To the Church in Thyatira
To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
Nevertheless, I have this against you: you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her upon a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets, 'I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.'
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations--that one will 'rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery'--just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the spirit says to the churches.
~ Revelation 2:18-29
This letter's content is very similar to the previous, to Pergamum, but with the difference that this letter focuses not on the sinful acts themselves, but more on the fact that these people sit back and watch as many Christians are misled by a false prophet. Specifically, a woman named Jezebel in comparison to the queen in 1 and 2 Kings, who is most likely a member of the church, has been spreading false prophecy and draws people into lives of sin. She preached that in order to fully defeat Satan, one must enter his dominion, or experience full evil. She would sleep with men so that through their immorality they would experience full evil, and thus be able to defeat it.
So while the members of the church are eager to do good works and grow stronger in their relationship with Jesus, they have forgone the one true way to the Lord and they follow the teachings of Jezebel. Or if they do not follow it themselves, they do not speak out against this and prevent their brothers and sisters from subjecting themselves to sin. To these people, they are content to live their lives selfishly in the flesh.
But this should not be so! there are people of this church who try to live free from sin, not wishing to engage in these destructive lifestyles, but in James 4:17 we are told that not doing the right thing is also sinful. If we see a brother or sister submitting themselves to sin, we are just as guilty as them if we do not point out their sin. However, know that for some who live deeply in the flesh, they may not want deliverance from their sins. In this case, Matthew 18:15-17 acknowledges this, and tells us that if we alone cannot change them, show them others who can testify, and pray for their hearts to be changed. And if they still do not believe you, then wipe the dust off your feet and move on; you have done all you can do, and the time spent trying to change one person is better spent helping another who may be more willing to change.
And to those who believe the Gospel but still live in sin, know that you do not have to be a slave to your sin. You have been set free by the love of Jesus Christ, but you should "not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather serve one another humbly in love"(Galatians 5:13) Yes, our every sin has been forgiven and forgotten because of the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross, but more than that we have been freed from the things that only bring death, and we now have the Holy Spirit to help us turn away from sin and temptation, where before we did not. One image I like is this: we were once locked down in chains and could not move, could not free ourselves. But then Jesus came and removed the chains from us, and we can move about as we want. Continuing to live in sin is like us putting on those chains once again, not knowing that life is much better without the burden of sin weighing down upon you.
And once you are out of your own chains, you will start to notice others who are broken and lost in their chains. You will see their need for a savior and will want only to help them be freed, and want only to help them stay free and joyful. If you saw someone trapped under a log after a storm, wouldn't want to help them live? Wouldn't you want to help even more if you knew that person, or if they were a close friend? Well sin leads only to death, and watching a brother or sister trapped in sin is no different. Make every attempt to cast sin from your life and the lives of others, so that in all things you can glorify God.