“You have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam…” – Revelation 2:14
The city of Pergamos was known for idolatry. A large altar to Zeus is believed by many to be “Satan’s throne,” and idolatry was so pervasive that to even work a trade you were required to offer sacrifices to a patron god. A member of the church even gave his life for Christ! The Pergamos believers were willing to face martyrdom to hold onto Christ.
Despite this, Jesus will rebuke this church. While they held fast to Christ, they allowed members to teach the ‘doctrine of Balaam.’ Balaam was a prophet, hired by God’s enemies to curse Israel. God turned the curses into blessings, but faced with his failure, Balaam served his Moabite master by suggesting another path. Balaam tempted Israel to compromise holiness (Num. 25:1-3 & 31:15-16) and thus God would punish His people Himself.
For all their courage, the Pergamos church had allowed the doctrine of Balaam to creep into the church. They permitted compromise. People taught that faithfulness and holiness were not the same. Loyalty to Christ, they taught, did not necessarily require devotion to His holy will. Believers might verbally profess faithfulness but secretly excuse and participate in sins from which Christ died to save them.
Have we held fast to the testimony of Christ, while compromising with sin in secret? God is not fooled. He lovingly calls us to repentance and single-hearted devotion to Him. Only then can we know the joy of the Lord and the reward of following Christ!
Suggestions for prayer
Lord, help me to be steadfast in my devotion to You.
Pastor Greg Bylsma is a graduate of Mid-America Reformed Seminary, and he is currently serving at the Living Water Reformed Church in Brantford, Ontario. 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.