And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges: “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My name, and hast not denied My faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
When examining verses 12-13, we considered Christ’s commendation to the church in Pergamos. Now, we take a turn for the worse and consider verses 14-16, wherein Christ rebukes the church.
What is Christ’s rebuke? The church has within its ranks those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, which is here spoken of interchangeably with the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes. The church has these men and the pastor tolerates them. And Christ is displeased.
What is this Nicolaitan doctrine of Balaam? Jesus tells us in v. 14. Balaam taught the Moabite king, Balac, to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. Balaam knew that, with God on their side, a direct Moabite assault against God’s people would avail nothing. But, if Balac could somehow get Israel to forsake God, to turn from him to other, powerless gods, like those of Moab, then, not only would they be defenseless, they would find themselves opposed by God himself. God, in his great jealousy, would be against them in anger. This is what Balaam taught Balac. And, so, Balac sent Moabitess sirenes into the Israelite camp. They seduced the men of Israel to commit fornication, and, with horse sense lustfully slain, these same whoring men were led by the nostrils to eat food sacrificed to idols. God, in holy anger, sent a plague, and many thousands died. If not for Phineas, that zealous man of God, the people would have been destroyed.
There were Balaams in the church of Pergamos, and the pastor was idle. Withstanding direct assaults from the orc hordes of the Devil, this congregation was at risk of succumbing to the whisperings and false leadings of Wormtongue. Corruption from within, not assault against the walls, reached ever closer for the utter demise of this church. If not expelled, Balaam would have as much success here as the Devil had with Eve in the garden.
If this church does not act, under the leadership of her pastor, to forcefully expel these heretics, those who taught that God’s people may have peace with Christ and with idols, then Christ himself would stand against the church. He promises to fight against them with the sword of his mouth. Overcome the Nicolaitanes, the Conquerors, or be overcome by that great Sword Wielder, Christ himself. The choice was plain, liberty from sin or death.
And what path was there to liberty from sin and death? Repentance. Repentance is always the way to freedom, always the way to conquest. Turn from this sin, and all would be forgiven and healed. The pastor, in particular, was to take up his spear and drive it forcefully through the backs and bellies of those who pranced about in the congregation whoring after other gods.
The application for you, my friend, is straightforward. You can have your peace with Moab. It will be delightful…for a time. But it will mean that Christ will stand against you with the same sword that cut down Balaam in the field of battle. Take, instead, peace with Christ, which endureth now and forevermore. Do with sin and temptation what Phineas did. Do with sin and temptation what Adam ought to have done. Drive it from the garden of your heart. Drive it from the garden of your family. Link arms, brethren, to give it no quarter in your church. Let no sexual impurity abide. Repent and, so, overcome.