Earlier we talked about Satan’s method of attack – to steal and counterfeit the word, producing a harvest of “tares.” In the void produced by carelessness and unwatchfulness (“while men were sleeping”) the enemy sowed evil seed and has produced many tares. As we have seen these tares are a counterfeit of the wheat. They should be separate from the wheat, but the enemy loves to sow them among the wheat – meaning we should expect to find the tares in the visible churches.
When John wrote the revelation in 90A.D, Jesus gave him letters for the seven churches in Asia. In these letters he already identified some of the evil seed that was being sown at that time. Consider the evil teachings and negative things that the Lord identified:
- The doctrine of the Nicolaitans: To the Church at Ephesus, Jesus said “this thing you have, that you hate the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I also hate.” He mentioned it again to the Church at Pergamos. He said, “So you also have them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans which thing I hate.” While Ephesus shared his hatred for it, Pergamos embraced it. The doctrine of the Nicolaitans meaning “to conquer the laity” is the introduction of abusive and controlling spiritual authority that usurps His place as the head. This paralyzes the function of the Church, replacing the many gifts among the members with a class of “professionals” that does everything in their place. Over time they collected more and more honor to themselves, becoming Popes, and Cardinals, and ArchBishops, exercising authority even over kings and regions.
- The teaching of Balaam: To Pergamos he also mentions The doctrine of Balaam, saying ” you have 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.” This is an Old Testament reference regarding the prophet Balaam. In Numbers 22 Balaam was payed by God’s enemies to speak curses over God’s people, but God intervened. Eventually, Balaam encouraged God’s enemies to hold pagan festivals and invite the Israelites to them. There the Israelites were seduced and sucked into the world, even to the point of taking on the pagan worship of demons. The doctrine of Balaam represents the idea of selling out your prophetic gifts to God’s enemy (for pay) and deceptively weakening God’s people by encouraging them to mix with the world and even by involving them in pagan practices.
- The teaching of Jezebel (Rev 2:20)– To Thyatira, He mentions Jezebel, saying “thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. ” Jezebel is another Old Testament character who among other things brought the worship of the “queen of heaven” into the heart of Israel and replaced the priesthood with eunuchs who were dedicated to that religion. The teachings brought in through this infiltration literally involved with the “deep things” of Satan. We will talk more about this in a couple of chapters.
- To Sardis he mentioned their overall deadness and failure to watch for His coming. He said: “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.”
- To Laodecia, meaning “rule of the laity” he mentioned their total spiritual blindness to their spiritual condition and need . He says “thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Here instead of the Nicolaitans (which means “conquer the laity”) you have a situation where all of the people are ruling, but in a negative sense. These rule by their own opinion and judgment. Every man leans on his own understanding. They are blind and do not realize they are naked and impoverished, yet they think they are rich. In this situation, Jesus has no entrance. There is no entrance for the Holy Spirit’s work to expose the truth of their spiritual condition through the word.
If these things were the “seeds” 2,000 years ago we certainly see the full blown tree today. Today as a whole the church is ruled by religious professionals (many living lavishly). Many of the saints have been rendered spiritually passive. Instead of being separated from the world, she is increasingly engaging it (culturally and politically) and being conformed to it rather than testifying against it by proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.
It can be demonstrated that she has been secretly infiltrated by false brethren who pretend to be Christian teachers but actually are importing “New Age” mystical practices and doctrines of demons from the pagan mystery religions (the “deep things of Satan”). These esoteric truths are being wrapped in Christian terminology.
She is not watchful for the Lord’s imminent appearing.
The modern church bears the traits of Laodicea: She is being overrun by the opinions of men as she is conformed to the postmodern culture where truth is not objective but a matter of personal experience. In fact, today its difficult to find a genuine Bible study. Rather we are brought into a “dialogue” where instead of Biblical truth, every person’s opinion is given and truth is supposedly “arrived” at as a composite of the group dynamic. Laodecia was apparently known for were two aqueducts – one produced water that was too cold, and another that was too hot. When they came together they produced a luke warm mixture that was very much disliked. To this church, Jesus said “because you are neither hot nor cold, but luke warm, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” The “consensus” building way of building agreement through dialogue produces a lukewarm mixture. This is not at all the way that we arrive at truth. God’s way is to reveal truth with authority, which He has done in His word. You either receive and believe it or you do not.
These are just the traits that Jesus mentioned in His letters to the churches in Revelation. The list doesn’t account for the things that were coming into the churches that are addressed in the Apostle’s letters. All of these things were emerging in “seed form” in the early church. Now they have become an institutionalized in systems of error and have blossomed into a “great tree.”