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'Neither Cold nor Hot'
Michael Okyere Asante
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"To the angel of the church of Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth". (Rev. 3:14-16)
God always knows the spiritual condition in which we are. He says, "I know your deeds …" (Rev. 3:15)--there is no hiding or pretending before God. And it has always been God's will that we follow a particular course in our lives, but that decision is left in our hands.
From Old Testament times God has always presented two options to His people, outlining the consequences of the choice they make (Deut. 28). It is either one is on the Lord's side or on the devil's side (cf. Ex. 32:26; Jsh. 24:15); there is no middle path.
The same applies in the New Testament (Mt. 6:24; Lk. 14:26; Lk. 9:62; Rev. 3:15) where following Jesus Christ requires that we "… love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength …" (Mk. 12:30 KJV); and where we can only serve one master (Mt. 6:24). And so when God realized the lukewarm state of the Laodicean church, He quickly admonished them to make up their minds—to be either cold or hot.
Specifically, God used the expression “neither cold nor hot” to describe the spiritual condition of the church in Laodicea. But more importantly, the expression also described the spiritual condition of the believers within the church since it was by their lifestyle, behaviour and worship that the church had graduated into lukewarmness.
Hence, if the church was described as “neither cold nor hot”, it meant that the believers within the church were “neither cold nor hot”. It is, therefore, important for us as individual Christians to draw lessons for ourselves from this church, and from other biblical characters. Nonetheless, the issues discussed here would be useful to the church as a whole.
THE LUKEWARM CONDITION
Yaw Frimpong-Manso describes the lukewarm condition as "a sickly state that winks at sin while accommodating righteousness. It neither rebukes sin nor does it uphold truth. It is marked by a divided allegiance or wavering faith … It is crying 'Lord, Lord' but refusing to do the things which He commands (Mt. 7:21)."1 This suggests a life of indecision, compromise, idleness, indifference, and self-satisfaction towards righteous living.
Truly, Christians who are 'neither cold nor hot' (lukewarm) are not totally with the Lord and not totally with the world and its pleasures. In other words, their hearts are not 'so close' to the Lord neither are they 'so close' to the world. They do not give all their heart to the LORD (Jer. 29:13). They are characterized by a divided allegiance and superficiality (Jer. 3:10, Mt. 6:24); this division in allegiance would not help them live for Christ. And so it is difficult for the lukewarm Christian to confess wholeheartedly, "I love you Lord".
A Christian in this (lukewarm) condition lives a life of two tastes--a double life--but this kind of life is never fulfilling. Devoting self to either of them would have been fulfilling--one fulfilling to the soul, leading to eternal life, and the other, fulfilling to the flesh, leading to eternal damnation. This is why God warned the Laodicean church, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!" (Rev. 3:15) God told them, "So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16)
This shows that lukewarm Christians cannot remain in their state forever; either they will revert to hotness as a result of repentance, or they will backslide, whereupon they would have lost fellowship with the Father. Until such time that he or she repents, fellowship cannot be restored, for sin blocks the passage of communication between God and the believer.
God has said in His word, "You cannot serve both God and Money." (Mt. 6:24). This truth is seen in the action He was going to take if the Laodicean church failed to depart from lukewarm Christian living: "So because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16) You cannot live a double life and have a fulfilling spiritual life--serve God and reap eternal glory, or serve the world and the devil and reap eternal death!
THE RELIGIOUS UNBELIEVER IS NOT A LUKEWARM CHRISTIAN
There are many people in the church who have not encountered Jesus Christ personally. They attend church regularly, read their Bibles, pray everyday, and try as much as possible to do right. But the more they try, the more they seem to struggle with sin. It is unfortunate that these people have classified themselves as lukewarm Christians when in the first place they have not given their lives to Christ. These people are what we call religious unbelievers.
In Revelations 3:14, Jesus was speaking concerning a church whose members where believers--people who had trusted Jesus Christ with their lives. The only problem they had was that they had allowed certain things to take God’s place in their lives. Religious unbelievers, on the other hand, do not have Jesus Christ in their lives. They may be very zealous and very active in the things of God, but may not have given their lives to Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:2-4).
