In this hour in which we live we are being taught more and more to be tolerant. The world is trying to force us to give and take. It is trying to deceive us into compromise. How are we as Christians going to withstand compromise? By following the 3 truths we find in this text. Before we look at how to overcome compromise, let us look at the details of how the church at Pergamos faced compromise. Its very name spoke of compromise, it meaning marriage. The church at Pergamos had started to fall in love with the world. Let us notice first:
The Openness to Compromise: Our Danger
We see that the church was open to attack and open to the danger of compromise. The city itself was an area of compromise, especially when it came to religion. There religion was marked by compromise.
There Religion Accepted all Faiths. It didn’t matter what you believed in Pergamos. It treated religion like a Wal-Mart, you just picked and chose what you liked, and mixed and matched as it pleased you. Nothing was absolute in Pergamos. It had a multitude of religion. There was any and every kind of religion you can image. Christianity was viewed by them as just another religion to incorporate in to its systems. This desire of mingling religion led them to be highly anti-exclusive. Don’t you dare say there is only one way. Don’t exclude, include was the motto. Sound like the world we live in? “Don’t tell me there is only one way, I am a Christian Buddhist”or”The Mohammedans worship the same God that we do.” They accepted all faiths and mixed and matched.
Not only did they accept all faiths, but There Religion was About being Friends. It was completely social. It wasn’t as much about being devout, but about socializing. Most major buildings were reserved for public use. Even in the temples, religion came of lesser importance. It was a social Athens. Today many churches are more concerned about social gatherings and pleasure than hearing sound gospel and it’s power! It’s all about programs, and plays. “Make us feel good.” “Don’t offend us.” Religion has become about being friends.
They accepted all faiths, and thought religion was about being friends, but also There Religion Abounded in Fables. Multitudes of superstitions and fables were propagated. Many different idols were worshiped, and a multitude of temples for the false gods. Temples to Dionysus, Athena, Demeter and Zeus were here along with three temples dedicated to emperor worship. They held the snake in high regard, and thought it would heal if it touched you. They practice immoral and pagan practices. Today too, our society has bowed down to many idols. They may not be made of stone or gold, but they are just as real. Many bow down to the idol of Self Esteem and Positive Attitudes. Many bow down to the idol of Pleasure, doing what ever it takes for them to feel good. The taking of drugs, drinking, affairs and fornication or The Idol of Entertainment and the idol of covetness which says, “I want more, more, more.” We also seem to abound in fables. Our land is fool of lies passed off as truth. Our land is full of false hopes in false religions. We have a religion for every thing, and there are some people foolish enough to be taken away with the silliest of religions and thoughts. It is a stench in the nostrils of God. I’m good enough to get to heaven. The church is full of hypocrites so I will worship my god in the woods. There is no god. We have become so educated, we are learned stupid.
We have seen that Pergamos was an area of compromise; likewise it contained the author of compromise, Satan. This place was over-run with satanic activity, and for a couple of very good reasons. First of all It was where Satan Reigned. In verse 13 it mentions, “Satan’s seat.” That word means a seat of power or a throne. It was where Satan had set-up camp and was operating out of. Too often we get the false idea that Satan is confined to hell, but he is active in this world and in Pergamos he was in control. There has been many theories as to what is meant by Satan’s throne (or seat.) It has reference to a certain system of belief found here in Pergamos. Before Pergamos this was established and founded in Babylon. Remember Nimrod? He set himself up to be God. Pergamos was the center of emperor worship for Rome. The title Pontifex Maximus comes from this. His wife, Semeramis, after his death propagated the myth that her pregnancy was by the spirit of Nimrod, and her son was part God. She can be directly traced to Athena, the patron goddess of Pergamos. Satan was behind this false system operation and spreading from Pergamos.
So we see it is where Satan reigned, even the more it is where Satan Resided. It was bad enough the area was said to be under satanic control, but the bible states that it was where he “dwelleth.” It is where he had residence. It is where he settled and stayed. Satan hung his hat in Pergamos. What an awful testimony for a city to have. Mark that word “dwelleth,” we will see it again. Pergamos was the lion’s den.
