Laodicea, Revelation 3:14-22

As you will recall we have been examining the church at Laodicea for whom Christ had no commendation at all.  In fact, He had said in verse 16 that He would spew them out of His mouth.  Why?  Because they were LUKEWARM, neither cold nor hot.

NOTE:  Contrary to what Christ said, the church verbally and by their actions, said that they were rich indicating that they had no need of Him.

“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and HAVE NEED OF NOTHING’—-and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—” (Revelation 3:17, NKJV).

Now listen to Christ’s reply to their real state of affairs without Him. His counsel tells the real story and of their need of Him.  This should be helpful to every church and Christian who desires to “FOLLOW” Christ.

“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye slave, that you may see.  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and REPENT”  (Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:5-13, NKJV). 

At this point it would be good to remember “why” the city was considered to be a wealthy city, which probably affected their belief about themselves and had led them into sin.

As we have previously seen the city had “three particular” claims to fame.  It was:

  • a financial and banking center,
  • a clothing manufacturing center, and
  • the location of a famous medical school renown for the eye salve which it produced.

Look again at verse 17 and reflect on the words, poor, blind, and naked.  Perhaps you can see how the problems at Laodicea had started.

Last week as we left off, we were looking forward to our review of how Christ’s complaint: ‘Lukewarmness” described so many church members and how it affected the church.  Don’t you agree, that Christians need to think about how “LUKEWARMNESS” affects a church and its people?  Let’s review some possibilities:

  • A lukewarm church is only HALF-COMMITTED to Christ.
  • In addition to being displeasing to Christ, being lukewarm stresses that ritual, ceremony, and programs can be a way of becoming acceptable to God.
  • When a church changes their worship, from that which that the bible demands, it often becomes a worldly format. The problem is that the worship of God cannot be intermixed with the world’s way of doing things.

In Revelation 3, it is obvious that Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the cost of discipleship.  Jesus was pointed and very clear.  It removes any thought of being only HALF-COMMITTED to God!

“Then He said TO THEM ALL, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross Daily, AND FOLLOW ME.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.  For what profit is it to a man IF HE GAINS THE WHOLE WORLD, AND IS HIMSELF DESTROYED OR LOST?  For whoever is ASHAMED OF ME AND MY WORDS, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels’ ” (Luke 9:23-26, emphasis added, NKJV).

We could just stop the subject at this point but so much more needs to be considered in view of Christ’s condemnation of the Laodicean church.  Why?  Because a half-committed church or individual needs to hear so much more about what it means to be a disciple of Christ.  Let’s help each other and consider more of what the Bible says about discipleship.

If a person desires to truly follow Christ, as His disciple, there are three terms of discipleship that must be considered. 

  1. Notice, Luke 9:23, a person must DENY HIMSELF. Man’s tendency is to INDULGE himself and do exactly what he desires versus what Christ wants.  However, a person who wants to follow Christ is not to indulge himself in his:
  • comfort and ease,
  • appetites and urges,
  • thoughts and feelings,
  • deceptions and enticements,
  • plots and intrigues,
  • pride and boastings, and
  • reactions and disturbances.

NOTE:  The believer is to deny himself:

  • by discipline and control,
  • by loving and caring,
  • by sacrificing and giving, and
  • helping and ministering.
  1. To follow Christ, a person MUST take up his cross, and do it DAILY. The people in Jesus’ day knew what it meant to “take up” a cross. They saw scores of criminals bearing the cross to the place where they were to be executed, and they witnessed scores of crucifixions, some even by the side of the roads that led in and out of cities.

NOTE:    The cross does not mean merely bearing one’s particular hardship in life (as we in modern times may think), such as poor health, abuse, unemployment, unhealthy parents, an unsaved spouse, a wayward child.  The cross is ALWAYS an instrument of death, not just an object to carry or bear.  We need to remember that.

3. Jesus Christ is the CreatorJesus Christ is the great Creator of the universe and Sustainer of the universe and all that is therein.   This is something that the church at Laodicea seems to have forgotten and chose to ignore Him completely.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3, KJV).

“For by Him were ALL THINGS created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (Colossians 1:16, emphasis added, KJV). 

FACT:  Since Christ is the Christian’s creator and sustainer, the Christian is to die mentally and actively. He is to daily deny himself by putting Christ first in his or her life.  He is to let the mind of Christ, the mind of humbling himself to the point of death [if necessary] be in him and fill his thoughts every day.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a BONDSERVANT, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare ARE NOT CARNAL but MIGHTY in God FOR pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, BRINGING EVERY THOUGHT INTO CAPTIVITY TO THE OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, emphasis added).

