Thursday, August 23, 2018

An Antidote For Defeating Double-Mindedness In The Christian Life - Revelation 2:18-29

Image result for alligator

Revelation 2:18-20 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: 19 ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 20 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."


There was a very sad news story that made headlines just this past week. A woman was walking her little dog near a lagoon adjacent to lush golfing resort community at Hilton Head, SC. She was on a get-away with her husband at their vacation home. Everyone who lives in that resort area are aware of the alligators that lurk in the water hazards around the golf course. The lady went out to walk her dog one morning, when suddenly, both she and the dog were confronted by an alligator.  Despite her best attempts to defend her dog, the poor lady ended up losing her own life. She thought she was safe. She was aware of alligators, but took the risk. The tragic result was fatal. 

This sad story got me to thinking about the situation we read about concerning the church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29. When we attempt to court sin, it's like the situation with the alligator. When we tolerate what we know is not right, we feel we're safe. After all, we often will say to ourselves: "since its not hurting anyone now, how bad can it be?" But then, at a moment we don't expect, the jaws of sin catch us. If were not vigilant enough, our cravings will attempt to pull us under sin's chilly waters. As the old saying goes: 

"sin will keep you longer than you intended to stay, cause you to lose more than you intended to pay."

Summary of today's post 

There are points throughout Christian experience where a Christ-follower can stand at certain crossroads. The choice we must make is this: 

"go forward with Jesus or choose the lesser path". 

Whenever we’re tempted to “straddle the fence” or “be double-minded”, such enticements can spell much danger. Today’s aims to equip readers on how to avoid a double-minded life. So, where do I get this phrase "double-minded"? James 1:5-7 informs us of the sort of mindset that we see lurking in Thyatira: 

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” 

The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:2 uses a different term (i.e. "carnal") to convey the danger of such compromises:

“I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able.”

How can the follower of Jesus Christ avoid double-mindedness? Consider the following thoughts as we tour through Jesus' fourth letter in Revelation 2:18-29.

1. Turn your eyes on Jesus. Revelation 2:18-19; 25-27

There is a villain afoot at the church of Thyatira by the name of Jezebel.  Now we won’t focus too much on this N.T Jezebel, since we want to focus our attention on Jesus. Like her O.T counterpart, the N.T. Jezebel's name means “without honor”. Interestingly enough, whenever you compare these two Jezebels, their respective bios mirror one another: 

A. Both sought evil. (1 Kgs 16:31; Rev 2:20).

B. Both celebrated evil.  (1 Kgs 21:25; Rev 2:21-24).

C. Both suppressed God's word. (2 Kings 9:7; Rev 2:20)

D. Both were self-centered.  2 Kgs 9:30; Rev 2:20).

Is it no wonder that things were such a mess in this first-century church. The church at Thyatira was located in the smallest city of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), and yet, Jesus issued the longest of the seven letters we find in Revelation 2-3. Jesus is devoting such attention because of the precarious position of the double-minded church. Thyatira was in the smallest city, yet she has the most words from Jesus. We're reminded of the fact that Jesus only sees churches, not how "big" or "small" they may be. This little letter also has the most space devoted to Jesus (next to Philadelphian and Laodicean letters).

So what's the point? When we’re in spiritual high-cotton (like the church at Philadelphia, Revelation 3:7-13), we’d better look to Jesus. When the ship is sinking (like the church at Laodicea, Revelation 3:14-22), we’d better to look to Jesus. When we're double-minded (like at the church of Thyatira, revelation 2:18-29), we need Jesus. What about Jesus enables us to break free of the rut of double-mindedness?

A. Support of Jesus. Revelation 2:18 

When we slip, Jesus is there ready to catch us and supply firm footing. Psalm 94:18-19 reminds us:

"If I should say, “My foot has slipped,” Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up. 19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” 

B. Supremacy of Jesus. Revelation 2:18

When sin looks good, focus on Jesus, who outdoes all. Consider how Revelation 2:18 describes the Lord Jesus Christ....

i. Jesus is omnipresent. Revelation 2:18  “eyes like fire”. This attribute corresponds with what we see described of God in 2 Chronicles 16:9a 

“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”

ii. Jesus is omnipotent. Revelation 2:18 “Son of God” and “feet of bronze”. This metal was used in the Old Testament temple’s construction of the brazen altar. Daniel 10:6 has similar description, wherefore Daniel encountered Yahweh, hence reinforcing the truth of Jesus' deity.

iii. Jesus is omniscient Revelation 2:19. “I know”. Jesus knows all things, including our trials, our thoughts. 
Hebrews 12:1-3 reminds us of the benefits of focusing on Jesus. 2 Peter 3:18 commands us to know Jesus better. In terms of the emphasis on Jesus in the New Testament, we can summarize as follows: The Gospels = show who Jesus was. Acts and Epistles and Rev 1-5 = show who Jesus is. Revelation 6-22 = show Jesus to come.

So if you and I are going to defeat double-mindedness, we need to focus on Jesus in order to show the folly of our compromising with sin. But now lets consider the second main point of Revelation 2:18-29....

2. Trust Him For Your Future. Revelation 2:25-29

Why is it we find compromise so easy? Why do Christians find the trap of "double-mindedness" so enticing? One word: "distrust". We simply waver in our trust of God. We somehow get convinced that He may not have our best interest in mind. Worse yet, we may think our way is better than His. Two areas of trust are covered in Revelation 2:25-29 that urge us to trust in Jesus...

A. Trust Him for tomorrow. Revelation 2:25

Lamentations 3:22-24 reminds us: 

"The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”

The Lord gives the believer enough grace for today. All sorts of mercies are laid out by God at the beginning of each day. We have what we need to accomplish whatever comes across our path for today. Once today is done, tomorrow begins with a new set of mercies. 

b. Trust Him for beyond tomorrow. Revelation 2:26-29

We can trust Jesus for the short-term of today and tomorrow. But what of the long-term? Matthew 6:33-34 quotes Jesus own words:

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

How many of us can say "amen" or "I agree" with Jesus' statement? A great follow-up text to these point comes from the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Closing thoughts:

In today's post we discovered ways in which we can defeat "double-mindedness" or that Christian propensity to "straddle the fence" when it comes to moral and spiritual matters of life. We discovered from Jesus' letter to the church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29 the following antidote:

1. Turn your eyes on Jesus
2. Trust in Jesus for tomorrow

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