Laodicea: The Seven Habits of Sanctified Believers
February 17, 2012
By John Barnett
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Today, and every day of our lives, the Cross of Christ is the source of our power to live in this world of sin.
Living a life that glorifies God is called sanctified living.
Sanctification means that God is leading and controlling our lives.
As we return to Christ’s Last Words to His Church, we find that His Church at:
Laodicea was not Living in Shadow of Christ’s Cross
For two generations, all the local churches around Laodicea had savored the truths about the Cross of Christ. Today, as we gather as Christ’s Church, we gather to hear again for our generation, His warning to: Never stop living in the shadow of the Cross.
Perhaps the two best descriptions of what we have in Christ are in the epistle or letter to the church scattered through the area of the neighbors of Laodicea. They were the Galatians. Look with me at the best known verse on the cross in Galatian 2:20, where Paul shares his own personal salvation testimony:
Galatians 2:20 (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 is our Purpose statement for Living
Salvation begins and ends at the Cross.
Jesus Christ on the Cross was both the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Life for the believer is always lived in the shadow of Christ’s Cross. To the degree that is understood, is to the degree that our lives are lived pleasing to God and fruitful for His purposes. That is the essence of Galatians 2:20.
But the “How to” portion is declared a few chapters later in the same book. Turn onward with me to Galatians 6. Paul has explained, in chapters 3-5: the Spirit-led, Spirit-filled, Spirit-fruited, Spirit-liberated life of salvation we all in Christ, have been given.
Now as we arrive at chapter 6, we find:
Galatians 6:14 is our Emancipation proclamation for Life
The Cross of Christ is the emancipation method God uses to keep us set free from the chains of sin; and all believers have been set free.
This is the power of the sanctification that God uses to bring the Cross into our moment-by-moment existence, traveling through life on Earth. Listen to these life-transforming words, and in the public reading of Scripture, hear the very voice of God from His Word, speaking into our lives His unchanging, eternal truth:
Galatians 6:14 (NKJV) "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [Christ: KJV, NKJV] by which [Christ’s Cross: ESV, NAS, NIV] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
Note the two applications of the Cross applied to our lives:
The Cross Saves us from The ‘Hold-Of’ & ‘Hunger-For’ Sin
As we look at this verse we see that the personal sanctification that God desires to take place in us, and that we long to promote each day in our lives: has two distinct parts.
God has saved us from the outward HOLD of sin, that used to enslave our lives.
God has saved us from the inward HUNGER of sin, that used to control our lives.
Note these deep truths that can so help us live out all Christ has called us to be and to do. First, Paul teaches that:
1. The world has been crucified to me. This means that the HOLD of sin on my life has been broken.
• The Cross of Christ to a believer means: the chains of sin have been cut.
• The prison door has been unlocked and swung open.
• The handcuffs taken off.
• I have been set free from being powerless to get away.
• The Cross of Christ means: I am no longer under the HOLD of sin.
The second phrase has equal depth in meaning; and is tied by God to the first phrase. Paul says next:
2. I have been crucified to the world. This means that the HUNGER for sin has been broken.
• This means the appetite of my heart has been changed.
• Sin used to feed me, now it makes me sick.
• I used to live for the junk diet of lust and sin, now I am getting more and more allergic each day to all that: because of sanctification through the Word.
• My new life in Christ feeds on the pure food of God’s Word.
• My new life in Chrsit hungers and thirsts for Christ and His Word.
• The Cross of Christ means: I am no longer under the constant HUNGER for sin.
The essence of daily life boils down to the Cross of Christ, and whether or not I will ALLOW Christ to crufify the world to me, and me to the world. Only the Cross deals with both the “Hold” of sin on our lives (habits, besetting sins, addictions, enslavements to sin, persistent areas of defeat, and so on); and the “Hunger” for sin our flesh constantly maintains (distractions, trifles, wasted time, deadening behavior, lost spiritual appetites, unfocused living, and so on).
Unsanctified Living was the Sickening Condition Laodicea Fell Into
The church at Laodicea had all but stopped glorying in the power and sanctifying effects of the Cross.
Thus they had slowly drifted away from Christ’s control over their lives.
They then cultivated, drifted into, and began to live out some very bad habits. These habits were so serious that Jesus Christ tells them they are sickening to Him. The bad habits that form around an uncrucified life will always sicken Christ. He is the same as He was in Revelation 3, sickened whenever one of His own pick up these bad habits.
Those bad habits we must avoid for Christ’s sake are spiritual: -neutrality, -self-sufficiency, -insensitivity, -wastefulness, -neglect, -blindness, and -laxity.
They had cultivated some very bad habits. Habits that made them unacceptable to Christ, and even worse, sickening to Him. Remember that each of these areas that Christ rebukes were areas of sanctified living they had already been taught, but had slowly started to neglect.
As we open to Revelation 3:14-22, Jesus writes a letter that asks them, and us today to repent as often as needed until we are personally pursuing:
The Seven Habits of Sanctified Believers
As we start in v. 15, note the first of these seven habits of sanctification Christ desires in their lives, and ours.
Habit One: Jesus wants us to Repent of any 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 that is constantly squeezing us into just going along with things, not discipling ourselves for godliness, and instead: just pleasing ourself. 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 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”, or as we head recently: Giving God the Credit for what belongs to Him.
• 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 or failing to glorify God for Who He is: is sickening to Christ. So Jesus Christ calls each of us to repent today of any Spiritual Neutrality.
Habit Two: Jesus wants us to Repent of any 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. In John 15 Jesus explains that abiding means I am confessing that 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 or making it on our own: is sickening to Christ. So Jesus Christ calls each of us to repent today of any Spiritual Self-Sufficiency.
Habit Three: Jesus wants us to Repent of any 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 or no longr seeing ourselves reflected in the mirror God’s Word: is sickening to Christ. So Jesus Christ calls each of us to repent today of any Spiritual Insensitivity.
Habit Four: Jesus wants us to Repent of any 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 measure 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 or laying up our treasures on Earth instead of Heaven: is sickening to Christ. So Jesus Christ calls each of us to repent today of any Spiritual Wastefulness.
Habit Five: Jesus wants us to Repent of any 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 or not putting on our spiritual armor: is sickening to Christ. So Jesus Christ calls each of us to repent today of any Spiritual Neglect.
Habit Six: Jesus wants us to Repent of any 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 or not reading God’s truth in His Word: is sickening to Christ. So Jesus Christ calls each of us to repent today of any Spiritual Blindness.
Habit Seven: Jesus wants us to Repent of any 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 or not regularly confessing and forsaking our sin: is sickening to Christ. So Jesus Christ calls each of us to repent today of any Spiritual Laxity.
Living a life that glorifies God is called sanctified living, and these are the habits of sanctified believers.
Sanctification means that God is leading and controlling our lives.
Sanctification begins and ends at the Cross.
Jesus Christ on the Cross was both the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Life for the believer is always lived in the shadow of Christ’s Cross.
To the degree that is understood, is to the degree that our lives are lived pleasing to God and fruitful for His purposes.