Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Authors and speakers will always come along claiming to have some new, unusual insight from God. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says, “Focus on the Bible rather than the latest popular idea.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Cling to what He’s already given to you in His Word by His indwelling Spirit. Hold it fast.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender: The Heart God Controls, for Monday, September 25, 2017.

When you make decisions based on the Bible instead of popular opinion, do you ever feel alone? Nancy will provide you with hope and encouragement as she continues in a series called "Letters to the Churches in Revelation, Part 5: The Sin of Tolerance."

Nancy: I came across a quote recently in a book that was co-authored by the late pastor Dr. James Boice and then Pastor Phillip Ryken. Here’s what they have to say:

Sadly, this is not the church’s finest hour. We live in an age of weak theology and casual Christian conduct. Our knowledge is insufficient, our worship is irreverent, and our lives are immoral. Even the evangelical church has succumbed to the spirit of this age. Perhaps the simplest way to say this is that evangelicalism has become worldly.1

I see some of you nodding your heads, and I hear some amens. That paragraph could summarize the letter to the church of Thyatira that we’ve been looking at in Revelation chapter 2. Let me back up and read the part that we’ve talked about so far, and then I want us to continue in that letter today.

Jesus says to this church,

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 [what a word of God’s mercy], but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.

What a picture of unrepentant, stubborn sinners.Then He says there will be consequences, verse 22:

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 [her spiritual followers; there will be serious consequences]. 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 (vv. 20–23).

Now, these are sober, serious words of warning, and they’re the kind of words that I really don’t delight in speaking on, teaching on. I’d like to kind of pass over those kinds of verses. But when we began Revive Our Hearts, I covenanted with the Lord that I was committed to teach and speak His truth. I want to do it as winsomely as possible, as graciously and gently as possible, but I agreed with the Lord that I was not going to be driven by ratings, how many stations we were on, how many people sent money into support our ministry; that ultimately if we had to go off the air, if that’s what was required of speaking the truth to people, then I had to be faithful to the Lord and to His Word. It’s not always easy, but it is so important.

Now, following these serious words of warning, we learn that not everyone in the church in Thyatira had bought into this teaching and philosophy of this so-called Jezebel. There were still some faithful believers, and, thankfully, Jesus had a word of encouragement and comfort for them, as well as an exhortation.

Let’s read what He says in verses 24 and 25 of Revelation 2:

"But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. Only hold fast what you have until I come.”

Let’s take that apart.

“To the rest of you in Thyatira”—the rest of you—that’s a reminder that there is always a remnant, even where many are falling by the wayside, many are being seduced by false teaching and false teachers, even many within the church are becoming apostate. They’re falling away from the truth, there are still some true believers.

Even within our most liberal denominations and churches today, there are still some who are part of the rest, the remnant, those who have not been taken in by the teaching and the influence of Jezebels—whether the first century Jezebels or twenty-first century Jezebels.

Notice where they live: “The rest of you in Thyatira.” They live in Thyatira.

You say, “What’s so profound about that?”

Well, it’s a reminder that we’re called to live in the world, in this world, in this wicked, fallen, sinful world, where people do promote and teach and practice false things. They live in Thyatira. We are to live in the world—that, for you, may be in Little Rock, or in South Bend, Indiana, or in Chicago, or in Houston. We’re called to live in the world, but we’re not to be of this world. Our hearts are not to be in this world.

We’re called to be in the world. That is, we’re not to escape. We’re not called to escape, but we are called to be holy, to be consecrated, to be set apart, children of God, living as lights in the darkness of this world, while at the same time we love and we seek to reach those who are in the darkness.

He says, “To the rest of you in Thyatira who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan”—you have not learned these things.

That word learned is the Greek word ginosko. It means "to know something," not just in your head, but to know it experientially, to know it intuitively. It’s not just intellectual knowledge; it’s experiential knowledge, and He says, “You have not bought into the knowledge of these so-called deep things.”

What are these deep things of Satan that He refers to here, “what some call the deep things of Satan”?

