Jesus addresses the church in Thyatira. This church is getting a “good” and “but..” report from Jesus. This one has a BIG but… to deal with.
“I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that you latter works exceed the first” (verse 19). Jesus is praising how this church is working in His name. They are even growing stronger with time. They have not “lost their first love” like their sister church of Ephesus had done.
BUT they had their own problem and it was a BIG one. “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat foods sacrificed to idols” (verse 20).
It appears that in the “spirit of tolerance” they had not called out this sin in their midst. I don’t know if there was one person causing all this damage or a “spirit of freedom” that was wider spread. It appears that her “teachings” were being gobbled up by many members of this body. Paul tells us that sexual sin is different from all other sins, in that it is sin against our own bodies. Every other sin is an outward action while sexual sin is an inward act.
Our “spirit of tolerance” today is HUGE! NO ONE wants to be called a “bigot” or a “hater.” It has become VERY dangerous to speak out against any sin, especially sexual sin. And, believe me (and Jesus), there IS sexual sin going on even in our own churches today, in the name of tolerance.
God created sex as an expression of love and commitment to be between a husband and wife. This was the union of the two becoming one again. He didn’t sit down and prescribe each “position” and “act” that was acceptable but He did put limits on what was not acceptable. Those limits include engaging in this intimate act with anyone or anything outside of the marriage bond HE established.
As you can probably tell, this is not an easy issue for me to discuss. I have been guilty of premarital sex in my life. I also have a child who engages in a homosexual relationship and a bigamous relationship. I have dealt with my sin with my Father but still carry the scars in my heart.
I believe those scars are what Paul was referencing when he said that sexual sins were against the person’s own body. Other sins we can actually “walk away from” the tempting object. If it is alcohol or drugs or excessive food, we can actually put barriers between ourselves and these objects. With sexual sin, there is no walking away from that part of your own body. There IS choosing to resist temptation and not give in to it though.
This “Jezebel” Jesus is referring to in this church is teaching those who will listen that giving in to this temptation is “natural” and “healthy” instead. Yes, God created us as beings with a sexual desire BUT that desire is NOT to rule our lives. It is to be put under control of the spirit.
Freely engaging in sexual activity ruins lives and relationships. It ruins pre-existing relationships, as in adulterous affairs breaking up marriages, and impacts the lives of EVERYONE it touches, including children brought forth from such behaviors.
I know some will say it is just “society’s stigmatization” and that we “are moving beyond such repressed beliefs.” But GOD set standards and it is HIS judgements that we are dismissing. We WILL pay for that, whether or not we choose to or not. Society can change its standards to accept sexual proclivities or not, but God won’t. HIS decisions are final and have eternal consequences.
Notice too that Jesus said that He allowed Jezebel time to repent of her sin and to change her ways. There is forgiveness and restoration waiting even for those who have engaged in sexual sin. He can restore any who come to Him. He can even repair the damage done, but only when we give that part of our lives to Him fully.
I may lose readers over this, but I believe God is calling me to make this line clear. Sex between a husband and wife is the only sexual union God allows. Sex outside of marriage, “friends with benefits”, homosexuality, sexual acts with under aged participants, rape, sex with animals, and sex with inanimate objects ALL fall OUTSIDE of His boundaries and are therefore sexual sin. I don’t care what society says. HIS opinion counts more than ANY other opinion out there.
However, I still love the person caught up in these sins the same way Jesus does. I pray for their deliverance and for them to recognize that what they are doing is sin. I pray they give their lives to Him and let Him have this part of their lives. I HATE the SIN not the sinner. I love my child this same way. I pray God gets hold of this part of his life and I leave him in HIS hands. I DO NOT cut him out of my life but I also don’t let his sin into my home, beyond being welcoming to his partners. They ALL know where I stand on this issue but that I love them still as part of my family. I leave their hearts in God’s hands.
I think Jesus is calling for a different standard of love though from this church. He is calling for a separation from the Jezebel spirit in His body. He is removing this sin from the midst of HIS body. “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” (verses 22-23a).
“Jezebel” has had MANY opportunities to repent and refused all of them. Her “partners” are also guilty of sin. They chose her above God. By bringing both participants trouble, they will hopefully open their eyes and finally repent. I don’t believe the “children” referenced here are physical children produced by these unions but spiritual “children” such as new doctrines spawned by accepting the original sin as acceptable. One of those “children” could be that “nothing is off limits in sex.” When WE move the boundary lines once it becomes easier to move them again. If ever in doubt, look at where we have come today from where we were 50 years ago as a society. God didn’t move, we did. And there will be a reckoning for our sin.
Father God, You know how hard it is for me to write this today. Not because I approve of the sin being discussed by Jesus but because I love people and don’t want to hurt them. I hurt for them! I want ALL to come to You and find forgiveness and restoration. I LONG for my child to do so Father! But I don’t know how long that is going to take and how many scars he and his “family” will carry as a result of his wandering in sin. PLEASE protect his children from his choices. I know his beliefs have already impacted them to some degree and his unbelief is truly a stumbling block for them. PLEASE don’t let go of them! Bring ALL my children and grandchildren to You! Again! I leave them in YOUR hands.
Thank You for Your forgiveness in my life with my sins. Thank You too that You use the “scars” I have in the tapestry You are weaving out of my life. That scar becomes the point of another star. OH what a “starry night” I have! I pray I don’t give You many more stars to create.