SPIRIT OF THIS AGE
The spirit of this age is robbing us of the beauty and the true meaning of the gospel and the purpose of the church. See! “The spirit of the age.” refers to certain attitudes and values in society. This prevailing “spirit” can either be that influenced by biblical standards or by atheistic secularism, or something in between.
This would also include…
Current liberal values and indoctrination.
Social justice and cancel culture is a gospel issue.
Absence of moral absolutes.
Wokeism and Reparations is a gospel issue.
Major false belief systems are all part of this age.
I came across a professor at a University who said they are “calling for the word “pedophile” to be ditched in favour of “Minor Attracted Persons”. This professor said, “A lot of people when they hear the term ‘pedophile’, and they automatically assume that it means a sex offender, and that isn’t true,” and it leads to a lot of misconceptions about attractions toward minors.”…..the professor would also go on to say, “From my perspective, there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all. In other words, it’s not who we’re attracted to that’s either OK or not OK. It’s our behaviors in responding to that attraction that are either OK or not OK.”
We live in an age that has rejected God and abandoned Biblical principles and Biblical righteousness. But that is exactly what the spirit of this age wants you to believe.That what you decide to do is perfectly ok for you, because the problem is out there, not within. How have we come to this place in history? The simple answer is our inherit sinfulness. But it didn’t happen overnight and it the same is true inside the local church.
There is a story about a father and his son walking in the Strawberry patch. This particular story is a picture of the church in the postmodern world and the affects it has on the gospel and the church. A father and son are enjoying a nice walk in the strawberry field and they stop to enjoy some fresh, juicy strawberries.
They are delicious to both of them.
But something happens over time with his son. These same strawberries make into the industry to be fabricated and chopped up to be put into cereals, made into jams to spread on toast, and as technology advances the more synthetic materials are used to modify the taste of strawberries into a filling of a pop-tart that has zero strawberry. More modification is done to perfection without the use of a strawberry and now it is being sold as a flavour to put into a slushy…. and unfortunately like this man’s son, may rather have a slushy instead of a freshly ripe strawberry. Because over time that same son walks into that same strawberry patch and picks a actual strawberry and doesn’t like the taste of it.
The spirit of this age has deceived many outside,
but also many inside the church as we will see shortly.
We love artificial things, because they suit and taste better, than the real thing in reference to the gospel. There is a generation of young Christians who actually hear the gospel that don’t like the taste of it anymore. Many individuals inside the church would rather have a slushy than the real and juicy strawberry. (spiritually speaking) The spirit of this age has blinded many to believe that lie that God isn’t good enough, or real to see you through your life. And here is the problem! “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Prov 14:12. Martyn Lloyd Jones said this to warn us, “Do not be misled by the world, do not be captivated by it. See the rottenness, the ugliness, the foulness; and do not allow it to monopolize your time and your attention. You must see through it. Then, having, seen through it, keep yourself from it.”
How easily can we be deceived?
The church for the greater part has come to a point where we’re satisfied with the status-quo, some prefer the slushy taste rather than having a real strawberry. We know enough, we think we are saved enough, and what we see as a standard, may not be what God holds a standard. This is where we need to hold up the mirror of the Scriptures to our lives, and it will reveal that things are not quite right.
That they may not measure up
to God’s standards.
One reformer said this, “As a culture, present-day Christianity has redefined spiritual maturity. The reformers knew we were saved to glorify God. We moderns live to be blessed. The mature among us are now thought to be the successful, the happy, the effective people on top of things and doing well…We're more attracted to sermons, books, and conferences that reveal the secrets to fulfillment…than to spiritual direction that leads us through affliction into the presence of the Father.”
And that is so true in the age we live, especially inside the church. Prov 16:2 “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit” See we can easily deceive ourselves into thinking everything is ok. The Lord alone can evaluate our behaviour because He knows our heart and our motives. And God by His Spirit and His word provides the penetrating evaluation.