I found two basic explanations and interpretations, and I have to tell you, I don’t know which one is accurate, but I think either could be.

The first explanation is that perhaps these people in this church had claimed to be into the deep things of Satan.

The other option is that they had claimed to be into the deep things of God, but really those things were not the deep things of God, they were the deep things of Satan.

Let me explain both of those a little further.

The depths of Satan, the deep things of Satan—maybe they really were the deep things of Satan. Maybe they really were claiming to be into Satan’s deep things. Jezebel and her followers had entered into a knowledge of the deep things of Satan. They had justified believers participating in trade guild feasts that honored pagan gods and practiced immorality. They had encouraged believers to experience evil personally, to venture into Satan’s territory, to go into the world and to learn his ways firsthand, to show that they could handle it perhaps, or perhaps to show that Satan was powerless over them. They could go in and immerse themselves in the world’s ways of thinking and living and get away with it. Or perhaps they could go in and get to learn better how to deal with these things.

People are still being tempted by Satan today to taste of the fruit of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," and here’s how it comes out:

  • We need to know popular culture, or our kids need to experience what’s out there in the world so that we can be equipped to deal with it.
  • So they won’t have their heads stuck in the sand.
  • So they’ll know what’s going on.
  • So they’ll know how to reach this world.

They need to experience this personally.

To which God’s Word says, in Romans chapter 16, “I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” You do not need to taste of the world’s fruit, the fruit of the knowledge of evil, in order to know that it’s evil.

You say, “How can you know that it’s evil then?”

We have this Book that tells us what is good and what is evil. God has revealed in His Word what is true, what is false, what is pure, what is holy, and what is unholy. That’s how we need to come to know good and evil.

Paul says to the Romans, “I want you to be very experienced in what is good, but I want you to be novices, innocent, naïve, in terms of what is evil. I don’t want you to experience it personally.”

We don’t need to demonstrate that we can handle the deep things of Satan. We need to walk by faith in God’s victory over Satan.

Romans 16 goes on to tell us, after saying the innocent concerning what is evil, it says: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (v. 19).

That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to taste it; you don’t need to test it; you don’t need to experience the deep things of Satan, and nor do your children. All you need to know is by faith the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

You may live where Satan’s throne is, but you don’t need to experience it firsthand or experientially or intimately.

Now, maybe they were claiming to have this esoteric knowledge of the deep things of God. They were claiming, “We know spiritual realities that other people aren’t privy to.” The Scripture is saying here that these weren’t really the deep things of God; they were really the deep things of Satan.

We see here a hint at the early seeds of what has come to be known as Gnosticism, from the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge." This is a philosophy, a theology that keeps coming back, and it gets reincarnated in so many different forms. It’s very active and alive today in many forms, but it’s a way of thinking that started in the first and second centuries. It offers depths, so-called, of esoteric knowledge, special secret knowledge, spiritual knowledge. You can delve into mysteries. You can try to unlock hidden things, secrets of the universe.

Does this sound New Age to you? Not only is it at the heart of New Age philosophy, but it’s also at the heart of different ways of teaching that are coming into our churches today, in our Christian bookstores, and in so-called Christian teachers and speakers, where they claim to discover new truths, deep things that only certain people who pay them money or buy their book can experience.

These ways of thinking, this secret, hidden knowledge, these depths are alluring to people.

  • It appeals to our sense of independence.
  • It appeals to people’s intellectual pride.
  • It appeals to their flesh.

Let me just caution you—maybe some time we’ll do a whole series on what some of these kinds of teaching are today—but be careful about listening to new voices, those who claim to have some new vision, some new revelation, some new understanding.

Listen, ladies, the truth is everything that you’re searching for, everything that your soul needs and longs for is found in Christ. You see this concept in Colossians chapter 2. In fact, let me ask you to turn to Colossians 2. I want to read a fairly lengthy passage here that gives us this sense of what we have in Christ and how the knowledge that our hearts need is found in Him.

