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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Tony Evans » Tony Evans - The Authenticity of an Overcomer

Tony Evans - The Authenticity of an Overcomer

Tony Evans - The Authenticity of an Overcomer
TOPICS: Overcoming

Laodicea was a wealthy city known for three things. Some 45 miles southeast of Philadelphia, our last city and last church, Laodicea was known for its finance industry, its banking industry. It would be akin to our common day Wall Street. It was a very wealthy place to live, work, and raise a family. It was also known for its fashion industry. In New York, you would call it the "fashion district," where they made fancy clothes that would go out to the retailers to sell to the general public. Not only was it a financial district and a fashion district, but the city of Laodicea was a pharmaceutical district. It was known for its medical industry, particularly when it came to eye diseases. It was specializing in this salve for the eyes to improve the sight of those struggling with seeing.

Jesus, as he does in each one of these churches, introduces himself, as he wants you to see him now. And he says in verse 14, "To the angel of the church at Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and the true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God says this". So before he gets into what he wants to say, he wants you to know who's doing the talking. He says, "To the church at Laodicea and our church today, I am the Amen". Amen means "so be it," the final word on the subject. So when Jesus says, "Listen, because the Amen is talking," he's basically saying, "I don't care what anybody else said to you. I don't care what other folk told you. I don't even care what you're telling yourself. I am the Amen. I'm the final word on the subject. I am the faithful and true Witness. So I'm gonna give you the testimony," a witness is a testimony, "and whatever I tell you is gonna be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God".

And you'll see in a moment why he defines himself this way. He says, "I am the beginning of the creation of God". Now, if you're the beginning of the creation, that means you existed before the creation that you began. So Jesus Christ declares himself to be the pre-creation, existing prior to creation. That is because he has always existed as the second member of the Triune Godhead and the one who is responsible for how history operates. So what he's saying before he ever gets into what he is saying is: Pay close attention because I know what I'm talking about. I am the Amen. I am the final testimony and Witness, and I am the one who existed prior to you even being here. Having established himself to the church at Laodicea, he now makes his complaint, his condemnation. He says in verse 15, "I know your deeds, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were hot or cold! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth".

He addresses the problem at Laodicea Bible Fellowship of lukewarmness. You are lukewarm. He says their lukewarmness that is their stagnant spiritual state. They're in between Christian commitment. Their mixture that has made them unusable, unspiritual is unacceptable. How unacceptable is it, Jesus? I want to spew them out of my mouth. The phrase "to spew out of the mouth" means to vomit. Jesus says of Laodicea Bible Fellowship, "Y'all make me sick". And Jesus says, "This is the Amen talking. This is the one who not gonna tell you what you wanna hear. I'm gonna tell you like it really is. This is the one with the final witness making the declaration. Because you're neither hot nor cold, I can't do anything with you. Your spiritual condition reflects your geographical location. It is lukewarmness. It is stagnant, and I can't do anything with you".

So it's possible to be a church that makes Jesus sick. What was it exactly about the Laodicea Bible Fellowship that made Jesus sick? Here's what Jesus says was the problem. Verse 17: "Because you say, 'I am rich and have become wealthy and have need of nothing.'" He says I have a problem with how you view yourself. You say, "I am rich. I am self sufficient. I got it going on, got my job, got my money, got my car, got my house, got my clothes. So my going to church is part of my style. I go to Laodicea Bible Fellowship because that's what all Christians do, but I don't go there because I need Jesus. I go there to fulfill my religious obligation". You've become so successful in your financial district, your fashion district, your pharmaceutical district, that you don't really need me. You just placating me. You don't need me. You just using me. You don't need me. You just acting and giving the impression that you are close to me, and y'all make me sick. He says to the Laodicea Bible Fellowship that you have allowed, watch this now, the definition of success in the world to give you the definition of success in the church.

You think because you got money in your wallet, you think because you buy the nicer clothes, drive the nicer cars, have the nicer job, that somehow God has blessed you. You done fallen into this false theology that "if I got stuff, I must be blessed," when actually, you and your stuff have made me sick, and you make me want to throw up and spew you out of my mouth because you have brought the world into the church instead of letting the church define who you are and how you function in the world. They were measuring the spiritual by the physical. Let me say that again. They were measuring the spiritual by how things look in the physical. I am wealthy. I got this going on so I must be blessed. The fact is the physical and the more of it you have camouflages the spiritual so that you think the spiritual must be okay because we got this coating in the physical.

Then because the coding looks good, the inside must be okay. Because if I wasn't close to God, why would I be blessed like this? If I wasn't close to God, why would I have what I have, be where I am, have the education that I have? Why would all this stuff be okay if I wasn't close to God? He says all that stuff is is painting a false portrait. He says, "Let me tell you what you really are". Second, have it, verse 17: "You do not know you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked". He says, "None of what you think about you is real. You're living in a dream world. Because I see what's really going on, and what's really going on is you don't know how messed up you are".

