“Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
Revelation 2:16 NLT
Repentance is certainly in order when the church is allowing things that God says is sin. We, the church, can not tolerate sin in our midst. I'm not saying that we should be self righteous and arrogant about the view of ourselves. We all have sinned (Romans 3:23). What I'm speaking about is the acceptance of sinful practices within the church. The church of Pergamum had allowed some of its congregants to live under the doctrine of Balaam and Nicholas. As we have seen in the last few days, the teachings and practices of both of these groups were not in line with true, Biblical Christianity. These members/attendees were corrupting the church with their compromised behaviors. Jesus called them out categorically and commanded them to repent or face the judgment of His sword. The sword is represented here as an instrument of God's impending judgment. His sword is His Word. All He has to do is pronounce judgment and it will fall. Just like Balaam in Numbers 22, God is angry with the sin within the ranks of those who are supposed to be His, yet totally disobey Him. Take a look at the story: “So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials. But God was angry that Balaam was going, so he sent the angel of the Lord to stand in the road to block his way. As Balaam and two servants were riding along, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. The donkey bolted off the road into a field, but Balaam beat it and turned it back onto the road. Then the angel of the Lord stood at a place where the road narrowed between two vineyard walls. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it tried to squeeze by and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So Balaam beat the donkey again. Then the angel of the Lord moved farther down the road and stood in a place too narrow for the donkey to get by at all. This time when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down under Balaam. In a fit of rage Balaam beat the animal again with his staff. Then the Lord gave the donkey the ability to speak. “What have I done to you that deserves your beating me three times?” it asked Balaam. “You have made me look like a fool!” Balaam shouted. “If I had a sword with me, I would kill you!” “But I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life,” the donkey answered. “Have I ever done anything like this before?” “No,” Balaam admitted. Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the roadway with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam bowed his head and fell face down on the ground before him. “Why did you beat your donkey those three times?” the angel of the Lord demanded. “Look, I have come to block your way because you are stubbornly resisting me. Three times the donkey saw me and shied away; otherwise, I would certainly have killed you by now and spared the donkey.” Numbers 22:21-33 NLT The donkey saved Balaam's life. Just like many today, their anger is misplaced. Often, they are angered by those who try to call them out of judgment from the sword of God. Without them even knowing it, the preacher of the truth is trying to save their lives. Animals are not the ones who sinned, we are. Animals came under the curse because they were under Adams domain. When a donkey can see the angel of the Lord and we can't, something is wrong with our relationship with God. Balaam was supposed to be a man of God, but he had not been. His disobedience had angered God. Let me address this issue briefly. God does get angry. His wrath is righteous and is always applied appropriately. In John 2:1-11 Jesus turned the water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana of Galilee. Following this He went to Capernaum for a few days. Leaving from there, (John 2:13-17), He went up to Jerusalem for the Passover Celebration. As He entered the Temple area He saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves. He also saw dealers exchanging foreign monies in the Temple. His righteous indignation was stirred and He proceeded to make a whip to drive these money changers out of the Temple. Anger, itself, isn't sinful (see Ephesians 4:26). Take a good look at this scripture: "But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” Romans 1:18 NLT In Revelation 14:9-11 we read that anyone who worships the beast and accepts his mark will have to drink the wine of God's anger. The character of the person who is angry determines how they implement their anger. Jesus anger is perfectly righteous because He is perfect. Today, He is still calling the church to repentance. In many of the American churches we have accepted sinful practices much like that of Balaam and Nicholas. Some accept sex outside of marriage, allow couples who are living together unmarried to serve as leaders and become members. Some have now endorsed homosexual marriage and even ordain homosexuals into the ministry. Adulterous conduct remains unchallenged within many churches. Paul had to deal with the same issues in the Corinthian church. “But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.” 1 Corinthians 5:10-11 NLT “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT It's time, church, for repentance. Let's come out from the world, not make the church like the world.
Rev. Curtis Norris