By John J. Blanchard
December 31, 2011
Good morning, brethren. There is a popular athletic footwear. You can see it advertised often, and people are wearing it all over the place. It is called Nike. What you may not know is the word “Nike” comes from a Greek word of the same origin, nike. I think this is the case for them, too. It means to go for it and win when you see it on the advertising. Essentially that is what it means in the ancient Greek as well.
If you were to look up the ancient Greek word nike (#3529, Strong’s, 1995) you would find that it means conquest, the means of success. It is related to the word nikao (#3528, Strong’s 1995) which means to subdue, literally or figuratively to subdue, to conquer, to overcome, and prevail. Nikao is the word that is used many times in the New Testament. It is translated in your Bible as the words overcome and overcometh. I want to get a feeling for this word and what God is telling us when He uses it in His Bible by looking at Revelation, because it is used a lot in the Book of Revelation. It will give us a feel for what Jesus Christ is telling His Church eras.
REWARDS FOR OVERCOMING
I want to start in Revelation chapter 2. If you would, turn to Revelation chapter 2, and we will be in Revelation for a few minutes. We will refer back to it several times during the course of this sermon. Revelation 2:7 talks about Ephesus, the very first Church era, and we are told: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes [that is nikao] I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Ephesusis told that they must overcome in order to imbibe of the good fruit of God’s paradise.
Dropping down to the second Church era, Smyrna, we are going to Revelation 2, verse 11: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes (nikao) shall not be hurt by the second death.”
To not be hurt by the second death is a fabulous reward for overcoming.
Going to the third Church era, Pergamos, we drop down to Revelation 2, verse 17: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”
This is another very fine reward and also hidden food – hidden manna – that we can imbibe from if we are overcomers. That is what He is telling this Church era here. He is telling them to overcome.
Going to the Thyatira era in Revelation 2, verse 26 we read: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels…’”
Once again, the Church era is told to overcome, and they will receive power and rulership. This is a very fine reward.
Let’s go into Revelation chapter 3 where we see the Sardis Church era spoken of in verse 5: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
This is another fine reward for overcoming if you were part of the Sardis era. They were told if they get white garments, God would not blot them out from the Book of Life, but they need to overcome in order to do that.
In Revelation 3:12 it is speaking of the Philadelphia era: “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.”
Here we see Philadelphia is told to overcome, and they would be a pillar in God’s temple and have God’s name written on them. These are wonderful things to receive from God if we overcome.
Of course, the last Church era is Laodicea. We will drop down to Revelation 3, verse 21: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Every single Church era is told to overcome and is told there will be a fine reward for doing so. In every case, it is the word nikao, which means to subdue, to conquer, to prevail, to get the victory.
SYSTEMIC SIN IN THE CHURCH
In the last sermon we talked about overcoming as an individual. This week I want to talk about overcoming as a Church. They are not necessarily the same thing. The Church can have systemic sin. This is sin that is actually part of the Church; it is part of its system, you might say. That may not be our own personal sins. We may not be partaking of that systemic sin, but all of us have personal sins. That is why I have broken the concept of overcoming into two sermons: overcoming as an individual and overcoming as a Church.
Systemic sin is someone’s sin. Someone in the Church is part of it, but it is not necessarily everyone’s sin. That is where we want to draw a distinction and to learn, but we need to overcome both. We need to help the Church to overcome its problems or we in actual fact are allowing it to happen. We are doing nothing about it. We are actually part of the systemic sin. In either case, we have to work with the Church to correct itself while we overcome our own personal faults.
Turn, if you would, to I Corinthians chapter 5. I Corinthians chapter 5 will show us why it is so important to work on the Church’s faults together. I Corinthians 5, verse 6: “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
We see here a little sin, if not dealt with, can leaven the whole body of Christ. It touches all of us, directly or indirectly. If we do nothing about it, we are allowing that leaven to spread. In fact, we become enablers. We actually allow it to happen, so it is imperative to stand up for the truth, we are told here, and against malice and wickedness. We must help preach sincerity and truth. This is imperative.
What the Church is told to do is to overcome, and we need to keep in mind that is the Church. That is what we are talking about, and we want to look at lessons from Revelation for us today. We want to go back and look at why Christ told each of the seven Church eras to overcome. What was it they had to overcome as a Church? What was it that they had to overcome?
