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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - The Intolerance of an Overcomer

Tony Evans - The Intolerance of an Overcomer

Tony Evans - The Intolerance of an Overcomer

Well, today in Revelation chapter 2, the Lord is going to talk about the intolerance of an overcomer. If you are going to be an overcomer and not an under-comer, if you are going to be a winner and not a loser, if you're gonna be victorious and not live in defeat, you must have your toleration limits. There are certain things you will not tolerate, you won't accept. It's outside of the boundary. "He writes to the church at Thyatira," he says beginning in Revelation chapter 2 verse 18, "To the angel," that is the messenger, that is the pastor, "of the church at Thyatira, write: The son of God who has eyes like flame of fire and his feet are like burnished bronze says this..." So he introduces this designation to the church at Thyatira.

So let me tell you about Thyatira. It was a place known for its guilds or unions. In the midst of these unions and this city called Thyatira, a church was established. The beginning of that church is summarized for us in Acts chapter 16 verse 14, when Paul the apostle comes across a woman named Lydia, and Lydia was a seller of purple, it says, purple dye. Thyatira made purple dye and these dyes was part of couture clothing for the uptown shoppers. And so the purple dye, she was a manufacturer of it, she was a distributor of it, she was a wholesaler of it, and Paul came and led Lydia to Christ in Acts chapter 16 verse 14. Out of that grew a church. It grew out of the salvation of Lydia.

Well, Thyatira is known for its guilds and its unions, but let me tell you about a couple of aspects of the unions because that will help you to understand what Jesus is getting ready to say to the church. Now, only were the unions connecting people who had the same occupation for protection and for privileges and for rights, but at each union had its own god. So the unions had a spiritual or religious aspect to them. So if you were part of Thyatira's teachers Union, then you were expected to give recognition to the teacher's union god or whatever god was tied to that union. So that was one part of it. So Thyatira was a worker's union, but had had a religious aspect. But it not only had a religious aspect, the unions in Thyatira also had a social aspect like a fraternity or a sorority.

So there was a social aspect to the unions. So there was a working aspect tied to a religious aspect, tied to a social aspect. So you got together with the people that you worked with and you partied with them and you enjoy good time with them because you shared the same occupation. While the problem occurred when people became Christians and belonged to the Union and they were expected to recognize the union's god and to party with the other coworkers, that it involved things that went against the Christian faith. And that created a crisis for the Christians in these secular occupations. Verse 18 says, "The Son of God, the one with eyes of fire and feet of burnished bronze, says this".

Jesus Christ has already been introduced as the Son of man, but on this occasion in verse 18 to the church at Thyatira, he's not introduced as the Son of man, he's introduced as the Son of God. And of course, Jesus is both, the virgin birth. He is now introduced to us as the Son of God, as the son of God deity, he says He has eyes of fire. And Jesus's eyes of fire penetrates the facade. He knows when you're really Christian and he knows when you're faking it to make it. Because his eyes of fire penetrate to the reality of a thing. He not only has eyes of fire, it says in verse 18, it says "He has feet of burnished bronze". Well, what do you do with feet? You walk. So he is got eyes to see it and feet to get to it.

Jesus Christ now presents himself to this church as the all-seeing authoritative one to these Christians who are caught in these unions that are being demanded that they tolerate certain beliefs and practices that compromise their Christian faith. So that's the dilemma. He compliments them in verse 19 where he says to them, "I know your deeds, your love, your faith, your service, your perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than your deeds at first". So you are doing better, you are growing. You are a congregation that I see wants to do the right thing and so I wanna commend you for that. But after commending them, he now criticizes them.

He says in verse 20, "But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads my bond servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols". What's Jesus's problem with this church? His problem is what they tolerate. Well, he says, "You tolerate the woman Jezebel". The problem was toleration. Watch this now. Jesus the Son of God says, "I've got a problem with you Thyatira Bible fellowship. Not only, not only are you doing good things, but you are tolerating other folk doing bad things".