Not only was Pergamos the area of compromise, and that the author of compromise dwelt there, but it also contained The Advocates of Compromise. There were those who taught false doctrine, and sought to influence the church with such lies.
The first thing we can learn about them is that They Advocated Casting. They sought to cause people to fall. They sought to cast a stumbling block. They were laying a trap or a snare before them. They wanted to influence people and cause them to trip-up. Just like Balaam who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel. Balaam tried to get the children of Israel to worship Baal and compromise their covenant with God. Again, we see a reference to Nimrod and Babylon. As the Nimrod myth progressed and mutated, he became Baal. We see Satan’s evil influence in his advocates.
Not only did they advocate casting but also They Advocated Compromising. That is they were seeking to influence the church to be more like the world. They wanted it to forsake its purity and join in pagan rituals and rites. One which included eating meats scarified unto idols. The practice of the pagan priest was to sacrifice the heart and organs, but the majority of the animal was not harmed. Therefore they would sell the meat, which do to the restrictions on what was acceptable as a sacrifice, was normally higher quality meat than that of the meat markets. The proceeds of this as well as the prostitution went to fund the temple. The meat itself had been on the altar of a pagan god, and had been dedicated to him, and when you ate the meat it was to the glory of that pagan god.
More over They Advocated Committing, another influence was that of fornication. It was prevalent at home and in the temples. They had prostitutes at the temple, and some had personal ones at the house. One religion said you must commit an act of fornication at least once a year with a stranger as a sign of hospitality. It was an immoral time. We are living in such times.
Not only did they advocate Casting, Compromising and Committing, They Advocated Corruption as well. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans seemed most likely to have been Gnostic in nature. They felt as if the spirit was good, and the flesh evil. Since the flesh is evil, the deed done in the flesh don’t matter and since the spirit is good, redemption is inevitable… why therefore should I not use my flesh? It was corrupt! It changed Christian liberty into license. Moreover it affected our Lord, as if the flesh is evil, Christ couldn’t have come in the flesh, thus taking away his humanity. Today, we see the same, people using grace to sin, and denying truths about our Lord. His Deity being the target more attacked today than that of his humanity.
While the fact that the area was one of compromise, the author of compromise was present, and his advocates of compromise were active is disturbing, yet what really concerns me is The Action of Compromise. First, The Church Left their Passion for their First-Love, notice that in verse 6 Christ speaks of the deeds of the Nicolaitans, in Pergamos it has developed into doctrine. The Ephesian church had left its first love, and so that is often how demise begins. We loose our passion for Christ. We loose that devotion to only doing his will. We forget the zeal of doing his will and the power of it. We start to settle for dead religion. O, how we need to keep the love of Christ, and love for Christ burning uncontrollably in our hearts.
First they left their passion for their First-Love, next The Church Let in the People of Falsehoods. My what a state our churches are in when we start letting people come in who practice immoral practices, who teach damnable doctrines, and who try to lead others astray. Notice that the church in the text is always referred to as “thee, thou, or thy,” yet on the other hand, Christ always refers to the deceivers as “them.” Christ makes a clear distinction of who was a member of the true church and who wasn’t. We need to be mindful of whom we let in our numbers; the church has enough wolves as it is.
By leaving their passion for their First-Love, and letting in the people of falsehoods, The Church Lost their Point of Focus! They got their eyes off heaven! They quit sojourning and settled, notice again that little word, dwelleth. Christ says, “I know where thou dwelleth,” again the idea is that they are staying there, they are residing there, they have become like Lot who pitched towards Sodom. This is not the word that normally describes the believer’s relation to the world. Normal we are strangers, or pilgrims. Normally we sojourn, not settle. We need to keep our eyes on home and not this world. In Pergamos they had begin to flirt with the world. They had begun to allow it to influence them. We need look to heaven and desire it, and not the filth of this world. We need to keep our eyes on Christ, keep our First-love in first place. We need to cast out the people of falsehoods, and their evil deeds and doctrine. We need to fix our eyes on heaven, and keep traveling on, keep our focus.
We have looked at The Openness to Compromise and our Danger, now let us look at:
The Overcoming of Compromise: Our Deliverance.
