Thyatira was an active city. It was very industrious in producing wool, linen, dyes, leather, tanning and bronze work. There were worshipers of God in the city (Acts 16:14) and the church was highly commended by Jesus. However, they were also misled by false teachings and tolerated immoral lifestyles. They were seduced by the ways of the world. Believers can examine this church to understand how to engage the culture with truth rather than succumbing truth to culture.
The church becomes seduced when it fails to worship rightly.
Thyatira, like every other church in Revelation, had problems with idolatry. Worship and idolatry seem like foreign words to the modern hearers; however they are the dominant action of every human heart. Idolatry includes anything that is desired or followed in creation more than the Creator. Jesus opens the letter to Thyatira with a vision of who he is – the Son of God with fire blazing eyes and shining bronze feet. This characterizes Jesus as the Supreme Being worthy of worship.
To worship rightly means viewing God accurately. Many people view God less than he is; as he were in competition with modern gods – money, fame, power, sex, possessions. As the book of Revelation shows, this cannot be farther from the truth. Each letter shows Jesus as greater than all things, as Champion and rightly as the all-powerful Creator. Since Jesus created all things, he alone is worthy to be worshiped.
The church becomes seduced when it fails to teach rightly.
The Thyatiran church allowed the poison of false teaching to occur among its members. Jesus relates the teaching to the OT prophetess “Jezebel”, who led the Israelites to worship Baal and killed the prophets of God. Likewise, the false teaching in the Thyatiran church led people into association with idols and sexual immorality.
The church [student ministries] must take seriously the purpose of teaching and building young believers in the faith. The last command of Jesus is to make disciples by teaching other to obey his commands. Unfortunately, much of the teaching in today’s student ministries have little to do with right doctrine and more to do with entertainment. Students are seduced by smoke shows, glamorous stage lights, comedic presentations and let’s not forget pizza… sad but true. Jesus took this sin so seriously that he promised intense suffering if they did not repent. Wow, Jesus was probably even raising his voice in saying such things! The point is, biblical doctrine is not just for a select class of intelligent Christians but it’s for all believers.
The church becomes seduced when it fails to live rightly.
Behaviors follow beliefs. In other words, because the Thyatiran church tolerated erroneous teaching it resulted in faulty behavior. Believers became influenced by their surrounding culture rather than the reverse.
One popular preacher used to say, “The world is too churchy and the church too worldly that you cannot tell the difference.” When engaging culture with the gospel Christians must realize there are areas that they can never go. For example, Christians can and perhaps should go where sinners are as Jesus did – ghetto neighborhoods, streets, bars and nightclubs, white-collar neighborhoods, athletic events or wherever there are lost people. However, Christians should live differently than the lost world they are trying to reach.
• What areas of Christianity do you see it becoming seduced?
• What idols do you see among your friends?
• How do you know when you have worshiped rightly?
• If you had a short time to teach someone essential Christian doctrine, what would you teach and what would you leave out?
• Do you think people you know want to go deeper in the Christian faith but their churches are not taking them? Why do you think this happens?
• Explain why you agree or disagree with this statement: “Behaviors follow beliefs.”
• How can a Christian witness to a lost friend without becoming influenced by their beliefs and lifestyle?