We are going to back up again in Revelation. Let’s go to Revelation chapter 2 and look at the Church eras. Let’s spend a little bit of time on each one and see what Christ is telling them to overcome. What was the message to the Churches? This is a little different than any sermon that you have heard before on the attitudes prevalent in the Churches. We are looking at what they were told to overcome and then draw lessons from them for us today.
Let’s go to Revelation chapter 2, beginning in verse 1: “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”’”
We see here they tested those who said they were apostles and were not. They tried, tested, and verified whether people who claimed they were apostles were or were not. When they found they were not, they showed that they were liars. This is what they were being told. They were being told by some people, I am an apostle. Follow me! They judged them by the Scriptures, and said no, you are not! You are a liar. God commended them for this.
Today we can draw the lesson that throughout the Church there are many who claim to be an apostle or a prophet or one of the two witnesses or Elijah or Elisha. On and on it goes throughout the Church. We need to prove whether they are or not. If we see they are not, we need to tell them: you are wrong, and you are lying. You need to repent of this. This is a lesson we can draw from. This is a systemic problem in the Church today. People make themselves out to be something they are not. We are supposed to test them, just like the Ephesians did, and verify whether they are actually are of God or not.
We are also told that they left their first love. They are told to repent of that or God would move their candlestick. We all had a first love when we came into the Church. We were baptized. We learned the truth. We were excited. We were on fire. That was first love. Then we went through the falling apart of the Church. We came to realize that we had been wrong, and that God really is a merciful God who is going to bring about a Millennium without the destruction of the earth. Once again we got first love. We were all excited. We wanted to share this with our brethren. We wanted to get together for Bible studies and services and for fellowship all of the time. Now that has gone on for ten or eleven years. We are getting tired. We do not try to get together as often as we used to. We do not push ourselves. We do not feel the excitement as much.
It is natural, to a certain extent, for all of us to get tired, but God says go back to your first love! Go back to how you felt. Rekindle that energy, that love and share it with one another and encourage one another.
Also in verse 6 of Revelation 2 we can see that God says it is a good thing you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans. That term “Nicolaitan” is also a derivative of nike. It also comes from the word “nike,” so that word would mean those who seek victory over the saints! He said you hate those who are trying to do this by false doctrine and who say they are apostles and prophets and they are not. You are fighting the Nicolaitans, and I am pleased with that. I am happy about that. You are fighting false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers. He said I am pleased with that.
We can learn a lot from that first Church era and apply it to ourselves today. We need to be willing to stand up for the truth, hang on to our first love, and identify those who are not telling the truth.
Let’s go to the second Church era which is Smyrna. We are going to begin in the same chapter, Revelation 2, verse 8: “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life; “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison…”’”
It goes on to say how they would suffer for ten days. We could go back and prove that it is documented in history that they did suffer a terrible persecution. The point is, they were fighting against people who said things that were wrong. They were people who said they were Jews and were not, and they were a synagogue of Satan, as we are told in verse 9. That is a very serious charge to be told you are a synagogue of Satan.
When people say they are with us and are not, that is a form of lying just like we were told in the first Church era. We have to identify who is telling us the truth and who is truly with us and who is not.
Keep your finger in here and we are going to slip back to Romans chapter 2, verses 28-29: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
We are told here that there is a form of Jewishness that is spiritual. That is what we want in the Church. We want to be spiritually Jews and not part of the synagogue of Satan who say they are spiritually Jews and are not.
The word “synagogue” means where you are taught and where you learn. It means an assemblage of persons, a place of meeting. It is where you are learning things, so among this group in Smyrna we are told here in verse 9 of Revelation 2 (last part): “…and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.”
It is a blasphemy to God to say you are part of the spiritual body of Christ if you are not really with it. I did not write those words. I do not like using such harsh terminology, but we need to be honest with ourselves and read the Scriptures. We need to try to understand and learn the lessons from what these Church eras were being told by God.
