Following Jesus 100

Following Jesus: What kind of church are we?

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.”  (Revelation 2:20-23 ESV).

When Jesus rebukes a corrupt church, He begins with its leadership. To rebuke or condemn someone means to denounce, criticize or judge them for their error. What error has the church leadership committed?

First, the church leadership tolerates false teachers. “But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel,” to tolerate means to stomach, to endure, or to accept. In the New Testament, it is very likely that this reference to Jezebel is a symbolic reference to the Old Testament Queen of Israel (I Kings 16:31; 18:1-4; 21:1-5; 2 Kings 9:1-7). Historically, she was known for her idolatry and immorality.

Jesus in speaking to the corrupt church may be referring to woman leader within the congregation. What Jesus sees is a libertine Christian who pursues her false teaching within the community of the church. “Who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20 ESV)

The corrupt church not only tolerates false teachers but also false teaching. The false teacher in a corrupt church leads people away from the truth. This is done in informal as well as formal settings. The result of churches who tolerate false teachers and their false teachings is ungodliness. The church members begin to practice sexual immorality and idolatry.

Jesus will condemn the false teacher along with their false teachings. However, it should be noted that Jesus is not impatient. The text says that He “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality” (Revelation 2:21 ESV). There is no felt remorse, no change in their life and living. The false teacher’s thoughts and attitudes regarding sin do no give way to righteousness. What then will Jesus do? 

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