Who Will Jesus Spit Out?

“I will spit you out of my mouth.” So said Jesus to the Laodiceans (Rev. 3:16), but apparently he was talking to you.

This spitting out passage, is sometimes used to terrorize the bride of Christ. “Fail to perform and the Lord will reject you. If you’re not on fire, you’ll be in the fire!”

Such an evil line is a million miles from the gracious heart of the One who is faithful and true.

Some Bibles translate Jesus’ words as, “You make me want to vomit.” Have you ever vomited up a kidney or a toe? It’s a ridiculous notion, yet this is what some fear will happen. “Jesus vomits body parts.” Thankfully, this horrendous picture is refuted by scripture:

The one who comes to me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to me]. (John 6:37, AMP)

Since Jesus will never reject those who come to him, who is in danger of being spit out? Those who are too proud to come.

Who will be rejected by Christ’s mouth? It is those who deny their need for Jesus. “Those who deny me before men, I will deny before my Father.” Jesus is talking about self-righteous hypocrites who scorn grace.

He is not talking about Christians.

What makes Jesus sick?

Perhaps you’ve heard that sin makes Jesus nauseous. It’s not true. Jesus is the friend of sinners. When he walked the earth, he hung out with sinners and ate with them. Sin is no problem for the Lord, for his grace can cure all sin. But grace cannot deal with self-righteousness because the self-righteous won’t have it.

What makes Jesus sick? The self-righteous mindset that says, “I don’t need a thing from you Jesus. You died for nothing.”

In one of the best sermons on self-righteousness, Spurgeon explained the problem:

A self-righteous man does not and cannot trust Christ, and therefore he cannot see the face of God. None but the naked man will ever go to Christ for clothing; none but the hungry man will ever take Christ to be his food; none but thirsty souls will ever come to this well of Bethlehem to drink. The thirsty are welcome; but those who think they are good, are welcome neither to Sinai nor to Calvary. They have no hope of heaven, no peace in this world, nor in that which is to come.

The Laodiceans were full of themselves and exceedingly religious. They were a church of Pharisees and peacocks. They prayed puffy patronizing prayers that would make you sick to hear them, and their bulletin board was a self-aggrandizing montage of all their good deeds (see Matt. 6:2,5). Their sermons were self-help soliloquies, and their testimonies were all variations on the tune of, “I did it my way.”

If you were to ask the Laodiceans why they did what they did, they would pontificate on the importance of charity and duty. “When one has been blessed as I have, one feels a certain obligation to give back to society.” Their motives were nauseating.

Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing”… (Rev. 3:17a)

For the first and only time in the Bible, we hear the Laodiceans speak, and in their few words we hear arrogance, self-assurance, and a vigorous streak of Adamic independence. Theirs is the boast of the self-made man.

The nauseating language of self-righteousness

“I am rich.” If you met a Laodicean at a party, the first thing you would notice was their affluence. Like the Pharisees, the Laodiceans were lovers of money (Luke 16:14). Wealth was their scorecard, the indisputable proof of their accomplishments.

“I am rich because I have kept the rules and earned God’s favor. My prosperity is a sign of God’s pleasure with me.” The Laodiceans were winners in the game of life, and they knew it.

“I have become wealthy.” There’s nothing wrong with being wealthy, for Abraham, David, Joseph and many godly people had wealth. But the Laodiceans boasted that they had become wealthy. They were poor, but now they were rich and all credit went to themselves.

“Look at how we have turned ourselves around.” Their self-commendation reminds us of Ephraim’s boast:

I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin. (Hosea 12:8)

In the same way that failure can lead to despair, success can foster pride and self-righteousness.

“I have need of nothing.” The goal of the self-made life is to stand on one’s own feet and to live without aid. In this, the Laodiceans had spectacularly succeeded. They were go-getters whose products were known around the world. Nothing could hinder their driving ambition. Not even natural disasters.

In AD60, one of those earthquakes that afflict Anatolia from time to time, flattened several cities including Laodicea. When Rome offered to assist in the rebuild, the Laodiceans refused. They boasted, “We have need of nothing.”

Unlike the Sardians and Philadelphians, the Laodiceans fixed themselves. Structures built with local funds were stamped with the proud inscription, “out of our own resources.” Lesser cities like Sardis might need aid, but not the self-sufficient Laodiceans. And therein lay the problem.

Grace is heavenly aid, but the self-sufficient don’t need it. “We have need of nothing.” Their pride will not let them receive what God offers. To ask for help would be an admission of failure. “Grace is for losers, not winners like us.”

How nauseating.

But even though the Laodiceans stank of self-righteousness, Jesus still loves them. His message to them is the same for all of us who think we are winners in life:

All this boasting about yourselves and your achievements—if you weren’t preaching cheap law you’d realize you have nothing to boast about.  You are bearing false witness against yourselves. I am the true Witness and I say you’re poor, naked, and wretched.

Want to be truly rich? Then buy what I’m selling. Make me your everlasting treasure.

Want to be clothed? Receive the garments of my righteousness.

Want to see? Allow me to open the eyes of your understanding.

Want to do business? Then do business with me.

You act like you don’t need anyone, but I long for you. You shut everyone out, but here I stand, knocking on your door, hoping you’ll let me in.

Extracted and adapted from Letters from Jesus.

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11 Comments on Who Will Jesus Spit Out?

  1. Too much of anything as well as too little steals, kills and destroys
    Thank you

  2. John Graham // March 5, 2020 at 12:39 pm // Reply

    Grace is heavenly aid, but the self-sufficient don’t need it. “We have need of nothing.” Their pride will not let them receive what God offers. To ask for help would be an admission of failure. “Grace is for losers, not winners like us.”