In Acts 9:1, 2, Paul sought for permission to persecute the Christians, a service which he thought he was doing for the Lord until he encountered Jesus Christ and was transformed (Acts 9:3-6, 17-20). Cornelius was described as a just and devout man. He gave alms regularly and was consistent in prayer. Yet, God had to send Peter in order to bring the message of salvation to him (Cornelius) and his household (Acts 10).
These were people who obeyed the laws, but God had to reach them in order for them to be saved. Have you been mentioning God’s name, but not trusted Jesus Christ with your life? I admonish you to invite Jesus Christ into your life today; it’s never too late.
FOUNDATIONAL CAUSES OF LUKEWARMNESS
There are many reasons why Christians become lukewarm, but all these reasons are linked in one way or the other to these foundational causes: neglect of prayer; neglect of the Word of God; disobedience; and non-dependence on the Holy Spirit.
1. Neglect of prayer
No matter how many hours you have prayed today, it is not enough to take care of tomorrow. So don’t miss tomorrow’s prayer. Pray everyday, pray unceasingly.
Prayer is very important in the life of a Christian as a tool for communication and for spiritual warfare. Neglect of prayer weakens our relationship with God as this is the main medium of communication with Him. We are not immune to temptations, but when we pray we are strengthened to face the temptations we encounter in our Christian lives (Mt. 26:41; Mk. 14:38; Lk. 22:40, 46).
Today, we live in a world where we spend most of our time at the workplace, in meetings, and usually attending to emergencies. With these, we experience fatigue and tiredness. Gradually, quiet time, prayer time, and personal Bible study are skipped--procrastination sets in.
It becomes worse when one is a workaholic and is unable to discipline himself/herself to effective time management. Prayerlessness sets in and this marks the beginning of lukewarmness in the life of the believer.
You may benefit from prayers said at meetings and intercessions made by other brethren, but this is not enough. As a Christian, your inspiration depends on a personal relationship and consistent fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is our perfect example (Mt. 14:23; Mk. 6:46; Lk. 5:16).
Even though many things demand your attention and you often attend to them in haste, like Jesus, however, you should make room in your busy schedule to have frequent times alone with your Father. Such exercises serve as periods of rest, renewal, and fellowship with God. Since our strength comes from God (2 Cor. 5:6), it is important to spend time with Him to be renewed and empowered to meet life’s challenges and struggles, and also to do His work. This was why Jesus often had to withdraw to a solitary place to commune with His Father: "... I tell you the truth, the Son of can do nothing by himself; he can only do what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (Jn. 5:19).
In his comment on John 5:19, Daniel Opoku said "So Jesus really meant, He cannot speak or do anything but to see the Father speak or do it first. I believe Jesus was much more occupied or busily working than any other contemporary Christian ... and yet could make time to meet with the Father. When it even became necessary, He drove away the crowd (shed some duties) in order to meet with the Father".2
What an interesting observation! Indeed Jesus Christ had a lot of work doing than what we have today. In those days there were no computers, internet, cars, trains, or airplanes. Doing the work of an evangelist, teacher, prophet, or missionary would not have been easy at all. Yet, Jesus Christ found time to commune with the source of His power, God. Jesus Christ knew that without God He could do nothing. That should be our attitude.
As a Christian you must make good use of your time. You do not need to wait till you have an hour of free time before you pray--you can second prayers, minute prayers, you can pray walking. Sometimes you wouldn’t feel like praying, but prayer shouldn’t depend on your feelings. As a believer you are to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17).
On prayer, Mother Teresa had the following to say: "You should spend at least half an hour in the morning, and an hour at night in prayer. You can pray while you work. Work doesn't stop prayer, and prayer doesn't stop work. It requires only that small raising of mind to Him. 'I love you, God, I trust you, I believe in you, I need you now'. Small things like that. They are wonderful prayers".3
2. Neglect of the Word of God
As a believer, the Word of God helps you to identify God's will for your life (Hosea 4:6a). It is also a weapon for spiritual warfare; in fact, the only offensive weapon that you have as a Christian against the enemy (Eph. 6:11–17). It keeps you from sin (Ps. 119:9, 11) and builds up your faith in Christ (Rom. 10:17).
Failure to apply oneself to the Scriptures is one major element that causes lukewarmness in the lives of Christians. Many Christians become complacent with respect to the Word of God as a result of constant hearing and familiarity with the Word of God. Thus, they deny the Word of God access to their lives and this is dangerous to Christian growth and maturity.
