Sermon Detail

Strength for the Journey Strength for the Journey: Self Awareness/Knowledge

July 16, 2023 | Buster Brown

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 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 to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.'"  Revelation 3:14-20

"Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it."

"Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted."  Hebrews 2:1, 17-18

"Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,"  Hebrews 3:1


1. We drift when we are overwhelmed with information or consumed by news (worthy) events. 

“'Infinity pools' – anything with an endless supply of interesting content."  Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky, Make Time

"A recent study concluded that people with iPhones use their phones 4 hours a day, touch them 2617 times daily, and unlock them 80-100 times a day."  Study done by King University, “Cell Phone Addiction” 2017

2. We drift when we forget/do not see our daily need for the replenishing grace given to us by the Holy Spirit.

“Without knowledge of self, there is no knowledge of God. Our wisdom, insofar as it ought to be deemed true and solid wisdom, consists almost entirely of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves. But as these are connected by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes and gives birth to the other...Each of us must be stung by the consciousness of his own unhappiness as to obtain at least some knowledge of God.”  John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion

“For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them;”  Proverbs 1:32

The motto of the church at Laodicea was, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing” (v. 17).

3. Drift happens when sin is ratcheted down (the perils of the “success syndrome” as lived out as Laodicea).

Perceived success and affluence can make us tone deaf to the realities of life. Therefore, Christ said about the church at Laodicea: “I wish you were good for something but because you are not I want to spit you out of my mouth” (v. 15).

4. We drift when “stuff” overwhelms us and consumes an inordinate amount of our time and affections. 

“And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”  Mark 4:18-19

5. We drift when we know truths about the eternal Christ but there is a lack of rejoicing/delighting. Therefore we must “pay closer attention” to the glory of Jesus (Hebrews 1-2).

“So God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: (1) By appearing to… their understanding. (2) In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their REJOICING and DELIGHTING in, and ENJOYING, the manifestations which He makes of Himself… God is glorified not only by His glories being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart (affections).”  Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), Miscellanies


1. The call to God’s people: “be zealous and repent.”

A “zeal” or eagerness to get right with God must replace lukewarm spirituality that characterizes the church at Laodicea. That zeal would be seen in “repentance.” The Laodiceans had been blind to their own indifference to spirituality. They had apparently listened to their worldly affluence rather than Christ and thought material success meant they were right with God. Their enthusiasm needed to change from self to God, and the only way to do so was to repent (make an about face). 

2. The living Christ disciplines his people with the ultimate goal of imparting strength through embracive fellowship as we walk in life adjusting repentance. 

3. We should live in the strong reality of Romans 8:39: “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ” but also in the shadows of Romans 7:24: "wretched man that I am, who would deliver me from this body of death?” 

4. We cling to Christ and are watchful because we know our hearts (Galatians 6:1; 1 Timothy 4:15-16).

“We are never beyond the gunshot range of the Devil.”  John Bunyan (1628 - 1688)


1. Why do well intentioned believers struggle with “drifting”?

2. Do you agree with Calvin’s statement that “we must be so stung by our own unhappiness” that we seek the knowledge of God? Why or why not?

3. What is the “success syndrome”? How did it plague the church at Laodicea?

4. Why is self-knowledge very difficult and what part does the local church and the relationships they’re in serve as a counter balance?

5. Why does the living Christ graciously discipline his people?

6. What does it mean to live and rejoice in the strong reality of Romans 8:39 while also understanding the living in the shadows of Romans 7:24?