If God says it is blasphemy to claim something that you are not spiritually, then it is. He knows what has gone on in the Church today, and this is where we need to draw our lessons. With the intrigues throughout the body of Christ and the tares that are wolves in sheep’s clothing that are devouring the brethren and destroying the Church, it is a very true saying today that we have devoured ourselves! The Church has literally destroyed itself, but it was not the whole body that wanted to do it. It was those who got in and worked for their own ends. They were, of course, allowing Satan to use them. That is what it means to be a synagogue of Satan. It is a place where the teachings of doctrines and attitudes of Satan are prevalent. These are harsh words, but these are the Scriptures. We have to be honest with ourselves.
Let’s go now to Pergamos which is the third Church era. We are starting in Revelation 2, verse 12: “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword: “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”’”
Then He goes on to say overcome. Notice it’s what is being said and what is being taught in this Church era that has God so upset: the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. It is things that are being taught once again from the synagogue of Satan that have not overcome this Church but it is within them. It is there. God says I know where that place is. I know who is doing this. Those of you who are fighting for the truth I uphold you. I am there to help you with the sword of My mouth.
We will not go through the whole story now, but the false doctrine of Balaam was tempting people to turn away from God. It was tempting people to go after lusts of the flesh and leave God. The Nicolaitans, as we also already have discovered and discussed, are false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers among the brethren through whom Satan is trying to get the victory over the Church. Jesus Christ says do not let them have the victory. I want you to overcome. I want you to have nike and nikao over the Nicolaitans. It is a battle for supremacy in the Church.
God says, I will come and fight with you with the sword of My mouth. That is the truth of the Bible. It is what we use to fight with. We fight with the words of the truth, and we fight the false doctrines and those who espouse error. That is the lesson we can draw from the Pergamos era. Fight for the truth against those who bring in the errors.
The fourth Church era that I want to discuss now is Thyatira. Turn to Revelation 2, verse 18: “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works. Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come.”’”
Then He goes on to say, overcome.
Jezebel had been dead for a long time before this Scripture was written, but the spirit that was alive and well within Jezebel was still alive. The demon that influenced Jezebel to seduce God’s people and to teach them wrong things, is alive and well even to this very day, so we need to pay attention to these verses. We face this demon.
We also face some temptations like the lusts of the flesh that help destroy the body. One of the things that we find today is some women in the Church have set themselves up to be teachers. Some even claim to be ministers. God said, this is the way I want it. I want men to be the teachers. It is not that a woman does not have a place in the home and in other areas where by example they teach. We need to follow the Scriptures on these things because there are not to be women ministers, apostles, and that sort of thing. That is what Christ was saying here to the Church. We have to be honest with ourselves. This is the Scripture.
We also have areas where Jezebel tempts us through the flesh to seduce us into sexual immorality. We look in the Church, and marriages are failing left and right. People are divorcing and remarrying left and right. We are becoming insensitive and inured to things like TV programs and movies that are constantly showing the perverse side of human nature. Satan is at work with things to seduce us with the lusts of the flesh. Jezebel is behind those things and tempting us with that.
It also says that Jezebel fed bad food. Bad food is spiritually speaking what we have to be concerned with. Of course, we know the food supply out there is getting tainted, but physical food and spiritual food are the flip side of each other. Spiritual food is by far more important to keep pure and to keep wholesome. We find out there that the Nicolaitans and those who have been seduced by the spirit that influenced Jezebel are imbibing in and sharing bad food with God’s people. We see the effects of it. We can point at various specifics even like observing pagan holidays instead of God’s holy days. Many Church brethren have gone back to pagan holidays like Easter or Christmas instead of Passover.
We see that within the Church many brethren are getting confused again about the Trinity and following a false god in that way. That is bad food. There is a Father and a Son, God the Father and Jesus Christ. Satan wants to be part of a Trinity.
We see people inured to the point where they see no harm in Harry Potter, occult movies, and series like the Twilight series and all the werewolf stuff, and they are in God’s Church. We know sorcery is wrong, and Jezebel was a sorceress, a false prophet. She seduced God’s people back then, and the spirit that was working through her is alive and well on the earth today.
We see all these things are rampant in the Church. We need to work on those things. We need to recognize them, take lessons from the Bible, and then work on these things. God wants to help us. He wants to help us out of the predicament we find ourselves in. Honestly we have all been tainted by some of these things in some way, so we need not point the finger at anybody. We need to point the finger at ourselves individually. Systemically, we need to get rid of these teachings. We need to get rid of the teachings in the Church that have allowed this to grow in the Church and become so accepted by brethren.
