Are You For Real?

I read about a fellow who enjoyed pretending to be somebody he wasn’t. At the point where I was reading, he had so far impersonated a doctor a lawyer, a track star, a basketball player, and even a football player. Obviously, he had some talent, plus some inside help. He actually got away with his impersonations and nobody was hurt while he was acting. The latest incident involved him dressing up in the uniform appropriate for a basketball game. With the help of some of the professional players on the team, he ran onto the court and took a few layups himself, before being escorted off the court.
We might find ourselves smiling a bit as we think about this person being able to pull the wool over the eyes of some big time people. However, the Lord does not and will not smile when people claim to belong to Jesus Christ, while living a life of deception.
As Christians, we must be genuine in our walk.
Not a lot is known about Thyatira from church historians. It was located about 45 miles or so southeast of Pergamum, more inland. Unlike what we’ve seen about the other cities so far, Thyatira did not have such a cosmopolitan, polished feel. Some would suggest that this city might have been similar to the city of Chicago in its heyday. One reason was that it was predominantly a blue collar community. It also was quite important in the area of commerce. Even at that time, there was an incredible labor union network, which were called guilds.
It is this community in which we discover the church operating. The main false god which was worshiped was Apollo, the Greek sun god. It’s fascinating to recognize that the church people which the Lord Jesus was addressing here, were not all from aristocratic communities. So every church from all around the world, today, can find some identification with at least one of these seven churches.
Even though this is the smallest of the seven churches, it contains the longest letter.

Christ Is Able To See Their Activity.

Revelation 2:18–19 (NASB95)
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.
Christ commends them for their love, their faith, which led to their service and perseverance. He even goes on to affirm their growth in these areas.
But things are not healthy within the church. It’s not from the outside, but on the inside of the church, where the problems lie. In this letter, Christ gives a vivid description of Who He is to the church at Thyatira. First of all, He refers to Himself as the Son of God. This is actually the only time this phrase is used in the book of Revelation. Jesus is the One Who has absolute authority. The focus is on His deity. He is God Himself.
We continue in the verse with a visual description, beginning with eyes like a flame of fire. Christ can penetrate right through with perfect discernment. We can not deceive Him no matter how covert or tricky we may think we are. He knows what is going on behind our masks. As God, Christ is also the divine judge.
His feet are like burnished bronze. This directly follows the fact that Christ knows our inmost being. It is in reference to the judgment seat from the Old Testament bronze altar.
Why such an ominous, almost frightening description? I believe verse 19 helps to give some clarity, as it connects to the rest of this letter. There seems to be an incredible amount of activity in the church. Yet, this verse is not exactly praise for the church, as a whole. Rather, this verse is pointing out that God knows exactly what is going on in the church’s life. They may talk about doing good, love, faith, service, perseverance, etc., but is it genuine? For some it was; for the majority, it was not. Activity does not always produce godly fruit. Sometimes a lot of activity can simply be a cover-up for an unwillingness to get down to serious business about spiritual growth and obedience and service. Christ can see right through it; He knows exactly what is taking place.
What could possible cause this?

Christ Is Against Apostasy.

