May 26, 2021 – Wednesday
Revelation 2:6 NIV
6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Revelation 2:6 CJB
But you have this in your favor: you hate what the Nicolaitans do — I hate it too.
The above are Jesus’ words to the church of Ephesus. I posted this verse online (Facebook) noting that Jesus hates the practices of the Nicolaitans or what the Nicolaitans do, but not the Nicolaitans. It seems to follow the dictum, hate the sin, not the sinner, but there are clearly times when God hated not only the sin but the sinner.
There are not many examples of God hating the sinner, but there are some. Here are a few from the Old Testament. Psalm 5:5, The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence. You hate all who do wrong. Psalm 11:5, The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, He hates with a passion. Here is an extended example from Proverbs 6:16-19, note the last two, There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
In the New Testament there are almost no examples. In fact there are no examples of Jesus hating except in Matthew 20:33 when Jesus was addressing the Pharisees and the teachers of the law and said, You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? And that statement was prefaced with seven ‘woes’ pronounced against them.
So now we come to the common question asked about our verse of the day, what was it that the Nicolaitans did or practiced that Jesus and the church of Ephesus hated? In an earlier verse of the day I found no definitive answer as to the hated practices of the Nicolaitans. But today, digging deeper going on to Revelation 2:14-15 where Jesus is addressing the church in Pergamum, He says, Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Here Jesus appears to relate the teaching of Balaam to the teaching of the Nicolaitans, both of which He hated. It is as if they knew of Paul’s question in Romans 6:1, What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? But found some way to ignore Paul’s answer to his question, By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Barclay writes, The Nicolaitans, like all deceivers that come from the body of Christ, claimed “not that they were destroying Christianity, but that they were presenting an improved and modernized version of it. Of that we can be sure, as many sources said they led a life of self-indulgence where they perverted the teaching of grace to replace liberty with license so as to introduce licentiousness. Vincent’s Word Studies tells us, The Nicolaitans taught that, in order to master sensuality, one must know the whole range of it by experience; and that he should therefore abandon himself without reserve to the lusts of the body, since they concerned only the body and did not touch the spirit. It is no wonder they were hated as heretics and expelled from the church in Ephesus, but for some reason tolerated in the church in Pergamum. These were not good people and only sought to destroy the church with their practices.
Prayer: Dear Father, Help me to always be aware when someone wants to bring a teaching into the church that is false and the purpose is to hurt and destroy the church. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.