Colossians 2, beginning in verse 1, Paul says,

I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ [the knowledge of God’s mystery] (verses 1-2).

People claim to want to know knowledge; deep, hidden, secret knowledge. They want to know the mysteries of the universe. They want to unlock these secret, hidden spiritual depths, but Christ offers to us, Christ is for us, the knowledge of God’s mystery.

Sometimes the word knowledge is the Greek word gnosis—g-n-o-s-i-s—but here is a little different word for knowledge; it’s the word epignosis, which means a more intense sort of knowledge—super knowledge.

You want super knowledge of the deep things? Where do you find it? You find it in Christ. The knowledge of the mystery of God is found in Christ. In Him you will find everything you truly need and everything your heart desires.

Verse 3: In Christ are hidden—people were looking for hidden wisdom, hidden knowledge.

In Christ are hidden all the treasures of the wisdom and the knowledge.

There’s that word again; that’s what people were seeking for. He says, “Find it in Christ.”

I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. [He keeps taking it back to Christ.] Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him (verses 3-6).

You don’t need all these extra things. You don’t need all these special books and programs and clubs and secret hidden knowledge that even some spiritual teachers, so-called today, are promoting.

Walk in Him [Christ] rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (v. 7).

Listen, you get your heart fixed in Christ, you get your mind fixed on Christ, you get your life rooted and established in Christ, and you will have an established, settled life that is overflowing with thanksgiving. You will be full.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit [there’s a lot of that going on today—philosophy and empty deceit. It’s vain; it’s deceptive], according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to [what?] Christ (v. 8).

We just keep seeing Christ here. Paul says, “Christ is everything. Believe Him; know Him; seek Him. Put your roots down deep into the depths of Christ if you’re looking for deep places to go.

For in Him, in Christ, the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (v. 9).

In Christ, all of God—all of God—all the fullness of God dwells incarnate in Christ.

Ladies, it’s all about Jesus. It’s all about Christ, and not just people’s pictured description of Christ, but Christ as we see Him revealed in the Word of God as the Son of God equal with God, one with God. He is God, the Son of God, the holy Son of God sent to this world in human flesh to pay for our sins. Christ, as He is revealed in the Word of God.

If there’s any teaching that makes you deviate for a moment from putting your attention, your affection, your heart on Christ, then you need to have your antenna go up and be suspicious. It’s all about Christ.

I think this last part of this passage is important because I find in myself, and in circles where I traffic, there’s a temptation to over react to rampant compromise and worldliness that is going on around us by going to the other extreme and by becoming dogmatic or rigid or drawing lines where Scripture does not speak.

I think that’s why Jesus says to this church, “You haven’t bought into this teaching. Good for you, but I’m not going to lay any other burden on you.”

That brings to mind a passage in Acts 15 that we referenced earlier in this series where the council in Jerusalem, the leaders of the church, met to determine whether the converted Gentiles needed to keep the Old Testament law. We talked about that passage earlier, but at the conclusion of that meeting, that council, the leaders wrote a letter. In that letter they said, “We are not going to lay any burden on you other than to ask you to abstain from four things.”

Among those four things are these two: “You are to abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from fornication.”

What were the two things that those in Thyatira were promoting as permissible for believers? Eating at the idol feasts the things sacrificed to idols, and sexual immorality, fornication. Those were the two things that, according to the Ten Commandments, according to God’s law, were not permissible. That was the Word of God. That was the moral law of God that applies to Old and New Testament believers of all eras.

So in that Jerusalem council, the verdict was, “We’re not going to lay any other burden on you other than keeping the moral law of God which is an expression of your true faith in Christ.”

Now what happened? The Pharisees in Jesus’ day, the legalists, added to the law of God their own traditions and then imposed those traditions on everyone else. They added a lot of heavy burdens onto people. Jesus says, “My yoke is easy; My burden is light. I’m not laying on you other burdens. This is the love of God: that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.” We are able to fulfill His commandments by the Holy Spirit living within us.