We have seen this deception throughout history….
Beginning in the Garden with Adam and Eve, deceived to think they could be like God. After the flood the people were deceived by their own ideas; thinking that they knew better than God when they built a tower for themselves. Abraham thinking that if I say that my wife Sarah is my sister, then we will be ok. Isaac thought the same when faced with the same scenario. Samson being deceived by Delilah and her girlish charm. Many in the church live by the spirit of this age as it relates to worship as a means of fun and entertainment. This is a gross violation and misrepresentation of what authentic worship means to the church. When Israel sinned with the golden calf, one of the features of that heathen worship was, after they had feasted, they “rose up to play” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” Exodus 32:6. The word “play” is expressive in the original and can be rendered: “to laugh, mock, jest, toy with.”
What does this say about modern day church
and its conformity to the spirit of the age?
I want us to look at church this morning that was deceived thinking that “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes…” A church that can represent a church of any age or generation; whether it’s past, present or future. A church that desperately needed to be shaken up in their deception and complacency, otherwise they were going to meet their demise very soon.
Turn to Revelation chapter 3
This church is so deceived and ignorant that the bible says “it sickens the Lord!” (v16). The Laodiceans were famous for 3 things! Wool, Wealth and Medical treatment of blindness. The Lord exposes these three things as He gentle rebukes this church, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve [cream, or ointment], to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.” (v18)
This is a church that has people attending regularly because this is what good Christians do. This is a church that was great at organization, but they were not a great church, not in our Lord’s estimation. This is a church that gives there money to the church and charities as long as it doesn’t infringe on their lifestyle or standard of living. This is a church that choses what is popular over what is right when they’re in conflict, they desire to fit in both at church and outside the church. This is a church that rarely shares it faith with their neighbors, co-workers or friends. This is a church that is moved by stories of people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act on it. This is a church that gauges their morality or goodness by comparing themselves to the secular world or their neighbor. This is a church that claims to have Jesus as a part of their lives, but only a part. But, Isaiah wrote God weighs the spirit as well, “And the Lord said: "Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” Isa 29:13
This church is confronted with some strong language as God weighs the spirit. The Lord Jesus’ evaluation of this church was 180 degrees from theirs, polar opposite. Jesus exposes their deficiencies by saying they are “Lukewarm” this indicates they are not genuinely saved, yet they do not openly reject the gospel. You’re neither hot nor cold which indicates they were useless in their condition. Not hot enough to relax and restore like a hot spring; and you’re not cold and refreshing like a stream of water.
A cloud of self-deception hangs over this church
They participate and attend church for self-righteous reasons, but Jesus exposed this kind of person early on in His ministry. “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” Matt 7:21-23
John MacArthur said, “These smug, self-righteous hypocrites are far more difficult to reach with the gospel than cold-hearted rejecters.”
Why? Because the self-righteous think they are saved, and that only makes them more dangerous. This letter to this church of any age, describes the deception and complacency and
how easy a church can buy into this philosophy!
Pitiable means, “disgraceful or the object of extreme pity.” See, a disgraceful person is one that neither knows their misery, nor their need of mercy. It’s that person that says “I’m alright” “or “I have need of nothing!” That’s the lie of this age, because we all need, not needed the gospel preached into our hearts every day. Whether you’re rich or poor, whether you live in a mansion or live in a cardboard box. We need Christ to remove us from this miserable state we live. Jesus came to save the lost, the pitiable from their bondage of sin. These people were so pitiable they didn’t think they needed to be saved.
Poor in the context of this portion indicates someone who is a “beggar” This was a slap in the face to a city that bragged about its wealth. They were deceived to think that in their physical wealth they had security in eternal life. But this letter is saying, "they were poor in the law of God" What did Jesus say to rich young ruler? "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." Matt 19:21. Our riches are in Christ, not in earthly possessions. Our worth is found in Christ, not in what I’ve accumulated over my lifetime.
