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Laodicea: Seven Bad Habits of Believers that Sicken Christ and Make Him Vomit

Notes & Transcripts

February 17,2012

By John Barnett

Read, print, and listen to this resource on our website www.DiscoverTheBook.org

Perhaps the most unlikely words to be uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ are in our Bibes today. Jesus says in modern terms of the church in Laodicea, “You make me sick!”

As we open to Revelation 3:14-22, Jesus writes a letter that all scholars conclude is the most piercing, stinging, and scathing letter He ever wrote to any church. That means:

Laodicean is the Worst Church

Jesus Christ, Lord and Purchaser with His own blood of His Church: is very troubled.

For the first time, after six other letters to churches: Jesus has NOTHING good to say about this church. The other six each has something Jesus could commend, but not here. He has nothing good to say about this church.

Jesus graphically expresses His outrage and dismay at their state with an allusion to spewing them away from Him like vomit. That is a very clear indication of how greatly their conduct offended His holy expectations of their life in Him. Before we read v. 14-22, always remember:

These Seven Letters Are a Matched Set

The Book of Revelation is built around groups of seven. The letters to the churches are seven in number to represent all churches then, and all churches throughout the ages, and all churches now.

We must always begin with the fact that this letter is part of a set of seven letters to the churches; and each letter has a similar seven-part structure:

1. Assembly—seven separate and distinct churches (Laodicea, is the seventh).

2. Author—Jesus Christ, who identified himself in a unique way through His names.

3. Approval—what the assembly was doing right (except for Laodicea).

4. Admonition—what they were doing wrong (except for Smyrna & Philadelphia).

5. Appeal—to follow Christ faithfully.

6. Assurance—only enjoyed if they responded rightly to Christ.

7. Application—each letter is written to all the “churches”: past, present, and future.

Revelation 3:14-22 (NKJV) “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 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— 18 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 salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”

Revelation 2-3 reveals what Christ said to the seven churches, a select group representing all early believers. His message to them speaks across the centuries to us today.

Seven Messages, Seven Applications: But Only One Acceptable Response

Each church has a distinct message that resonated with those who first heard these words, and with us today.

• Ephesus, the careless church, left their first love. Christ said to them and us, “Come back to Me!”

• Smyrna, the crowned church, suffered persecution. Christ said to them and us, “Be faithful to the end!”

• Pergamos, the compromising church, tolerated evil. Christ said to them and us, “Separate yourselves!”

• Thyatira, the corrupted church, joined the world. Christ said to them and us, “Un-Friend the world!”

• Sardis, the feeble church, wasn’t on guard. Christ said to them and us, “Wake up before it is too late!”

• Philadelphia, the faithful church, was pleasing to God. Christ said to them and us, “Keep on keeping on!”

• Laodicea, the foolish church, needed nothing. Christ said to them and us, “Watch out, you’re making me sick; and I will vomit you out of my mouth unless you repent and see that you need Me!”

Jesus reports that what is needed is for them to repent of their apathy in seeking Him; and start whatever it took to get restored.

What exactly is Jesus pointing at in their lives when He issues this “Vomit Alert” to them? If we unpack this passage word-by-word, we can conclude that there are:

Seven Bad Habits of Believers That Sicken Christ

v. 14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works” Jesus said.

They had cultivated some very bad habits. Habits that made them unacceptable to Christ, and even worse, sickening to Him. What patterns in the life of a believer sickens Christ to the point of vomiting? Here are the seven Jesus notes:

1. Spiritual Neutrality: v. 15 “I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth."

• Spiritual Neutrality is when we stop agressively resisting the world. Living the Christian life is resisting the pressure of the world. The world is everything that is not focused upon glorifying God. Anything that is not glorifying Him is pushing us away from His Glory.

2. Spiritual Self-Sufficiency: v. 17a "Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—

• Spiritual Self-Sufficiency is when we think we are making it on our own, and don’t need the Lord’s power, guidance, and presence. We stop “seeking first” the Kingdom of God in our lives and thus began to slowly drift from His righteousness in our lives.

3. Spiritual Insensitivity: v. 17b and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—

• Spiritual Insensitivity is when we lose our spiritual sight, and no longer see ourselves as God’s Word explains we are.

4. Spiritual Wastefulness: v. 18a I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;

• Spiritual Wastefulness is when we abandon Christ as our investment counselor and start investing our time and money in “get rich quick for earth” schemes, and stop investing in Heaven.

5. Spiritual Neglect: v. 18b and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed;

• Spiritual Neglect is when we drop out of God’s work force, and begin to not get dressed for work any more. Jesus often told us to dress ourselves with His character, His power, and His armor.

6. Spiritual Blindness: v. 18c and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

• Spiritual Blindness is just that: blindness to things of God. We no longer see Him in His Word. We stop noticing His Hand in our lives, and don’t reach up and grasp that Hand extended to us, to hold onto, and follow Him through life. We begin to stumble along, acting more and more like lost people who do not know, can not see, and do not follow the Lord.

7. Spiritual Laxity: v. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

• Spiritual Laxity is when we drop our guard about unconfessed sins in our lives. We forget how horrible sin always is to Jesus. Our sin cost Christ His very life, His intimate fellowship with the Father, and made Him feel the wrath of God in our place. Get rid of sin, don’t sweep it under the rug.

So the bad habits we must avoid because they sicken Christ, our very dearest and most precious friend in the Universe are: neutrality, self-sufficiency, insensitivity, wastefulness, neglect, blindness, and laxity. The Laodiceans needed to listen to this admonition of:

Understanding What Jesus Loves & Hates

Now let’s go back through and examine these bad habits pointed out by Christ.

