- Religion and Philosophy
Pergamum Church : From Persecution to Seduction
Church of Pergamum : From Persecution to Seduction
To the angel of the church in Pergamum write :
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city where Satan lives.
Nevertheless I have a few things against you. You have people there who hold to the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore ! Otherwise I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
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. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives.
Revelation 2:12 - 17
Pergamum is a city of Mysia in Asia Minor. It is located in the Northeastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and South of Thyatira. About 280 B. C. Philetaerus established here the kingdom of Pergamum, which was held by seven kings. Pergamum was celebrated for its library which was founded by Eumenus II, king from 197 to 159BC. The city was the capital of the Roman province of Asia, and an early seat of Christianity. The modern name is Bergama,
Persecution is an open opposition while seduction is hidden, secret deceptive opposition. Both strategies are employed by Satan to oppose the church in Pergamum. Christ started his letter by saying “I know where you live.” It is an expression of the Lord’s personal knowledge of the circumstances of our daily life. It is not easy to be a Christian at Pergamum where Satan has his throne. In Pergamum, there is a powerful force there in opposition to God, Satan has his stronghold in the city. And at this time, Satan made Pergamum his headquarter as the center of his demonic activities. There is a great presence of dark religions in the city.
Satan first employed his first strategy to defeat Christianity in the city, which is persecution. But Satan had not succeeded in this strategy in destroying Christianity in the city even in the days of Antipas. Antipas is the first Christian martyr in Asia and he was burned alive for his faith.
So Satan employed another strategy to defeat the Christians in the city, and that is seduction of believers to lead them to sin. There were those people in Pergamum who were allowing them to be seduced. There were people in Pergamum who hold to the teaching of Balaam.
Balaam was an instrument of Satan. He was hired by Balak to curse Israel through witchcraft. But he cannot do it instead using Moabite women he enticed the Israelites to commit sexual immorality and idolatry. Number Chapter 25 records this.
The Subtle Attack of Wordliness
Wordliness is giving in to the seduction of the world.. The world is Satan’s system for opposing the works of Christ on earth. We are to be extra cautious of the world’s influence on us. Worldliness does not depend much on the activities but on the attitude of the heart. It is a matter of the heart. Anything in our lives that makes us lose appetite for spiritual things and makes it easy for us to sin is worldly.
What the Bible says about being seduced by the world ?
It is written in John 2:15- 17:
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world- the cravings of the sinful men, the lust of his eyes and the boastings of what he has and does- comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”
We are seduced by the world because of the following things found in us :
- Cravings of sinful man
This refers not only to sinful desires but even legitimate desires that we want too much that they become our “idols in the heart.” According to John Calvin:
“Our hearts are perpetual factory of idols.”
For example, desiring for a lifetime partner is a legitimate desire of the heart longing for a lifetime companion. But if this desire preoccupied so much of your thoughts that it become your obsession, it is becoming dangerous. We must constantly guard our hearts from all forms of idols.
- Lust of the eyes
When the eyes have become instrument not only so that we can observe but have become Satan’s instrument that we could covet. What images have the power to arouse your interest ? What for you are those things that are exciting to watch ?
Be cautious of those things. They may lead you astray from the Lord.
- Boasting of what one has and does
This is taking pride inwardly and outwardly in our accomplishments, physical appearance, possessions, basing our significance primarlly on these things. Our significance should be found in Christ alone.
“The world and its desires pass away.”
The things of the world wont last. There is no future for worldliness. God wanted us to be aware and exercise caution and discernment in the world where we live in. According to Jerry Bridges :
“Worldliness is accepting and going along with the values and practices of our culture without discerning if they are pleasing to God.”
The chuch at Pergamum need to repent for practicing and tolerating worldliness. For worldliness is equal to “spiritual adultery.” As Christians we are married to Christ, and engaging to worldliness is spiritual adultery.. According to C. J. Mahoney : “ Worldliness is so serious because Christ is so glorious. He is most important and most beautiful.”
The Reward for Overcomers :
He will know what it means to be nourished by the “hidden manna”, the person of JesusChrist Himself , the Bread from Heaven. He will know what it means to have a truly intimate relationship with Christ.
This hub is an excerpt from the Vesper Worship Service message as preached by Brother Benjie Baclagon last February 6, 2011 at Grace Bible Church ( Manila, Philipines).