“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:16)
I enjoy having a cup of coffee nearby when I’m writing. I pour myself a cup of steaming coffee, and my fingers get busy. Strangely though, if I stop and grab a drink just a few moments later, my steaming mug isn’t steaming anymore. The coffee that was almost burning my tongue five minutes ago is now just sort of hot. If I wait another ten minutes, it won’t be hot at all. The funny thing is, it isn’t exactly cold, even if it sits for a while. Unless it’s in a very cold room or car it doesn’t really get icy, it just gets lukewarm. It becomes room temperature.
I think that is a good depiction of how we become spiritually lukewarm. It’s not like we suddenly go from being on fire for God to becoming absolutely cold and hardhearted. We just gradually cool off a little at a time, almost imperceptibly, and we become “room temperature.”
God told the church at Laodicea that he preferred that they be cold or hot, but not lukewarm. Isn’t it rather astounding that God would prefer us to be cold to being lukewarm? Many times we look with disdain at those who are spiritually “cold”, who have no pretense of interest in the things of God. But we often look at those who are “hot” in the same manner. We think they are “fanatical”–too fervent, too zealous. God doesn’t feel that way. He wants us to make a decision. Be cold or hot. But don’t be somewhere in the middle. The fence-riders are the ones who make Him “sick to His stomach”.
When we are lukewarm, we ride the fence of public opinion. We want to be religious, but not zealous. We speak of God, but do not stand for God. We may go to church, but have little compulsion to do our part to help the church move forward for God. We may have a desire to be good, but little desire to be godly. We want to be happy, but not necessarily holy. We want things to be right, but are not overly concerned with being righteous. We do not want souls to be lost, but we do little to see souls saved. We hear the preaching of the Word of God, but rarely apply the message to our own lives. We have many personal preferences, but few personal convictions. We bow to the will of popular pressure rather than submitting to the will of God. We are more concerned with cultural correctness than we are with Scriptural correctness. We are looking for acceptance from others instead of acceptance by the Lord. We are much more comfortable being “conformed” than with being “transformed”. We see the needs of others, but do not see our own spiritual needs. We are lethargic, satisfied, comfortable, and complacent. We are content to be the same temperature as whomever we are around….not too hot, not too cold. If we are in church, we may be a little warmer; in the world, a little cooler. We don’t want to be uncomfortable, or to make others uncomfortable. We are “room temperature” – lukewarm.
The problem is that God is not pleased with lukewarmness. In Bible times, doctors gave lukewarm water to do induce vomiting. This is what God says His reaction is to lukewarm Christians. He told this church He would spue them out of His mouth. This is not figurative for losing our salvation, but is descriptive of God’s feelings for and reaction to our spiritual temperature. When we are lukewarm, we are no longer useful or appealing; instead, we are repulsive. God cannot and will not fellowship with us. He must bring rebuke and chastening into our lives in order for us to be brought to repentance, and to be restored to Him. (Rev. 3:19)
Lukewarmness is a problem – physically and spiritually. The good thing is that it is easily remedied. Heating it back up is as simple as turning the power back on. When we become spiritually lukewarm, it is because we have “turned off the heat”. Romans 12:11 says that we are to be “fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” God desires us to be spiritually hot. If we are no longer fervent or hot for Him, He is the answer to our problem. He says to the church in Revelation 3:18, “I counsel thee to buy of me…” and “…be zealous therefore, and repent…” (Rev. 3:19).
So, how do we turn the heat up, and become spiritually hot? (Rev. 3:18-21)
1. Spend time in communion with the Lord
Through the Word of God (daily reading, study, meditation, and memorization)
God’s Word is “like as a fire…” (Jer. 23:29; 20:9). The disciples on the road to Emmaus said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Lk. 24:32).
Through prayer (Phil. 2:13)
2. Surrender our hearts to receive rebuke and repent (Rev. 3:19)
3. Be Spirit-filled (Acts 2:3-4)
Living a life that is surrendered to the Spirit of God and obedient to Him will produce fire and fervency.
4. Seek to please God above all else (Ps. 73:25; Deut. 6:5; Mt. 22:37)
5. Surround ourselves with spiritual (hot) influences
Christian companions, Christian activities, biographies of great Christians, etc. are influences that can help fan the flame in our lives. We should avoid “chilling” influences, and develop fervent influences and friendships.
If we will do these five things, we can be assured that our hearts will stay at the right spiritual temperature. We must check ourselves often. Lukewarmness is easily obtained; it simply comes from doing nothing. Keeping a fervent heat requires desire and diligence, but is well worth the effort! May we encourage one another to stay on fire for the Lord!!!
This is an excerpt from a Bible study I did for a ladies fellowship. If you would like to have the entire study for personal use, or to use in a class setting, you can download it here free of charge. The download will include a PDF of the full Bible study. Feel free to share this, and use for yourself or your ministry. I do ask that you do not republish or reprint for personal gain. Please refer people to this link if they would like the download. Thank you!