How many of us take time to study the Word for ourselves and by ourselves? Many times we don’t wait for God to speak to us; we are so quick to read through the messages in our devotional guides. Majority of the hours we spend in God's presence is during church services and meetings. That shouldn't be the case; it should rather be during our personal times.
Fellowship with other believers is important, but more important is our personal day to day communion with God. Today, we depend too much on preaching tapes and CDs, and on Christian literature. They are good, but we need to avail ourselves so God can speak to us personally through His Word. David McCasland said, "A writer’s thoughts are no substitute for a powerful word of God. It is the only place to find spiritual nourishment and strength for each day."4
Can't we learn from the Bereans who received the word of God and investigated what was preached? (Acts 17:11–12) Beloved, you need to take your personal moments with God serious. Do not hold the perception that you know everything. The more you study the Word of God, the more revelation you receive, the more you increase in faith and the more you grow spiritually (that is, when you put into practice what you study).
Ephesians 1:17, 18 reveals that we need the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we may know God better and the eyes of our hearts being enlightened, we may know the hope to which He has called us. Let Psalm 119:18 be part of your daily prayer: "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law".
Learning from the Bereans
Three things described the Bereans: they received the word of God eagerly (Acts 17:11); they examined the Scriptures everyday to see if what they were being taught was true (Acts 17:11); and they believed what was preached (Acts 17:12).
a. Receiving the word of God
Receiving the word of God demands readiness and preparedness of mind. You have to set aside every distraction. How do you feel when you are having a very interesting conversation with a friend and somebody just cuts in uninvited or without permission and begins talking with your friend while you stand watching? I guess it sounds annoying. Just as you do not want anyone interrupting your beautiful conversation, so God wants your undivided attention when communing with Him.
The Bible says that Ezra prepared his heart to seek God's will and do it (Ezra 7:10). How prepared is your heart to receive the word of God? How willing are you to do God's will? If you are really willing to receive from God you need to be serious and do away with every form of distraction. Consider putting your phone off whenever you are communing with God; it would do you a lot of good. Sometimes we wonder, "What if there is an emergency and somebody is trying to reach me?" God is able to take care of every emergency, so give Him your undivided attention.
b. Searching the Scriptures
Searching the Scriptures goes beyond just finding evidence of what your pastor says in his sermons. It involves a careful study of the Word to know its truth, to seek direction and to know God's will and obey it. The Young People's Guild of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana has as its motto, "To know His will and to do it". This should be one major reason for searching Scriptures--not to find scripture verses to justify sin; not to use scripture verses for unnecessary arguments and babbling; not to use scripture verses to curse our enemies--but to "study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15, KJV).
The Bereans searched the Scriptures everyday to be sure of what they were being taught (Acts 17:11). What about us? Do we search through Scriptures everyday or only when it's a Sunday?
c. Believing in the Word
What does it mean to believe in the Word? It means to wholly accept, agree with and obey what is written in the Word of God. It is not just accepting, agreeing with or obeying only part of God’s Word. It is not your Biblical knowledge that qualifies you as a believer of the Word of God. There are theologians who are not even Christians.
It is not just about knowing but about doing and obeying. It is like unbelievers saying, "I know Jesus". What they mean is that they have heard of Jesus but not believed in Him or made Him the Lord of their lives. Even demons know Jesus Christ (Acts 19:15; Mk. 5:6-8). The Bible says that Jesus is the Word (Jn. 1:1, 14). This confirms that believing in the Word means believing in Jesus Christ. It is impossible to believe in Jesus Christ without believing in the Word of God. So to be able to believe in Jesus Christ as the Saviour and Lord of lords, you need to accept, agree with and obey God's Word. That is why Jesus Christ said in John 14:21a, "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." (KJV)
The Bereans believed what was written plainly. How often we want to receive something different from what is plainly written; how often we want to twist the word of God to fit our sermons; how often we misapply some scripture verses to revival themes, fundraising themes, and crusade themes.
Disobedience comes in three forms: not doing what you are asked to do at all (Matt. 21:28-31a), doing what you are asked to do at a later time (delayed obedience) and doing a part of the whole assignment (selective obedience or incomplete obedience, 1 Kgs. 13:1ff). Many people in the Bible experimented with all three kinds of disobedience and it brought them various consequences (Deut. 28:15ff) including a break in fellowship with God.
