(Revelation 3, ESV): 14 “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. 15“I know your works (labor): you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 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.
It’s critical to keep in mind that Laodicea, who Jesus speaks to, is a congregation of believers in Jesus Christ. Laodicea means “a just/righteous people,” from the Greek words laos (a people) and dikaios (right or just). As we will see, Laodicea’s righteousness was only in their own eyes.
Interestingly, Jesus tells them exactly why he sees them as “lukewarm.” (Revelation 3): 17 Because you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing…” Laodicea is seen as lukewarm and nauseating, because they say in their heart that their condition is one of wealth and they need nothing. Again, this is a congregation of believers which God recognizes. I believe Laodicea says in their heart they are “rich” by believing in Christ, have “abundance” by doing good works, and “lack nothing” because they are saved and assured of going to heaven. This is lukewarmness. Jesus literally says in reality they are: “undergoing a testing, pitiful, thoroughly destitute, blind, and naked.” He then gives them counsel to repair their utterly destitute state. The theme of his counsel is toward repentance from tainted understandings.
Jesus first counsel is to get “gold refined by fire.” Here and everywhere else, he is speaking spiritually. This “gold” represents that which in the kingdom of God is precious and leads to increasing wealth. In scripture, gold is compared with wisdom. Wisdom and understanding are the “gold” of God’s kingdom. The fire that refines (purifies) this gold is the judgments of God. I believe this primarily takes place within our heart, the core of our thoughts and beliefs. When we undergo this fire, things based on men’s false wisdom are either consumed or made visible and then separated. What remains is the precious “gold” of everything in our heart which is based on wisdom from God. I believe many well-established religious ways of thinking and acting will be burned up in this fire. We can only access God’s mind and heart by Spirit-to-spirit revelation.
The second thing Jesus says to buy is “white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed…” Garments cover naked flesh. In the spiritual, our “flesh” reprents our SELF, the “me, myself, and I” part that always cries out to be catered to. Self can be very religious, but it always opposes God. It must be crucified and covered. I believe the “white garments” here represent the righteousness and purity of Jesus Christ Himself. As self is daily put to death, then one can receive this white garment. God recognizes nothing else. Many things we see as “good” have been tainted by self and God sees them as ”wood, hay and stubble” to be burned or disgusting, “filthy rags.” Self is the filth that stains our spiritual covering.
Finally, Jesus counsels Laodicea to buy “eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see.” In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus spoke of the singular “eye” (spiritual perception) which gives light within, which can be “clear” or “bad.” The word “clear” is the Greek word haplous, essentially meaning an unmixed, sound whole. Jesus is saying that one’s spiritual perception (eye) needs to be without any mixture of the false teaching of men or unclean spirits, which Jesus calls darkness. An “eye” that has this mixture is called “bad” and results in total darkness. Jesus warns if the “light” (truth and understanding) we claim to have is actually “darkness” (deception and confusion), then this is the most extreme darkness there is. This is why the Laodicean attitude of “no need” while in darkness is so dangerous.
“Eye-salve” is the Greek word kollourion, which comes from a base word meaning “glue.” “Anoint” likely just means to “rub in.” Our natural understanding is the “eye” Jesus said in Matthew 6:23 is bad and results in total darkness. The “eye-salve” Jesus offers will glue shut this bad eye and cover it with the presence of the Holy Spirit. 1 John 2:27 says: “you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie…” To perceive spiritually based on the “sight” of this anointing is the “clear” eye that Jesus says will produce a body full of light (truth). But first, the “eye-salve” must be applied to glue shut or negate everything else. If this is not done, then the natural, carnal understanding/perception will remain the “light” within, which Jesus calls the most extreme darkness. God forbid.