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HOW TO OVERCOME The LAODICEAN Attitude
Good News Magazine
February 1965
Volume: Vol XIV, No. 2
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HOW TO OVERCOME The LAODICEAN Attitude
David L Antion   
Church of God

Ambassador College: 1956
Ordained: 1960
Office: Elder

Are you going to drift into the Laodicean Church? Will you be among those spued from Christ's mouth? Here's what you can do about it NOW to be sure you do not meet this tragic end!

   ONE OF God's names would shock you! That name has an important connection with the Laodicean Church era and YOUR LIFE! That name, which is a part of God's character, should also be a part of your character. This character trait has great influence on your life. It affects your prayer, Bible study, work at your job, housecleaning, sewing in short, your whole life, It makes the difference between real spiritual growth in God's Church and slipping back from love, true spirituality, and interest in God's Work.

Strange Name

   Many have been perplexed by this name of God. To them it seemed strange indeed. Read it in Exodus 34:14. "For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."
   Why "Jealous"? Why should this be one of God's traits? Isn't jealousy a sin?
   We need to understand the full meaning of this Hebrew word translated "Jealous" in order to understand why it is God's name. This word is "qana." It means "to be or make jealous or ZEALOUS" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance). This same word in the Old Testament can be translated either way jealous or zealous. And everywhere in the Old Testament that you see the words "zealous" or "jealous," they are translated from this same Hebrew word.
   Actually, then, God is a God filled with ZEAL. He is a Zealous (or Jealous) God for His people, His relationship with the Israelites and their obedience to Him. Notice Isaiah 59:17, "For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with ZEAL as a cloke." This is speaking figuratively of God's character and the ZEAL which is a part of it. But here again the Hebrew word is "qana" which can be translated "jealousy" or "zeal."

Jesus' Character

   What was Jesus like? Did He have this character trait? Notice: "And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: and when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise" (John 2:13-16).
   But now notice the next verse which explains why Christ acted in this heated manner of zeal and "jealousy." "And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up." Here is how the Amplified New Testament renders Verse 17: "And his disciples remembered that it was written [in the Holy Scriptures), The Zeal the fervor of love for your house will eat me up. I will be consumed with jealousy for the honor of your house." Today we say, "It burned me up."
   Now notice the connection! The Greek word for "zeal" is "zelos." It means literally: "hot, heat, zeal, jealousy, envy, and fervent." This also bears out and connects with the statement made in Deuteronomy 4:24, "For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a JEALOUS [zealous] God."
   So we see that the words "zealous" and "jealous" are alternate translations of both their Greek and Hebrew root words.
   Notice how this word is used in the New Testament. "For I am jealous [or zealous Greek "zelos"] over you with godly jealousy [or teal): for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (II Cor. 11:2).
   In Acts 18:25 we read of a very zealous individual named Apollos. "He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and burning with spiritual zeal, he spoke and taught diligently and accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he was acquainted only with the baptism of John" (Amplified New Testament). The King James Version says, "fervent in the spirit." Again, the word "fervent" means zealous, jealous or burning. It is that same Greek word "zelos."

Jealous or Zealous?

   If the Greek word "zelos" can be translated either jealous or zealous, what is the difference? Doesn't the Bible say that envy and jealousy are sin?
   Yes, there is a difference. That difference depends on the attitude the motivation behind this fervent, heated way of doing things. In today's world you will find heated competition based on the motive of jealousy and envy. Actions motivated by jealousy are motivated by self desire. Wanting for the self in competition with others. The Bible plainly labels this as SIN! "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (Jas. 3:14-15).
   The Greek word for envying is "zelos"! Again it is translated "envying" in I Corinthians 3:3: "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" This quality of "zelos" used out of WRONG MOTIVATION AND WRONG ATTITUDE IS a SIN!
   But this quality of "zelos" or "qana" can be put to a right and godly use. The Bible speaks of "godly jealousy." Notice where the right type of zeal, done out of love for God and His commandments, is commendable.
   When Israel was coming into the land of promise they came into contact with the Moabites. They committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab (Num. 25:1). And they began to take up with the worship of the Moabites' false gods which brought the anger of God against Israel. And because of this transgression many of the Israelites had to be slain (Verses 3-5).
   Then one of the children of Israel came and brought to his people a Midianitish woman. He did it defiantly right in the sight of Moses and all the congregation as they were mourning the death of so many slain because of this very sin. Boldly walking in front of them he determined that no one was going to stop him from having his "fun" and if he wanted to marry a Moabite wife and pollute the nation of Israel with her false gods he would do so.
   Everyone was so shocked at the bold defiance of this man that no one did a thing. No one except Phinehas! And when he saw it, "he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel" (Verses 7-8).
   The zeal and fervency of Phinehas spurred him to action in service to God. Already there were twenty-four thousand who died because of this terrible sin Israel was falling into. And Phinehas was not about to sit by and watch more Israelites have to die because one man wanted his own selfish, carnal and sinful way.
   What did God say about this act of Phinehas? "Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was ZEALOUS for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy" (Verse 11). Again note that the Hebrew word "qana" is used for both "zealous" and "jealousy." Phinehas looked at that abominable situation the same way God did. He hated that sinful, carnal and filthy action which would mean more suffering for Israel by cutting them off from the true and LIVING GOD. As a result he was given the covenant of an everlasting priesthood "because he was zealous for his God" (Verse 13).