In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul failed to yield totally to the commands of God and he suffered for it--he was rejected as King over Israel. Many Christians behave like King Saul--partial obedience to God’s word, mission and vision, revelation and direction. Partial obedience or selective obedience is still disobedience. When Samuel told Saul that 'to obey is better than sacrifice' (1 Sam. 15:22b), he didn't mean sacrifice is unimportant. He was telling Saul that total obedience is a sacrifice in itself. He was drawing Saul's attention to the wrong motives for making the sacrifice. You deceive yourself when you justify disobedience in the name of 'sacrifice'.
Moses and Aaron were not spared for partial obedience (Nu. 20:7-12)--they did not enter into the Promised Land (Nu. 33:38; Deut. 32:48-52). The story of Moses should be a lesson to all Christian leaders. Moses spoke to God face to face (Nu. 12:6-8) and was defended by God when Aaron and Miriam accused him (Nu. 12), yet he wasn't spared because of incomplete obedience. It doesn't matter if you have told God you will do it, but what matters is have you done it? (Mt. 21:28-32)
Anytime you disobey God's word, you hinder His plan and will for your life. To build a strong Christian foundation and endure in the Christian faith, the believer must not only pray and study the Word of God consistently, but must do what the Word says (James 1:22; Mt. 7:24-27). In Paul's second epistle to Timothy, he notes that it is only by putting into practise God's word that the believer matures (Heb. 5:14). It is only by feeding on the milk of his/her mother's breast can a baby grow; likewise in the Christian life, we cannot grow without feeding on the spiritual milk of the word of God.
The tests of your love for God are the opportunities which present themselves for action, whether to obey or disobey God. In other words, every opportunity to obey or disobey God is a test of your love for Him: "If you love me, you will obey what I command." (Jn. 14:15) And so our ability to follow simple instructions given by God--our ability to preach or pray--shows that we love God and are growing in our walk with Him.
4. Non-dependence on the Holy Spirit
When complacency sets into the life of a Christian, it leads to less dependence on the Holy Spirit. King David prayed that God does not take away His Holy Spirit from him after he sinned (Ps. 51:11). He knew the importance of depending on the Holy Spirit, without whom his act of worship would be meaningless. Knowing that his fall was as a result of not surrendering to the Holy Spirit but yielding to the flesh, he prayed that God would create in him a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within him (Ps. 51:10). Paul also affirmed the need to depend on the Holy Spirit: "... not with the eloquence of speech, but in the power of the Holy Ghost." Jesus Christ said, "verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do" (Jn. 5:19a).
Failure to depend on the Holy Spirit has led a lot of Christians into lukewarmness. They fail to depend on the Holy Spirit probably because they feel they've had enough experience and that they can handle situations themselves having tackled similar problems or issues before. Christians could have overcome a lot of hurdles and avoided a lot of pitfalls if they had been sensitive and obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Beloved, until you depend totally on God, you cannot endure in the Christian race.
I challenge you to live for Christ, and not allow lukewarmness creep into your life. Friendship with God is not about working for God; it is about walking with God in obedience to His word. If you will do what you preach, it will be difficult for you to become lukewarm let alone backslide.
IDENTIFYING THE SIGNS
Probably, you are a new believer filled with so much zeal for the Lord. How do you identify those things that could make you turn from the Lord gradually? Or you are a strong believer in the Lord--how do you identify if you are drifting gradually from God or turning from 'hotness' to lukewarmness? What are some of the things you have to look out for as signs of lukewarmness? The following are some of the frequent signs that show in the lives of lukewarm Christians:
2. Wrong evaluation of self
3. Belittling the things of God
4. Worldly pleasures and careless living
5. Decline in ‘spiritual fervour’
6. Imperfect heart (2 Chron. 25:2)
7. Envy, jealousy and pride
"You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing' …" (Rev. 3:17)
This is a typical characteristic of lukewarm persons--always content with the spiritual height they have attained or maintained. Gradually, their love for the truth diminishes and they grow content with the knowledge that they have already obtained. The result is that they end up not having a hunger and thirsting for the Word of God. Because of their self-satisfaction, when it comes to issues concerning acting upon God's commands, they would procrastinate--always pushing repentance, consecration and the things of God aside.