You see, it's bad to be blind. It's worse to be blind and not know you blind. It's bad to be naked, but it's worse to be naked and not know you undressed. It's bad to be poor, but he says, "You don't know how poor you are". It's bad to be messed up, and you don't know how messed up you are. That's how messed up you are. You're so messed up, you don't know how messed up you are. That's what he says. And what's got you messed up is that you've allowed the physical to erase the spiritual. And so because you don't see things from my perspective, you don't see things correctly. I see you playing church as lukewarm Christians. Oh, you coming to church. You part of Laodicea Bible Fellowship, but you're playing games with this thing. You're not committed to me. You're not dedicated to me. What you're doing is coming to showtime at the church. You come for the performance of the choir, the performance of the preacher. You come for the performance of the environment, but when it comes to your commitment, you trying to satisfy the public. You're trying to satisfy the success of Wall Street and every place out there because you got it going on in Laodicea.

But I'm gonna give you the amen, the so be it, the final word, the conclusion. And what I say is the bottom line. He says, "Well, I'm gonna tell you the real deal. You're making me want to vomit". What do you want me to do, Lord? What do you want me to do? I'll tell you what I want you to do. Verse 18: "I advise you," so he's gonna give you some advice, me some advice, "I advise you to buy from Me gold," because it's a financial district, "refined by fire so that you may become rich," because you're not rich. You think you're rich, but you're not, "and white garments," because it's a fashion district, "so that you may clothe yourself and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve," because it's a pharmaceutical district, "to anoint your eyes so that you may see".

So guess what I wanna do? I wanna make you truly rich. I wanna give you real clothes, and I wanna open your eyes so that you can see. But the only way you get any of that is from me. Buy from me. In other words, I'm the only one who can give you what you really need to be what you're supposed to be. All that other stuff is fake. But see, that's what the saints in Laodicea didn't want. That's why they didn't know. They didn't want the spiritual perspective. They wanted people to make them feel good about where they are based on the world's perspective. And that's not what the church is supposed to be, not the Church of Jesus Christ.

The Church of Jesus Christ lives on the truth, and it lives on the reality of the Son of God, and it lives on the proclamation of the spiritual. And unless the spiritual is put out front of the physical and not the physical put out front of the spiritual, you and I will live in deception individually, and we will live in deception as a church, and we will carry on services while Jesus wants to vomit, unless the spiritual is out front and that becomes the standard and the gauge for every area of life. Then Jesus says, "I can't do anything with you because you're living based on a facade," based on a lie. So Jesus says, "I got some advice for folk who put the physical in front of the spiritual. Buy from me. You gotta get on my page. You gotta start with me, not with what they saying out there, not what the television is saying, not what the media is saying, not what the pundits are saying. You start with me. Because I wanna be the standard by which you operate. Therefore, I advise you to deal with me".

Verse 19: "Those whom I love," if you're a child of God, he loves you, "Those who I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent". Those who I love, I reprove and discipline because I love you. But you don't really know you because you think you all that and a bag of chips so you blind to you, but I'm not blind to you. But I love you, and I wanna get you right. I'm gonna create some situations in your life. It's called discipline. I'm going to bring some corrective measures into your world. I'm gonna put you in the situations money can't buy you out of. I'm gonna put you in situations you can't dress up for. I'm gonna put you in situations to deal with your blindness. I'm gonna. I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna bring some discipline into your life to let you know that all that stuff that the world applauds and makes you feel wrong about yourself with can't solve your problem until I can get your undivided attention.

Now, I'm not trying to be mean because I love you, but I am trying to correct some things that need to be corrected so I don't have to spew you out of my mouth. You who I love, I'm gonna, I'm gonna have to deal with you, but it's because I love you, because I don't wanna be, I don't wanna be divided from you. So what do we do? Okay. Watch this now. Verse 20: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock". Okay... Behold, I stand at the door and knock. Somebody didn't hear that. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. He's at the door of Laodicea Bible Fellowship. He's knocking. What does that mean? They having church, and he's not even there. So just because you're having church, don't mean Jesus is in the sanctuary. And what keeps him out of the sanctuary is lukewarmness. He goes on in verse 20. He says, "If anyone hears My voice and opens the door..."

Is there anybody that can hear the door? Anybody hear the door knocking? Because I'm knocking. The problem is nobody listening. They too busy shouting. They too busy praising. They too busy getting their praise on. They can...I'm knocking. If anyone does hear... now he comes from the church corporate to the individuals in the sanctuary. Because even though the sermon and the message is for everybody, Jesus knows everybody not gonna hear. So the question is: How do you know if you heard? How do you know if you are hearing the knocking on the door?