What About You?

   Do you have the zeal to overcome sin? Do you hate the sins you see in yourself that are going to bring misery, trouble and suffering and maybe death to you, your family or perhaps other church members? When you have sinful thoughts cross your mind, are you ZEALOUS to kill those thoughts (Col. 3:5)? Are you filled with zeal to kill the "old man" with his lazy pleasure-seeking ways who would rather watch television than study, read the comic strips than pray, and spend time in long conversations on the phone than serve others?
   Do you have a ZEAL for God? Do you make a zealous effort to attend church? Bible study? Are you zealous with your assignment in Spokesman's Club whatever it may be?
   Many times we may wonder why we are not getting the answers to our prayers as we should. Some say, "Well, I pray every day right on schedule." But let's ask, "How?" How do you pray? And what kind of prayer really gets the answers from God? "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (Jas. 5:16, last part). The word "fervent" means zealous. The Greek is "zelos." We must be ZEALOUS in whatever we do. Haphazard, lazy, lethargic prayers will not receive answers from God!
   God says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest" (Eccl. 9:10). Today in this society this admonition from God is almost totally violated in every walk of life. And especially in the matter of religion.
   Coming home from church a family was discussing the services. The father said, "I didn't think the sermon had any punch or color to it today." His wife said, "Yes, and the choir sounded awful too."
   Never has there been an age that has so encouraged lethargy and a lackadaisical attitude. On the popular program, CANDID CAMERA, the staff was shocked at the lethargy and careLESS attitude of the average person today. In one particular scene the Candid Camera staff excavated a green on a popular golf course Then they placed a man underground (with air piped to him) so that he could put his hand up thru the hole in the green. When people would finish the final stroke for that hole by putting the ball in, his hand would suddenly pop out of the ground and hand them back their ball.
   Some people were startled for a second. But most NEVER GAVE IT ANOTHER THOUGHT. No one asked how the stunt was done. And even after they were told it was a Candid Camera stunt, no one asked how they had a live hand come up from the hole. Most people anymore seem to go around in a tranquilized state.
   This is manifest when American planes are attacked and soldiers killed in Vietnam and the average American just cannot get ANGRY or stirred up. God wants us to be stirred up. He says, "Be ye ANGRY, and sin not." God does not want Christians to fall into this tranquilized state of existence. He says, "Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord" (Rom. 12:11, Amplified New Testament). The King James says, "... fervent in spirit." It means zealous, burning, hot with energy and zeal for God's service.
   Do you remember what David said when it was time to attend God's Church? "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD" (Ps. 122:1). He had a zealous attitude toward God. He loved to serve God and do His will. He was so filled with zeal and service and gratitude toward God that he would dance before God even in the sight of other people. He was not ashamed of his ZEAL for God Almighty!

