Posted by: Brad Beaman | May 26, 2008

The Curse of Complacency

Hans Christian Anderson’s fairytale story the Emperors new clothes teaches us a great lesson. In the story swindlers are working with so called invisible cloth sixteen hours a day. They say if you don’t see it you are stupid or unfit for office. The emperor is deceived himself, and wears the invisible clothes walking about naked. It took a child to be honest and say he did not have any clothes.

In much the same way the devil deceived Laodicea. A spiritual complacency was prevalent and no one in the church was saying anything about it.

Here in Revelation 3:14-22 we find a group of Christians at Laodicea that are nauseating to the risen and glorified Christ. But they were unaware thinking themselves quite alright. They actually thought things were going great in their church.

Revelation 3:14-15
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

The city of Laodicea was one of the richest commercial centers in the world. They were a center for banking, clothing, medical and center for ophthalmology (famous for eye salve). Unlike most first century churches that were small, poverty ridden and persecuted at Laodicea the church was affluent and had achieved a high level of social prestige.

This is the last of Jesus seven messages to the seven churches and Laodicea receives the highest level of condemnation of any of the churches. Their offence was that they had become lukewarm Christians. This is what our Lord Jesus hates.

As in the introductions to the other churches Jesus reveals himself with a specific aspect of his nature that is relevant to the situation at each particular church. Here he is the words of the Amen.

We use the word Amen in our Baptist churches. It means so be it or that’s right. We say it when we hear truth. Jesus doesn’t just say Amen, He is the Amen. The ultimate response to Gods truth. He is the faithful and true witness. There is no corruption in Him, He is absolutely trustworthy.

He has the title here of the Ruler of God’s creation. In Colossians 1:18 we find this,
“And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”

Jesus is the source of origin. He holds the world together in His absolute power and He is ruler over the world. This is the authoritative Jesus.

Revelation 3:15
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

The church members of Laodicea were not flagrant sinners. In all of first century Asia here is the group with prestige and wealth. This affluent church did not step out of its social boundaries. This was a respectable group. But Jesus found their religiosity and spiritual complacency nauseating. Jesus said I wish you were hot or cold, one or the other.

A Christian that doesn’t do the terrible things and attends church, but has no real spiritual vitality is living the curse of spiritual complacency. This is nauseating to the Lord. The need is to gets close to the Lord and weep over this spiritual condition. Realize just how nauseating complacency, lukewarm Christianity is in the sight of Jesus.

Jesus’ evaluation of the church is exactly the opposite of what this church thinks of themselves. They think they are rich and don’t need anything. To the self satisfied you may think you can get along fine without a close walk with God. You have a good salary, investments are strong and a secure retirement is on the horizon. But if you are spiritually lukewarm you condition is wretched, pitiful, blind, naked and poor Jesus says.

The curse of our day is the spiritual complacency. Proverbs 11:20 says “The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord.” What a shock to think that the lukewarm Christian is more nauseating to Jesus than the perverse in heart. Your walk with the Lord is that important.

If you think you will appear before the risen and glorified Christ and say, I went to church, I attended a Sunday school once in a while and just drifted along spiritually that Christ will be pleased, study closely Revelation 3:14-20

“I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Lukewarm Christians are useless to Christ. At least a blatant sinner might recognize his spiritual condition before the Lord. But rarely does that happen with a Lukewarm Christian. He just meanders along. They don’t know it and they are deceived to think they are OK.

Revelation 3:18
I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

The city known for eye salve needs to buy a spiritual eye salve from Jesus. These affluent Christians need to trade their gold for true spiritual wealth. They are living in a banking center, but what they really need is spiritual gold refined by the fire for genuine riches.

It is an irony that the church in Sardis was poor but in Laodicea they were rich. But it is not material but spiritual riches that really count. When it came to true riches Sardis was rich and Laodicea was poor.

Revelation 3:19
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent.

Jesus calls the indifferent Christian to recognize complacency for what it is, nauseating to the Lord. Serve Christ with zeal. Put the fire back into your Christian life. Otherwise you will never please the Lord. He calls the complacent to repent.

Revelation 3:20
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Jesus moves from directing the lukewarm church to the individual. To the lost. Jesus seeks the lost, open your heart. It starts with a commitment. Unless Jesus comes into your heart you are lost.

Luke warm Christian. Have you essentially shut Jesus out of your life and put him on the outside. Let a fire be set ablaze in your heart. Repent.

Revelation 3:21-22
To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

The overcomer reigns with Jesus on his throne. Will you take action for spiritual complacency and open the door of your heart to Jesus?



  1. I just wanted to add that the scripture in Rev 3:16 in my translation says that lukewarm Christians cause God to vomit. I never ever want to be lukewarm. I want to serve Jesus with my all and everything in me. I am so tired of complacency and tolerance. We are called to a higher level. Why is it so difficult to honour Jesus? Why is it so ifficult to be changed by Him? Why are we so reluctant? It makes me so sad.

    • Hi Liesl, I think your disturbance by spiritual lukewarmness is a major step in having a passionate first love walk with Jesus.

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