It seems to me that my text (Rev. 3:17,18) accounts for the lukewarmness of the Laodiceans. They were lukewarm because they imagined themselves rich when they were poor.
Two conditions will help us to escape lukewarmness.
The one is to be really rich in grace; for they that have much grace will not be lukewarm. Grace is as a fire in the soul, and he that hath much of it, so as to become an advanced Christian, cannot but have a heart boiling with earnestness.
The other way is to have but little grace, but to be painfully aware of it, to be deeply conscious of soul-poverty, to sigh and cry because you are not what you should be. There is no lukewarmness in a strong desire caused by a bitter sense of need.
The poor man, poor in spirit, conscious of his imperfections and failures, is never a lukewarm man, but with sighs and cries coming out of a heart that is all on fire with a desire to escape out of such a sad condition, he besieges the throne of God that he may obtain more grace.
These Laodicean people were unhappily in such a state that you could not get at them. They were not so poor that they knew they were poor, and therefore when the poverty-stricken were addressed, they said, ” These things are not for us: we are increased in goods.”
They were blind, but they thought they saw; they were naked, and yet they prided themselves in their princely apparel, and hence it was hard to reach them. Had they even been outwardly worse, had they openly sinned, had they defiled their garments with overt transgression, then the Spirit might have pointed out the blot and convicted them there and then but what was to be done when the mischief was hidden and internal?
Had they been utterly cold and frost-bitten, then he might have thawed them into living warmth; but such was their puffed-up notion of themselves that one could not convince them of sin, or awaken them to any sense of fear, and it seemed likely that after all the Lord must needs spue them out of his mouth as things he could not endure. How far this may be true of any one of us may God of his infinite mercy help us to judge each one for himself.
[From sermon 1,677 MTP vol 28