February 19 2022
Today, Saturday February 19
Friendship With the World Revelation 2:14-17 “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." '.
I believe that each of the seven churches in Asia could very well represent some of the characteristics of our churches today. As we have already seen the church at Ephesus represents the careless church that has left its first love. The church of Smyrna represents the crowned church because as a persecuted church it was purified. Now the church at Pergamos appears to look like the compromising church.
Despite their courageous stand against persecution, the believers in Pergamos were not faultless before the Lord. Satan had not been able to destroy them by coming as the roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he was making inroads as the deceiving serpent. A group of compromising people had infiltrated the church fellowship, and Jesus Christ hated their doctrines and their practices.
These infiltrators are called "Nicolaitans." The name means "to rule the people." What they taught is called "the doctrine of Balaam" (Rev. 2:14). The Hebrew name Balaam also means "lord of the people" and is probably synonymous with Nicolaitans. Sadly, this group of professed believers "lorded it over" the people and led them astray.
Understanding the story of Balaam helps us interpret this insidious group more accurately (see Num. 22-25). Balaam was a true prophet who prostituted his gifts in order to earn money from King Balak, who hired him to curse the people of Israel. God prevented Balaam from actually cursing the nation—in fact, God turned the curses into blessings!—but Balak still got his money's worth. How? By following Balaam's advice and making friends with Israel, and then inviting the Jews to worship and feast at the pagan altars.
The Jewish men fell right into the trap and many of them became "good neighbors." They ate meat from idolatrous altars and committed fornication as part of heathen religious rites. Twenty-four thousand people died because of this disobedient act of compromise (Num. 25:1-9).
Why did this bit of ancient history apply to the believers at Pergamos? Because a group in that church said, "There is nothing wrong with being friendly to Rome. What harm is there in putting a pinch of incense on the altar and affirming your loyalty to Caesar?" Antipas refused to compromise and was martyred; but others took the "easy way" and cooperated with Rome. The Lord accused the Christians in Pergamos of sinning, of committing "spiritual fornication" by saying, "Caesar is Lord." Of course, this compromise made them welcome in the Roman guilds and protected them from Roman persecution, but it cost them their testimony and their crown.
Believers today also face the temptation to achieve personal advancement by ungodly compromise. The congregation or the individual Christian that compromises with the world just to avoid suffering or achieve success is committing "spiritual adultery" and being unfaithful to the Lord. James tells us that whoever become a friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4).
May the Lord keep us from compromising our faith and our relationship with the Lord to please the world!