When the church is facing such times of compromise, how do we stay strong and keep the faith pure? What is our help in this area of Compromise? How do we keep our first-love, keep our point of focus, and keep out the false? There are certain truths outlined in this passage that help us to stand fast in the face of compromise.
The first truth that I’d like to point out is Our Commander’s Power. When we get our eyes on Christ, all our problems seem to pail in their importance. When we see how big he is, we know we can overcome! Notice The Authority to his Power. He is in control and has certain rights and abilities. Isn’t it great to know that he is the Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. That he has all authority and power. He has the sovereign right to do whatever pleases him!
We see His Authority to Speak. The word “saith” in verse one has the idea of, speaking a command. Listen to him! When the world speaks, don’t listen to the world, Listen to him! He has the authority! When Satan speaks, don’t listen to Satan, Listen to Him! He has the Authority! When you can’t figure out what to do, and your friends are telling you one thing, the world the opposite, and your wife to quit, just listen for the one who has the authority to speak! There are too many who exercise their ability to speak, when they don’t have the right to do it. He never has to worry about that, his word is always one of authority. In view of that, if they tell you to compromise, you can just point to him, and inform them that your orders are otherwise.
Mentioned briefly earlier was the thought of emperor worship, which was prevalent in Pergamos. It was the center of emperor worship for Rome. And the governors of Pergamos held what was called, “the right of the sword.” They had the power to execute at will. Mix this with the belief that anyone who wouldn’t call Caesar Lord, and you have a problem for the Christian. Preacher, shouldn’t I listen to what the governor says? Shouldn’t I call Caesar Lord? Am I not better to Christ alive than I am dead? NO! Don’t compromise; listen to the one who has the Authority to Speak, and His Authority of the Sword. Don’t worry about that old roman governor that may be able to destroy your body if God allows it, but fall to your feet in awe of him who has the authority to destroy your soul! Just as the governor wielded the broad double-blade Roman sword issuing the decrees of the governor, so my Lord wields his sharp two-edged sword upholding the decrees of God. He has the Authority of the Sword! How that should comfort us, to know it’s in his hands. We are invincible, until he says otherwise. He controls life and death not the roman governor. It’s in his hands, do not compromise! It is two-edged; it cuts both ways, salvation or judgment. Moreover it can keep us separated from the world.
My! What Authority he has, but notice too The Awareness from his Power. Not only does he have the divine right of all things, he has divine knowledge of all things. Notice what he mentions he is aware of. First, He mentions His Awareness of their Works. What a sublime yet scary thought. On the one hand, if you have been doing godly things, this is a great comfort to know he has paid attention. On the flipside, it could mean he has seen things you hoped no one would. His eye is in every place, and he knows your works. He even knows the motivation of your works. He knows the very reason you are doing what you do. We need to be doing that which is right and well pleasing to our Lord, and we need to have the right reasons for doing it. Compromise, in the spiritual realm, is cowardice and is highly disfavored in the sight of God Almighty.
His Awareness of their Works might have brought mixed emotions, but His Awareness of their Whereabouts should bring comfort to them. He knew the problems that they were facing, and he knew that they could overcome them! He had placed them there, and had called each and every one of them for a divine purpose. Let us not hinder the working of God with compromise. How will we ever overcome without changing it a bit here and a tad there? Christ knows where we are, he put us here. He doesn’t want us to change from the truth that he gave us! Will we be able to stand in this city of compromise? Yes, Christ wouldn’t have put you there if you couldn’t have. He knew their works, and their whereabouts! We see also His Awareness of their Witness. They were commended for holding fast his name. He knew that they had been resisting compromise and holding fast his name. How are we going to resist compromise? The same way we have been doing! Let’s just keep being a witness for His Glory! Let’s keep shining forth the light of the gospel. Let’s not water it down with compromise, but keep it the pure milk of the word! Let us not cease to hold fast his name! Why must we live in an area of so much compromise? To be a witness, to show others the truth!
He knew their works and their whereabouts, and commended them for their witness. His Awareness of their Withstanding brought them a commendation as well. He mentions that they held fast his name, and didn’t deny his faith. How that ought to have encouraged them to continue in the path on which they had begun; to finish the course as well as they started. What are we going to do? How can we withstand? The same ways as you have been! Don’t change!
