Let’s look at Revelation 2:2 where it says, “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:” The Lord starts out this letter to the Church of Ephesus by giving them some compliments. He first compliments them on the fact that they do not “bear them which are evil”. The early church had something that I refer to as "purging power."
In other words, the early church was so real and the Holy Spirit was so active that it was impossible for evil or sin to be present in the church without opposition. When evil came into the church, it was quickly spotted and removed. The people of this church were “for real” in their relationship with the Lord. There is no better example of this than Ananias and Sapphira in the book of Acts. It says in Acts 5:1 that there was “a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,…” and decided to give a portion of the money they made to the church. There was nothing wrong with that. The problem was that they decided to lie about it. It says in v.2 that they “…kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.” That means that they deliberately misrepresented themselves to Peter. Instead of being honest about withholding a portion of the profit for themselves, they pretended to be giving it all. If they had just been honest and upfront about it, it would have been no big deal. After all, they were only expected to give a tenth (tithe) of the profit to the Lord. However, they decided to be hypocritical and God killed them for it.
But, as we study through these churches we will see that they slowly lost this "purging power" because of their compromise with the world. This compromise has led to cold dead churches filled with cold dead people. Today, the church is filled with these types. As a matter of fact, the word hypocrite comes from a Greek word which means to “play a part, pretend, or to act”. There are many in the church today that are playing a part, pretending, and acting like Christians. When in reality, they have no relationship with Christ at all. Another example is found in Matthew when Jesus told the Parable of the Mustard Seed. Matthew 13:31-32 says, “Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”
In this parable we see three reasons why the church has lost its purging power. First, we see it in the unnatural growth of the mustard seed. A mustard seed plant does not become a tree as that it is an herb. The church today has grown so large because it is largely made up of unsaved people who are fooling everyone but God.
Second, we see that because of this unnatural growth the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. They have made themselves at home! Unfortunately, the birds spoke of here are symbolic of evil. They don’t belong, but they are allowed to stay and actually feel quite comfortable because there are so many like them in the tree (church). The bottom line is that evil could not thrive in the first century church because of the anointing and purity that was so present through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Third, we see the leaven. Leaven in the Scripture is always a type of evil. Leaven is what we call yeast today. When just a little bit of it is placed in anything, it spreads. Jesus compares it to sin in Matthew 16:6 when He said, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Paul warned in 1 Corinthians 5:6, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” Unfortunately, the last days Church of Laodicea does not receive this compliment because it has lost its “purging power.”