So you add this prophetess self-proclaimed 'cause she called herself a prophetess, God never called her one. She's a self-proclaimed prophetess and she is going around speaking on behalf of God leading church members astray. This is God's house and in his house there's certain things he accepts and certain things he doesn't accept and neither does he want the other family members to accept it. He says, "You tolerate it, you accept it". And he says, "It is unacceptable". And it involved two things, it involved worshiping of false God. He says, idolatry, the unions worship the idols. He says, "Well, the unions may worship the idols, but I'm the only true God, you don't get to worship the idols just 'cause everybody else is doing it". What he is saying is that this church tolerated Jezebel.

So let me tell you about Jezzy. We find Jezebel in 1 Kings chapter 16 and verse 17. Jezebel was married to Ahab, the king of Israel. Jezebel was the daughter of a king and she was a worshiper of the god, Baal. She talked her husband into worshiping Baal. So we got a strong-willed woman married to the king who comes to the king and says, "Well, if you gonna be married to me, you got to go with my God". So he compromised with her, and when he compromised with her, he's the king, he is leading all of Israel into compromising with her. And she got Israel to compromise.

That's why Elijah asked them, how long will you halt between two opinions? How long you gonna go both ways? How long you gonna be one way in church and another way at work? How long you gonna be one way with the family of God and another way in your sorority or fraternity? How long you gonna be one way with your spiritual family and a whole nother way with your biological family? How long you gonna go both ways? 'Cause he wants you to know, as long as you go both ways you'll never be an overcomer because you are not operating on his standard. He says you tolerate it, you accept it. Even if you're not doing it, you are allowing it and it's going unaddressed. It is shameful today what churches are beginning to allow. It is shameful today. 'Cause this woman is in the church, she's a power broker in the congregation. It is shameful today how churches are dumbing down God's standard because they don't wanna offend, they don't want anybody to call him intolerant.

He says to them, "You have tolerated Jezebel, you have tolerated her and she's doing damage to the church". And God says what? "And I'm not even being mean about it". Look at verse 21. "I gave her time to repent and she does not want to repent of her immorality". Now we're gonna get into, we're gonna get back to this thing of repentance 'cause it's one of the most powerful words in the Bible. It is a powerful word because it opens up the door of God changing his relationship with you. So repentance it means to turn, okay. He says, "Even though this woman, Jezebel is promoting immorality, been promoting idolatry, I gave her an opportunity to fix it. Repent".

So God creates windows of repentance, opportunities within a timeline before he moves. He says, "I gave Jezebel, even though she was involved in this kind of wickedness, and even though she was influencing other people to this kind of wickedness, I gave her a window of opportunity to turn". What was her problem? She does not want to repent. Sin is bad, but not wanting to repent is worse 'cause now you've entered into the category called rebellion. This woman was not struggling, she was a rebel and she was influencing other people and other folks were around there saying, "Well, that's her business, I ain't got nothing to do with that". Well here's the way we say it. "I'm not supposed to judge," okay.

So let's get this straight. Let's get this straight 'cause people are confused on this thing. You are to always judge the distinction between truth and error. You must judge. You must judge legitimately, you must judge biblically, you must judge lovingly, you must judge responsibly. And then you get this sympathetic thing "Well, God is a god of love". Yeah, well that's half of God. That's one side of God. Romans 11 says, "Knowing the goodness and severity of God". See, you got these two sides of God, I can love you, but I must reject that idea because it goes against what God says and God is my standard. So you must hold in your hand two things, truth and love. And the two must be kept together. You don't give up truth for love and you don't give up love for truth, you have to hold both of them simultaneously.

God is not lowering his standard to please folk. And so he's saying you tolerate, you accept, you dismiss the standard. And so what is the result of that? Is he goes on to say, "I will throw her, Jezebel, on a bed of sickness and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of her deeds". So that's bad news and good news. The bad news is he says, I'm gonna throw her on her bed of sickness. One way God disciplines us is with sickness. He allows sickness. All sickness is not due to discipline, but some sickness is. And one of the ways he disciplines, he says, "I will throw her on a bed of sickness". So let me tell you what happened to Jezebel. Jezebel kept going, kept going, would not repent, would not repent and then she crossed the line, okay. She crossed the line and God said, "That's it".

