Indifference - Neutrality - Self-Assertion

Revelation 3:14‑22  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 10
It will be found that these three are the great leading features of the professing church, fully developed in its last phase; and those whose eyes are both opened and anointed at the present time, see very distinctly how rapidly the growth of these evil principles are being developed, so that all the elements which will reach maturity in full-blown Laodiceanism, are being, as it were, rapidly hurried to the front. But to see this in the midst of clouds of dust which Satan is perpetually raising, there must be that which Scripture describes as the “senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:1414But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)).
Now the first great mark of infection with this evil principle is indifference to Christ as Lord, which very plainly displays itself, though in a form and guise which deceive the unwary. It is true that in terms the authority of Christ is not denied, but practically it is not recognized. And moreover there are various shades of this, as of every evil thing; but the question is, not the amount which may be accredited to us, but whether we are, through grace, entirely apart from it ourselves. Has He not of late, as our Lord, given a very solemn proof of His authority as well as His right to sift and try and test that with which His name has been, and, through grace, is still associated on earth? and are there not many ways and forms of saying to Him, “What doest Thou?” Now what shall we say to the Lord’s contention, the Lord’s test, the Lord’s voice like many waters, and the Lord’s eyes as a flame of fire? Alas for us all if our eyes are not open to see this, and if we can rise no higher than men and their ways!
But it is solemn to remember how the road has been prepared, so that His way should not be perceived. The enemy has skillfully set traps to catch the feet of the saints of God. It is well for us to remember the character of his opposition now: violence and corruption are the two great weapons by which Satan has wrought from the first, and the last is the more to be dreaded, because more subtle. “The wiles of the devil” have now to be withstood on God’s ground, and we need the whole armor of God, buckled on, and the spirit of dependence maintained in order successfully to resist the foe. Where this is not the case, as the story of the Gideonites in Joshua sorrowfully illustrates, we fall a pray to the corrupting wiles of the devil; and it will display itself where the battle rages most fiercely. In Laodicea there will be an indifference to Christ as Lord, which is deeply heart-breaking. There will be a lack of conscience and spiritual affection which would secure His blessed name being associated with that which is repugnant to “Him that is holy and Him that is true;” and lastly, where this corruption gets sway there will be exhibited an antagonism to His thoughts and mind which is most solemn to contemplate.
The next characteristic mark of the professing church in its closing, state, is neutrality; “neither cold nor hot.” It is very solemn to see that indifference to Christ is the producing cause of this lukewarm state. In Laodicea He is outside, and they are neutral inside! As to evil, the saints if true to Christ would be intolerant; patience and long suffering would assuredly mark them in their mode of acting as well as in their spirit—but where these blessed qualities are pleaded for a toleration of sin, and a course of action is attempted to be founded or based upon this, it is clearly the spirit of this neutrality concerning which the Lord says to Laodicea in His indignation, “I would thou wert cold or hot.” Moreover, on heavenly ground, there can be no such principle. “Art thou for us or for our adversaries?” is the abiding illustration and witness of this great fact. And may I not appeal to another solemn witness of what I am setting forth? If the history of God’s testimony during the past half-century; be prayerfully considered and pondered, it will be seen that at this very day, the fruit of this very principle of neutrality abides. Oh, for eyes to see, and hearts to feel for Christ in all this; thus it will be clear to us as taught of God, that the path of safety is the path of faith, and that holiness is, as it were, the very pavement of that way, and Christ the company which those who are for Him enjoy as walking in it: this and this alone can suit Him, and He gives us to know how blessed it is for us, and so we rejoice that “there is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture’s eye hath not seen; the lion’s whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it”—it is a divine path and outside, because above the most acute creature wisdom and ken—moreover this wisdom cannot be procured by man as such, for “man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith it is not in me, and the sea saith, it is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof...The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.” Such then is the nature and value of the path of faith and wisdom in God’s estimate of it. But mark well these words—“Unto man He saith, behold the, fear of the Lord, that is wisdom: and to depart from evil is understanding” (Job 28).
The last feature in Laodicea, which I would notice here, is the miserable self-assertion and self-complacency evinced in the language, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Oh, conceive such words, and the blessed Lord outside! This is the full development of Laodiceanism; it is found alongside indifference to Christ and a lukewarmness which is neither cold nor hot. Does it not become all His saints to watch against this spirit? He calls it “miserable and poor.” Alas! how soon any of us might be corrupted and infected with it and things which are all right in themselves may be used by Satan in his wiles to invest us with this spirit: for instance, if ourselves, our service, our work, our usefulness are before our eyes instead of Christ, how soon the spirit of Laodicea will enfold us in the meshes of its self-complacent net! Christ alone is our safety and rest. To keep His word and not deny His name is the reach of “little strength;” yet is it also our preservation as our comfort and joy.
May the Lord, in great grace, preserve His own in this day from the principles we have been reviewing, and may He also, in sovereign mercy, rescue from their power and influence, any who have fallen under them.
“Now our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2 Thess. 2:16-1716Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. (2 Thessalonians 2:16‑17)).