In the Lord’s eyes, the characteristics of the church in Laodicea were lukewarmness and spiritual pride; she considered that she is wealthy and rich and needing nothing, but in His eyes she was wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:15-17).
The Lord’s word to the church in Laodicea is very enlightening and exposing, and it is such a warning to us.
Today we in the church life in the Lord’s recovery are not in Sardis (the Reformation) or in Thyatira (the Roman Catholic church); we can be either in Philadelphia (the recovered church, the church of brotherly love) or in the church in Laodicea (the degraded recovered church).
If it would be us, we would probably concluded our word to the churches with the church in Philadelphia, but the Lord clearly knows and sees that, even though Philadelphia is what He’s after, Laodicea follows and comes in.
Once Philadelphia fails, she becomes Laodicea; if those in Philadelphia don’t hold fast what they have, their crown (which they already have!) will be taken away from them. Oh Lord Jesus!
Today the Lord has shown us mercy in His recovery to unveil to us the riches in His word, and we have the ministry of the age opening up the word of God to both understand it, experience it, and enjoy it; but if we don’t hold fast what we have with humility of heart, not making any change or coming up with something new, then we may live in the principle of Laodicea.
We should not be weary of doing the same things – keeping the Lord’s word and not denying His name – for a long time; we should not contemplate doing something new after all the years of keeping the Lord’s word and not denying His name (Rev. 3:8, 11).
The Lord’s word to the church in Laodicea is a warning to us: when the brotherly love is gone, the opinion of the majority is the accepted opinion, and the vote of the many brothers replaces the Lord’s leading and speaking. Oh Lord Jesus!
When brotherly love is lost, the Body relationship and the Body consciousness are also lost, and the fellowship of life is cut off as well, leaving only opinions of men.
May the Lord really save us from our opinions and save us from trying to democratize or modernize the church; may we hold fast what we have, keep the Lord’s word, not deny His name, and be humble before Him concerning our need for Him and our condition before Him.
Being Saved from Lukewarmness and Spiritual Pride, the Characteristics of Laodicea
To the church in Laodicea the Lord said, “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 about to spew you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am wealthy and have become rich and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:15-17).
In other words, in the Lord’s eyes the characteristics of Laodicea are lukewarmness and spiritual pride. It was not heretical teachings, different doctrines, or opposition from outside that was the problem; the problem is from within, for being lukewarm is an inward state and spiritual pride is something from inside.
We need to take care of our inward condition before the Lord; if we want to be the messengers in the churches and those to whom the Lord can speak His fresh message and whom He can produce as His overcomers, we need to take care of our inward condition before Him.
Where does the spiritual pride come from? It comes from having a history and remaining in the things in the past. The Lord was merciful to the church in Philadelphia once, and so now they think they are still rich; they remember their history, but they have lost that reality.
No one in Protestantism boasts of their spiritual riches, but they rather consider themselves as being poor and in need of spiritual nourishment; however, those in Philadelphia who once kept God’s word and have not denied His name had a life which now they lost, yet they remember their history.
If we once knew the Lord, experienced Him, enjoyed His word and the ministry richly, but now we don’t anymore – yet we remain in that remembrance of those experiences, thus boasting of our riches, this is Laodicea.
Spiritual pride comes from history; some were once rich, and they think that they are still rich; they still remember their history, but they have lost their former life.
Yes, those in Philadelphia were rich – the Brethren had the heavens opened and the Lord’s riches in His word were richly flowing among them, but what about today? Who has the reality of what the Lord spoke to them, and who lives in this reality?
If we would apply this to ourselves in the church life, we have the collected works of Watchman Nee and of Witness Lee published, ready to be read and enjoyed by us, but if we merely have these books on our shelves or online yet we don’t live in the reality of these riches – while at the same time boasting of the riches we have….we may live in the principle of Laodicea.
May the Lord save us from merely remembering that we once were wealthy and have therefore become rich and in need of nothing, when our real situation is that we are poor and blind, in great need of the Lord’s mercy!
Lord Jesus, save us from being lukewarm before You, and save us from any spiritual pride. Save us from merely remembering our history with You and what You have given us in the Lord’s recovery, while not living in the reality of Your riches. Lord, we have little power – we are not strong, so we need You! We don’t know our situation and condition, but You do! We want to just open to You, forget what is behind, and be healed by You, filled by You, and saturated with You in Your word and the ministry, loving You and loving the saints, and keeping Your word and not denying Your name!