Let’s go to the fifth Church era,Sardis. We are looking at Revelation chapter 3, of course. Revelation 3, beginning in verse 1: “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.”’”
Then He goes on to say, overcome.
We need to overcome the things that are killing us and that are destroying us. They are robbing us of not only first love but any good works. He said, fight those things, and remember what you have been taught that was good. Remember the Scriptures. This is a battle over truth and error, falsehood and honesty from God’s word. What we are fighting in each of these Church eras is teachings, it is false doctrines, and it is what is going around as the accepted teachings of the time in each Church era. That is why God fights it with the sword of His mouth, with the truth.
Now let’s go to the Philadelphia era in Revelation chapter 3, verse 7: “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie – indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes…’” the word goes on to say.
Philadelphia is told God is pleased with the way they held on to His word and His name, but He said among them are the synagogue of Satan. Once again, they say they are Jews, they are spiritually with the Church, but they are not. Once again, it clearly says they are liars, but brethren, we came out of the Philadelphia era. We saw the results of all of these lies going around the Church. We saw the results of people who said they were part of the body of Christ and were not and who were tares among us.
We know what happens when these people and these doctrines have their time in the sun, so to speak, where they blossom, grow, and bear fruit in the Church. It is not good. It is what has led to the condition of the Laodicean era.
Drop down to the Laodicea era now in Revelation 3, beginning in verse 14: “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes…”’”
There again, we are told to overcome.
We see a Church era that is really a mess. It is poor, blind, wretched, naked, and miserable. It is like a compilation of all the problems of the previous six eras. Yet they are self-righteous. They think they are in need of nothing. They think they hold all the correct doctrines, even though they are shattered like a piece of pottery that is busted into a bunch of pieces. They think they need nothing.
As a matter of fact, the word “Laodicea” means people who believe they are right, people who judge for themselves. Yet, they are told they need eye salve. They need clean garments. They need clean food. They need literally everything. They are such a mess that Christ is on the outside! He is on the outside knocking on their doors. He is saying, let Me in and help you. Let Me put eye salve on you, so you can see what you are really like from My point of view. Let Me give you good clean food, wholesome food, wholesome doctrines, and good clean garments. Let’s do this together.
Why do these people seem to need everything, and why are they a total mess? The answer is that this is the first Church era that has been overcome. The Nicolaitans have really ascended to the top. The Nicolaitans have actually accomplished what their name means, and that is “to gain the victory over.” We have been overwhelmed by false doctrine. We have been overwhelmed by self-righteousness. We have been overwhelmed by stubbornness and pride.
It is an era when few people are willing to admit they are wrong. One of the things that the Church used to teach in the Philadelphia era was that the true Church of God admits when it is wrong and changes. Here today we see people cast in cement. Their feet will not move. They will not admit they are wrong on prophecy. They will not admit they are wrong when you show them straight from God’s word that they are being harsh. They will not admit one thing after another, and God says, I cannot help you with that attitude! Christ says, you need to let Me put some eye salve on your eyes so you can see how wretched, naked, and miserable you are.
We have people who are getting to be fewer and fewer as we die off, that are stubbornly holding to a doctrine that the world will be destroyed and the Church will be protected in a place of safety. By being in a place of safety, they will have some kind of special place in God’s heart. They are holding on to this false doctrine while one after another gets sick. They are miserable. There is pain and suffering. They grow more and more debilitated, and then they die. We are getting to be fewer and fewer in number, and we continue to stubbornly hold to that doctrine!
When Christ was talking about the Philadelphians being kept from the hour of trial, He was saying, I will keep feeding you and take care of you if you allow Me to do so. If you hold fast to your crown, if you keep My name pure, if you do not start messing around with the doctrines of Balaam, the Nicolaitans, and Jezebel, we can get something done. I will help You. I will protect you from those things. It was never about physical protection. It was about spiritual protection from error – what people were saying, what they were espousing, and how they are twisting God’s word.
We must admit that we have been overcome in order to start being a victor. We have to say that we are down on the mat. Please get me up, Christ. Help me and help us as a Church to accomplish what You want us to do.
