We live in an age of conspiracy theories and fake news. We all know rational, reasonable people who seem to be duped by the dumbest ideas, even in the church. How does this happen?
In truth, this is nothing new. It happened before in one of the Revelation churches.
In Thyatira, a group of believers fell for the teachings of a false prophet called Jezebel. What Jesus said to them in his letter (see Rev. 2:19-29) remains just as relevant today.
So who was this Jezebel? Jezebel was bad news and trouble. Somehow she convinced Christians that it was okay to practise adultery and idol worship.
Why did some believers fall for Jezebel’s teaching? How did she deceive them?
“By her teaching,” said Jesus (see Rev 2:20). She seduced the saints with words.
It’s not hard to paint a picture of what happened.
Jezebel was articulate and compelling. She could quote scripture, and much of what she said seemed to make sense. Yet if you were paying attention, you would notice that Jezebel hardly ever mentioned Jesus. The focus was always on her: “My faith, my journey, my understanding.” Self-discovery was important to Jezebel.
She’d invite listeners to demonstrate their maturity by moving beyond the words of Jesus and the apostles. She’d make shocking pronouncements and belittle those who disagreed with her. She would say things like, “I used to think the way you did but I’ve grown.”
Listen to Jezebel and your mind might be tickled but your faith would be hammered. Her words, though eloquent, left a bad taste. Like an ill-tuned song they didn’t resonate with your spirit.
You’d find yourself wondering, “Did God really say that?”
Jezebel fooled some within the church, but she couldn’t fool Jesus. The Lord with burning eyes saw through her empty words to the hidden message of death and destruction. He exposed her sham ministry to save his church.
So what is the takeaway for us?
Don’t be impressed by those who sound wise but who distract you from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3).
False teachers boast of their so-called enlightenment. They delve into mystical writings and non-canonical books, but their digging only leads down. They claim to have discovered deeper mysteries, but the Son of God with burning eyes sees through them.
“Know them by their fruit,” said Jesus, speaking of those who are false.
If their message starves your faith, feeds your doubts, and leads you to rely on yourself – your own wisdom and understanding – it is not from the Lord.
If their message tickles your intellect but doesn’t resonate with your spirit, it is not from the Lord.
If their message makes you angry, hateful, spiteful, or causes you to take up arms against your neigbors, it is not from the Lord.
But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them… (Revelation 2:24a)
Serious words indeed. Jesus does not live in a blurry world of “your truth” and “my truth.” He is the Truth and anything which leads you away from Truth is from from the father of lies.
What are the deep things of Satan? Scholars debate whether “Satan’s deep secrets” is a reference to esoteric mysteries that only initiates can grasp or the Gnostic practice of exploring the depths of sin. We might say it is any teaching or message that distracts you and leads you away from Jesus who is Truth.
Either way, the deep things of Satan can be contrasted with the deep things of God that are revealed to us by his Spirit (1 Cor. 2:10). The latter produces life and godliness; the former leads to sin and death.
Extracted and adapted from Letters from Jesus.