The motto of Scotland’s Clan MacLeod is “Hold fast.” This could be the church’s motto. To be faithful we must hold fast to what we believe. More importantly, in order to be faithful we must hold fast to Jesus Christ. This can be hard to do when others around you compromise.
In the church in Pergamum, some claimed to be Christians but held to the teaching of Balaam, “who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality” (v. 14). In other words, they tried to fit in with pagan culture. They ate food that had been sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality, probably as a result of attending pagan worship services.
Pagan worship was so entrenched in Pergamum that Jesus called it the place “where Satan has his throne” and the city “where Satan lives” (v. 13). Poverty-stricken Christians were tempted to participate in pagan festivals because free food was provided. Unfortunately, in addition to eating the food they also engaged in pagan worship and the sexual immorality that often accompanied it.
Jesus offered the example of Antipas. Church tradition says he was appointed bishop of the church by the apostle John and was eventually burned to death on a pagan altar. Jesus also reminded the church of His power, describing Himself as the one “who has the sharp, double-edged sword” (v. 12). The one who judges pagans also disciplines His church, and Jesus threatened to turn this double-edged sword against all who followed the example of the Nicolaitans instead of Antipas (v. 16).
To those who overcame the temptation to compromise their faith for the sake of a meal, Jesus promised to give “the hidden manna” (v. 17).
APPLY THE WORD
Have you been taking small steps away from the path of faithfulness? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any of your rationalizations or excuses for compromising your faith. Think of godly examples who can encourage you, and hold fast by God’s grace. Choose to be fed by Jesus’ manna rather than chastened by His sword.