Laodicea Revisited Page 3
Strangers and Pilgrims Part I
From the Main Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
White Garments: The Second Switch
After the "gold tried in fire", the next thing that Jesus told the Christians of Laodicea to buy was "white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed." We understand that nakedness is a Biblical symbol of sin, especially the sin of idolatry. The Christians of Laodicea have to do something that will "clothe"; that is, "spiritually cover", their idolatry, and, again, it is going to cost them something. What could it be?
In this case, we can start looking for an explanation right in the Book of Revelation. There are two other references in Revelation that have to do with white garments. One is in Revelation 7:14, which verse, as shown in the "Seal of the Living God" section, is in the context of what happens to Christians during the Tribulation. The other is in Revelation 19:8, where it is about the Bride of Christ going to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. In order to teach the whole counsel of God on this issue, we must look at both passages.
Revelation 7:14 is about white garments in the sense of repentance. The Christians who were not ready for the Tribulation "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb". Doing this after the Tribulation starts will be doing it the hard way. As this verse applies to being ready, it means that Christians must wake up to their failure and repent now. Christians must start to seriously "agree with God" - the true Biblical meaning of the word "confess" (I John 1:9) - about their sins. Which means they must not try to justify, excuse or belittle, let alone deny them.
A little known but significant verse about sin is Proverbs 28:13: "He who covers his sins will not prosper. But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy". If you want to be ready for the Tribulation, you must not hesitate to call a sin a sin. Especially in your own life.
To be ready for the Tribulation, we must first truly repent of the sins we are committing and then get busy doing the righteous works that we are omitting. In Revelation 19:8. when speaking of the Bride of Christ, the angel tells John, "And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints". The term "fine linen, clean and bright" can be considered synonymous with "white garments". (some translations render "bright", "white".) but here it has to do with works. We must fulfill both sides of the issue to be ready for the Tribulation. We must turn from our wicked ways, and we must do the righteous acts. Turning from the wicked ways is the first step.
Turn From Your Wicked Ways
In II Chronicle 7:14, the people of Israel had to turn from their wicked ways. As this applies to being ready for the Tribulation, it is the Christians who must turn from their wicked ways. Not the junkies and prostitutes. Not the gay rights activists. Not the leaders of organized crime. Not corrupt businessmen and politicians. Christians must turn from their wicked ways! If the average Christian refuses to believe that he or she has any wicked ways to repent of, he or she is in big, big trouble already! Before Christians can turn from their wicked ways, they must, of course, understand what they have to turn away from. Part of every Christian's prayer life should be asking God to reveal to him the sins he needs to repent of and turn from.
Idolatry: The Biggest Problem
As stated previously, the sin that "nakedness" most specifically refers to is idolatry. We find this idea, for example, in Ezekiel 23, especially verse 18, where it is related to the sins of harlotry. In the Scriptures, idolatry is equated spiritually with harlotry and adultery. Although God forbade it, we know that throughout the history of ancient Israel, they were constantly getting involved in idolatry. (Ancient idolatry often included literal ritual prostitution.) That's why the ten northern tribes were take permanently taken away, and why the Kingdom of Judah was carried into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. God does not take violation of this Commandment lightly.
As this applies to the Church, almost since the very beginning, Christians in almost every time and place, have become involved in the idolatry of the world around them. It was already happening while Paul was still preaching. I Corinthians 10 addresses one aspect of the problem as it existed then, and the entire Epistle to the Colossians addresses this issue. The Christians in Colosse thought that they could be Christian and still practice idolatry. Paul wrote the Epistle to refute that idea and practice.
In our time this error is worse than it has ever been. The worship of idols, in the ancient sense, is rare in the western world, and is on the decline elsewhere. But we have found a new "god" to worship: ourselves! The worship of man by man is the new idolatry. In the Catholic Church, idolatry manifests itself mainly in the way the worship of "Mary" is actually replacing the worship of Christ, although Catholics generally refuse to acknowledge what is really happening. In the Protestant Churches, it mainly manifests itself in the way the Church is embracing and imitating the secular realms of arts, entertainment and sports. Again, they generally refuse to acknowledge that this is idolatry.
Touch No Unclean Thing!
In II Corinthians 6:14-18, St. Paul has some things to say relevant to this problem. This passage is one of the most important statements about Christian obedience in the entire New Testament:
14. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what communion has light with darkness?
15. And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
16. And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said:
"I will dwell in them,
And walk in them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be my people."
"Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord,
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you,"
18. "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be my sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty."
(There is a serious negative implication here: If you don't obey by being separate, He won't accept you!)
Take what this says seriously: Your being accepted or rejected by God, in the final comedown, is going to be very much conditional on your being separate from the idolatry of this world. And that includes your being ready or not ready for the Great Tribulation.
Many Christians wonder where they should draw the line for being separate from the world. God draws the line in this passage, particularly with the words "Do not touch what is unclean" in verse 17. This tells us all we need to know, if we really understand it. The verses 17 & 18 above are actually quotes from the Old Testament. In the original context, the words, "Touch not..." refer to the Old Testament Laws of Uncleanness. We know that as Christians we are not bound by these Laws (Colossians 2:20-23). In the New Testament application, this phrase means that we should not touch, with our minds, nor, preferably, with our eyes and ears, anything that is morally and spiritually unclean. And that includes the vast majority of what the secular world of arts, entertainment and sports, among other things, has to offer.
The idea is that you can't touch what is unclean without becoming unclean yourself, any more than you can touch fire without getting burned.
A person who in the Old Testament times violated the Laws of Uncleanness could not enter the Temple to worship, and in some cases was exiled from the community for a period of time. A priest who violated the Laws couldn't perform his priestly duties or eat the holy shewbread. Even after the time of exile was completed, the violator had to go through a ritual cleansing and offer special sacrifices to be readmitted to fellowship and, in the case of the priest, to his priestly functions and privileges.
These things are a parable of what happens to a Christian who "touches the unclean thing". A Christian who indulges in "touching unclean things" will put himself out of fellowship with God, and to some extent with the Church. Of course, he may not be conscious of this, but long term, it will have a negative effect on his Christian life, which sooner or later he will notice. He will have to go through some real inner cleansing before that fellowship is restored. If a Christian makes a constant practice of "touching unclean things", as many Laodicean Christians do, he may be out of fellowship with God while being deceived into believing that he is living a good Christian life. (This, unfortunately, is the true spiritual status of many Christians living today.) If he is in this state when the Tribulation begins, he will be hurting big time.
Before we go further with this, there is another Scriptural principle that must be remembered:
All the "Do's and Don'ts" in the Bible are there for our good.
The "Don'ts" are God's warnings to keep us out of trouble.
The "Do's" are God's tips on how to get ourselves blessed.
(See Psalm 19:7-11.)
Yet there is a problem in the Church today, that every time a preacher or teacher starts laying down standards about how Christians are supposed to behave, someone raises the cry of "Legalism!"
Legalism VS. Lawlessness and Lawfulness
Legalism, strictly defined, is any doctrine that teaches salvation achieved by works alone. Very few Christians today are preaching or teaching true legalism. What is called "legalism" by modern Christians, if viewed from God's standpoint, is often really wisdom. It would be more correctly called "Lawfulness".
Lawfulness is what is being taught here. Lawfulness is the doctrine of pleasing God and earning rewards by overt, diligent obedience to the Truth as revealed in the Scriptures. (See I Corinthians 9:24, II Timothy 2:5, and I John 3:22.)
The opposite, Lawlessness, is linked in the Scriptures with the spirit of Antichrist. A "Christian" who opposes Lawfulness, intentionally or unintentionally, is serving the spirit of Antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:7-9 & I John 2:15-19).
Lawfulness is a major requirement for being ready for the Tribulation. Lawfulness means, among other things, not touching what is spiritually and morally unclean. But many of the Laodicean Christians of today are indulging in it like so many pigs rolling in mud. That's one of the main reasons why very few Christians, relatively speaking, will be ready. See "The Seal of the Living God".
A Christian who wants to be ready for the Second Coming must live a life that is so lawful, so overtly righteous, that he will be called a "legalist" if he preaches what he practices.
As stated, the big problem is idolatry. Again, among Catholics, the most prominent manifestation of this is the worship of "Mary". Of course, they call it "veneration", not "worship", but that is playing games with words. They have special worship services devoted to her. They sing hymns to her. And of course, they do most of their praying to her. To refuse to call that worship is to refuse to see and acknowledge the truth. The fact that they are usually sincere in calling it "veneration" as opposed to "worship" simply shows how much they are deceived.
