Christ versus Religion, by Witness Lee

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When we come to the church at Thyatira we meet an even worse situation. Following the second step, you will surely have the third. Thus, in Thyatira we see a woman called Jezebel, a woman who has gathered many teachings and calls herself a prophetess. Thus far we have seen the doctrine of Balaam, the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, and now the teaching of Jezebel. This is why we say that we must drop the teachings. Thyatira, according to church history, typifies the Roman Catholic Church, and that false church is called by the Spirit here that evil woman Jezebel. It was she who brought so many pagan teachings and practices into the church and mixed them with the teachings concerning Christ. The result then was idol worship and fornication.

There are three abominations in the eyes of the Lord—idol worship, fornication, and division. Idol worship is an insult to the person of God; fornication is a damage to humanity; and division is a mutilation of the Body of Christ. God cares for Himself, God cares for humanity, and God cares for the Body of Christ. God would never tolerate any idols, any fornication, or any division. Here in the church at Thyatira, the woman Jezebel brought in her evil doctrine and caused much idol worship and fornication. God’s divine being was insulted, and the proper humanity was damaged. This is the Roman Catholic religion. It is dreadful to the extreme.

This woman by the name of Jezebel, after being fully developed, becomes the great Babylon. In chapter 2 of Revelation her name is Jezebel, and in chapter 17 her name is Babylon the Great. She is also called the great harlot and the mother of the harlots of the earth. This is the ultimate development of the Christian religion. Step by step was taken; one step led to another. The first step was a superabundance of labor; the second step was the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans; then the third step opened the door widely to paganism and led directly to Babylon. Babylon is the consummation of Christian religion. How desperate we must be to avoid anything religious!

Do not say that there is nothing wrong with doing missionary work, with organizing a mission and spreading the Gospel for the furtherance of the kingdom. You must be careful. That might be the first step towards the forming of a religion. If you take the first step, you will take the second and then eventually the third until you topple headlong into Babylon.

Now we are in the age of the Lord’s recovery. My burden concerning the matter of Christ versus religion is very heavy. I fear that perhaps ten or fifteen years from now history will be repeated. We may soon be taking the first step in an overabundance of work and labor, losing our personal and intimate love for the Lord Jesus in the first and best way. Then we will be on our way to form some kind of religion. We will soon be taking all the doctrines and going the full course in religion. May the Lord be merciful to us. Since we are in the Lord’s recovery, we must be clear: we must have nothing to do with the first step, the second or the third step; we must be on the alert not to have anything religious.

(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)