So one day she's sitting up there in her window, she falls out of the window, hits her head, blood splatters everywhere, she laying on the ground and she dies from the fall, okay. This is in 2 Kings chapter 9 verses 30 to 35. And so she's out there, blood is splattered. So the men come to get her body to bury her. But when they come to get her body, there's nothing left but her skull and her feet 'cause the dogs have devoured her. Not only did God take her life, it was the shame of being eaten by the... because you would not repent. And he says, "And for Jezebel and her followers," these are those who are practicing what she was doing. "There would be the discipline of God".

Now you say, "Well I don't believe God is like that. That was in the Old Testament". Well this verse is in the New Testament and so is Hebrews chapter 10 verse 30 and 31 because Hebrews chapter 10 verse 30 and 31 makes it clear. He says, "Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord. And I will judge my people". I will judge my people not to be mean, but to bring corrective measures into their lives. There must be a standard that the kingdom of God holds to, that we get back in line with if we're out of alignment so that the church of Jesus Christ is distinct in the culture because no longer will it be popular to be one of the culture. Used to be popular you could be one of the culture but now you take a biblical stand for life, you take a biblical stand for marriage, you take a biblical stand for water, you take a biblical stand and you gonna be on the out.

Now why would this be a problem if you were working in Thyatira? Well, now if you blow into this union and this union says to keep your job, to get a raise on your job, to get promoted on your job, you got to go along to get along, okay. If you don't party with us the way we party, nothing wrong with a good party but when it goes left, if you don't go left with us, if you don't go worship with us, I'm gonna tell you now you not gonna make it in this company, you not gonna make it in this career. Unless you've made that decision in advance, unless you've decided in advance that there are certain boundaries I will not cross, then what you have to understand is that you are making a choice between the true God, the Son of God, and the false gods who will not be there when your world crashes.

So I'm gonna tell you that now 'cause those false gods are not real, they're just convenient. 'Cause let me tell you something about an idol. Folks only pick idols they can control. See that? See folk pick idols 'cause they can tell a idol what to do. The problem with our God is you don't get to control him. See, that's why folk don't want that God 'cause that God can't be dumbed down to the culture. And so he says to them, he says, "I'm gonna judge the children," but he still gives them an out. He says, "Unless you repent". Repentance would remove the fact of the judgment of God. But he makes it clear. "I say to the rest," verse 24, "Who are in Thyatira who do not hold this teaching," watch this now, "Who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them. I have no other burden on you".

Okay, let me talk to you a little bit. "To the rest of you who are not compromising, who are repenting to the rest of you". He says, "Who do not accept the teaching of the deep things of Satan". So that raises the question, isn't it? What are the deep things of Satan? So they're not so deep things and there are deep things. A Satanic thing is an invitation to disobey God. That's a Satanic thing and we all face that. We all have fallen short in that where we've disobeyed God, that's satanic. But let me tell you what a deep thing of Satan is. A deep thing of Satan is not only when you disobey God, when I disobey God, when we disobey God, a deep thing of Satan, when you've really gone down the hell to hang out with him is when you call evil good. Now you didn't just go into the bottom of the pit and you're hanging out with the devil.

See, as long as you call evil, evil, you're saying something true about it. But the moment you go to call evil good, this is legitimate, this is okay. That's why Romans 1 says things got worse and worse and worse. Not only did people do the things, but they applauded those who did them. In other words, they gave approval. And you'll see today what we clap for, what we affirm, what we celebrate and we call, we call wretched good and we celebrate the most evil of people, the most evil of lyrics, the most evil of terminology, the most evil of actions but we applaud it and we say, ain't that nice? And ain't she great? And wasn't that funny? And isn't that nice? And we go low. And all of a sudden what we used to shun at and say, "Oh boy, that's nasty". We now say, that's the deep things of Satan. You've now gone and you've now partying with the devil. But he says, "For those who do not accept the teaching of the deep things of Satan".