But among Protestants, and some Catholics too, the idolatry is the way the Church, and of course Christians as individuals are embracing the secular world of arts, entertainment, and sports. These things are riddled with sin and immorality through and through. Including, by the way, the sin of pride in a big, big way. In the social sense, there is so much sin in entertainment that even secular commentators have blamed all the crime and violence on TV and in the movies for all the real crime and violence that plagues our society. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is also, of course, the immorality. And the immorality goes much deeper than just the sex. There are all kinds of sinful attitudes and values that are communicated in the media that aren't so obvious. But they can constitute spiritual abominations. They are socially and spiritually destructive. Subtle as these things can be, if you make a steady diet of these worldly things, you will get the message. And it may cause you to not even make it to Heaven, let alone be ready for the Tribulation.
To really "be separate", you should have nothing to do with these things.
The trouble is, many Laodicean Christians are so spiritually blind they can't see how riddled with sin and immorality the secular world of arts, entertainment and sports is, and they think they can indulge in it without being sinful. It's the "A little bit won't hurt" lie of the devil. Guess again! If you think that way, you believe a lie of Satan. If you touch the spiritually and morally unclean thing, you become spiritually and morally unclean. Even if you don't see it! You have to be really close to God to really see things through God's eyes. And that's how you have to see things if you want to see the truth. A Christian who is regularly indulging in the things of the world isn't close to God, period!
When someone is called a "movie idol", or "rock'n'roll idol", or "sports idol", or anything of that nature, there is more concrete truth to the term than most people imagine. To some extent, these people are literally worshipped, although the people who are doing it usually don't realize that what they are doing is worship. And Christians are into this almost as much as the unsaved. This writer has seen Christians who would balk at paying $15.00 each to get into a Gospel concert gladly lay out $90 a head to attend a Michael Jackson concert. And these Christians were in full-time ministry work when they did it! This is loving the world! (See I John 2:15-17.) This is the kind of behavior that will at least get Christians chastised! If not damned!
A closely related problem is the way Christians idolize celebrities who profess to be "Born Again". Several years ago, a certain Christian celebrity was honored at a banquet at the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City for being a "distinguished Christian lay leader". Since then, first that very person, and then his "Born Again" wife were the subjects of front-page scandals for allegedly committing adultery! Honoring Christians just because they are celebrities in the secular sense is loving the world!
This writer has known personally a number of "Born Again" celebrities, whom he has met in the course of his ministry work in New York City.
NONE OF THEM WAS THE KIND OF PERSON
A CHRISTIAN SHOULD LOOK UP TO!!!
Christian celebrities are likely to have shallow Christian lives, and to live blatantly worldly life styles in spite of their professed Christian Faith, which is a bad testimony. They also tend to be ignorant of the Scriptures. That means they may publicly say things that are taken to heart by other Scripture-ignorant Christians but that are spiritually and theologically off the wall. Furthermore, if their Christian Faith begins to conflict with their show business careers, it is their Christian Faith that is most likely to be neglected or abandoned. There have been several notable cases in point in the past two decades. Furthermore, people in the secular world of arts, entertainment and sports tend to be very proud and egotistic. Christian celebrities are no exception. Again, this writer personally knows real cases in point; supposedly "anointed contemporary Christian musicians" who in real life are proud and arrogant to the point of being obnoxious. That by itself goes against the Holy Spirit. It also tends to cause them to be unteachable as Christians. And again, this is not guessing. This writer knows specific cases in point.
Christians should ignore "Born Again" celebrities. Don't buy their books or CDs. Or anything else marketed under their names. Don't go anywhere to see them. Don't watch them on TV. Don't write to them. They aren't great saints. In fact, they might not even really be Christians. It is possible that Satan sometimes seduces celebrities into embracing a counterfeit Christian Faith to lure real Christians into idolatry. This writer is sure that this was in fact the situation in the case of one "Born Again" celebrity he knew.
If they were really obeying God, most of them would turn their backs on show business, or professional sports, or whatever it is of the world that makes them celebrities. A Christian who is involved in such things can be amazingly creative in rationalizing why it is "God's will" for him to be doing what he is doing, but he is deceived. A person who is really close to God usually doesn't want to be a celebrity. This is not to say that God wouldn't call a person to be in show business for a while to be a witness for Christ there. But such a real calling is about as rare as God calling someone to be a bartender. (It does happen - again, this writer knew a real case in point; see I Corinthians 5: 9 & 10 and 9:19 -22. But, again, it didn't last very long.) If a person is involved in the secular world of arts, entertainment, and sports, he or she is involved in something intrinsically evil. (Again, the fact that Laodicean Christians usually can't see this is a symptom of their spiritual blindness.) It is doubtful that the Lord would call anyone to be involved in it long term.
