Pergamus, a church that remained faithful despite persecution and 
tremendous opposition. But no church is perfect. Although the clear 
commandment is, "Be ye holy, as I am holy" (1 Peter 1:15-16, Lev 20:7),
none of us, and therefore no church, is perfect in that required holiness. 
Although the heart's desire is to follow Christ, abide in Him, and imitate 
Him out of gratitude for the redemption He has wrought, we are never 
perfect. What a reason for constant and daily repentance this is!
And so, we read, "But I have a few things against thee." They are just a few 
things but serious enough to be mentioned here. They call for action. What 
are these things? We read, “Because thou hast 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.” We read about the things mentioned in this verse in Numbers 
25:1-2 and 31:16. Balaam knew Israel's weakness and advised King Balak 
how to tempt the Israelites. What failed with curses had to succeed with 
food and with women, namely, to overthrow Israel. Through the Moabite 
girls, Balak seduced the Israelites into eating meat that had also been used 
for idol sacrifices and into sexual immortality. Both activities were part of 
the worship of idols. So, Balaam's teaching or doctrine led to serious sin 
through temptation and enticement. Here in Pergamus, the enticement is 
probably the guild system with its feasts in pagan temples. This issue is 
connected to the doctrine of the Nicolaitans. We read, “So hast thou also 
them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” This 
doctrine was also mentioned in the letter to the church of Ephesus (2:6). It 
probably refers to life practices that show a willingness to compromise with 
pagan life in the city with its many forms of religious life. So, the two 
mentioned teachings led to the same problem. Loyalty to Christ is 
exchanged for loyalty to the emperor and the world. Idolatrous meat is 
eaten. With that comes spiritual harlotry. And, of course, this is serious in 
God’s eyes! It breaks the covenant with God! 
The call that follows is clear: "Repent!" Let us take the warning here 
seriously, and as we heard from the mouth of Peter, “Be holy in all our 
conversation” (behavior). James writes the same thing in 1:27: "Pure 
religion is ... to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Our lives matter! It 
is true that salvation is entirely God's work, but that salvation in Christ will 
put us to work out of gratitude for our salvation. The good works of 
sanctification are fruits worked by the Holy Spirit, but we are fully engaged 
in them.