Who don't call evil good, he says, "I have no greater burden for you". This is a great statement. "I have no greater burden for you". One of the things that God says about his commandments is that they are not burdensome. That's a striking statement 'cause I'm feeling the weight, I'm feeling the weight. They are not burdensome. He says, "But I have no greater burden for you". God says, "If you reject the teaching of Satan, then you will lift the burden from you". How will rejecting that teaching when it could cost me my job, lift the burden from me? Because now the Son of God is working for you and not working against you. Now the Son of God, the one with the eyes of fire and the feet of bronze.

Listen, I don't wanna be misunderstood. If you take a stand for intolerance where God is intolerance, there may be some negative things. "For those who live godly in Christ Jesus," the Bible says "Will suffer". But when God is on your side, and I've shared it, I'll share it once more. My experience with this was when I was at the bus station, they had a scam going. I was working night shift and they had a scam going, going through seminary, working night shift. And what they would do was punch other people in while they were sleeping and they would get paid for working while they were sleeping, but they would be punched 'cause they would be punched in by somebody else. And then it was the next person's turn the next night to punch you in so you could get paid while you slept. So they'd sleep for two hours, but they'd be getting paid for two hours 'cause somebody else punched them in.

So when I went to work there, they told me "This is how we roll, and this is your night. This is your night to punch in him. He'll punch in you the next night". So now I'm caught on the horns of a dilemma. I'm on the horns of a dilemma 'cause I'm poor, okay. I don't have no money. I'm making $300 a month, okay. So I'm on the horns of a dilemma, and then everybody's doing it. So now I'm gonna be the odd man out if I don't participate in the scam. So after getting up some carriage and remembering I'm studying for the ministry after all that, I say, "Okay, guys, I can't do that. I can't participate in that 'cause that's stealing and I just can't do that". They said, "Well, no, you don't understand, everybody does this". "Yeah, I know, but I can't do that".

Okay, so now I am a non-participant in the union. I'm an odd man out. So I'm feeling the weight of this literally because when buses came in, I would be left to unload them by myself. The other guys wouldn't come because I wasn't participating. So I, or they would just come and take a bag and then leave. So now I got the weight of non-participation because there was a standard in that situation that I would not acquiesce to. So I'm feeling the weight of this, the weight of this, it's the right thing, but sometime the right thing can be weighty. And so I'm doing the right thing, but I'm feeling this a little heavy. A month and a half later I get called to the office, I get called to the office the supervisor says, "Evans, I need to see you". So I'm wondering, you know what's wrong? I go in, I sit down. He said, "We are aware of the scam. We are aware. We got a night guy coming around and we are aware of people punching other people in when they're really not working. We are also aware that you are not participating.

So from now on, you are the new supervisor for the night shift". You talk about a burden being lifted because in that occasion, I accepted the teaching. So I know this could be weighty right now when you feel like, "What is this gonna mean for me or my job"? And I'm not talking about you going preaching on your job, I'm just talking about you having the divine standard on your work. And that's why he says "Hold fast till I come," verse 21, "The one who overcomes and he who keeps my deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations". You may get some of it now, you'll get most of it later, but he says, "I'm gonna give you the ability to rule with me and he shall rule them with a rod of iron as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces. So I shall receive authority from my Father. I will give to him the morning star".

That is intimacy with Christ based on Revelation 22. "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit of God says to the churches". What he's saying to you and me, is to take your stand with love, with kindness, but with clarity. That there is a boundary here and that boundary we do not cross. And when we do cross it, we repent and get back in line so that we can continue on and have the eyes of the Son of God. 'Cause just like the Son of God saw you leave it, the eyes of God saw you come back to it. And when he sees you come back to it, he can now respond to you based on your present condition at whatever level he feels appropriate. And so we want a church that will take its stand for God regardless of whether we get more members, regardless of whether we have more money, regardless of whether we get more notoriety. It is the divine standard that we must hold to at all costs.
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