So here’s the point: We must not lay on ourselves or others burdens greater than what God does.

For example: In our reaction to immorality and promiscuity, which breaks our hearts and grieves us, we look around. We see a hook-up culture and a culture that is just rife with immorality and immorality rampant in the church. So in reacting to that, what can sometimes happen is that we start to imply that sex is sinful and that young men and women should not be attracted to each other. Like, “Watch out! Watch out! Watch out! Watch out!” We’re putting people in shackles; we’re putting them in chains that are not of God’s making, as opposed to the Word of God, which is called in James 2, “The law of liberty.”

So as it relates to morality, we need to be teaching about sex and teaching that the right use of sex is beautiful; it’s sacred. Jesus says, “I don’t lay on you any other burden.”

Let’s be sure we are not laying on people burdens that are greater than the ones that are in God’s Word.

He says, “All you have to do is hold fast what you have until I come.”

This seems in contrast to those who hold to the false teaching of Jezebel. You’re holding to doctrine one way or the other. You may not realize it. You may not think you like doctrine, but you do believe doctrine. You do practice doctrine, and some in this church were holding to the false teaching of Jezebel, the teaching of license, the teaching of liberty, the perversion of grace, but others were holding to the truth of God’s Word. And Jesus said, “Just keep holding fast to what you have.”

Cling to what He’s already given to you in His Word by His indwelling Spirit. Hold it fast. That’s a strong word that means you’ve got to be intentional about this. You don’t want to drift spiritually. It’s not always going to be easy to hold fast to the Word of God, and don’t take it for granted that you will not fall prey to the seduction of today’s Jezebels. Hold fast to it.

I did a study this week on all the references I could find in Scripture to what we’re to hold fast to. Here’s just a few of the things:

  • We’re to hold fast to the Lord God (Deut. 10:20; 11:22)
  • We’re to hold fast to His Word and to sound doctrine (Ps. 119:31; Pr. 4:4; 1 Cor. 15:2; Phil 2:16; 2 Thes. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:13; Titus 1:9; Rev. 3:3).
  • We’re to hold fast to that which is good (Hosea 12:6; Rom. 12:9).
  • We are to hold fast to our confidence, our hope, the assurance that faith gives us through Christ (Heb. 3:6; 4:14; 6:18; 10:23).
  • And supremely we are to hold fast to Christ (Col. 2:19; Rev. 2:13).

Jesus says, “Hold fast to what you have until I come.”

Be loyal to Him. Cling to Him, to His Word, and to His truth. Regardless of what others may say or do, He will always be sufficient. The depths, the treasures, the fullness of all wisdom and knowledge is found in Christ.

Leslie: If it feels like you are holding on to biblical truth while so many others around you are drifting, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been providing encouragement. That message is part of the series, "The Sin of Tolerance." The series is based on the letter to the church in Thyatira found in Revelation 2. We’re covering all seven letters to the churches in Revelation through several series this year.

We’re so thankful to all who are writing in letting us know that Revive Our Hearts is an encouragement. One listener says:

I want to take the time to thank you for your helpful insights and encouragement in helping me as a godly woman be obedient and faithful to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I really appreciate the fact that the Scriptures are your focal point of instruction. Very few ministries are geared specifically for godly women, and I do thank my Lord for you, Nancy. Your sacrifice is my blessing.

Many have sacrificed to bless others through Revive Our Hearts. Listeners have given sacrificially in order for us to come to you today. This listener-supported ministry needs to hear from you. Your gift will help us stay online.

When you donate any amount, we’ll say "thanks" by sending you a booklet to help you explore the letters in Revelation. It’s called Ears to Hear. Studying these letters and using the booklet as a guide would enhance your Bible study and help you get more out of this teaching series. Ask for the booklet, Ears to Hear, when you call toll free 1–800–569–5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Jesus refers to Himself as the morning star. It’s a star that appears when night is almost over. What does this mean for you? Find out tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth want to stand with you. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

1 James Boice & Philip Ryken, The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel, 20, 21

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