hold tight once again to what Jesus has given us. He is coming back soon. Rev. Anthony.