The evidence of our demise is all around us, brethren. We keep shattering into smaller and smaller pieces. The Scriptural evidence is around us as people come up with more and more strange doctrines and more and more weird beliefs. It is almost as if when you drive around and you meet a lot of people, you can see that they are slowly going out of their spiritual mind over things. Christ warned us that that would happen.
SATAN TRIED TO WEAR OUT THE CHURCH
I want to go back to Daniel. Keep your finger in Revelation, and we will come back to Revelation. Go to Daniel chapter 7, verse 25: “He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time.”
In this sermon we are not going to discuss the time, times, and half a time. We are not going to discuss the 1260 days. I would just say the Church is being persecuted by Satan for the whole of its existence for 2000 years. We had to live under Satan’s dominion in this world as God’s people, a people alive with God’s truth in a world ruled by Satan. That’s what this is talking about.
This term “persecute” is to wear out mentally. Satan has been trying to wear out and get the Church to give up for 2000 years – that whole time, times, and half a time. He has been trying to get us to wear out and give up all along. The Church always had some in every era who refused to give up. They strove to overcome, and Christ said in each Church era there are people who will gain those rewards. There are people who will overcome and gain the victory over the Nicolaitans who want to gain the victory over us. Really behind the Nicolaitans is Satan. He is the one who wants the victory. He is the one who wants to be part of a triune God. He wants to have his position upheld forever. That is why he tried to get Christ to worship him. He knew if he could get Christ to do that at the temptation in Matthew chapter 4, that he would have won. Christ said, be encouraged. I have overcome the world! You will have tribulation in the world, and his apostles did. The saints all the way down through that 2000 years have had tribulation and persecution. We do to this very day. The difference is that at the end of the age, the Church really does temporarily get overcome. The Nicolaitans actually get the upper hand! Let’s go to Revelation chapter 13, if you don’t believe me.
THE CHURCH WAS TEMPORARILY OVERCOME
Revelation chapter 13, verse 5: “And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies [same verbiage as what we just saw in Daniel 7], and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months.”
That is the time, times, and half a time.
Verse 6: “Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.”
You see he was blaspheming all the way through the seven Churches. We saw that spoken of specifically that way a couple of times.
Verse 7 of Revelation 13: “It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them.”
That is what your Bible says! They temporarily gain the nikao over the brethren. They temporarily gain nike over the brethren. They become triumphant Nicolaitans, and the evidence is all around us. The Church is falling apart. There are crazy doctrines. People are dying, waiting for a false hope. The evidence is literally everywhere that we are poor, blind, wretched, naked, and miserable, but God has not given up on us. We are told He will never leave or forsake us, but we have to do something to help. We have to open that door and let Him in. We have to recognize our situation. II Thessalonians chapter 2 talks about this as well.
SATAN IN THE SPIRITUAL TEMPLE
Turn back to II Thessalonians chapter 2, beginning in verse 1: “Now brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
There is so much knowledge in those four verses. It is knowledge that we need to know in our time more than any other time because we are the generation that saw the great falling away. We are the ones who saw and who are living through the apostasy. We are the ones who are seeing the son of perdition alive in the Church and ruling the Church. It is not any man on earth and not another religion. It is Satan who has gotten into the Church of God. It is a position he always wanted.
It is Satan who is the son of perdition, and he sits as God. He is the true anti-Christ. To be anti-Christ you have to be a spirit being like Christ. No human being can be an anti-Christ. They can work for the anti-Christ. They can be against Christ, but the specific personage called the son of perdition is Satan. He is currently sitting in the temple of God showing himself that he is God, causing us to destroy ourselves with all of these things we have been talking about. It is everything that the Church has been warned about for the past 2000 years. Poor Laodicea is faced with this incredible challenge!
Christ knew this was going to happen. He knew all of this was going to happen. Satan cannot win. He is deluding himself. Satan has divided and conquered but very temporarily. He is a synagogue unto himself. He wants his doctrines to be taught. He wants his false prophets to proclaim they are one of the two witnesses, they are the Elijah, they are the Elisha of this time. He wants them to proclaim all kinds of crazy things and to viciously attack each other. He wants them to slander each other. He wants the Church full of intrigue because that is the way his kingdom is, and he has brought that to the Church. We are acting in his image. We are acting like him because he sits in the temple of God. It is not some person sitting in a sandstone temple in the Middle East who is going to dictate to the Church so that we have to fall apart.
