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April 25, 2014

How can we live this life?

Pella — This week we look at Jesus’ letter to the third church in Revelation chapter 2, the church at Pergamum.  In verses 12 through 17 we read, “The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this:  ‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is;  and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith...but I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teachings of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality.  Thus you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  Repent therefore;  or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war 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, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’”

The name Pergamum means “to be married.”  What a great name for a church! Several places in God’s Word we find the Church referred to as the “bride of Christ”, and those who have trusted Jesus have been joined together in a “marriage relationship” with Him!  But Jesus said to this particular church at Pergamum (vs 14), “I have a few things against you!”  This church’s marriage was in trouble!  They were having an affair with another lover! They had become lovers of pleasure, instead of lovers of God.  They were espousing a relationship with Christ, but living in sin!  The problem was they had bought into some false teaching that was pulling them downward. What was this false teaching?  It was referred to as “the teachings of Balaam” and “the teachings of the Nicolaitans (vs 14-15).”  This church had been led astray into the worship of worldly gain and sensual satisfaction and were sucked into covetousness and self indulgence.  They had sold out to the world system and were trying to be married to the world and still maintain a relationship with God!  Doing so, they had put themselves at war with God!  Is that a frightful thought, or what?

This distorted view of Christianity resulted in conduct that was not different than those without Christ in their lives.  They had been deceived into believing that since God had forgiven them, they could live any way they wanted;  after all, God would keep on forgiven them.  But his is a misunderstanding of God’s grace!  The apostle Paul had something to say about it in Romans chapter 6, verses 1 and 2:  “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?  May it never be!  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”  From Philippians 1, verse 27:  “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ!”  And from Ephesians 4, verse 1:  “Walk in a manner worthy of your calling!”

A true understanding of what God has done for us in Christ motivates us to live a life that is pleasing to Him!  But we can’t do it on our own.  Jesus’ resurrection from the grave has given us the power to live a life free from the bondage to sin!  In 2 Peter chapter 1, verse 3, we find “we have been made partakers of (God’s) divine nature” in Christ!  It is no longer my nature to live a life of sin.  Did you hear that?  In 2 Corinthians 5, verse 21, “God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him!”  There was a great line in the movie Lion King which was directed at the young lion cub, Simba, who was to become the new lion king:  “You are not yet what you have become!”  May I say, as followers of Jesus Christ, WE are not yet living up to what we have become in Christ!  In order to do that, we must begin to act like who we are in Christ in the power of Christ in us, trusting Jesus to be Himself in us! That’s what it means to live out our relationship in the world.  And then the world will see the difference Jesus can make in a life sold out to Him! 

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