Holiness Is Fearing Sin
This week as we approach the end of days, you can find hope as you honor Christ's holiness!
The solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity."
-2 Timothy 2:19, emphasis added
The letter to Thyatira is the longest of the seven letters Christ wrote to His church. Yet Thyatira, located thirty miles from Pergamos and Sardis, is the least described of all the seven churches in Revelation. In fact, the only thing we know is the name of the first Christian from Thyatira. On Paul's second journey, as he stopped in Philippi, he led a seeking woman to Jesus, a "seller of purple [scarlet fabrics]" (Acts 16:14). Lydia, a merchant from Thyatira, was his first European convert.
Thyatira was renowned for its trade guilds. Much like our unions of today, the guilds set prices for labor, sales areas, and so forth. Potters, dyers, tanners, bakers, metal workers, textile makers, bronze smiths, slave dealers, leather workers, and the rest all had their guilds in this town.
Trade guilds were compulsory; to be employed in a trade was only via the guild. It was a closed shop. Every guild in Thyatira had a patron god or goddess, and every guild function began with paying homage to that deity by an obligatory offering; business followed, and then the customary banquets known for their sexual freedom.
Sir William Ramsay, the famed nineteenth-century archaeologist, described the scene of what he had excavated as being a place where intoxicated partygoers indulged themselves in immorality as the standard conduct of these pagan trade guilds. Clearly, lounging at a meal surrounded by strippers is not where any believer would want Christ to find him asking for deliverance from temptation. In short, a guild was no place for Christians, but quitting the union was economic suicide.
Thyatira was the church of the Dark Ages (A.D. 600-1500); this period covered from the time of the first pope, Gregory the Great, to the Reformation. If Pergamos was the church that was first wed to the world, then Thyatira was the dead church that had been living a long time in that condition.
Have you, like the wayward Thyratirans, been "dead' inside for a long time? If you have not said no to all sin in your life, and said yes to Christ by asking Him to give you clean hands and a pure heart, that neglect can trigger the chastening hand of God. Our Scripture meditation this week, Revelation 2:18-29, reminds us that Jesus Christ is "He who searches the minds and hearts." He very explicitly speaks of what happens to those who refuse to come before Him in purity. The chastening hand of God is real, and it will reach out and touch you if you do not choose to fear the Lord.
Fearing the Lord (appearing over 100 times in God's Word) is a huge scriptural concept--for God commands reverential awe that leads to loving obedience. Have you learned to fear the dreadful consequences of sin? I exhort you to listen this week to Christ's call to holiness!
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