Our #1 Spiritual Battle
Title: OUR #1 SPIRITUAL BATTLE
Text: Revelation 3:14-22
Jesus has penned six letters to seven churches He has in mind. In all of the previous letters He was able to find something to commend them about, but not this last one. Perhaps Jesus saved this letter for the last because it was the most difficult to write. As we will see in our text, the church at Laodicea had allowed their devotion to Christ to shift into neutral. They were no longer wrestling with evil or defending the faith. Instead they tolerated everything…they didn’t love the right things, and they didn’t hate the bad things. It was a church of indifference…zeal had left their character a long time ago. Read Text.
The condition of the church at Laodicea is one that holds the most danger – they were in a deplorable condition, but they were not aware of it. Christ cannot tolerate the self-complacency that results in a spiritually bankrupt soul…He will vomit them out of His mouth.
It’s uncertain how the church began, but Paul was aware of the church when he wrote the Colossians a letter. Col. 4:12-13 Just a few verses later, Paul has a stern comment to make to one of her leaders. Col. 4:16-17 Generally speaking, the condition of the shepherds will be mirrored in the flock. If the leaders of the church were cooling down, chances are it was happening in the church as well. This church was falling into spiritual indifference.
1. Jesus introduces Himself as the Divine Investigator. There are three titles that Jesus uses to describe Himself. What does “amen” mean? (So be it; it is done.) What do you think Jesus is trying to convey to this church by using that title?
Insight: As in the last word of a prayer, Jesus is letting this church know that He is the final word in the warning He pens to this spiritually sick church. He is the final authority in everything. He is conveying certain finality to His message if they do not turn their condition around.
2. What do you think Jesus is trying to convey when He uses the title, “faithful and true witness”? (He knows what He is talking about and means what He says. He is the truth and He declares it.)
Insight: There is a stark contrast here between the author and the recipient of the letter. He is consistent and reliable…they are not.
3. What does Jesus mean when He says He is “the beginning of the creation of God”? (He is the foundation and source of all. It is by Him all things are created, and thus He is before all things. The creator of an object is the owner, who chooses to do with it what He may.)
4. Since this church evoked Christ’s strongest rebuke of all the seven churches, what do you find here that we should avoid at all costs?
5. Jesus said this church wasn’t a cold church, but He would rather they be that than how He found them. How would you describe a cold church, and how is that better than lukewarm?
6. Jesus also said they were not a hot church. How would you describe a church that is hot for the Lord?
7. The church at Laodicea was neither – they were lukewarm. The characteristics of a lukewarm church could be many, but since it evokes the strongest rebuke of Christ, it’s worth our time to clearly define what that means. What are the characteristics of a lukewarm church? (Filled with believers who blend in with the community that surrounds them; they attend church occasionally, but their saltiness has left their witness & their testimony has no light in it that exposes the darkness; they do not stand up for Christ, defend the faith, or minister to the desperate and spiritually bankrupt people that live in their neighborhoods.) Why would Jesus want them to be anything but lukewarm? (Because they are the most difficult people to deal with; they are bland and blind; little ruffles their feathers or moves them off the fence of compromise; conformity is the name of the game.)
8. How does complacency render us useless to Jesus? How did their empty spiritual walk make Jesus feel? (Sick to His stomach – He wanted to vomit them out of His mouth – pretty strong words!)
9. Even though Jesus was disgusted with them, was it His intent to give up on them? (No, He offered them some cures for the problem.)
10. Jesus quotes their own commentary of their condition. What is it? (3:17) What’s wrong with this statement? (They were content with material prosperity and social acceptance, but they were blind to their own need.)
11. This church lost the #1 spiritual battle Christians face - compromise and complacency. Why is this our #1 spiritual battle? (Complacency desensitizes you to the dangers. If you don’t see the enemy, how on earth are you going to defend yourself or fight him?)
12. How many Christians do you think are either oblivious or don’t care about the condition their soul is in? Have you warned them of the dangers? If not, don’t you care about them?
13. Jesus offered the church at Laodicea five cures for five symptoms of their spiritual disease. List the pairs. (1. Exchange wretched poverty for pure gold. 2. Exchange stark nakedness for white garments. 3. Exchange destructive blindness for healing eye-salve. 4. Exchange lukewarm indifference for hot zealousness. 5. Exchange compromising disobedience for true repentance.)
14. Can spiritual apathy be cured by material prosperity? Deut. 8:11-14 What do you think the pure gold from Christ is? (Spiritual wealth.) Matt. 6:19-21
15. How could the Laodicean church be naked and not know it? (They are not taking spiritual inventory.) How are the clothes that Christ offers them the only clothes that will cover this kind of nakedness? Rev. 16:15
16. What kind of blindness do you think Christ refers to here? (Inability to honestly evaluate themselves; we can’t see the personal effects of spiritual compromise and mediocrity.) Is there any human cure for this kind of blindness?
17. If lukewarmness is indifference, how is hot zeal the key to the disease? (Only decisions accompanied with appropriate actions will bring genuine change.) What are the risks if we don’t apply the truth to our lives? (We will come under the correcting hand of Christ.)
18. If compromise is the water thrown on a fire, what rekindles the fires of revival? (Repentance that produces a change of mind and will.)
Insight: May your motto be: “I’m a fuel for Jesus Christ!”
19. What does the door represent that Jesus is knocking on? (Entrance into our heart.) Ja. 5:8-9 Does Jesus force His way in? Prov. 20:27; 1 Cor. 2:11; 1 Jn. 3:19-22 Is there any heart so dark that Jesus will not enter upon invitation? Acts 28:26-27; Rom. 2:3-6; 2 Cor. 3:12-17
20. Why would Jesus even be knocking at the door of a rebel like the Laodicean Church? (Because He knows that His entrance is the only hope for salvation, no matter how wicked they are.) Are there any secret rooms in your heart that you have excluded Jesus?
The church of Laodicea had ticked off Christ. He could have brought instant judgment down upon them as the Father did to Sodom & Gomorrah, but He didn’t. In mercy, He gave them counsel to enrich themselves with ointment for their blind eyes. This church needed to see things through the clear vision of spiritual discernment. Christ was outside their door knocking; indicating He was not inside, but rejected. He knocks and is still waiting to enter to enrich the church with His presence and blessing. Jesus does not force entrance. You must open the door to Him. Your faith and courage to open the door to Him is all that is needed to let the healing begin for the fatal disease of compromise.