    Their pride will not allow them to receive what God offers, ONCE AND FOR ALL FORGIVENESS. Not progressive day by day, sin by sin forgiveness.

  3. Great post! It’s amazing how many verses there are that cause anxiety because of bad teaching. Thank you for addressing them one by one, resulting in the Father’s love, peace, and grace to be enjoyed unhindered. At some point we know and trust Him enough to doubt our understanding before doubting His nature.

  4. To me, the beauty of Escape to Reality is that Paul Ellis knows that God is GOOD. When we come to the scriptures of the bible with the predetermined and steadfast conviction that God is ONLY good, it helps. Jesus came to set the record straight on this, and to correct our delusional view of God, to reveal his Father – our Father – for who he is, good, loving, joyful and passionately FOR us. (Many will say, Oh but God is holy and just too etc. But all aspects of God are extensions of his love. Even his wrath is for us – his desire to destroy everything that hurts us and hinders us from entering and engaging in the life we were meant for.) Often Jesus talked about how the scriptures have been misunderstood and caused us to draw inaccurate conclusions about the nature and character of God. And when he rose from the dead, he showed how they ALL are about him: And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and opening the Scriptures to us?” Many scriptures look like one thing on the surface but the Holy Spirit longs to show us how they reveal the goodness and glory (true essence) of God. Religion and the worldly empires that support it requires God to be both good cop and bad cop for its systems to make sense and to keep us living in profound confusion and slavery to them. Writers like Paul Ellis are helping to loosen the grip these false belief systems have on us. I believe they will eventually crumble all together and the people of God will rise to their rightful place in this story. If we let Jesus show us what the scriptures are really telling us we will know the truth and the truth will set us free! Free to live loved, to be ourselves, to care about others, to be known as we are and to know others as they are, to know fellowship and harmony with our brothers and sisters. Religion on the other hand sends us all into hiding and we only engage in life to the extent that we think our acting abilities will fool each other. All the scriptures are pointing to Jesus and declaring God is for you!

  5. Brandon Petrowski // March 6, 2020 at 3:13 am // Reply

    Very well said!

  6. Thank you for the wonderful reminder of this great truth. I almost make the mistake of passing on the post, thinking “I’ve read this before.” As always there was fresh insight and encouragement to be gained. PLUS a free copy of “Love Letters from Jesus”! Can you believe it? Like Hypergrace itself, it’s so much more than I could have ever expected!

  7. I have learned that, whenever there is a Scripture that is being used to beat us up (!) – we, or someone! – is reading it incorrectly. ‘You have to forgive, or God won’t forgive you….’ ‘ You have to tithe or you are cursed…’ well, those are just old testament dragged into the new, and never taught by Jesus. But then there was the poor guy who buried his talent and was sent into outer darkness…! But as I read it again, and again, I realised that what Jesus was saying (because He says he IS the hard master, who reaps where he does not sow, I was confused!) – was that He IS – He is whatever we believe Him to be. So if we love Him and trust Him, He can be everything to us, but if we see Him as mean and nasty, of course we won’t trust Him, and will not be saved. So, thank you Paul, for you help us see Him as dear and kind and big and loving

    • Hi Flissy, thanks for your comment, but I’m not convinced about the idea that Jesus ‘is whatever we believe Him to be.’ After all, he knows who he is – he’s not just a projection of our imagination, nor is he someone with so little sense of self that he just fits himself into the mould of different people’s expectations. Yes, what we believe about Jesus affects how we behave – but the real Jesus understands what is going on in our minds and why we behave the way we do, and he won’t stop loving us and trying to help us.

      Personally, I find a lot of the parables unhelpful, because they are analogies in which a character may or may not represent God in some respects, without ever being a wholly accurate picture of what God is like (all analogies from the created world must fall short, but some are more accurate than others). A lot of parables portray God as someone who wants something from us (like an employer or a farmer). But God has everything, and there is nothing we can give him that he does not already have, therefore none of us can be profitable to him. So, logically, the only reason for God to take an interest in us is because he loves us and wants to give us what is good – and he isn’t going to be stopped from doing that just because we imagine God to be harsh and selfish.

  8. We’ve seen these verses ‘pulled’ in to support many preached messages, including along the lines you outline when you open your post. Although at first glance they ‘sound’ right, often on reflection questions arise.
    Example, both hot and cold are acceptable. Both sides. So, for example, you preach that you need to be ‘hot, on fire for God’ (Which we have heard.) But then what about ‘cold’? Although, sometimes this does get ‘explained away’ (eisegesis) so as to ‘fit’ the message.

    Let’s look a little closer, It’s the ‘lukewarmness’ that causes the ‘spitting out’. The ‘mixture’ of hot and cold. Why? Because right throughout the bible, a ‘mixture’ is always seen as unclean. Always. e.g. That’s what unclean animals were. That’s what unclean spirits were – a mixture. The reason for the vomiting is because it’s unclean.
    But worse, if you take into account the biblical definition of deception, that it always the result of a mixture, which always results in ‘blindness’ – and that is what is presented after verse 15 …. ‘You say you have need of nothing, but ……’ , then this gives a safer foundation for using it in teaching

    • Why would Jesus put unclean things in his mouth? I have written on what it means to be lukewarm here and here. I have also written on what why Jesus prefers cold to lukewarm.

      • Ahhhh … the depth of your site. We are new to your blog. You have an extensive foundation – and appreciate the links provided. Thanks.

        We now see that the concept of ‘mixture’ was already part of the foundation. And agree that the issue was that which the early Jewish believers wrestled with – including this church in Laodicea, mixing Grace and Law, as also alluded to in Colossians.

        As to the question why would Jesus put something unclean into his mouth? Don’t know. Interesting point.

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