I’ve had this article in mind for a while now. It may come off as harsh, but sometimes, the truth hurts. Sometimes, we need the truth to hurt. The hurt I’m referring to is conviction: an awareness of one’s own guilt that calls the guilty to repentance. Yes, this is my hope in writing this.
Are you willing to die for your faith in Christ?
Please don’t power read through this. Ask yourself that question and answer it in your own heart. Are you willing to die for the One who died for you?
Now, please take this next question just as seriously.
Are you willing to live for your faith in Christ?
I’m serious. If you claim that you would die for Him, would you also choose to live for Him? I’m not talking about sharing “I’m not ashamed of my faith” memes on Facebook or Instagram. I’m talking about you choosing to live for Christ day-in and day-out. I’m talking about choosing to reject the leading of your sinful nature and choosing, instead, to keep in step with His Spirit. If you aren’t familiar with how Jesus feels about people who claim to be Christians without having a life that lives up to the claim, read this:
Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth (Rev. 3:14-16, CSB).
Maybe my own sense of being angered and repulsed at apathetic faith isn’t any harsher than God’s own feelings on the matter. The word “works” translated in the verses above is “ergon,” and the outline of its biblical usage is: business, employment, that which anyone is occupied:
1. that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking
2. any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind
3. an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasized in opp. to that which is less than work.
So, in short, their walk did not live up to their talk, and Jesus was calling them out on it. “For you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17, CSB).
Wow, Jesus really didn’t mince words, did He? He told them something about themselves that they were completely oblivious to. They boasted in their wealth and that they needed “nothing,” but Jesus said that they were sorely mistaken and that they were actually in desperate need. What was it that they needed?
I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see (Rev. 3:18, CSB)
They needed what only Jesus could give. Let’s consider what Jesus was referring to in verse 18. The first thing He mentions is that they should buy from Him “gold refined in the fire.” I will list some Scriptures that may help us understand what He was referring to.
“Buy—and do not sell—truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23, CSB).
I believe that it is safe to say that if the Laodiceans had been living by the truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding that comes from the Spirit of Christ, they wouldn’t have received this rebuke to begin with. Let’s consider some more verses.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Pet. 1:6-7, NLT).
Now, I could be wrong, but I believe that, when the Laodiceans had the mentality that they were rich, wealthy, and needed nothing, they truly believed it. I truly think that they thought they had it all together. Their business life was great, “church” was great, and as far as they could tell, they were model Christians living abundantly blessed by God Himself.
I think that they were like many of us today; I think they were worshiping their own comfort. You cannot serve both God and comfort. I believe that the Laodiceans were living in comfortable faith. Oh, it is disturbing how many of us today are making the same mistake.
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24, ESV).
It’s easy to see how we can replace “money” from the above verse for whatever else our sinful nature might desire—including but in no way limited to comfort. Whatever it is that competes with God as your master is what you are likely to end up loving while despising God Himself. Just in case you’re already jumping ahead with your sinful nature here and trying to assure yourself that you can “balance” your service to God and your fleshly desires: no, you cannot.
Let’s consider what the “white clothes” might refer to:
I rejoice greatly in Yahweh,
I exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation
and wrapped me in a robe of righteousness,
as a groom wears a turban
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
(Isa. 61:10, CSB)
Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of
cascading waters, and like the
rumbling of loud thunder, saying,
Hallelujah, because our Lord God, the Almighty,
Reigns! Let us be glad, rejoice, and give him glory,
because the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has prepared herself.
She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure.
For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints.
(Rev. 19:6-8, CSB)
I believe the “white clothes” refers to both our salvation and righteousness in Christ as well as the righteous acts that we do as we are obedient to His will and guidance in our lives. These Scriptures above are really worth reading again.
Now, for the last thing, He told them to buy from Him “ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see.”
Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment—to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?” “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see” (John 9:39-41, NLT)
Therefore, since God in his mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the Word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God (2 Cor. 4:1-4, NLT)
Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, since the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God. We also speak these things, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people. But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually (1 Cor. 2:10-14, CSB)
Only through Jesus can we gain spiritual sight. Only through the conviction of the Holy Spirit can we recognize our sinful condition and be made aware of the grace and forgiveness that reaches out to us. Only when we have the mind of Christ do we see and care about the spiritual needs of those around us. Yes, through Christ we can have sight that goes beyond the physical here and now, and through His Spirit, we can have an eternal perspective.
Let us end with this:
“As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3:19, CSB).
His rebuke and discipline are done only because He loves you. His purpose in rebuking His wayward and apathetic children is never shame but always to call us to repentance and a life lived zealously for Him. Our salvation is not meaningless. We were saved not only to spend eternity reconciled to God but also so that we might live for Him, here and now! I pray that all who need this article to convict them will have hearts that are receptive to the Spirit’s correction.
For even if I grieved you with my letter, I don’t regret it. And if I regretted it — since I saw that the letter grieved you, yet only for a while — I now rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t experience any loss from us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death. For consider how much diligence this very thing — this grieving as God wills — has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you showed yourselves to be pure in this matter. (2 Cor. 7:8-11, CSB)
“See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20, CSB).
Featured Image by Benjamin Combs