Blind means “to inflate with self-conceit, pomposity or proud” This was another slap in the face to a city that boasted about its famous powder for unhealthy eyes. The self-righteous is so proud it makes them blind to their spiritual state. Jesus spoke of this first, “Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit." Matt 15:14. The natural man is blind to the saving knowledge of God in Christ, as to the way of salvation by Christ, as to the blindness of their own hearts.
Naked figuratively means “they were nude”, sin has stripped them of their moral clothing. Another slap in the face to their famous glossy black wool. Man’s own righteousness will never cover his nakedness; and whoever is destitute of the righteousness of Christ is a naked person. That truth was revealed in the garden. “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" And he said, "I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." He said, "Who told you that you were naked?” Gen 3:7-11
Their nakedness was like the story of the Emperor’s new clothes! “A couple of conniving men pretended to be tailors. Knowing the king’s vanity about his clothes, they began a scheme to weave invisible garments. And the king bought into it! He took off all his clothes and put on the invisible suit. He walked in a royal possession down the streets to show everyone his magnificent clothes. At first everyone exclaimed praises over what he was “wearing”. Then a little boy had the audacity to say “Look at the king. He is altogether as naked as the day he was born!”
The true gospel exposes our hearts
as God weighs the spirit.
Just as God provided a sacrifice for Adam’s sin. Just as God provided a sacrifice for Abrahams sin. Just as God provided a sacrifice for our sin. The gospel exposes our hearts and leaves us looking to the only one who can deliver us from ourselves and our sin. The Lord Jesus Christ could have instantly judged and destroyed this church filled with unredeemed hypocrites. But He doesn’t! Instead He graciously offered them genuine salvation. (v18-v22)
We need Christ’s riches and not this world’s. (v18)
We need Christ’s righteousness. (v18)
We need Christ remedy to artificial things that taste and sound like the gospel. (v18)
We need Christ’s rebuke. (v19)
Jesus sternly instructs this church to buy from Him, because this is where our true riches and our dependence are found in the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the children who are in Christ Jesus, they are clothed with His righteousness, sealed by the Holy Spirit. See they were a people who were trying to attain eternal life through their own effort or goodness because they were blind to the fact they were wretched to begin with. And sadly in the end it leads to Judgement and eternal damnation. This is exactly what this age is clinging too. Evangelicals who drift with the spirit of the age are betraying the biblical heritage our forefathers lived for, fought for, and died for. It is nothing other than conformity to the world which is enmity with God according to James. “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us"? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:4-10
A person can be so easily deceived to thinking that they are “alright, good enough, or ok” This is the dangers of deception, it looks ok on the outside, but inside its full of dead men bones. You’re not alright and you desperately need to come to alter and confess. There are many today who have tasted this gospel and feel they are so far gone there is no way God could love them still. And that is a lie of this age that is getting stronger and stronger with every church. I am here to say “You believe that, because you haven’t read the rest of this letter to this church.” (v20-v22)
And the promise of this is that Jesus will always
come in if we invite Him in.
Jesus is taking the position outside the door of the church and He will remain there knocking and knocking. He will stand there graciously and patiently for those who are drawn to the strawberry and not the slushy.
Those who are drawn like the Apostle Paul “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” Phil 3:10. Jesus according to this letter He will allow us to reign with Him if we trust Him. (v21-v22). This is what the true gospel produces in the life of a sinner saved by grace, we receive blessing by virtue of our union with Christ. It is not the spirit of the age that we need; it is the spirit of repentance and return to authentic Biblical Christianity. The gospel liberates the sinner from the spirit of this age, which is leading many to destruction.
This is my prayer for me and I hope you will pray this with me today! Lord, reveal to me where I’m lukewarm? Lord, please give me the strength in the areas that cause me to be lukewarm? Lord, do whatever it takes to get me you want me to be? And if that means something has to go! Lord please, reveal that to me today?