Laodicean Attitude

   What does God's name have to do with the Laodicean attitude? How can you tell if you are a Laodicean or close to that attitude? What characterizes the Laodirean Church attitude?
   Christ pleads with us to hear His Word to all the churches (Rev. 3:6). So notice what He says to the church of the Laodiceans. "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:14-16).
   The "cold" refers to unconverted, but the Laodiceans are not UNconverted. They are members of God's Church. They keep God's commandments (Rev. 12:17). But they are not "hot." But just what does it mean by "hot"?
   Actually, the root word for "hot" comes from the Greek word "zeo." It means "to be hot, be fervid, earnest." This word is a verb. Its noun is "zelos" which means "zealous, fervent, HOT!"
   In plain language then, the trouble with the Laodiceans is that they are not zealous! They are lukewarm! "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" (Rev. 3:17). These people think they are doing enough. They are complacent. They feel they have studied the Bible enough. They think that if they spend a half hour on their knees that they have really done a service to God. But even worse, they say they "have need of nothing."
   Have you ever heard people criticize God's Work today? Many will put it this way: "Why do we need more pages in The PLAIN TRUTH? I think we have enough. And why do we want to build more buildings for Ambassador College? Don't we have enough? Anyhow, what do we need with a third Ambassador College we have enough, we don't need any more." "WE HAVE NEED OF NOTHING." Brethren, this type of attitude is a typical LAODICEAN attitude!!
   A Laodicean THINKS he needs nothing else. He THINKS he is rich (spiritually as well as physically). He doesn't realize that he has lost his spiritual zeal that he is not HOT and burning with zeal to accomplish God's Work in this endtime. Also, that he is not hot or zealous to overcome his own carnal nature and to serve his brethren.
   This is what Jesus Christ says to Laodiceans: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: BE ZEALOUS {be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal (Amplified New Testament) THEREFORE, AND REPENT!!" (Verse 19).
   God wants the Laodiceans to recapture that spark of fire and to let it BURN in service to Him. He wants them to have the attitude of Jesus Christ when He saw the money changers in the temple. He wants them to have the attitude of Phinelias when he saw the Israelite defiantly bring the Moabitess into the camp. He wants them to have the attitude of David who was glad when it was time to go to God's house for worship. God wants Laodiceans to have the attitude of Apollus who was FERVENT in carrying out God's Work. He wants them to have the attitude of Paul who was willing to go through all kinds of hardships because of his "godly jealousy" or zeal for God's Churches (II Cor. 11).
   Do you have it??

How Not to Know

   There is a way to keep yourself from knowing that you are actually falling into the Laodicean attitude. Actually, the Laodiceans don't really know that they are Laodiceans that is, that they are lukewarm and have lost their zeal for God. But why don't they know? This involves a fundamental principle of God's Word which is violated.
   Let's suppose you have three basins in front of you. The one on the extreme right is filled with almost scalding hot water. The one in the middle has lukewarm water. And the one on the left contains ice-cold water. If you were to dip your left hand first into the ice-cold water and then back into the lukewarm water the lukewarm water would feel hot. Now, if at the same time, you dip your right hand into the scalding hot water for just a second and then dip it also into the lukewarm water, the lukewarm water would feel cool or cold.
   Actually, if you were to depend upon a comparison between the lukewarm and the cold water for the needed knowledge as to how hot the lukewarm water was, you would be completely deceived. For in comparison with the ice-cold water the lukewarm would feel hot. You would not know that it was actually lukewarm. It would indeed SEEM to be hot.
   How hot are you? If you violate this important principle of the Bible, you won't be able to tell. God warns us not to open ourselves up for this deception when He gives this principle: "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves : but they measuring themselves by themselves, and COMPARING THEMSELVES AMONG THEMSELVES, ARE NOT WISE" (II Cor. 10:12).
   I should say not! For the violation of this principle enables Satan the devil to get the upper hand. It leaves you wide open for the Laodicean attitude.
   For instance: If you, as a truly converted Christian, were to compare yourself to the worldly people around you in prayer, you would seem to be on fire for God. Most people don't pray at all. And most so-called "religious" people pray five minutes a week. Well, look how much more zealous you appear if you pray fifteen or twenty minutes some days.
   Average churchgoers give less than $1.00 per week. You certainly would look zealous, hot and fervent if you paid a straight ten percent of your income.
   Yes, and many brethren compare themselves with one another. "Well," they say, "old Joe Smith doesn't know any more about the Bible than I do." To them this statement means that they are all right they are zealous. They don't know that they are "miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked!"
   If you begin to compare yourself with others, you are taking the first and biggest step toward the Laodicean attitude. You will DECEIVE YOURSELF into thinking that you are all right, in need of nothing, that you are doing as much as "anyone else."
   And it will surely follow that those who lose their zeal will become jealous. Instead of serving zealously in the church, they will begin to slander, impute motives and envy those who are really zealous. How about you? Does someone else's zeal make you jealous?

The True Standard

   There is a true standard by which you can actually measure and which will tell you just where you stand. JESUS CHRIST is that Standard! WE must measure ourselves with Him to see how much we are growing. We must compare ourselves with Him in order to know our spiritual temperature.
   God's true ministers in His True Church constantly exhort you to measure yourself with Christ. He gave the ministry for these purposes: "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." And for how long? "TILL we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, UNTO THE MEASURE OF THE STATURE OF THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST" (Eph. 4:12-13).
   Christ is the Standard of measurement! It is by Him that we must test our zeal. It is next to Him His perfect life that we must judge whether or not "we are in need of nothing."
   Indeed, we are foolish to compare ourselves with ourselves and measure ourselves by ourselves. Let's measure ourselves with Jesus Christ! And then, "BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE, AND REPENT!"

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Good News MagazineFebruary 1965Vol XIV, No. 2
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