Are we Free to Sin Now That Jesus has died for our Sins?
Let us be wise and search the Word to see to which church we belong in the light of the 7 churches portrayed in the book of Revelation.
The letter addressed to Pergamum begins with quite an encouragement:
“I know where you live-where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city-where Satan lives.” (Rev 2:13, NIV2)
Still, living “where Satan has his throne” rings a loud warning bell. Why would anyone want to live in the neighborhood of the evil one? Danger is on the horizon for certain! Still the Pergamum Christians remained faithful to the Lord, and that is certainly commendable. But did all believers hold to the truth?
“Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality.” (Rev 2:14, NIV2)
This is the eye-opener, and we could anticipate such a development when living in the neighborhood of the evil one. It goes against the decision at the Council of Jerusalem: “You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 15:29a, NIV2) This group of believers has walked right into the trap of the evil one!
The teaching of Balaam refers to an event that happened when Israel was wandering through the desert. The Moabite king wanted Balaam to curse Israel. When this didn’t work, a better plan was devised. These people who could not be cursed could be seduced by the beautiful women of Moab, and thus, Israel could be enticed to be unfaithful to God (See Num 23:8 and 31:15-16).
These Pergamum believers were deceived as well. They were living openly in “sexual immorality!”
The news becomes even grimmer: “Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” (Rev 2:15, NIV2) According to early Church Fathers, such as Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Clement of Alexandra, these believers lived a licentious lifestyle. They had adopted the ways of the dark side. And is it any wonder when they lived that close to the evil one?
What should be done?
“Repent therefore!” (Rev 2:16a, NIV2) before it is too late! Christ didn’t die for us so that we could sin freely. That’s a direct insult to the Most High!
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? . . . Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” (Rom 6:1-2, 11 NIV2)
Light and darkness cannot be mixed together: “What fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14c, NIV)
Let me illustrate this with yet another story of the potato blight that struck Ireland in the 1840s. Despite the fact that most of their crops yielded excellent harvests, this food was destined solely for the British, not the Irish. The only food that the Irish still had access to, the potato, was no longer edible, and people were dying in droves. Many tenants found themselves unable to pay their British landlords. This resulted in immediate eviction, and their homes were destroyed as well. Without shelter or food, many died right along the roadside.
Some of these poor tenants tried to steal food to feed their starving families. They were promptly arrested and enchained on prison ships headed for Australia, never to see their families again.
The British were not completely heartless. Relief efforts were put into place in the form of soup kitchens, poorhouses and public works projects. There were not enough of these, however, and they were poorly managed. As a result, they barely made a dent in the suffering. Nonetheless, it could be said that the British had done their part to help the Irish, and it was not their fault that so many Irish died along the roadsides.
In all honesty, I don’t think I could find anyone who would approve of how the poor Irish people were treated. The meager resources that were supposedly there to help them were far from adequate. In our day and age, there would be an outcry against such inhumane treatment. It was truly wrong and we all know it!
The same is true if we live a licentious life and pretend to follow Jesus. Anyone I know would cry out: “Hypocrites!” And they would be right. Light and darkness cannot be mixed together without making a mockery of God!
One group of people on the other side of the ocean was troubled by how much the Irish were suffering. They were not numerous, but they were dedicated to the Lord. These Quakers filled as many ships as possible with provisions and sent them to Ireland. They were the ones who were doing what was right.
We all have choices to make. Some choices, however, are not Godly at all. Who will we serve?
To those who attend the Pergamum kind of churches: wake up and come back to your senses before it is too late! Turn away from the evil one and embrace the love of God instead.
(To access the entire, “A Study on the Seven Churches of Revelation” devotional series, please click here.)