Agonizomai: Rev 3:15-17 - Laodicea the Materialistic Church<br>Confusing Material and Spiritual Blessings

Friday, June 19, 2009

Rev 3:15-17 - Laodicea the Materialistic Church
Confusing Material and Spiritual Blessings

Rev 3:15-17 - Confusing Material and Spiritual Blessings

Rev 3:15-17 ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Being neither hot nor cold is very convenient for men. It is, in their minds, to be free from risk and above error. It is to be complacent; happy with the status quo. It is to be unself-critical. It is to fail to be watchful. It is to slip into slumber. It is to apostatize by degrees. It is to be anaesthetized into the flames of hell. In short, it is to be the "boiling frog".

Churches are full of people like this. They are the professors of religion, smugly satisfied that their tithes and their efforts are enough to keep them in God’s good graces. They have a form of religion which is outward. It can seem very pious to men, but on the inside they are full of dead men’s bones. They are the new Pharisees. What they do does not spring from the love for God that His grace alone places in His people.

If such people stepped back and saw themselves as "cold" towards God then they could yet be helped. There would be room for repentance. If they were already hot - though they might be in error yet their direction could be amended. But they are neither. They are smugly self-righteous and very "religious".

Prosperity and the blessings of God, because of the objects upon which they are bestowed by grace, are themselves more often than not the means of apostasy to the unwatchful. Better to be poor or to have little than that abundance should work upon our unguarded corruptions. The Psalms and Proverbs warn us of the dangers often enough.
Ps 37:16 Better is the little that the righteous has than the abundance of many wicked.

Pr 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble with it.

Pr 16:8 Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.

Pr 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

Pr 28:6 Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than a rich man who is crooked in his ways.

But if that is not enough, God has given us the illustration of the Nation of Israel. Whenever they were blessed they apostatized. Each time they began the gradual but great slide from gratitude for deliverance into compromise and, finally, full-blown assimilation into the surrounding culture. It was not the blessings themselves that were the problem. God does not give stones when we ask for bread, nor serpents when we ask for fish. All that He does is good. His blessings of grace are wonderful and free gifts, bestowed upon base and undeserving men. Of themselves they are pure and undefiling.

The problem is not with the gifts of benevolent grace towards men. The problem is within men themselves. Christ knew what was in man. He never trusted Himself to any man, but to His Father alone. It is in our fallen nature to misunderstand, to misapply and to misuse what grace gives freely to us. Yes, we Christians understand that "If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creation." {2Co 5:17} But we had better have a firm grasp upon the fact that we still dwell in sinful flesh. If we do not, by the Spirit, put to death the deeds of the flesh daily then we are not walking in the Spirit. If we do not watch and wait, if we do not take up and put on the whole armour of God and cover it in what Spurgeon called "all-prayer" - then we shall fall to the enemy that roams to and fro seeking whom to devour.

The Laodiceans had either failed to be watchful, or they had never been saved to begin with. There were then, as now, false conversions. Many, as now, were virtually indistinguishable from the real McCoy. They said the right things; they knew their scriptures; they undertook great social works; they were hospitable; they sang loudly and sweetly and with enthusiasm at the meetings; they taught in the church; they were respected both in church and in society for their great piety. The only problem is that all the attributes of true salvation can be faked. Only the new birth - an act of sovereign grace actually changes a person’s heart. And God looks upon the heart. He looks for that very life that He Himself put there.

Guarding against such people is not done as we fallen men might think. Covert apostasy and hidden paganism are not discovered by witch-hunts. They are uncovered by sound preaching, teaching and doctrine.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. {1Jo 2:15-19}
Sound doctrine and preaching delivered in the power of the Holy Spirit, will lay bare the hearts of all men, especially those who, for a pretense sit amongst the faithful (or even worse, preach and teach to them) to lead them astray through compromise with the world. They will be offended in the truth and will go where they do not have to suffer the hearing of it.

The evidence of apostasy in Laodicea is found in the complacency of the people. Material comfort - even giftedness itself - has led to the self-congratulatory, prideful, self-deceit of self-sufficiency. But the Lord said that "Of yourselves you can do nothing." We press against rocks as God demands and directs - but it is always God Who moves them - never we ourselves. We are His means of accomplishing His ends, by His grace in Jesus Christ. We are included by grace and not on account of anything we have done, are doing, or will ever do. Christ touched upon this in the following teaching...
"Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty." {Lu 17:7-10}
We can add nothing to God. Our attitude should always be that we can do nothing for Him in the sense of accomplishing something that He Himself cannot do. He is the source of all goodness - so if we accomplish something good it was He Who was in us to do it. {Eph 2:8-10,Php 2:12-13} When we do, by God’s grace and in His power the goodness that He purposed from all eternity and brought us to by His sovereign providence - then what is left but for us to give thanks?

But we see it is in the nature of deceit to deceive. Far from understanding their own terrible condition before God the Laodiceans are quite taken away with themselves. Perhaps they see (wrongly) material blessings as a sure sign that God is pleased with them. We are never far from such distortions of the gospel, even in this present age. The "health and wealth," "name it and claim" it crowd of apostates and heretics still lives among us. They have built an entire Theology on the incomplete, perverse and foolishly unscriptural concept that God wants us to be healthy and wealthy. The teachers who in whole or in part subscribe to this error today include Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen.

The deceit that is evident in Laodicea has utterly blinded them. They are in that most horrific of places where Satan has turned things upon their heads to make them call evil good and good evil. Where the lie is so enormous and so obvious that they entirely miss it on account of being too close to it. They are like people who cannot see the forest for the trees. Lost. Deceived. Bereft of any concept of their own true condition. Unaccustomed to examining themselves to see whether they are truly in the faith at all. {2Co 13:5-6}

When things get to this state there is little hope for the deliverance of people. Not no hope, but little hope. God is great and nothing is impossible for Him. But He is the God Who also sends strong delusions upon people. He is the God Who sends deceiving and lying spirits in judgment on people’s pre-existent refusals to heed His Word. {1Ki 22:15-23} It is God who grants repentance to {2Ti 2:24-26} people, but when people consistently refuse to hear then God is able to harden hearts that have already hardened themselves so that they cannot repent. Such a case was Pharaoh. Such a case was Ahab. Such a case were the Jews who rejected and crucified their Messiah.

Such is near the condition of Laodicea. They have allowed themselves to be deceived and have become self-deceived. They have hardened themselves to the point where God is ready to harden them beyond repentance.


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