What a Lukewarm Christian Look Like

I found this post on Dick Gelina’s blog site.  I don’t know who he is or anything about him, but I this was a good post.  I’m re-posting it in its entirety here…

What a Lukewarm Christian Looks Like (by Dick Gelina)

Wasting their opportunity to influence their city, the congregation in Laodicea became like their city. The church took on the temperature of their surroundings. We call that lukewarmness. How cruel we are to the One who delivered us from this present evil world when our present life shows no difference from that world! We need to know how Christ views lukewarmness.

• First, He spoke unhappily about The Condition of Lukewarmness (3:14-15). Sadly, this was their condemnation because they could not see it. Christ’s verdict in verse 15 is the exact opposite of the church’s own evaluation and expectations. Their deeds were “neither cold nor hot.” That expression may refer to their lack of zeal (v. 19) or their uselessness, for Christ says, “I would thou wert cold or hot.” Be careful not to suppose that Christ meant I wish you were either spiritually cold (i.e., unsaved or hostile) or spiritually hot (i.e., alive and fervent). Could Christ ever wish someone were unsaved or hostile? Heavens, no! Don’t read our contemporary use of words into the vocabulary of first century Christians. They did not use the same terminology as we do today. We understand “hot” in spirituality to mean “on fire for the Lord.” But they didn’t. What they understood was the mixing of cold and hot to make “lukewarm.” That is to say, they were useless to Christ because they were complacent, self-satisfied, and indifferent to the real issues of faith in Him and of discipleship.

• Then, He spoke graphically about His Counter Reply to Lukewarmness (3:16). He says what the citizens of the city understood. Insipid water induces vomiting! And so Christ’s reaction is “I will spue thee out of my mouth.” That statement doesn’t take much interpretation. Christ hates a Laaodicean attitude of indifference to matters of faith. With such an attitude, He must deal harshly. To be a Christian means to be useful to Christ. But to be Laodicean means to be useless.

Why is this important? Lukewarmness can be a very self-deceiving spiritual state. The lukewarm ones may partially answer the call to the claims of the gospel. They may think it good form to be a Christian. They may marvel at something of God’s grace. They may profess to be believers, having been baptized and become members of the church. Some of them may even have confessed Christ as Savior and fallen into line in service as a duty, but they have not come to the place where they see the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Check out your spiritual life. Is Christ really your Savior and Lord?

• What is The Cause of Lukewarmness (3:17)? Startled at the intensity of Christ’s digust, we also ask, Can a genuine believer become lukewarm? Not likely. Christians are useful; lukewarm Christians are useless. It goes far beyond their indifference. Christ’s words in v. 17 indicate it is their ignorance. “Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” They were blind to their real condition. Observe the way this indictment is related to the general condition of the city – rich in material possessions and self-sufficient. The spirit of the surrounding culture had crept into the congregation and had paralyzed their spiritual life. It is difficult to know whether the church was boasting in its material wealth or in its spiritual wealth. Many commentators cannot conceive that it was material wealth but there are many saints today who measure their blessings from God by their material possessions. Nevertheless, they had misread their true condition. They are not, as they thought, “rich” and “have need of nothing.” They were in fact “wretched and miserable.” How can Christ say that? He explains by the next three words. They were “poor and blind and naked.” Contrast their condition with that of the saints in Smyrna who were very poor materially but rich spiritually (2:9). Lukewarmness, then, does not refer to the laxity of Christians but to the condition of not really knowing Christ as Savior and Lord and thus being useless to Him.

• Finally, let’s consider The Cure for Lukewarmness (Rev. 3:18-19). The Laodiceans could be helped only if they obeyed Christ’s commands: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” Notice that His three commands correspond exactly to the self-deceptions of the Laodiceans. “Gold” was the city’s source of wealth. The true Christian knows differently. His riches are found in Christ alone. Their shameful nakedness was to be clothed, not by purchasing the sleek, black wool of Laodicea but by buying from Christ the “white clothing” that alone can cover shameful nakedness (Rev. 16:15). For those who were blind to their true condition, the “Phrygian powder” was useless. They needed to buy “eyesalve” from Christ so that they could truly see. These three figures all point to the Laodiceans’ need of authentic salvation. All is not lost even though the state of the church verges on disaster. Christ refers to His “love” and associates that with His “rebuke” and “chastening.” Prov. 3:12; 1 Cor. 11:32; Heb. 12:6 He spits out those He does not love and “rebukes” and disciplines those who hear His voice. The difference is in their response.

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