Monday, March 10, 2014

Is Tolerance a Virtue?

Jesus Driving Out the Money Changers, Carl Bloch
The world values tolerance, and considers it a virtue.  They tolerate everyone, except the true servants of the Lord, but the Lord Jesus hates that kind of tolerance.  He says we must not tolerate wicked men, and Scripture consistently teaches us not to tolerate wicked men in the Church.

Tolerating Wicked Men
In His message to the angel of the Church in Ephesus, the Lord commended him for not tolerating wicked me.

“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary.” (Rev 2:2-3)

In Rev 2:2, the word tolerate is from “bastazo” meaning “to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.): - bear, carry, take up” (Strongs). It is used to refer to tolerating wicked men, which God hates.  It is also used to mean bearing the name of Jesus and carrying your cross.  It is used of the beast of Rev 17 bearing the prostitute on its back.

The apostle Paul also taught that we must not tolerate wicked men in the Church.

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” (1Co 5:9-13)

He clarified that he was not referring to those in the world who are wicked, but those so-called brothers or believers in Christ who were wicked. That is the standard of heaven for the Church that we must follow today. 

Bearing Your Own Cross
Such people who live like that are not carrying their own cross.  Jesus said, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luk 14:27; cf. Mt 10:38).

The word “carry” is from “bastazo” meaning “to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.): - bear, carry, take up” (Strongs). It is used in Rev 2:2.  So while we are on to put up with wicked men in the Church, we are to bear our own cross.  Anyone who does not carry his own cross cannot be a disciple of Christ and is not worthy of Him.

Bearing Your Own Burden
“For each one will bear his own load.” (Gal 6:5).  This most likely also refers to carrying one’s own cross.

The word “bear” here is “bastazo” which we have seen was used in Rev 2:2.  It is also used in Gal 6:2.

Bearing One Another’s Burdens
“Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:2)

Bearing the Lord’s Name
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."  (Act 9:15-16)

This is what the Lord told Ananias, when He commanded him to go and lay hands on Saul of Tarsus.  The word “carry” is from “bastazo” meaning “to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.): - bear, carry, take up” (Strongs). Saul, who would later become the apostle Paul, was going to bear the name of Jesus around the entire Roman Empire. This word “bastazo” is used in Rev 2:2 to refer to tolerating wicked men, which God hates. 

Bearing His Burden
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Mat 11:28-30)

The word for burden here is “phortion,” meaning “a task or service – a burden” (Strongs).  Perhaps you have not considered this, but when you come to Jesus, He has a burden for you to bear, which is His burden.  His burden is light, and He is in the yoke with us helping us bear that burden.  Do you have the Lord’s burden?

“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--I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” (Rev 2:24-25)

The word for burden here is “baros,” meaning “figuratively a load, abundance, authority: - burden (-some), weight” (Strongs).

The Beast Carries the Harlot
The apostle John saw a scarlet beast carrying a harlot.

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, "BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH." And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly. And the angel said to me, "Why do you wonder? I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carries her, which has the seven heads and the ten horns. "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. (Rev 17:3-8)

The word for “carries” is from “bastazo” meaning “to lift, literally or figuratively (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.): - bear, carry, take up” (Strongs). It is used in Rev 2:2 with regard to tolerating wicked men. 

Tolerating Jezebel
The apostle John also delivered to the angel of the Church in Thyatira a message from the Lord:

"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: 'I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.’” (Rev 2:18-20)

The word for tolerate here is “aphiemi” meaning “to send forth, in various applications: - cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up” (Strongs). 

It is the same word used by the Lord when He commanded His disciples to permit the children to come to Him. “But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, "Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Mar 10:14). 

This same word is used in Mat 19:14, where this same incident is described, and instead of saying “permit the children,” it is translated “let the children alone.”

Whereas the Lord commended the church in Ephesus, because they did not tolerate wicked men, He reproved the angel of the church in Thyatira, because he tolerated a woman named Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess. In other words, the angel of the church let her be, permitted her, and forgave her.  She was teaching the Lord’s servants in such a way so that they committed acts of immorality and ate things sacrificed to idols.  The Lord was very displeased about this sin and punished it.  We must not tolerate anyone that teaches in such a way as to lead to immorality or eating food sacrificed to idols.  The world would view this as intolerance, but we must not simply let such a person be or allow them to continue such sinful teaching. 

Jesus is Our Example
Just as Jesus commended one church for not tolerating wicked men, and reproved another for their tolerance, He Himself did not tolerate wicked men during His earthly ministry.  Remember the time he made a whip with cords and drove the money changers out of the temple (see Jn 2:13-17).

His zeal for God's house consumed Him.  And this is why the apostle Paul wrote, "But about the Son he says, 'Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.'" (Heb 1:8-9).  The Lord still loves righteousness and hates wickedness.

Putting it All Together
Biblical tolerance never puts up with sin.  The church should not be a sanctuary for sin or sinners disguised as Christians. The Lord says we must not tolerate wicked men. The things He expects us to tolerate or bear are His Name, His burden, our own cross, our own burden, and one another’s burdens.

Are you cross-bearing -- "tolerating" your cross -- and removing the wicked from among you, or are you tolerating in the Church those whom the Lord considers to be wicked men?

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted. Jesus Driving out the Money Changers, by Carl Bloch. This artwork is in the public domain.

Author's note Also see Only the Holy -- Three Shocking Testimonies, Separation from the World, The Apostasy Parables, The Top Ten Things Jesus Taught, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Rachael Mushala Testimony of Hell, Faith Works!, Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Keeping Sundays Holy, and Is Tithing Required?

You can access the Seeking the Lord Main Directory or my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master." Now I'd like to ask a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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