By the way, this writer knows a certain celebrity who really did get saved while at his most famous. The person whose witness brought him to Christ was a "nobody" who wasn't in show business at all. The Lord just miraculously opened the door for that Christian to get at the celebrity. So, in the final analysis, the Lord doesn't need Christian celebrities at all.
If you want to be ready for the Tribulation, you should have as little to do with the secular world of arts, entertainment, and sports as you possibly can.
Don't Read Fiction
A problem related to the above is the way Christians are getting into reading (and writing) fiction. "Fiction", whether it is acknowledged or not, is a euphemism for "falsehood". Almost all secular fiction today is so riddled with sin that any Christian who reads it is sinning just by doing so. Touch no unclean thing! So-called Christian fiction, believe it or not, can be even more dangerous, spiritually, than the secular variety. The reason is that these books contain theological ideas relevant to the Christian Faith, and these ideas can be seriously off the wall. Just because a Christian writer gets his fiction published doesn't mean that what he says is sound doctrine. The people who edit and publish that stuff usually don't have any training in theology, and they might not know the difference. A Christian writer can be really off the wall theologically.
This is true even of the fiction written by C. S. Lewis. In his science fiction novel, "Out of the Silent Planet" Lewis threw a hint so broad that it wasn't just a hint, that he wrote his fiction to express theological ideas that he thought wouldn't be well received as non-fiction. This is obvious in such novels as "The Screwtape Letters", "Pilgrim's Regress", and "The Great Divorce". There is no real problem with anything in those books, but in some of his other fiction, such as, "Perelandra", "That Hideous Strength", and "Till We Have Faces", Lewis was on the brink of damnable heresy and slipping over the edge. He gave a measure of credence to Greco-Roman idolatry! He implied the Greco-Roman gods were actually angels. On the basis of I Corinthians 10:20 & 21, and Ephesians 6:12, it must be concluded that any real spiritual power behind them was demonic! See "The Cult of Mary". He even suggested that it might sometimes be okay to make graven images for worship and offer sacrifices to pagan deities!
As Lewis said himself, there are sins of the intellect just as much as there are sins of the flesh. In those novels, he appears to have unwittingly committed some whoppers. When you commit a serious sin, consciously or not, you give the devil a handle on your life. Lewis's life ended in sorrow, and his having written those off - the - wall novels may have been the reason why. The Bible says that the righteous will be recompensed for their sins in this life (Proverbs 11:31). There are sins such that, although the Blood of Jesus frees you from the eternal penalty, there are temporal consequences that you cannot escape.
Another problem with Christian fiction is in the area of Second Coming Prophecy. There have been a number of prophecy-related ideas that were first published in the form of fiction, which happened to be totally false. This writer knows of two serious examples, the idea of the "Beast" being a supercomputer, and another about the "Antichrist" supposedly getting his military invincibility (Revelation 13:4) from a "laser ring". These nonsensical ideas originated in fiction, the former in a movie and the latter in a novel. Unfortunately, they have been taken seriously - too seriously - by Christians. In the former case, at least, it has brought considerable ridicule to Christianity. This falsehood will be part of what will set many Christians up for a terrible surprise at the start of the Great Tribulation.
The first idea above, the one about the "Beast", came from a Christian film, which this writer saw. The second came from a novel which a close friend of the author read.
This writer has perused some of the current spate of "Christian" novels. He considers them garbage, spiritually and as literature. If you want to be ready for the Tribulation, stay away from all such "Christian" fiction. It really isn't Christian at all!!! It's really of the devil!
But beware especially of "Christian" fiction about Prophecy! As stated, it often contains serious falsehood that Christians ignorantly take seriously. This has done harm to the cause of Christ! Note that I am referring to, among other things, the "Left Behind" series.
Watch What You Listen To
A Christian who wants to be ready for the Tribulation must also be very careful about what he listens to in terms of music. You can be "touching the unclean" thing mentally by way of your ears just as much as your eyes. There is, it is true, very little specifically said in the New Testament about music, but what is said in the Old Testament is nevertheless quite revealing.
In the Bible, music was mainly used for worship, though music for "merrymaking", i.e. partying, is mentioned, and not generally condemned. The main purpose of it, though, was worship. There was a professional choir and orchestra in the Temple, composed entirely of priests. It has been well said that music is made for worship, and regardless of what it is, all music worships something. When you listen to music, consciously or unconsciously you are participating in that worship. So, when you listen to music of any kind, consider what it is that you are worshipping.