Here's how you know you're hearing the knocking on the door. God is convicting you of your blindness. You feel convicted that, yes, that's me standing in the need of prayer, that you feel this tug of God on your heart. You know you're playing games with me. You know you just going through the religious motions. You know that there is not a full commitment to me. And he starts tugging you, and you start to feel uncomfortable. You're squirming in your seat although you're not moving. It's just all on the inside, and you know God is talking to you. That means you're hearing a knock, and he's calling your name. He said, "if anyone hears a knock and opens up the door, anyone who hears my voice and opens the door, you must welcome him in".

Jesus will not go where he's not wanted, either in a corporate church or in an individual life. If you don't want him, you can have life without him because he's not gonna force himself on you. This is by invitation only, but let me tell you something about the invitation. The knock on the door is the disturbance that I know I need to get some things in order because I'm blind, I'm naked, and I'm poor, spiritually. Now you know how it is when somebody knocks on your door, and you say, "Who is it"? And if it's somebody who you don't want to see how dirty your house is, you know, you got stuff all over the place you haven't cleaned up yet, so you start throwing stuff in the closet, hiding stuff under stuff, because you want to create a facade. You want them to think you clean. You're not clean. You just hidden. It's all, it's all hidden. Okay. And then you open the door and invite him.

Oh, come on in. Jesus, Jesus is, "I know what's in your closet. I know what's under... You know, I know what you got in the attic. I know what you got through in the garage". Let me explain something. Let me make this easy. He creates the discipline he says, and then he wants to be invited in. The reason he wants to be invited in is because he wants to help you with the clean up. He don't want more faking. He already knows the stuff that's not right inside. He wants to, watch this, dine with you. Guess who's coming to dinner? He wants to dine with you. Dining means fellowship. It's like when you say to somebody, "Let's have lunch together". You're not just talking about the food, you're talking about the fellowship. He wants this intimate relationship, and he already knows reality because he already told you you're blind, you're naked, and you know, and you're poor.

So he already knows what's going on. He wants to be invited in for part of the cleanup. He wants to be part of the cleanup because he's the one who brought a lot of the mess, or the discipline, to awaken us to the knock. And he says, "If you will invite me in, I will come in and dine with him or her," and then he goes on and he closes. He says, "To him who overcomes," there's that word, "To him who overcomes, I will grant him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne". What did Jesus have to overcome that we had to overcome? Because he said he had to overcome some stuff too. You remember when the devil came to Jesus? The temptations in the wilderness. And what he tried to get Jesus to do was to operate independently from God, and he used good stuff to do it. Jesus was hungry. Jesus was hungry. The devil said, "Turn these stones into bread". Is it legitimate for Jesus to eat if he hungry? Absolutely. But it's not legitimate for Jesus to eat if he's hungry if the devil is providing the food. That's called devil foods cake.

If the devil is providing the food, he says it's okay. It's okay to eat, but not at your instruction, devil. He said go up to the pinnacle of the temple and jump off because then they'll see you do your Superman thing. They'll see you float down and come down to Earth, and then everybody will know your Messiah and you can skip the cross. He was trying to get Jesus to skip the cross in order to get the crown, but God the Father had already told God the Son, "You're gonna get the crown after the cross". So he tried to reverse the plan of God in his life in order that he might not be inconvenienced. And then in the third temptation, Satan came right down to it. He said, "Well, let me tell you. Let me take you up to this mountain and offer you the kingdoms of this world and not only the kingdoms but their glory".

Jesus said, "Be gone, Satan, for you shall worship the Lord thy God and serve him only". Satan tried to get Jesus to be divided from the will of the Father. He's after us trying to be divided from the will of the Father, and we must overcome him as Jesus had to overcome him. And it's hard because Jesus was hungry, and Jesus was tired, and emotionally, he didn't want to deal with the cross. He prayed, "Let this cup pass from me". So, he had to struggle like we have to struggle. But Jesus said he overcame him. A bird one day was walking on a branch, and then the branch split. So the bird had to make a decision. Am I going this way or am I going that way? Because if I don't go anywhere, I'm going nowhere.

The lukewarm Christian is the one who won't make a decision. It says be hot or cold, but don't be stuck. Don't just be churchified. Don't just be religious. Don't just act the part. Don't just play Christianity. Just make a decision. Be all in! Be hot! Be cold! That doesn't mean we're perfect, but it means we repent when God reveals our imperfection so that we can get back on the road. And when you do, when Jesus shows up, he enables us to become overcomers of the things we have to overcome. Because he's dining at the table with us when the devil shows up. And when you do, he says, "You will sit with me. I see you're an overcomer. I get to interview you to be a close associate. You close. You're not just in the vicinity. You close".
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