Jesus Addresses Laodicea -2
“So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.” At first glance this would appear that the Laodiceans were in danger of losing salvation because the body rids itself of that it cannot tolerate and properly digest. Therefore, it would appear that Jesus was warning the Laodiceans to become more palatable otherwise be flushed out.
But this can’t be the interpretation because in a few more verses Jesus clarifies that those He chastens He loves, and hearts where He is shunned He continues to beseech. So what does this image signify?
In my opinion the answer might be found in a similar graphic God used to warn His people Israel against defiling their land with abominations. “Lest the land vomit you out,” He said, then later added, “For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people” (Lev.18:24-29). And to me, the implication is not that the discharged would cease to become His people, but rather would lose the blessing of fellowship with the rest of the people.
A similar incident regarding a man charged with adultery occurred at Corinth.
In that case Paul angrily admonished the congregation to drive the man from the group (see—1Cor.5:13). But it didn’t concern that man’s salvation. On the contrary, for Paul said “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1Cor.5:5). Moreover, when the man later did repent, the Apostle urged the congregation to “forgive and comfort him” (2Cor.2:7-8).
So to me what the unrepentant of Laodicea were in danger of, was that Jesus would “spew” or “discharge” them from His Body (the Church). Meaning they would to be cut off from among His people, and like those in Israel as well as the man in Corinth, would lose the joy of fellowship, the peace of the Spirit, the nourishment of the Word, opportunities to serve, and a sense of God’s blessings and presence.
v.17-18 “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 – I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in 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.”
The great stumbling block for the Laodiceans was their wealth. A commercially rich city with many wealthy business people stuffing the church coffers, Laodicea had a sense of a financial well being that blinded them to the reality of their own spiritual depravity. “[You don’t even know] that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…I counsel you to buy from Me,” Jesus told them. In other words, what the Laodiceans needed most their money couldn’t buy, and only Jesus Christ can give.
First, they needed “gold refined in fire.” This was to meet their spiritual poverty. The Bible says that godly wisdom is the enduring riches (Prov.8:18). The same burden, incidentally, that the Apostle Paul held for Laodicea years before (Col.2:1-3).
Secondly, they needed “white garments.” This was to meet their spiritual nakedness. In the pride of their financial success, Laodicea had unwittingly stripped itself of the covering of Christ. Considering themselves in need of nothing, they left themselves naked before God, and unrighteous in all their ways. They needed a covering of the righteousness of Christ.
Thirdly, they needed “eye salve.” This was to meet their spiritual blindness. This speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. For apart from the working of the Holy Spirit, there can be no enlightenment about the Person or purposes of God (Eph.1:17-23).