1. Spiritual Neutrality: v. 15 “I know your works that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. "

• Spiritual Neutrality is when we stop agressively resisting the world. We are not cold and refreshing like the springs of water that were enjoyed in Colosse; nor hot and theraputic like the thermal springs of Hieropolis. Living the Christian life is resisting the pressure of the world to just go along with things, not make waves, and please myself. The world is everything that is not focused upon glorifying God. Anything that is not glorifying Him is pushing us away from His Glory. That is the world.

• Spiritual Neutrality is when we stop glorifying God in the small things, and then in the big things. Whether we eat or drink, work or play, we are called by God to do everything for His Glory. Remember I Corinthians 10:31 is our goal in life:

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV) "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

• Spiritual Neutrality is when we say that it no longer matters that every part of our life come under Christ’s control. Turn with me to I Corinthians 6:19-20:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NKJV) "Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s."

Therefore is an explanatory summation particle, that means it stands as a gateway to look back to see why something is necessary.

Paul says our bodies are reserved. We are owned by God, inhabited by the Spirit, and no longer solely ours. THEREFORE: because of the purchase of God, the moving in of the Spirit, and His declaration of taking possession, comes the message of the next verse. The word in v. 20 translated “glorify” is an imperative mode of the verb that means “valuing God for who He really is.”

• Spiritual Neutrality or failing to glorify God for Who He is, is sickening to Christ.

2. Spiritual Self-Sufficiency: v. 17a Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—

• Spiritual Self-Sufficiency is when we think we are making it on our own, and don’t need the Lord’s power, guidance, and presence. We stop “seeking first the Kingdom of God” in our lives (Mt. 6:33) and thus began to slowly drift from His righteousness in our lives.

• Spiritual Self-Sufficiency is when we forget that we are just a branch, and everything that is important can only come to us through the Vine. Abiding is saying I need Jesus, I want His way for my life. I will believe Him enough to listen and respond each day to His Voice in His Word.

• Spiritual Self-Sufficiency is when we stop needing to stay in close contact with the Lord. It is when we drift away, and start making it on our own.

• Spiritual Self-Sufficiency is sickening to Christ.

3. Spiritual Insensitivity: v. 17b and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—

• Spiritual Insensitivity is when we lose our spiritual sight, and no longer see ourselves as God’s Word explains we are. We lose touch with the mirror of the Word that shows us what needs changing each day as we wait before the Lord.

• Spiritual Insensitivity is becoming what James calls a “forgetful hearer” Look again at James 1:22-25 (NKJV)

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

• Spiritual Insensitivity is sickening to Christ.

4. Spiritual Wastefulness: v. 18a I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich;

• Spiritual Wastefulness is when we abandon Christ as our investment counselor and start investing our time and money in get rich quick for earth and not Heaven schemes. We begin to easure things by their earthly and not eternal worth. Slowlt we begin to trade the precious time we have for objects that will only rust, burn, rot, get stolen, and weigh us down in life. The Bank of Heaven gets neglected and the treasures we lay up are buried here on Earth.

• Spiritual Wastefulness is when we ignore Christ’s words in Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

• Spiritual Wastefulness is sickening to Christ.

5. Spiritual Neglect: v. 18b and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed;

• Spiritual Neglect is when we drop out of the work force and begin to not get dressed for work any more. Jesus often told us to dress ourselves with His character, His power, and that armor wearing, clothing ourselves with Christ gets neglected and finally forgotten.

• Spiritual Neglect is when we become more concerned with what we look like to men rather than to God. We impress people outwardly rather than pleasing God inwardly. Paul explains the necessity of daily clothing ourselves with Christ in Romans 13:12-14 (NKJV):

The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

• Spiritual Neglect is sickening to Christ.

6. Spiritual Blindness: v. 18c and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.

• Spiritual Blindness is just that: blindness to things of God. We no longer see Him in His Word.

• Spiritual Blindness is when we stop noticing His Hand in our lives, extended to us to hold onto and follow Him through life.

• Spiritual Blindness is when we begin to stumble along, acting more and more like lost people who do not know, can not see, and do not follow the Lord. Acts 26:18 says that Christ opened our eyes at salvation, and now we can see. To allow neglected spiritual hygiene to slowly darken our spiritual sight is horrible.

• Spiritual Blindness is sickening to Christ.

7. Spiritual Laxity: v. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.

• Spiritual Laxity is when we drop our guard about unconfessed sins in our lives.

• Spiritual Laxity is when we forget how horrible sin always is to Jesus. Our sin cost Christ His very life, His intimate fellowship with the Father, and made Him feel the wrath of God in our place. Get rid of sin, don’t sweep it under the rug.

• Spiritual Laxity is when we forget He wants us walking in the light, seeing our sin as He does and immediately seeking His cleansing as we repent and forsake all sin. Jesus hates it when we hide and cover for our sins, instead of confessing and forsaking them. Listen to Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV)

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

• Spiritual Laxity is sickening to Christ.

So the bad habits we must avoid because they sicken Christ are: neutrality, self-sufficiency, insensitivity, wastefulness, neglect, blindness, and laxity.

There are some powerful insights we can draw from this ancient city. When you step back and look at where the church of Laodicea was spiritually, it sounds ominously like American life in the twenty-first century.

As we bow to prepare for communion with Christ today, what does He ask that we repent of for Him?

Right now, confess any of these bad habits, forsake them by the power of the Cross, and with His cleansing begin anew walking with Him.

111030AM

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