In I Samuel 16:14-23 we find one of those Bible stories that is well known, but which has significant implications that are not well known. King Saul, having been rejected by God, was being attacked by an evil spirit, i.e., a demon. Young David played his harp, and the demon left and Saul felt better. Now consider this: If godly music, such as David would have played, will drive away demons and bring healing, what, by contrast, will ungodly music do? Attract demons, of course, and open those who are creating it or listening to it to their influence and control. Consider this in relation to the things that frequently happen at secular rock concerts. It is well known that while the Rolling Stones were playing their "Sympathy For The Devil" song at the Altamont rock festival, a man was murdered right in front of the stage! And that's just the "tip of the iceberg"! Think about the drug problems and sexual depravity among secular musicians. Think about the murderous violence that occurs among rappers. If you want to be ready for the Tribulation, be careful what you listen to! And even more, what you play!
Don't Touch The Occult!
Another big thing that all Christians must strictly stay away from is anything to do with the occult or the New Age. Yet many Christians play with these things and think there is no harm in it. Some read the horoscopes in the newspapers, for example, "for the fun of it". This is a good way to slip into occult bondage without being aware that it is happening. Others read the tabloid articles about those "famous psychics". Don't even read their lies "for the fun of it"! You are playing games with the devil if you do, and you will lose! Do you know that not a single "famous psychic" predicted the death of Princess Diana? And they were making all kinds of predictions about her prior to her death. They were 100% Wrong! The exact opposite of the Biblical proof of a true prophet of God! (Deuteronomy 18:22.) So this was total proof of false prophets! No psychics predicted the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, either, and they are always predicting disasters. The disasters they predict, however, don't happen. If you read their predictions, you are listening to lies of Satan!
Still other Christians get into the occult in more serious ways. This writer once knew a Christian woman who fell for the lie that she could be into Nicheren Shoshu Buddhism and still be a Christian, and it made a disaster of her life. The same thing will hold true for Christians who get involved with UFOs. This writer has ministered deliverance to a Christian who needed it because of being too interested in UFOs. A Christian who does these kinds of things is like an Old Testament Israelite worshipping in the Temple and then going out and offering sacrifices to Baal. If you do this kind of thing, never mind not being ready; you are putting yourself directly in the line of fire of God's wrath. You are really begging for it. Even in the here and now. (The people mentioned above definitely got it!) You are giving Satan permission to devour you (I Peter 5:8). Stay away!
One other thing: if you want to be ready, don't do anything, no matter how seemingly innocent, that constitutes gambling. Gambling is primarily motivated by covetousness, which is idolatry (Colossians 3:5). There has been no other time in history when gambling was such a big thing in secular society as it is today. This writer knows from the area of investment banking that investments in the gambling industry are considered the hottest investments around today. Although they somehow don't get the up-front publicity that investments in technology get, the "insider" information is that investments in the gambling industry are safer and potentially more profitable than technology investments! (The really big investors probably don't want this known.) This is actually a big sign of how much into the great "falling away" (II Thessalonians 2:3) the world is. Do you want to be part of the "falling away"? Then just gamble! Not only will you not be pleasing God and preparing for the Tribulation; you may very well be putting yourself into a state of increasing bondage to sin from which you may not be able to escape.
Churches shouldn't even have friendly little raffles, like for a cake some nice lady baked. If your church does that, don't participate, and in fact, protest! If people don't like your protest, leave the church! Avoid anything that involves contests and drawings. This is not a Biblical way of raising funds! (There is only one Biblical way to raise funds: freewill offerings!) In fact, it is evil! It encourages covetousness, no matter how innocent it seems. Don't buy lottery tickets. Don't be part of the office "football pool". Actually, you shouldn't even enter contests that don't require bets. Don't do anything - anything at all - that constitutes gambling!!! It is motivated by covetousness. It is idolatry!
No matter what you do or don't do in this world, if you want to be ready,
Touch No Unclean Thing!
If you want to be wearing those "white garments" when the Tribulation begins, you had better be very diligent to get clean and stay clean...
We will look at the other side of the issue, the righteous works that Christians must do, as in Revelation 19:8, in "The Mandates of Matthew 25".
There is still one more "Switch": You must also buy "eye salve" and anoint your eyes with it. We will learn what this means in the following page;
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm