I missed an important point when considering the letter to the church of Pergamos, and it is this:
thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith.
I got hung up on interpreting what “Satan’s seat” means and how we see this today. However, this is not so much the trouble for Pergamos. In Pergamos, though they dwell where “Satan’s seat is,” they have not denied the name of Jesus or His faith. The things I wrote concerning Satan’s seat were correct, I believe, but I think this is more characteristic of the next church we will study, Thyatira.
I think the focus for Pergamos is a misuse of the word of God that leads people to stumble in the faith, just as when Balam taught Balac to teach the people to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication. We see this in Thyatira too, but the church of Pergamos is not as given into the “depths of Satan” as Thyatira.
I do value handling the word of God rightly, and ironically, this is what Pergamos is chiefly about in my belief. So, let’s try this again.
12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
Pergamos dwells where Satan’s seat is—a seat that can be summarized as one that places man in the stead of God—and in doing so, they are committing spiritual fornication with Satan. We will get into that better, Lord willing, in Thiatyra.
Pergamos, though they dwell in this space, they have managed to hold on to the faith and name of Jesus. Jesus is God. Not man. Jesus is the only way to be saved, and they seem to hold on to the gospel of Jesus Christ without much corruption from Satan.
However, there are influences and this comes down to how they handle the word of God.
It is easy for people to use the word of God to justify living worldly lives. Many big-time televangelists do this, but not all of them take it to an extreme, as we see among those who are seated “where Satan’s seat is.” These are very similar to Thyatira, but to a lesser degree. I think of it as a form of Christianity that errs on the side of liberty.
They use the liberty we have in Christ and the scriptures to embrace sinful living. These are those who like to focus on the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of God, but do not want to consider God’s hatred for sin and the calling we have as Christians to live righteously. They excuse fornication in the church. They encourage worldly pursuits.
Here is the thing.
Their abuse of liberty casts stumbling blocks before others. I think we are getting onto something now. Sorry I got off track.
Paul the Apostle wrote about this. We have liberty in Christ, but do not use your liberty as an occasion to sin, but by love serve one another. Paul said that if his liberty would cause another to sin, then he would forego that liberty for the sake of his brother. For example, we might have liberty to eat unhealthy food, but if we know a brother struggles with this and they are trying to eat healthy, we do not temp them by waving a cheeseburger in their face.
This flaunting of our liberty at the expense of others can be seen in many ways. I made a post recently about my liberties in music, then I realized that it was a stumbling block, so I deleted it.
Let’s consider some ways in which our liberties can cross over to sin or cause others to sin.
As a woman, I do not like churches that try to regulate how I dress or wear my hair. When they create strict rules, it is legalism. In Christ, we should have faith that the Spirit will work in our hearts the righteousness of God out of sincerity and conviction, not pressure to conform to the letter of the law that makes no man righteous in heart.
So, though I do not abide by laws of man regarding Christian women, nor will I, I do know that the Holy Spirit convicts me not to abuse my liberty in these regards.
I believe in dressing with modesty and humility. I do think our dress is an area of liberty, but I also think some women take it too far. They are proud in their look, immodest, and overly adorned with makeup and jewelry—but that’s my preference—and I trust the Holy Sprit to work it all out in each sister as He wills it. I can’t get away from scripture like Isaiah 2-4. If you are a woman who might be tempted to abuse her liberty in manner of apparel, check this out. We have liberty in Christ, but God does not change. He still hates haughtiness.
I’m sure we can think of others. We have liberty to consume alcohol, so long as we are not drunken or casting stumbling blocks before others. We have liberty to consume media and entertainments, so long as they do not encourage sin in us or in others. We have liberty to earn a living, so long as money does not become an idol. On and on it goes.
We need to learn to seek to the Holy Spirit so that we can find a righteous balance that does not use grace as an excuse for serving the self, but as a bridge that can help us love one another better.
Pergamos does not deny Jesus. They do not try to make themselves as little gods or tap into mysticism and spirits of devils.
They do however use the word of God to condone a life of worldliness, and in so doing, they cast stumbling blocks before others. Anytime someone uses the word of God to convince you that sin is acceptable, do not listen to them. This includes sins of the heart, like violence, pride, lust, greed, envy, strife and vain glory, and so on. These are as Pergamos, whether in small or great ways, and they need to repent.
There is another extreme.
Some forget liberty and use the scripture, including OT scripture, to threaten people and cause them to question their faith. This too is a stumbling block. Many pastors and so-called prophets do this. They use the scripture as a hammer to destroy the brethren, and though the word of God is a hammer, when dealing with our own we should edify and not destroy. Destroy evil in their lives, but in meekness and love, not self-righteous indignation. They hammer people with the scripture and about their sins to such a degree that it is sinful because they over shame people and cause them to doubt their faith.
We can overcome this.
We do not need to use the word of God to abuse liberty as an occasion for sin nor do we need to use the word of God to abuse people. Both cast stumbling blocks and both are carnal Christianity, as I believe the “Nicolaitans” deeds and doctrines represent.
Once we overcome, we will be given the “hidden manna” and a “white stone with a new name.” I still think this hidden manna has to do with the true sayings of the word of God, which He reserves for those who want to use His word rightly and not as an occasion for sin. I also believe that the new name speaks to our adoption as sons by the Son, Jesus Christ—a Son who was a lover of righteousness, who denied Himself all the way to the cross so that we could be forgiven and healed. Let us not use our liberty or lack of love and patience to bring shame to His sacrifice.
If we bring shame to His sacrifice, if we count it as an unworthy thing through shear lack of care, neglect of the calling we have been called to as Christians, and misuse of His word to justify works of the flesh by way of misusing liberty or laying laws on others wrongly, then we are at risk of deception from the works of Satan.
I think we see what this leads to in Thyatira. Sorry I jumped the gun a bit. I hope to create a more concise work once all of these 7 church articles are done, Lord willing. I know it’s been a bit rough doing this off-the-cuff. I will clean it up and bring you all something better once I sort it all out in my mind fully.
Thanks for your patience!
Do you have thoughts about what we can learn from Pergamos? What am I missing!!?? I’m certain you have something to add to me, so that we can create a solid work for our brethren concerning the 7 churches of Revelation. Comment or send an email. I’d love to hear from you!