The Revelation Given to John by Jesus Through the Angel
Lesson five continued
The letter to the Church at Paramus
“But I have a few things against you because you have some who hold to the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a snare before the sons of Israel, so they ate things sacrificed to idols and committed fornication.”
II Peter 2:10-22 will tell us what God thinks of this kind of people who are not only sinning themselves but lead others into sin and enjoy the results.
Barkley[i] reminds us it is very important to keep in mind that the principle of the Christian life is not escape, but conquest. And[ii] later he says, “Here is a rebuke to us. So many are prepared to demonstrate their Christianity in Christian circles but are equally prepared to play it down in circles where Christianity is met with opposition.”
The assembly at Paramus was true to the faith even though they lied where emperor worship was compulsory, but some of them believed that compromise was the order of the day. Like Balaam, their way was contrary to God’s way.
Balaam first went to God and asked him if what he wanted to do to gain wealth for himself would be alright. When God said “no” he turned from it, bet when he was tempted again, he asked for permission again. God said “no” again of course, but he promised to tell Balaam what to do if he was tempted again. Balaam didn’t wait for the temptation to come to him again, he walked right into it. He spoke God’s word with his mouth, but his heart looked for a way to please god and himself too.
Those who held to the teachings of Balaam not only encouraged compromise, but the ate food sacrificed to idols – a sign of allegiance to the idol – and committed fornication.
Barkley[iii]points out the difference between being uniquely like Mashiach[iv], who ate with sinners so he could show them the way out of their sin; and following the policy of compromise “solely to save themselves from trouble” as the Nicolaitans did. He also points out that Mashiach makes war with his word, the sword of his mouth. And he goes to war with those who seduce the Church with evil teachings. Included in his word[v] are conviction of sin, invitation to God, and assurance of salvation.
We will pause here to look at the makeup of the soul and the spirit.
- Soul: the Greek word is πσυχηε psuche and means “to breath”
- Spirit: the Greek word is πνμα pneuma and means “the breath of life”
- Soul and spirit are distinguished by one (soul) meaning “animal life” and the other (spirit) meaning “immortal life.”
- In Hebrew the word soul is nephesh and is translated “a breathing creature; in other words an animal vitality – body and mind.
- In Hebrew the Greek word pneuma is runiuch, which means “to breath, or “forceful life.”
- Heart: the Greek word is ηεαρτ Kardia and is interpreted “thoughts, feelings, mind, middle (as the core of an apple).
Therefore, the living word of God is able to separate the breath of life from the act of breathing; or animal life from immortal life, and is familiar with every thought, or feeling from the core of our being. There is nothing hidden from him.
When we compare our goals to those of these Paramus Christians, if we find that we are running greedily after the rewards of this world we had better do an immediate about face. Run, instead, hungrily after the inheritance that Peter tells us is incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading. Jude calls Christians, who run after the fame and fortune of this world, sunken rocks and clouds without water carried around in the winds and never being a blessing to anyone[vi].
We who overcome by the blood of the Lamb have the promise of “hidden manna” – spiritual nourishment. We are also promised the white stone of equital – or the admission stone to the Messianic Banquet. We have been exonerated from guilt because our guilt nailed Yeshua to the cross.
Prayer: Lord, we will grow in grace. We desire to know you better and grow strong in your strength and power. We will spend our energy and time in an ever-closer association with you; and we have your promise that we will grow more in your image as we spend time with you.
Lord, you know how hard and discouraging it gets for your children when everyone around us is trying to get us to deny the faith. Even the people we expect to support us make remarks and sneer at us for being faithful to you. When someone, who we expect to pray with and for us, ridicules us instead, it is mighty discouraging. Nevertheless, we will fight the good fight of faith. We will stand fast, guarded with the truth and covered with your righteousness. We will be consistently prepared to give and answer for our faith, ready always to make peace between God and man. We will suffer hard times as good soldiers, free from the entanglements of this life because we have cast all our care on you. We will rejoice that you have allowed others to make it hard for us to live a faithful Christian life and pray for the ones who make it hard. Lord, please teach us to love them as you do. We want to know you and the power of your resurrection and the fellowship of your suffering.
Lord, help us to be obedient children who do not mold ourselves according to the way we lived when we were ignorant of your eternal glory and power. We will be set apart to live in the light of your love. We have been redeemed by the precious blood of your Lamb who is without spot or blemish. We hunger and thirst after your righteousness and will follow your pattern for the way we live. We will glory in our eternal treasures. Thank you for being our God.
[i] Volume I, page 91
[ii] Ibid, 92
[iii] Ibid, page 93
[v] Hebrews 4:12; Ephesians 6:17
[vi] I Peter 1:4 from the KJV and Proverbs 1:10 from the Message Bible