Brazen, unrepentant, and in grave danger. In Revelation 2, Jesus speaks directly to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Each one is evaluated; some are steady, others are wavering, and a few are in horrible shape. The churches in Pergamos and Thyatira were arguably the worst. Their congregations had permitted cultural norms to shape their behavior and had quickly succumbed to sexual immorality. They were perverse, and brazenly so! Jesus, who loved them well, was outraged. These are his words.
“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:20–23, ESV)
Such a reprimand stings, and we should be squirming. In recent days, I have been increasingly alarmed at the growing ambivalence towards immorality within the church. The battle for purity is a perennial one for men, and I am accustomed to ministering to those who have succumbed to temptation. In spite of the regular, public scandals that erupt around us, too many men continue to toy with pornography. Beware! Your conscience is being deadened, the Spirit grieved, and your lives are nearing calamity.
And to our women, the modern permissiveness that has been granted you is no gift. Fifty Shades of Grey and Magic Mike may be wildly popular, but they are ungodly. For too long we have been fooled into thinking that the war against impurity is fought solely against unruly men. Not so! Immorality may have a different appeal for men and women, but both have an appetite for it. Beware! Your conscience is being deadened, the Spirit grieved, and your lives are nearing calamity.
This is not a matter of personal persuasion or individual tolerance—it’s about honesty and obedience. Jesus himself searches our minds and hearts, and He is not fooled. He knows that our excuses and exceptions are weak ploys to avoid the tawdry truth. These titillating distractions are sin. We should be grieved by them, repent of them, and then distance ourselves from them.
At this point, I am supposed to insist that I am no prude, but I have no energy for such disclaimers. I am a saint who struggles with a body of sin, and while I am committed to mastering the flesh, it is a daily battle. All I ask of you is that you put on the armor of God and fight with me.