“But this is in your favour: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.”
Revelation 2:6 NLT
Almost as an afterthought, Jesus encouraged the Ephesians with a favourable mention, perhaps not wanting to leave them with a negative. He affirmed them for hating “the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do”. It appears that the Nicolaitans were a sect that probably started well but went off the rails, erring into theological error and sinful practices. There has been some conjecture that they were led by a man called Nicolas, who was one of the seven deacons chosen to wait on tables, as mentioned in Acts 6:5. Their error came from an attempt to merge with the sinful practices of the other religions around them, with things like sexual impurities, and eating food offered to idols, as expressly forbidden in the Apostolic dictate issued in Acts 15:20, “Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood”. And Jesus, in His message through John, declared their practices evil.
We see a similar problem in following our faith today. Our societies tend to follow and implement customs and practices that are at variance with Biblical teaching. And there is always pressure applied, from both inside and outside the church, to embrace and include worldly customs and practices in our liturgies and teachings, thus diluting the purity of our faith. In the UK today, topical moral issues involving, amongst other things, gender and sexuality, collide with Biblical teaching. But, Christians, amongst others, are even afraid to mention such difficulties between the world and the church, for fear of causing offence, which can potentially lead to being the subject of hate speech litigation.
So what do today’s pilgrims make of all this? We know what the Bible says. We know about the moralistic debates going on in society. And we know that the two are incompatible. But rather than, as some denominations have done, try and integrate the two in our church liturgies, we must remain counter-cultural, upholding the truths we have been taught. Thankfully, we have been granted wisdom. Not worldly wisdom, but the wisdom that comes from above, with which we can plot a course through the minefields of life, avoiding the clash-points that can be so destructive. In James 3:17, we read, “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere“. Notice that wise old James gave us guidance about how to avoid conflict. Godly wisdom will always look for a way of peace, love, mercy, and good deeds. And Godly wisdom, above all, exemplifies purity in our faith. With such sentiments as these we can avoid becoming modern-day Nicolaitans.
Dear Father God, we thank You for Your Word and the faithful men who recorded Your Spirit-filled messages so many years ago. Please help us to always seek Your wisdom and Your guidance in the issues we face day by day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.