“But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.” – Revelation 2:14
Scripture reading: Revelation 2:12-17
In 29 BC a temple for the worship of Caesar Augustus was constructed in Pergamum, making it the first city in Asia Minor to feature a temple for a living emperor. The Christians in Pergamum boldly defied civic expectations, however, and refused to participate in emperor worship, and not without cost. Their own pastor, Antipas, had been arrested and promised release if he willingly professed, “Caesar is Lord.” Because he insisted, “there is no king but Jesus,” Antipas was martyred.
Though faithful to her creed, Pergamum was failing in her conduct. She was following the way of Balaam who said the right things, but was a seducer. Professing believers were endorsing participation in city parties which included eating food sacrificed to idols and, in some cases, sexual immorality.
Refusal to participate in such parties implied withdrawal from social life entirely. You can imagine the logic to which some in the church resorted: “We don’t need to be social outcasts. Let’s not be obnoxious to our neighbours.” But it’s a stratagem of the devil that if you can’t get people to deny their convictions, perhaps you can get them to gratify their passions. It’s easier, after all, to be right in doctrine than holy in life.
We cannot separate our creed from our conduct, however. It’s possible to be very careful in one’s doctrine and yet very careless in one’s life. The truth test is not: What do you think? The truth test is: how do you live? Faith without works is dead.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray that God would give you a life of integrity, in which conduct matches creed, and practices match profession.
Dr. Bill DeJong is the lead pastor of Blessings Christian church in Hamilton, ON and adjunct professor of Religion and Theology at Redeemer University in Ancaster, ON. Get this devotional delivered directly to your phone each day via our RP App. It is also available in print, for purchase, at NTGDevotional.com.