To Continue in the Way of Philadelphia and Avoid becoming Laodicea we need to Humble Ourselves before God
How can we continue in the way of Philadelphia and avoid becoming Laodicea in the church life in the Lord’s recovery today? Watchman Nee has a wonderful word of encouragement and warning on this matter,
Brothers and sisters, if you want to continue in the way of Philadelphia, remember to humble yourselves before God…Please bear in mind that we have nothing that we have not received. Those around us may be full of death, but we do not need to be conscious of the fact that we are full of life. Those around us may be poor, but we do not need to be conscious of the fact that we are rich. Those who live before the Lord will not be conscious of their own riches. May the Lord be merciful to us that we may learn to live before Him. May we be rich and yet not know that we are rich. It was better for Moses not to know that his face was shining, even though it did shine! Once a person knows himself, he becomes Laodicea, and the result is lukewarmness. Laodicea means to know everything, but in reality to be fervent about nothing. In name it has everything, but it cannot sacrifice its life for anything. It remembers its former glory but forgets its present condition before God. Formerly, it was Philadelphia; today it is Laodicea. (Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 50, pp. 785-786)
The only way to continue in the way of Philadelphia and avoid becoming Laodicea is remembering to humble ourselves before God. Especially us in the Lord’s recovery – we need God’s deep mercy to save us and rescue us from any kind of spiritual pride.
Among us the Lord’s word is prevailing and rich, and we have so many riches from the Lord in the books of the ministry – but we should not be proud or think we are rich, but rather humble ourselves before the Lord.
A rich man can very hardly enter into God’s kingdom (Matt. 19:23-24), and God chooses to dwell with those who have a contrite heart and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and the heart of the contrite (Isa. 57:15).
When people come among us and touch the Lord’s recovery, firstly there should be brotherly love, and secondly they should find humility everywhere, and no one boasting. We need to have a spirit of love and humility, and we should reject any spiritual pride.
Love doesn’t brag; love is not puffed up; love never falls away (1 Cor. 13:4, 8). Any bragging or puffing up we would have is because of our knowledge; knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. We are here not to be puffed up but to build up.
We should always bear in mind that we have NOTHING we have not received (1 Cor. 4:7; John 3:27; 1 Pet. 4:10). We are poor, wretched, and needy – but we open to the Lord and He graciously gives us His riches.
We need to simply live before the Lord and not be conscious of our own riches. Let others appraise, commend, or appreciate us – we don’t seek this, we don’t want this – we simply want to be conscious of our need before the Lord.
For us to be conscious of our accomplishments and of our riches is to be proud of what we are and have; we all like to hear good things that people say about us – it boosts our pride.
We are all the same. But it is better for us not to know but to rather be conscious of our need before the Lord.
Laodicea means to know everything but, in reality, to be fervent about nothing; in name, Laodicea seems to have everything, but it can’t sacrifice its life for anything.
Laodicea remembers its former glory but forgets its present condition before God. Oh Lord Jesus!
Oh Lord Jesus, save us from living in the way of Laodicea! Grant us the mercy and grace of humility. Rescue us from any kind of spiritual pride, and keep us humble before You, knowing and caring only for You and our need before You. Grant us a spirit of love to love You and love the saints. May we not brag or be puffed up because of our spiritual knowledge but be those who build up by loving the saints and keeping God’s word. Lord Jesus, all we have is from You: You are the source, and we are nothing without You!
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my enjoyment in the ministry, the message by brother Minoru C. for this week, and portions from, Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 50, pp. 785-786, as quoted in the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Returning to the Orthodoxy of the Church (2016 fall ITERO), msg. 8 (week 8), The Church in Laodicea.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Will you be an overcomer? / Never lukewarm be, / Ne’er content with what you’ve gotten, / More you need to see. (Hymns #894)
# Naught have I gotten but what I received; / Grace hath bestowed it since I have believed; / Boasting excluded, pride I abase; / I’m only a sinner saved by grace! (Hymns #311)
# With the vision we must not be proud or be content, / Lest as Laodicea soon we lukewarm become, / Empty knowledge would only make you poor, blind, naked, / “Buy gold, garments and eyesalve!” — this’ how we overcome! (Song on being overcomers today)
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