Lot and his family were content with their spiritual state. Even when God had visited them and warned them of His judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah, they lingered (Gen. 19:16). But God showed them mercy and led them safely out of this sinful city. Yet, Lot's wife was disobedient and looked back (v. 26). That is the state of Christians who do not want to move ahead in their spiritual lives--they look back to the world by holding on to pieces of their old lifestyles.
2. Wrong evaluation of self
"But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked." (Rev. 3:17)
Lukewarmness could be more dangerous than backsliding, because many times lukewarm persons do not realize their state (v. 17). Backsliders, on the other hand, know it when they have gone far from the Lord (Lk. 15:17). No wonder God had to draw the attention of the Laodicean church to their state; they did not know they had become lukewarm and this was dangerous to their walk with God.
God exposed their ignorance of the state in which they were: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. The Laodicean Church was physically wealthy, but they were ignorant of their poor spiritual state. Their pride had clouded their judgement of themselves. Instead of placing their hope in the physical wealth that would not last, God admonishes them in Revelations 3:18 to come for purification ("buy of me gold tried in the fire"), forgiveness and restoration ("buy of me white raiment"), and spiritual enlightenment ('anoint your eyes with eye-salve").
3. Belittling the things of God
"But they paid no attention and went off--one to his fields, another to his business ..." (Mt. 22:1-5)
When you see in your life that you make light of the things of God, it shows a mark of lukewarmness. In Matthew 22:1-5, a king prepared a wedding banquet for his son and sent his servants to those who had been invited to come to the wedding. What was the response of the invitees? "But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them" (vv. 5, 6).
These people belittled the invitation. It showed in their language, their attitude, their gestures, their actions, and probably their emotions. Lukewarm Christians behave in the same manner. The slightest excuse is sufficient to keep them from their spiritual duties, and if this persists they may end up as potential candidates of backsliding.
Consider many Christians who were a force to reckon with in the things of God, but presently have become a discouragement to God’s work. Witnessing might have been their top priority, but they have become a stumbling block to both sinners and new believers. Their lifestyles, manner of conversation, and attitudes have soiled their testimony of the gospel such that not only do they compromise on sin, but also compromise on holiness.
Their double life has silenced their sharing of the gospel to lost souls. With this, it is supposed that they will give every needed encouragement and support to those who are still effectively sharing the gospel; but no, they do not encourage those who are zealous and instead of keeping quiet, they pass contemptible remarks about those who are ready to do the Lord’s work (Ps. 123:4, KJV).
4. Worldly pleasures and careless living
"Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children." (Is. 47:8, KJV)
Lukewarm Christians are now more interested in the things that appeal to the flesh--pornography, riotous living, unwholesome comments and jokes, etc. The physical conveniences that they would gain for giving in to the flesh are more important to them than the spiritual blessings God has for them. They no more take Bible-study, sub-group meetings, fellowship with other brethren, quiet time and prayer serious. They would rather watch a football match and attend a worldly entertainment programme than go for a revival service. Their language now becomes, "It is normal". In fact, they have given in to the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:19–21).
The lukewarm Christian no more heeds Paul's admonishment: "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is" (Eph. 5:15-17). They are unmindful of their spiritual growth and this is evident in the careless life that they live: "Now then, listen, you wanton creature, lounging in your security ..." (Is. 47:8). Their carelessness shows in their manner of speech, in their manner of dressing, in the study of the Word, in their prayer life and in their participation in church activities.
5. Decline in spiritual fervour
"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." (Mt. 24:12, KJV)
Failure to do the 'spiritual things' you did at first is also a sign of lukewarmness. Bible-study, midweek service, sub-group meetings, morning devotions, prayer meetings and quiet time are no longer important as they once were in the lives of lukewarm persons. Prayer and the studying of God's Word ceases to become a vital part of their lives--they now become routine or optional throughout the day.
The reason these occur is that they devote themselves more to what they do and increasingly ignore their personal relationship with God. Such people regard serving God as working for God rather than walking with God. Many times, they are seen very active in the work of the Lord and then in the course of their work, when they encounter some emotional, physical or spiritual challenges, they quit.
Beloved, you should know that lukewarmness does not only lie in your failure to be committed, but also in the decline in your desire for the spiritual things of God; that is, if you find that in your daily life as a Christian, your desire for and obedience to the things of God are depleting.