Revelation 2:20–23 (NASB95)
‘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. ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. ‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
Most of us have heard of the word, apostasy. So what exactly does that word mean? Apostasy is a deliberate moving away from the Lord and the teachings of the Bible. According to this letter, the church at Thyatira tolerated open apostasy and idolatry. It wasn’t as if they did not know any better or that they were deceived. To tolerate something requires that there is a knowledge of it taking place.
It seems that Jezebel (or actually one like her from 1 Kings) led God’s servants astray. We can assume that this was not actually her name, but rather described how she was operating. How? First, they appeared to have a women who had chosen to take leadership within the church. This is not permitted by God according to His Word. She led by teaching error or false doctrine. She encouraged the people to commit sexual immorality with each other. She encouraged them to eat food sacrificed to idols. More than likely she claimed to be a prophetess. With that power, she chose to intentionally entice many of God’s servants to abandon their absolute loyalty to Christ.
We ask ourselves, who would be foolish enough to follow? What could she have taught to make people blindly turn away from following Christ? And why would the church tolerate this? Why did they not deal with her and get her out of there, exposing her for the evil she was promoting? We understand that the Bible recognizes that a Christian can certainly fall into sexual immorality, as seen in 1 Corinthians 6 and 10. The people were willingly following teaching that was encouraging them into sin.
Her teaching was horrible since it was not based upon the true Word of God. Later, we’ll get a glimpse into some of the deceptiveness that grabs people. But it wasn’t just her teaching that caused Christ to be angry. What was even worse is that she refused to repent. Her heart was hardened. She was pretending to be someone she was’t. As a result, she was going to suffer the consequences. She was going to be forced to be upon a sick bed which would ultimately result in death. Her end would be eternity in hell.
All those who sinned alongside her were going to experience severe problems, as well. In fact, according to verse 23, they were going to be killed. That ought to be fairly strong proof that God is not going to be fooled by anyone. God is not going to tolerate rebellion and wickedness from anyone. It didn’t not matter what their credentials may have been, nor what anybody thought about them. The only safe outlet from judgment is genuine repentance.
Isn’t it fascinating that as upset as Christ was and is with sin, He seems to be more upset at the refusal to repent. According to verse 21, God gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.
It is a common problem among Christians of all stripes to relax and rest on our history after awhile. There is a comfort and security of looking back from where we have come to where we are. If fact, some could be Bible scholars with some fairly profound insights at various times.
Then there comes a point in time when Satan begins to lull some into a lethargic sleep. They may still be fairly active on the outside but on the spiritual inside, they may be numb and no longer sensitive to God’s Holy Spirit. They may begin to believe some of the things they are told by others or even the enemy. Gradually, behavior begins to change; ideas become a bit rigid or open to everything. A person can begin to do things which are justified, but are not at all what God wants. That person has become a willing victim to apostasy.
This isn’t hopeless if a person chooses to confess the arrogance and pride and strange unbiblical thinking as sin. The point at which it begins to be hopeless, is when a person refuses to repent, and either tolerates sin in someone else, or defends what they’re doing and claims that they are serving Christ in their own way. After all, they know best, so they think.
Sadly, history shows that the church at Thyatira was gone by the end of the second century. The latest heresy came from a false prophet who stated that God was giving him new revelations.
C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Screwtape Letters, shares how a senior demon instructs a junior demon on how to get Christians to fall. He suggests that the junior demon simply gets the Christian to feel comfortable in their walk. Then slip something into his/her mind that has a good deal of truth, but is not completely true. Then watch as the Christian slowly slips out of the normal routine and begins to join forces with the enemy.

Christ Is An Advocate for Authenticity.

Revelation 2:24–29 (NASB95)
‘But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. ‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come. ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
All was not lost for this church at Thyatira. There was a minority who saw through this Jezebel person and who refused to compromise. This group was probably closer to Christ’s standard than any of the other churches in Revelation. The reason being is they had the ability to tell the difference between false and true worship.
What exactly is meant by the deep things of Satan? Unfortunately, there was and still is a form of thinking which has permeated our society on a variety of levels. The idea is that one cannot truly appreciate God’s grace or His blessings unless one understands and experiences what it is like to live in sin. They believed that since the spirit belongs to God, it doesn’t matter what one does with their body. You can still worship God, while playing with Satan’s fire.
The logic continues by suggesting that one should actually experience some sinful living or lifestyle. In that way, by a person experiencing the depths of evil, a person would be better equipped to serve Christ. This would then provide an excellent example of the freedom we now have in Christ.
That type of deception was and is still quite deadly.
In verses 26-28, we’re reminded that if we genuinely believe in Jesus Christ, we’ll be the real deal. We will continue on in our obedience and service until the day we are called heavenward.
In fact, we’re promised two different blessings. First is the promise of being in authority over the nations. This is a fulfillment of several Messianic psalms of those who follow Christ as being the ones who will rule with Christ.
Secondly, there is the promise of the morning star. This is possibly that experience of being in the very presence of Christ Himself for eternity; experiencing the resurrection. Remember 1 Corinthians 13.12: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” This would certainly take the believer out of the darkness of this world, giving us the victory.


Even under the motif of being loving, tolerant and having complete unity; false doctrine and intentional sin cannot be permitted.
Are you and I for real? Are we genuine in our walk with the Lord? How can we avoid being caught up in activity just to get away with looking spiritual? What is to keep us from apostasy?
Spend time in God’s Word. Don’t do it just to meet a quota, or check it off your to-do list. Do it to genuinely see what the Holy Spirit may have for you to learn, in order to grow and to change for His glory.
Spend time in prayer. Prayer is hard work. We don’t do it just to present our Santa Claus list of wishes. We don’t do it just to make an impression on others. We don’t do it to justify wrong thinking or wrong behavior. We don’t do it to impress even ourselves. We do it in order to communicate with God and again sensitize us to the Holy Spirit and to what He may be wanting us to do in our lives, our church and our community.
Spend time with God’s people. We need each other. We need to hold each other accountable. We need to pray for each other. We need to uphold and encourage each other.
If you’ve noticed, in order for us to be real, it requires an effort on our part. It doesn’t just happen. Each of the three suggestions I’ve given starts out with spend time.
Spend time in God’s Word.
Spend time in prayer.
Spend time with God’s people.
Yes, this does take effort and time on our part. There is no shortcut or a different way to be genuine in our Christian walk. We must do things God’s way.
As Christians, we must be genuine in our walk.
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