Don’t compromise, not only because of his authority, and his awareness, but also The Ability of his Power. He is the Mighty God, full of power! He has all power and is able to see us through the day! He is able to keep us from compromise with the assurance that he is greater than the forces against him! He is the Lord of Host! We see The Ability of Speed! Aren’t you glad he can be there when needed? But he can also quickly rebuke us! He does say he would come quickly if the church wouldn’t repent, but there is a hint of rebuke in the word “come”. Come against one like a military commander would come against his enemy. Remember Luke 14:31, “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?” If we fall into compromise it will put us on the wrong side of the battle lines and Christ may have to use drastic measures to purify his church. Let us repent, change our attitude that they will be like his, especially about compromise. Let us hate it. Let us flee from unholy unions with the world.
Not only is he able to come to us quick, which is the ability of his speed, he is able to war against them strong, which is The Ability of Strength. He has the sharp two-edged sword from his mouth and knows how to wield it! It represents his word. What is more appropriate to combat false doctrine but his perfect word? You’d almost think God wrote the Bible. Christ will war against them and destroy them! We will prevail, so let us not compromise! He is in control and has the power needed and the tools needed to get the job accomplished! All power is and all ability is his! How can we compromise in view of who he is and his power?
Not only will his power help us in these times of ungodly compromise, and Our Comrade’s Path will as well. It helps us to know that we are not traveling down a road unknown and uncertain, but down one that the end is seen and has been attained. When we look to those who have suffered and fought for what we have, how shall we compromise in sight of what they have paid for?
Antipas had done just that for the Pergamos church and because of it He has a Wonderful Title. Notice in Revelation 1:5 “Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness”, this is the same title given to Antipas. The word witness and martyr is the same Greek word, “martus.” It is surprising that Christ would give Antipas his own title. These are not words thrown around lightly. Antipas had proved that he was authentic and accurate, Have we done the same? We may take the name of Christ- Christians, but will he give us his name? Not if we compromise! Not if we neglect what our forefathers have fought for or what Christ has ordained. From 1609 to 1970 the Catholic’s used the same translation, Douay-Rhiems. In 1970 they introduced the New American Bible. Why the change? It reads more like an NIV, why is that preacher? It has the same Greek text! The purity of the KJV was thrown out for a corrupt catholic bible? Why? Compromise! Men died for our KJV and to provide believers with an accurate English translation, and what does the majority of churches do? They speak evil saying, “Throw it out, we need something new, something better, something easier!” Don’t Compromise men! More over, look at the rising Pentecostalism and non-denominationalism even amongst formally tried and true churches! Look at women in the pulpit and pastors married 3 times, it is Compromise! Let us not fall in the same trap! Let us look to the ones who walked uprightly before us, and look to the one who has all power, Christ himself! Dare we compromise? Christ approved it; let us seek to be like Antipas!
He was given his title because He was Worthy of Trust. Christ called him a faithful witness. What a contrast to the false witnesses that was present at Pergamos. The idea behind faithful is one who has proved themselves worthy of trust. Could the Lord call us faithful? The word martyr conveys the idea of defending the truth. Antipas stood against all for Christ. We need to do the same! In spite of the cost, let us stand and defend the purity of the faith! Is it attainable? Ask Antipas. Will Christ consider us worthy of trust? Not if we compromise!
The Lord gave him a wonderful title, he said he was worthy of trust and Christ even said He was a Witness of Truth! Not only defending the truth only the idea now evolves and expresses the thought of dying for the truth. It is told of Antipas he was accused of disloyalty to Caesar. He was condemned to death. Here is where we see he truly lived the meaning of his name. Anti meaning against, and Pas is the word all. He stood against all for and he was executed for it. They placed him in a copper bull, and it set a fire underneath. It was heated until it was red hot with Antipas inside. Yet in all and through all, he pointed to the light, even with his life. Are we that kind of witness? Imagine the impact that it would have on some yellow-bellied pagan to watch Antipas suffer and not deny the truth! It would cause him to consider the strength of his convictions. It might even have got him interested in learning a little bit about a faith worth dying for. Or imagine the impact it had on the Christian brethren watching. It would have served as a reminder of the value of the Gospel. It would have strengthened his faith to be able to stand against all. It would have been a mighty witness to the pagan or to the Christian. So why do we compromise? Is it so that the world may like us? Do we skimp on the parts that are not pleasing? Do we compromise to make it easier? How we need to stand fast against compromise that have been defended by those who have died for it. Let us walk the path that has already been cut before us.
