To the girl who tolerates sin, even though she knows the truth,
We live in a time where tolerance and acceptance is the anthem of our culture. We are told to love and not judge. And usually that means accept anything, even if it doesn’t line up with our moral convictions.
The unnerving thing is that this is not the case in just the secular world. It has penetrated into our own hearts. It has had an impact on the “good” Christian girl who does the right things and checks the right boxes. We have begun to tolerate and accept the sin, not only in the lives of those around us, but the sin in our own hearts.
Tolerance Starts Subtly
In Revelation 2, God personally addressed a church who was dealing with the very same problem.
The city of Thyatira was an affluent center of trade, most famous for its purple dye. Trade was at an all-time high. Because of the success of the fabric and dye industry, there were many guilds that formed as a result. These guilds were like modern day labor unions. However, instead of just promoting trade, many of these labor unions forced their members to participate in pagan practices. As a result, many Christians were forced to ask the question, “Is my faith important enough to sacrifice my trade?”
“To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.” (Revelation 2:18-19).
The church of Thyatira had a lot going for it. John, the writer of Revelation through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, commended the body for their love, faith, service, and perseverance. It had many marks of a healthy church. But the next verse is not so encouraging.
“Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet” (Revelation 2:20a).
The people of Thyatira were devout and serious about their faith. They loved Jesus and were serious about serving him. Except for one thing. They tolerated a false prophet who had come in among them unnoticed. Though it is not clear who the exact woman to whom John is referring, it is clear that a false teaching within the church had crept in. And they tolerated it.
TOL’ERANCE, noun [Latin tolerantia, from tolero, to bear.] The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring.
It’s a hot-button word in our culture. It seems harmless. After all, it is the act of enduring something. It’s not the same as doing it, right?
Tolerance Turns into Acceptance
That’s what the church of Thyatira thought. They knew the truth. It is impossible to tolerate something if you don’t know that it is not true. They had the truth, but they bought into the lie that tolerance ends at tolerance. But in fact, tolerance leads to acceptance, and acceptance leads to stumbling down into a path of compromise. This is what happened in the church of Thyatira.
“By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20b).
The woman Jezebel allured and enticed many people in the body of Christ to compromise their purity and holiness. The people of Thyatira were living in a time of intense pressure. They were pressured from the outside to conform and practice sexual immorality. So they most likely asked themselves if they’d rather live for Jesus or for themselves. But the false prophetess from within made it sound like they didn’t have to choose between Jesus and the pagan guilds. What if it was possible to have both?
Tolerance of a false teaching led to acceptance which led the people to compromise. Tolerance is not blind at first, but a conscious choice to suppress the truth. However, once the truth is suppressed, spiritual blindness follows. When we close ourselves off to the truth, we are no longer able to have eyes to tell the truth apart from a lie.
Choose Truth Over Tolerance
Looking back at Revelation 2, we can see that God demonstrated His justice in the way He dealt with sin.
“I have given her (Jezebel) time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds” (Revelation 2:21-23).
God does not take tolerance of sin lightly. He promised to judge Jezebel and all those who fell prey to her deadly teachings. Unless they repented. Though God hates sin, He always offers an opportunity for repentance.
So to the girl who tolerates sin, even though she knows the truth, I get it. I have been there.
We have constant pressure on us to conform to “this” or “that.” We fear that we have to choose between Jesus and that unhealthy relationship. Between Jesus and attention. Between Jesus and that all-consuming career. So we fall prey to the lie that we can pursue those idols, and still have a relationship with Jesus. We blind ourselves to the truth that Jesus wants our lives to be holistically pure. He doesn’t just want part of our heart. He wants all of it. And He has wonderful words of encouragement to those who are whole-heartedly running after Him.
“Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:24-29).
To those who hold fast to the truth and don’t tolerate the sin that so easily corrupts, Jesus promises that we will one day have authority over the nations. And most importantly we are promised the Morning Star, who is Jesus Christ himself. Though living for Jesus is hard and makes us decide between the idols of our flesh and living a life fully devoted to him, one day we will fully understand the beauty of Christ our Savior when we are in His presence, fully enjoying His glory.
Sister, you know the truth. Tolerance does not lead to the best of both worlds. Tolerance of sin leads to the suppression of truth and ultimately separation from the presence of Jesus.
Tolerate no form of sin. Instead, wholeheartedly love and pursue Jesus. Because that is what you and I were made for.
Love your fellow church girl,