The abomination of desolation takes place in God’s Church, in the temple. That is one of the first things that we need to understand to get out of our situation. That is what starts to open our mind so we can get rid of this blindness. That may even be the eye salve that Christ puts on us to show that the abomination of desolation is actually taking place. It is almost over, brethren! It is almost over.
The god of this age, and I mean god with a little “g,” wants to make the Church in his image, and he has almost totally succeeded. But he is not going to win totally. Jesus Christ will get us back on our feet. Jesus Christ is going to give us the breath of His life and His power once again. He is going to turn the tables on Satan at the last moment. You watch because amazing things are going to happen, but we have to cooperate with Him. We have to let Jesus Christ back into our lives. We have to admit where we were wrong.
WARNINGS TO FALSE TEACHERS
Let’s go to II Peter. I am going to read a couple of Scriptures here that, in all honesty, are a bit depressing; but if I did not read these, I would be doing you a disservice. Then we are going to end this sermon on a high note because we are going to show what we can do by taking these lessons to heart.
Go to II Peter chapter 2, beginning in verse 1: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”
Christ knew all of this was going to happen. The mystery of iniquity was working against God’s people back then, and it is working against God’s people today.
Continuing in II Peter 2, verse 4: “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly…”
We are not talking about the people in the world. We are talking about the people in the church now. We are talking about people who brought false doctrines into the body of Christ. It is Satan who got us to believe God is going to destroy the world the way he didSodomandGomorrah. God is allowing the Church to reap the fruits of what we deserve, and that is why we are falling apart. This is what He is talking about. We can see that by continuing on here.
Let’s go to II Peter 2, verse 9: “…then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…”
This is what we are finding in the Church. People have no qualms about saying, I am one of the two witnesses! I am a prophet! I can write words that should be considered like they are part of the Bible! Those are scary things. It is by false heresies they have come into the Church, and so many of the brethren have followed them. They have given allegiance to these people of such strong egos.
II Peter 2, verse 12: “But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption…”
We need to hope and pray that even the people who are involved with these things would see that that they have been blind and beg God for mercy before it is too late.
It goes on to say in the last half of verse 13: “They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you…”
It is the synagogue of Satan and the Nicolaitans who are the tares among us. We are not talking about God destroying the earth. He is letting His temple get destroyed at the end of the age in order to get us to repent and in order to get us to admit our sins and change. We can do this!
Continuing in verse 15 of II Peter 2: “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.”
God is going to do something here at the end of the age that is going to reveal the folly of all of these things and the foolishness of proclaiming one’s self one of the two witnesses. God will reveal the foolishness of claiming to be a prophet and speaking things in the name of God when you are not. God says, I will make them see who they are and you will see who they are, but I want you to test them. I want you to test them by My word, the sword of My word.
Let’s turn to Jude verse 3: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Christ knew this was going to happen. He goes on to say in verse 5 of Jude: “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
Those are serious words. If we come into the Church with destructive heresies making all kinds of claims and never admitting when we were wrong or made a mistake, we are in deep trouble. A lot of our brothers and sisters in the faith are in deep trouble. We could be ourselves if we are not careful. We are in a very serious battle over the truth in a very bleak time for God’s Church.
I am going to look at three verses in Jude here that show us what they speak in God’s name that is destroying the Church that we have to be aware of. Jude verse 8: “Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.”
They speak evil of dignitaries.
Verse 10 of Jude: “But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.”
Verse 15 of Jude: “…to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Within the Church there is a lot of harshness. There is a lot of intrigue. There is a lot of vicious talk. There is a lot of vain talk towards the world that they deserve to be destroyed when they have not even been called yet. They have not had the truth enter their minds and hearts properly. How can we condemn them? Christ did not condemn them. Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.
We need to lighten up, or we are in grave danger ourselves. We need to take these admonitions upon the Church because the Church is in the midst of the throes of the abomination of desolation!
Here is some of the evidence of what is going on with these people in verse 19 of Jude: “These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.”