How are we to overcome compromise? Look to him! Look to the Commander and all his power! Look at Antipas, and the martyrs, our comrades! Look at how they defended the truth in the roughest of situations, how Christ helped them. Finally, let us examine Our Comforting Promises! When we see what he has promised us we will be motivated to resist all compromise.
We have The Promise of the Sustainer. What is this about manna? What can manna do for me? What is that referring to? How is that going to protect me from compromise? Manna was providence based on obedience. Remember the story? They went out every morning and had to gather the manna. If they didn’t gather when it was out they didn’t eat. The Lord had giving the providence needed, his sustaining provision, but they had to obey to get it. How are we going to face compromise? With the provisions of Almighty God! How are we going to get the provisions? Through Obedience! We need to obey him and we will have his provision and his sustaining when we need them. Moreover, we will have a touch of God on us to understand the hidden things of God. During the night the dew would fall on the ground. Then the manna would fall on top of the first dew. Then more dew fell and would rest on the manna. Manna was sandwiched in dew and it was the dew the next morning that revealed the manna. It was the Holy Ghost that one day revealed his word to me! Showed me what my need, and showed me my need-filler. It was the Holy Ghost that opens this book up to me so I can understand it. No dew, no manna. You can’t have any manna without any dew. Going further, you remember what did Jesus say manna was? He said that he is the manna, that he is the bread that comes down from heaven! You can take the provision if you want, I will take the provider! You take the supply if you want, he didn’t promise me the supply, he promised me the supplier. You take the sustaining if you want, I got the sustainer! How am I going to get through this thing of Compromise? With Him! Who needs meat sacrificed unto idols, when I have true and living bread that comes down from heaven!
Upon the same lines we have not only the promise of the Sustainer, but also The Promise of the Stone. It has been highly speculated as to what this white stone is referring to. I’m just going to tell you like I see it. Stones are a picture of strength and stability. How are we going to overcome compromise? We can with His strength and by building on his foundation. We can by tapping in to his stability. Where as the stone of the false prophets cause you to stumble, his stone is a stone of stability. It is a white stone; white is the color of purity. That word isn’t dull white, but dazzling white, a brilliant white. There has been no compromise in this stone. It is pure and unadulterated, unlike that of the compromisers which is black with corruption. The stone has a new name on it, known only to them that receive it. A new name often signifies a new nature. We see it time and time again through out the Word of God. No more a nature prone to compromise with the world, but of the perfection of character which we are being molded in to. Let me give you the TSV, TJ Singleton version. One evening, during a Friday night service at Camp meeting, I slipped something on to the finger of Emily, my wife. She turned to her cousin and with joy showed off her dazzling white stone. A few months later she got a new name, and she is trying to give me a new nature! There is coming a day, when the bride will stand before the Bridegroom and a marriage will take place that was founded and established before the foundations of the world! O, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see, when I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace, when he takes me by the hand, leads me to the promise land! What a day, glorious day that will be!” Don’t seek a union with this old world, but stay true to our union with Christ! Don’t flirt with the world for we are already engaged to Christ!
How are we going to stand against these days of compromise? LOOK TO HIM! See his power, see how he has worked in the lives of our forefathers in the faith, see his promises that he has given us. They will get us through. He is greater than the area and its situations! He is greater than Satan and his power. He is greater than the false prophets, and their message! He can cleanse his church and purify its actions. Look to him. Allow him to work! How are we ever going to overcome compromise? Jesus is our only hope. If we are to overcome compromise, it will take Christ. Do you doubt his power? Do you doubt his promises? Then do not compromise. Remember he said if we don’t reject compromise, and it’s evil influence he would come against us. Stand in awe of him and allow his majesty to rekindle you love and devotion to him. As in all things, it is all about him.