The Christian is to put his or her will, his or her desires, his or her wants, his or her ambitions to death.   Instead, he or she is to follow Jesus and carry out His will all day long.

NOTE:  This is not negative and passive behavior.  It takes positive, active behavior to will, to deny self, and to take up one’s cross, to follow Christ.  A person must act, work, get to it, be diligent, consistent, and enduring in order to die to self.  Romans 6:11-13 spells out the ways as clearly as they can be.  As you can see the church at Laodicea had a long way back to following Christ as God desires.

“Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  LET NOT SIN THEREFORE REIGN in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither YIELD ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but YIELD YOUR-SELVES UNTO GOD, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of RIGHTEOUSNESS unto God” (Romans 6:11-13; Romans 6:2-10; I Corinthians 6:19-20, emphasis added, KJV).  

The following principles, as taken from God’s Word, can help any Christian who wants to “FOLLOW CHRIST.”

  1. The believer reckons or counts himself crucified with Christ.

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but ALIVE to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11, emphasis added, NKJV).

“Knowing this, that our old man was CRUCIFIED WITH HIM, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin” (Romans 6:6, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith IN THE SON OF GOD, WHO LOVED ME AND gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, emphasis added, NKJV).

“And those who ARE CHRIST’S have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit [saved], let us also WALK [LIVE] in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:24-25, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; BUT BE FILLED [CONTROLLED] WITH THE SPIRIT” (Ephesians 5:18, emphasis added, NKJV).

  1. The believer reckons or counts himself dead to sin, but alive to God.

“Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:11, emphasis added, NKJV).

“that he no longer should live the REST OF HIS TIME in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for THE WILL OF GOD” (I Peter 4:2, emphasis added, NKJV). 

  1. The believer does not let sin reign in his body.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that YOU SHOULD OBEY it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“Therefore PUT TO DEATH your members which are on the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the WRATH OF GOD is coming upon the sons of disobedience” (Colossians 3:5, emphasis added, NKJV).

  1. The believer does not give his bodily members as instruments of sin.

“And DO NOT PRESENT your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, BUT PRESENT YOURSELVES TO God as being ALIVE from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Romans 6:13, emphasis added, NKJV).

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit YOU PUT TO DEATH the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13; Ephesians 5:18, emphasis added, NKJV).

  1. The believer gives himself to God.

— LIVING SACRIFICE

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, THAT YOU PRESENT YOUR BODIES A LIVING SACRIFICE, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  And do not be CONFORMED to this world, but be TRANSFORMED by the RENEWING of your MIND, that you may PROVE what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2; I John 2:15-16, emphasis added, NKJV).

MAKE NO PROVISION TO SIN

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make NO PROVISION for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14, emphasis added, NKJV).

  1. The believer yields his bodily members as instruments of righteousness.

“And DO NOT present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, BUT PRESENT YOURSELVES TO GOD as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of RIGHTEOUSNESS TO GOD” (Romans 6:13, emphasis added, NKJV). 

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and YOU SHALL NOT FULFILL THE LUSTS OF THE FLESH” (Galatians 5:16, emphasis added, KJV.

NOTE – APPLICATION:  

(a)   It should be obvious from the Word of God that one’s hardship or burden can be used by God to bring a person to the place where God can deal with him, as a lovingly heavenly Father.  Hardship or burdens can also be used by God to bring a person to realize that Jesus Christ is the great deliverer and He can, if it is His will, deliver.

(b)   It can take time and patience for a person to understand that He has also opened the door to heaven.  It is then that the hardship becomes the cross and denial of self that Jesus is talking about.

With an act of self-denial, the Christian can then reckon himself alive to God (Romans 6:13).  He can then follow Jesus.  This is an act which can be described as COMMITTING ALL that one is and has to Christ.

NOTE:   It is an act that needs to be repeated EVERY DAY.

“And he who DOES NOT take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38, emphasis added, NKJV).

Before one can take up a Cross and follow Christ, it is obvious that one must know the One who they are following.  Listen to the following verse from Hebrews and think seriously about what it is saying.

“But WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE HIM [GOD], for he who comes to God MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS, and that He is a rewarder [salvation] of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).   Have you accepted Christ as your personal Savior and wish to follow Him as one of His disciples?  It’s your choice!

– See John 3:16

Perhaps you have noticed that the problem with Laodicea was that they were not following Christ.  They had left their first love [see the early study of Ephesus].  The solution to their problem was to repent, confess their sin and follow Christ.

NOTE:  Repentance and confession of sin is necessary for churches like Laodicea to return to Christ. Repentance and confession of sin is also true for any individual Christian who has turned their back on the Savior [those who have left their first love].