“There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin.” – Revelation 2:14
When we hear of a church being "under attack," we tend to think of it being assaulted by an outside force. Critics are slandering. Atheists are picketing. Or the landlord is threatening to evict the church from its building. But more times than not, churches die from the inside out. And one of the culprits is a silent killer: moral compromise.
A pastor gets caught in an act of indiscretion. The treasurer helps himself to the church's donations. The small groups become gossip groups. The members become cold and self-absorbed. And little by little, the church becomes indistinguishable from the world.
moral compromise in the church is far from new. It was just as much of a danger
to the Christians in the church at
In the Old Testament, Balaam was a pagan prophet and sorcerer who believed in God and, to some extent, worshiped and obeyed God. In Numbers 22-24, he blessed the Israelites four times when he was hired by the evil King Balak to curse them. But a few chapters later, we learn that Balaam cooked up a plan to send Moabite women into the Israelite camp to seduce them into sexual sin and idolatry (Numbers 31:16).
Basically, Balaam told King Balak: “I can’t curse the Israelites. God won’t let me. But there’s another way that you can get God to curse them. It’s a back-door approach. If you send your hottest, most alluring women into the Israelite camp to seduce their men into having sex with them and joining their pagan worship, God will HAVE to curse them, because He can’t turn a blind eye to that kind of sin.” From that point on in Scripture, Balaam’s name becomes synonymous with moral compromise.
So, when Jesus tells the Pergamum Christians that some of their people “hold to the teaching of Balaam,” in essence, He’s telling them this: “Christians in Pergamum, although you’ve stood strong against threats and attacks coming from outside the church, you’ve started to give in to moral compromise inside the church. And it’s not okay! I have called you to a higher standard, so I expect you to raise your moral standards … not lower them.”
In verse 15, Jesus rebukes the Pergamum Christians for allowing some of their church members to “hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.” Since the Nicolaitans aren’t mentioned outside the Book of Revelation, we don’t know exactly what they taught. But the word “Nicolaitans” literally means “conquerors of the people.” So, in one way or another, the Nicolaitans were infiltrating the church, convincing young, impressionable Christians to be soft in their convictions, and to be soft on sin.
the Balaam followers and the Nicolaitans in the
Jesus’ message is loud and clear: It’s not enough to just stand strong against the soldiers from OUTSIDE the church who come to arrest you for your faith. You have to stand just as strong against compromising Christians INSIDE the church. You have to stand strong against carnal Christians who are trying to get you into bed with them. You have to stand strong against lukewarm Christians who are trying to get you to drink this or smoke that. You have to stand strong against Christians who live like the devil outside the church building and are trying to get you to live the same way. They want you to be like them—to live lives that are indistinguishable from the world around you. Jesus tells the Pergamum Christians in verse 16: “Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.”
However, in verse 17, Jesus makes a wonderful promise to those who resist the allure of moral compromise: “To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna.” In other words: “If you overcome the temptation to eat the bread of sin, I will bless you with the bread of life.”
So, don’t jump on the bandwagon of moral compromise, even when your fellow Christians are going for a joyride. Your refusal to compromise your morals and your integrity will pay off in the end, when you successfully cross the finish line of your Christian race and receive your heavenly reward. What a mighty God we serve!
Dane Davis is the pastor of Impact Christian Church in Victorville. His new book, “Buoyed Up: Jesus’ 8 Steps to an Unsinkable Life,” is available on Amazon in paperback, e-book and audiobook. Join us at Impact for Sunday services: in person at 9 a.m., or online at 10 a.m. on Facebook Live or YouTube. For more information, visit www.GreaterImpact.cc.