6. Imperfect heart
"And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, but not with a perfect heart." (2 Chron. 25:2 KJV)
Why do you do the good things you do for God? Why do you go for evangelism? Why do you come every Sunday morning to set up the place for worship? What motivates you: love or duty? It is possible to be obeying God and serving Him diligently, yet God might still identity you as lukewarm. The Ephesian church is a clear example.
This church had steadfastly refused to tolerate sin among its members. In such a city (Ephesus) noted for immoral sexual practices associated with the worship of the goddess Artemis, it was a challenge to live for Christ. The worship of the goddess was not taken lightly by its worshippers as the manufacturing of images of this goddess became a major industry (Acts 19:21–41).
Despite this, the Ephesian church persevered in the Christian faith. God testified of them, "I know your deeds, your hardwork and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary" (Rev. 2:2, 3). But God found this against them--they forsook their first love (v. 4). They became a busy church--their devotion to God's work now came out of duty and not love.
You may be zealous for God, yet God says you are lukewarm. Why? Because you are not doing His work with love--you are not doing it with a perfect heart. Your motive for doing God's work is selfish. For instance, you should evangelize not because you want a ten percent increase in your church membership. The motivating factor for evangelism should be your love for Christ and what He has done to save mankind. Rick Warren said, "God wants our worship to be motivated by love, thanksgiving, and delight, not duty."5 Hear Paul: "If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died." (2 Cor. 5:13, 14) It is this same motivating factor (love) that should prevent you from misusing the grace of God (cf. Rom. 6).
7. Envy, Jealousy & Pride
"Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?" they asked. "Hasn't he also spoken through us?" And the LORD heard this." (Nu. 12:2)
In doing the Lord's work, there comes a point in time when we are filled with envy, jealousy and hatred. These are among the things which make our hearts imperfect, even though the things we do may be right in the sight of God (2 Chron. 25:2, KJV). We become envious of our colleagues who are more gifted than we are. If you are a senior pastor and you feel jealous and envious of your junior pastor because he or she is more gifted than you are, it is a mark of lukewarmness (Nu. 12:1-9).
You may have led to Christ a friend who has been endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and is burning with fire for Christ. Instead of praising God for what He has done in your friend's life, you tend to feel envious and jealous, sometimes to the extent of developing hatred for the person. Doesn't that show a mark of lukewarmness in your life?
Sometimes, as God works great things through us and these become evident to people, we become proud, receiving the praises of people and failing to give glory to God. It tends to make us complacent, because we succumb to the lies of the enemy that we can do it without God. The result is that we neither pray, study the word of God, nor seek the Lord’s direction as we used to.
"As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come, Felix was afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you" (Acts 24:25).
Felix wasn't a believer let alone become a lukewarm Christian. And so this verse may not be a very good example, but the attitude of Felix towards God's message has some lessons for us. Just like Felix's procrastination, lukewarm Christians find time for other non-spiritual activities which may not necessarily add to their spiritual growth, but rather draw them away from fellowship with God. They won’t give attention to spiritual things as much as they do for these non-spiritual activities which are of no benefit to their spiritual growth; they would only give attention to the things of God at their own convenience. They will postpone their quiet time and fellowship with God in order to attain their own physical conveniences. They will postpone acting upon God’s word (Ez. 33:32).
There may be other signs of lukewarmness that have not been covered in this article. Nevertheless, I trust that this article would encourage someone to be aware of lukewarmness or to return to his/her first love if he/she has already become lukewarm. God bless you.
1. Frimpong-Manso, Y. (2006) Thematic Address, 'Be Hot and not Cold', Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Bible Study and Prayer Group 40th Anniversary Brochure. Accra, pp. 28, 29.
2. Daniel Opoku (2008) Meaningful and Very Effective Quiet Time, God Cares Series, Kumasi, p. 25.
3. Desmond Doig, Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, p. 146.
4. RBC Ministries (2009) Our Daily Bread, Discovery House Publishers, Michigan, January 2, 2009.
5.Warren, R. (2002) 'The Purpose Driven Life', Oasis International Ltd. Geneva, p. 55.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R).Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Copyright(c)2010 by Michael Okyere Asante
This article is not to be sold. It can be distributed freely, provided the copyright information appears as above.
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08 Jan 2010
Powerful article, and a blessing to me. Thank you.
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God is Not Against You - He Came on an All Out Rescue Mission to Save You
...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Acts 13:38
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