Prophecy – Laodicea, Revelation 3:14-22

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV).

The complaint that Christ had for the church at Laodicea was shocking — LUKEWARMNESS.  This no doubt describes most, if not all, of the church members and attenders at Laodicea.  To make sure that we are all on the same page we will review a little.  Remember verse 16?   Christ said they were:

  • only lukewarm, only half-committed, only half-hearted,
  • complacent, lethargic, self-satisfied,
  • indifferent and neutral, and
  • because they are lukewarm Christ would spew (vomit) them out of His mouth.

Look around and see if Christ’s description doesn’t describe a lot of churches and individuals today.  No doubt you would agree that this is pretty serious, from the Lord’s perspective.  Today, we will dig a little deeper to discover how this affects the church, its members and attendees.

NOTE:  Did you get what Christ said?  He indicated that it is better for one to be cold than lukewarm.  It is a little scary as we look at our own life and recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ said it was better to have no commitment whatsoever to Himself than for the individual to be LUKEWARM!

  • A lukewarm person does not know that he needs clothing or heat.
  • A cold person knows he needs clothing and heat.  A person must be sensitive to his need before his need can be met.

Example of Self-Righteousness

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself (his prayers did not reach God), God, I thank thee (he judged others not self), that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (Luke 18:11, KJV).

 “(Christ is talking to Pharisees) Jesus said unto them, ‘If ye were blind (acting out of ignorance, not knowing what they were doing), ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see;

(They claimed:

  1. they knew the law of God,
  2.        they knew about spiritual things,
  3.        they claimed to see, and
  4.        they did not recognize God’s Son/I never knew you).

 therefore your sin remaineth’ ” (John 9:41, KJV).

It is probably close to being true that most people who profess Christ attend church only enough to ease their consciences, only enough to make them feel acceptable to God.  Most people feel that God would never reject them, not in the final analysis.

But Christ completely contradicts this.  He says that all these — all the lukewarm and half-committed church members in the world — would be far better off, if they made no profession at all.

Being self-satisfied, feeling comfortable and respectable in one’s religion, is the worst state imaginable for a person.  Why?  Because he is the hardest person of all to arouse and set aflame for Christ.  Yet, tragically this is the state of so many, the state of half-hearted commitment to Jesus Christ, the state of comfort, complacency, lethargy, indifference, and self-sufficiency.

HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED THE WARNING OF CHRIST — DO YOU FIT THE DESCRIPTION OF BEING LUKEWARM?

Jesus Christ warns the lukewarm and half-committed person: “I will SPEW [vomit] you out of my mouth.”  Pretty graphic language, but Christ uses it for a purpose.  Remember, a warning is designed to get our attention and warn of trouble, if we keep going in the same direction.

NOTE:  The person who claims to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is:

  • claiming to be a part of His body,
  • claiming to be nourishment for His body, and
  • claiming to be a part of the growth of His body.

But when the person is lukewarm, he is none of this.

  • He is like lukewarm food, unappetizing and unwanted.
  • Christ does not want the nourishment that such food provides.
  • It is not fit to help in the nourishment and growth of His body.

THEREFORE, He rejects ALL who are lukewarm and half-committed.

NOTE:  There are two reasons why He rejects them:

1. The lukewarm make a false profession (17a).  Note the verse:  the church felt that it was rich and prosperous and had need of nothing.  As we have seen in our study, the city was extremely wealthy, and practically everyone but the slaves shared in the wealth.

It is plain by the charge of Christ that many of the believers were financially wealthy.

It is unfortunate, but what happened to the church at Laodicea often happens among believers. They equate wealth and prosperity with spirituality.

They felt that they had been especially blessed by God.  Why?  Because they had been blessed with material possessions and wealth.  Because of that they became…

  • self-sufficient
  • independent
  • self-centered
  • prideful
  • conceited
  • boastful

No doubt, as we have observed, the folks at Laodicea had probably carried their physical wealth over into their spiritual life.  It seems evident that they confused prosperity and material blessings with spirituality and spiritual blessings.

Because of physical wealth, the church could have a full staff of pastoral care in all their ministries.  As they viewed themselves they were able to launch any program, to promote any activity, and do anything the pastors or church felt should be done.

They focused upon their capability instead of Christ.   Remember, they have already said that they were rich, that they had become wealthy, and have need of nothing (v. 17a).  But Christ responded to them, “and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (v. 17b).

It is evident that they focused on the wrong areas:

  • They focused upon their own capability instead of Christ.
  • They depended upon their own physical ability instead of Christ.
  • They relied upon their own resources instead of Christ.

NOTE:  The important things like Bible study, prayer, missions, witnessing and activities were all done as a matter of form and as part of the normal activity of the church.  There was:

  • no hunger or thirst after God,
  • no sense of a deep-seated need,
  • no desire for God’s Word,
  • no burden for the Lost, and
  • no sense of needing to grow spiritually.

