Abridged from W. T. Turpin in "The Voice," 1879.
We are living in a day when men and their principles are plainly manifested as "Man's day," and there is a revelation of that expression of the Spirit, solemn and momentous. The lapse of more than a quarter century has found many to be little spiritually able to detect where the rights of Christ or the principles of truth were encroached upon. In that period a character of professed Christianity has sprung up which finds its appropriate expression in the title "Human." A degenerate seed has been produced of this stock in whose hands the honour of Christ and interests of truth are unsafe. There are to-day the anti-type of the two and a half tribes, as well as of Lot. In former times, "coming out" and "separation" meant what they conveyed. Nothing is now challenged which those who first separated left behind them! There is much coming in or brought in; in the modern phraseology, exclusive means inclusive, separation means toleration; unity of the Spirit, coalition; unworldliness, as much of the world as you can keep; that which scripture designates as covetousness, money loving and making, means being prudent; and exalts itself to occupy a place which spirituality alone could secure in past days! "Judgment is turned away backward and justice standeth afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth, and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey" (Isa. 59:14-15).
The insensibility to gross outrages upon the truth are lamentable. This is the spirit of Laodiceanism, the last phase of the professing church (Rev. 3.). It is the characteristic feature which will brand it when spued out of Christ's mouth. There are some peculiar snares important to detect; there is nothing in it that would outrage the conscience; it is not a denial in terms of the truth; on the contrary, the truth is owned (not opposed) save that which is so practical that worldliness in connection with doctrinal acquiescence would be condemned by any with some conscience, or where the acknowledgment of it would interfere with the world which so many hold fast! Alas, it is sorrowful to own that the Laodicean shroud is being fast wrapped round the church. Satan's great aim is to present in the same person or company an acknowledgement of the truth with a certain credit and at the same time be a practical denial of it. In this way, he especially damages the truth; because exhibited by those on whose conscience it has no power. It is equally true as regards the position to which the truth conducts the soul: this is boasted in so that the truth and the ecclesiastical position suited to it are both accepted. Herein consists the greatest snare of lukewarmness! That the truth can be accepted without any divine answer to its claims is worse than if openly refused, because in the latter case it might be supposed what effects would follow. But the other presents the glaring inconsistency of truth accepted and its practical power denied; this is the moral swamp in which Satan will land the church, so nauseous to Christ. This leaven is rapidly at work and finds its most apt expression in principles and ways openly adopted and contended for on every side. There is nothing so well suits the devil as saints holding a position without practical effect, while open worldliness and looseness creeps in unchallenged, under the garb of divine position. In 2 Tim. 2:5, the Apostle by the Spirit describes the state as "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." This answers to Israel's description in Ezekiel 33:30-31; and in Jeremiah 7:3-4.
When the Lord Jesus as Son of Man turns His eyes as a flame of fire upon this great unreality, mark His words, "I would thou wert cold or hot, so then because thou art lukewarm … I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16). Another snare connected with the Laodicean state is the way man imitates the real. This is clearly made known in 2 Tim: 2, Satan will reproduce the character of past days, he will have his Jannes and Jambres, and as Moses was withstood, similarly is the truth being resisted. How solemn! May the Lord keep us very near and true to Himself! Where this principle is not detected, the Laodicean haze blinds the eye. The leaven is permeating the Church rapidly. It was foreseen long ago in many phases of service; the way in which what professed to be the Lord's mind was carried on has been disquieting to many. Man had been acknowledged instead of ignored, addressed through his intellect or senses, given a place, so planting the seeds that ripen in the end. What began in the Gospel comes to a head in the Church. The skilful wile of Satan introduces a principle which violates the truth of God. Truly as the acorn contains the oak so do such thoughts embody the great unreality spreading abroad. The state of characteristic indifference is tested by Him who is "the faithful and true witness." How soon then must the moment come when it can be no longer fit for God on the earth! Well may we say, "How is the gold become dim … Her Nazarites pure as snow … their skin cleaveth to their bones, it is withered and is become like a stick" (Lam. 4:1, 7, 8). May the Lord in mercy in the midst of this growing evil preserve to Himself a few of whom it may be said, "they that feared the Lord spake often one to another … "(Mal. 3:16).