They cause divisions in the Church. Do we have a problem with division in the Church today? You bet we do!
We need to recognize there are systemic problems in the Church, and we need to recognize some of the things that these people are doing that keep us divided. Jude 8 hinted at it, and that is why I emphasized they “speak evil of dignitaries.” I want to connect that to II Peter chapter 2.
Go back to II Peter chapter 2, verse 9: “…then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority [“government” in the King James Version]. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…”
The way it is today people have thrown out the baby with the bath water in many cases. They will not let any minister teach them. They will not let anybody be above them. I will never follow any man. I will never follow any government. I want chaos, is what they are actually saying! Who is the author of confusion and chaos? Satan is the author of confusion and chaos!
We have a situation where so many in the Church have set themselves up to judge for themselves what is right and wrong. Laodicean means judgment of the people who think they are right in everything. You cannot tell them anything! It is the biggest problem of this age of the Church.
Christ said, I will come with a message. I will bring a message to the Church. It will be a message that I will share with you if you let the door open and let Me come in. It is a message you are going to hear spoken of from the Bible. God is not going to sit down with you at your kitchen table. He may inspire you in prayer, but you are going to have to listen to people who can help you understand the Scriptures. You are going to have to admit that God puts government in the Church and that not all government is bad. You are going to have to realize that this division of separating by one personality to another is wrong.
I am here to tell you there are some decent ministers out there, but they are not being listened to because of the pride and the stubbornness of the people. Not every minister has gone bad. There are some good ministers out there. You have to listen to them and let them talk. Let them teach. Let them anoint. Let them counsel. Support the ones who are good and withdraw support from the ones who have proven to be Nicolaitans.
As long as we stay separated like this where everybody is deciding for themselves what is right and wrong and making themselves a Church unto themselves, we are going to stay a total mess and divided. Satan has sown division among us through the Nicolaitans, but we can reverse it. We can reverse it! It is by our love for one another that the Church will be known to the world.
WE CAN REVERSE OUR COURSE
This has all been rather bleak up to this point. Like I said, if I had not shared these Scriptures with you, I would be doing you a disservice at this time. But it is time to become “unblinded.” It is time to admit our errors. George Washington used to say errors once discovered are more than half amended. If we would just admit that we are blind, miserable, and that we have made mistakes, we are more than half way toward fixing them. That is what Christ is saying. If you let Me in, it will not take long. With some good food, good doctrine, trimming of our wick, and getting a few things straightened out, we will be out and flying straight and level! But we have to allow God to work with us that way.
Christ does not want us to be discouraged. He wants us to recognize where we are in time. He is allowing us to understand these things at this point so we can see the seriousness of our situation and do something about it. He is not discouraged. He knows He and God the Father are going to win. He knows Satan is going to lose.
Turn to Revelation chapter 1. We will conclude with two Scriptures from Revelation. Christ knew this all along. Revelation chapter 1, verse 11 says: “‘…I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.’ Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.”
Jesus Christ stands among the Churches, even Laodicea! He has not left us! He may be temporarily outside your life, knocking on your door. He may have temporarily stepped out of the temple of God – the Church – and that is what allowed Satan to destroy it, but He never went far away. He is right there, and He wants to help us get back on our feet. He wants to help us understand the truth of the situation we are in and fix it.
If He is the Alpha and the Omega, He understands we are going to win. None of this took Him by surprise. None of this did. He knew all of this would occur. He knew you and I would be alive at this time. He gave us the prophecies in advance to give us warnings and understandings. When He opens it up to us, do not refuse the knowledge. Do not blame the Church for what they could not understand years ago. They were not alive at this time. No one could have predicted what we have gone through. But if we keep our eyes closed, we are willingly staying blinded.
We need to open the door to Jesus Christ, and we need to repent. If we do, we are well on the way to overcoming individually and as a Church. If we do, we have a very fine reward. Let’s look in Revelation chapter 3 once again to see what Jesus Christ tells us in our time, the brethren in the Laodicean era.
Revelation 3, verse 19: “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Are we listening? That is a fine reward. Do not be afraid of being a Laodicean. Be afraid of not knowing the truth. Be afraid of staying blind.
Let’s go for it and gain the victory! Let’s go onward and upward to nike!