Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Compromised Convictions – Satan’s Throne
The Church at Pergamos
Satan is a sly, seductive schemer. He is very deliberate, very intelligent, and very practiced in the art of deception. His only mission is to destroy the people of God and the work of God, and he can be very effective at times. He was so successful in the city of Pergamos that Jesus Christ Himself had to send a warning to His people and His Church.
Satan knows how to tempt and seduce you. He studies your life and knows intimately your strengths and weaknesses. He has been studying human behavior for thousands of years and practices his art daily on each of us. Although he does not know our secret thoughts, he knows how we think and knows the most effective way to tempt and seduce us. The Bible warns us frequently of his plans (John 10:10, 2 Corinthians 2:11, Ephesians 6:10, 1 Peter 5:8, 1 Timothy 4:1).
This great deceiver and confuser wages war in the same intentional and aggressive manner against the corporate body of believers as well – the local Churches. He studies them, finds their vulnerabilities, then calculates and formulates unique and specific strategies to undermine the work of God and the effectiveness of the Church. In the city of Pergamos, he had great success. His weapon of choice there – compromise.
Satan had done his homework. Pergamos was perhaps the most vile and evil of the seven cities that Jesus Christ addressed in the Book of Revelation. It’s not a surprise that Satan chose to live there. Jesus even called it “Satan’s throne” (Revelation 2:13). Legend of the day said the city had been founded by the son of Hercules, thus giving the city a pagan origin, which influenced the culture profoundly.
Note: Some Bibles use the name “Pergamos”, and some “Pergamum”. “Pergamos” is the feminine form of the word. Often a city’s name is preceded by the pronoun “she”. “Pergamum” is the neuter from of the noun.
Pergamos was a cultural and educational center and its influence extends even to our lives today. It maintained a library second in size only to the one in Alexandria. When papyrus to make paper for books was in short supply, the inhabitants originated a way to use the skins of goats and sheep for parchment. The word Pergamos is a derivative of the word for parchment and the “sheep skin” students receive upon graduation from a university originated here.
Idolatry flourished in temples to Athena, Asclepius, Dionysus, Jupiter, Diana, Venus, and Zeus. Zeus’ temple was enormous and contained a huge statue. It sat on the crown of the hill on which Pergamos was built, looking like a giant throne (v.13). The temple of Asclepius (god of healing) served as a surrogate hospital and was filled with snakes. On the front of the temple was the image of a snake wrapped around a rod, an emblem still seen today, associated with medicine and the healing arts. Our word “scalpel” is derived from the name Asclepius.
Culturally bright but a spiritual black hole, Pergamos was a difficult place to be a Christian. Oppressed by the surrounding cultic religions, Christians struggled to maintain their convictions. Jesus applauds their efforts, telling them “Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city – where Satan lives.” (Revelation 2:13).
Antipas appears to have been a man of strong faith. He was unbending and unwilling to compromise. In fact his name is composed of “anti”, meaning “against”, and “pas”, meaning “all”. Perhaps Antipas was a man who stood “against all” the sin, depravity, and occultic practices in the city and because of his courageous, uncompromising stand, lost his life. He was encased in a brass bull (the symbol of the god Baal) and roasted to death.
Christians were hated in the 1st Century because they were seen as narrow-minded, bigoted, and intolerant. The most treasured values of the Greek and Roman world were compromise and tolerance. Christians would not have caused such a stir if they had only bowed to Caesar as well as to Christ. But, as per their calling, many refused to renounce their “exclusive and separatist” beliefs and were martyred. Those who would not compromise were put to death. Jesus calls Antipas “my faithful witness”, a title He uses in reference to Himself at least twice (Revelation 1:3, 3:14). The word witness comes from the Greek word “martus”, from which we get our word “martyr”.
Are you being a faithful witness for Jesus Christ? Do you refuse to keep quiet about Jesus Christ’s atoning death and resurrection from the dead so that others might live? Are you willing to be politically incorrect and speak out against the unGodly notions people are declaring today? If not, Jesus recognizes the compromise of your faith, just as He recognized the compromised convictions of the Church in Pergamos.
It is normal to be a faithful witness for Christ. The Good News is that Jesus is willing to forgive you and to give you another chance to be a faithful witness on His behalf. Jesus tells us we will encounter opposition when we witness for Him (John 15:18-25), but He will reward us if we do not compromise our convictions. Are you prepared to earn your reward today?
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
© Copyright 2016, I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries, All rights reserved
If you find this devotional to be a blessing to you, please pass it along to others. You may become a subscriber by signing up at http://www.imnormal.com.
Paperback versions of the book “I’m Normal. I AM” are available through AuthorHouse Publishers at http://www.authorhouse.com/BookStore/ItemDetail.aspx?bookid=38944
Are You Normal? What’s Normal about You? To find out, visit our website at http://www.imnormal.com