Simply speaking, the church was self-sufficient and comfortable.

  • It had the money.
  • It had the members to operate and work the ministries of the church.
  • It had members who were no doubt industrious business management people.
  • It had the energy and abilities to develop new ministries.

Because of all of this, the church members operated and carried on the activities of the church by themselves, not needing Christ (Ephesians 6:10) or the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16).

THE PROBLEM WAS THAT, IT WAS ALL DONE IN THE ENERGY OF THE FLESH AND OF SELF.  IT WAS NOT DONE IN THE POWER OF GOD’S SPIRIT, IT WAS DONE APART FROM THE ONE WHO COULD DO SO MUCH MORE, IF HE WERE ALLOWED.

“…Mind not the high things, but condescend to men of low estate.  Be not wise in your own conceits” (Romans 12:16, KJV).

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12, KJV).

“For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself” (Galatians 6:3, KJV).

“Be not wise in thine own eyes: FEAR THE LORD, and depart from evil” (Proverbs 3:7, KJV).

“Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6, KJV).

“Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit?  There is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 26:12, KJV).

“There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed (By the Blood of Christ) from their filthiness” (Proverbs 30:12, KJV).

“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:21, KJV).

“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?”  (Obadiah 3-4, KJV).

2. The lukewarm church is rejected because of their true condition: they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.  What does this mean?  All of this refers to the spiritual life of the church and its members.

NOTE the words Christ used.

a. The church was spiritually “wretched” (hotalaiporos).  The word actually says the wretched one in the Greek.  The church had its full staff and all the programs — so much so that they felt they needed nothing from God.

b. But the church was really “the wretched one. “The word means to be afflicted spiritually, to be spiritually contemptible, and to be spiritually inferior.  IN GOD’S EYES, THEY WERE SPIRITUALLY LACKING, SO MUCH, THAT THEY WERE AFFLICTED, CONTEMPTIBLE, INFERIOR (See Romans 3:23; I John 5:19; Proverbs 20:9; Isaiah 53:6).

c. It is important to recognize that the church was spiritually “miserable” (eleeinos), even though they felt good. The word means pitied, despicable.  The believers felt self-sufficient and were carrying on all the works of the church, but they were doing it in their own strength.  They were MISSING OUT on the greatest thing in the world:  the presence of Christ and the power of Christ.  “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10, KJV).  They were missing out on experiencing the POWER of Christ working in and through their lives and the church.  “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  Do all things without murmurings and disputings:”  (Philippians 2:13-14, KJV). THEY WERE TO BE PITIED.  In God’s eyes, THEY WERE DESPICABLE, FOR THEY WERE IGNORING AND NEGLECTING HIS SON. (see I John 1:6; I John 1:8; I John 1:10; Isaiah 64:6).

d. The church was spiritually “POOR” (ptochos). They felt rich and in need of nothing, but in truth they were as spiritually poor as a church and person can be.  (see Luke 15:14; Ephesians 2:12; I Timothy 6:5; Revelation 3:7; Jeremiah 5:4).

e. The church was spiritually “blind” (tophlos). They could see only what was in the world: money and human ability and effort.  They did not look beyond to the spiritual need of the human soul nor to the possibility of spiritual and supernatural power working within the church and the lives of the people. (Matthew 6:23; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 4:18).

f. The church was spiritually “naked” (grumnos). They failed to see their need for the righteousness of Jesus Christ, for the clothing of Christ’s righteousness.  They believed they could be good enough and do enough good to become acceptable to God on their own.  They felt their religious works and gifts to the church would secure God’s approval.  They did little thinking about their need for the righteousness of Christ and about the death of Jesus Christ for their sins. (see Matthew 22:11-13; 2 Corinthians 5:3; Revelation 16:15).

NOTE:  Many lukewarm and half-committed people never witness for Christ.  They say that they do not witness for Christ…

  • because they want to be kind and not offend people,
  • because they are too meek and shy,
  • because there is a place for professing Christ (the church) and a place for the affairs of this world,
  • because they do not know how.  Of course, they ignore the fact that they should learn how to witness. They ignore Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; I Peter 3:15 and 2 Timothy 2:15 and hope the Lord will overlook their disobedience and concentrate on their church activities.  Of course, that is NOT how God looks at things.  He hates sin and those who are not carrying out His commands are in sin, and they also like to try and forget what Christ said:  “If you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15, also 23).

FACT:  A lukewarm commitment to Christ is nauseating to Him.  He will REJECT ALL of the lukewarm and half-committed.

APPLICATION AND SOLUTION

A Church or individual who seriously lives and applies Proverbs 3:5-6–“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy way acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” And Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”– will never be classified by Christ as lukewarm.

In our next study, we will examine the idea of Repentance AND look again at the counsel of Christ to a half-warm church or individual.

Join us in the next study and I am sure you will find it challenging and interesting.