Since our vacation (and having cable in our hotel room), my husband and I have found ourselves listening to TV evangelists as part of our morning studies. We disagree that the Bible condones mega-churches, women preachers, denominations and much of the doctrine that they teach but we appreciate the truths we do come across in the sermons, and the falsities give us a chance to exercise our spiritual brains and search the scriptures.
So this morning we youtubed some Joyce Meyer since we had enjoyed her very applicable and encouraging lessons last week. Unfortunately, today’s topic seemed taken out of context, yet near the end she hit some amazing points, which I’d like to share:
“You know why people believe [evolution]? Because they don’t want to believe in God. Because they don’t want any accountability and they want to do exactly what they want to do. I wonder how many people would suddenly be able to believe in God if they thought that they could live the way they’re living right now and not have to change it and still believe in God. People don’t want to believe in God because they don’t want anybody having any control or authority over their life. They want to do what they want to do, when they want to do it….But let me tell you something:judgment day is coming…We are going to stand before God and have to give an account of our lives.”
How true. Her thoughts reminded me of what I had read concerning Charles Darwin:
“It is important to point out that in the 19th century Darwinian evolution arose not from theists but rather from atheists. Darwin himself gave up his belief in God prior to writing On The Origin of Species and later admitted that his book was an attempt to explain life on earth apart from God. He concluded, “I can hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true, for if so…men who do not believe, and this would include my father, brother and almost all of my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine.” Many of the atheistic leaders who originally embraced and proclaimed Darwinian evolution did so not on the basis of sound scientific evidence, but rather because they were searching desperately for an alternative to divine or special creation. One professor at the University of Cincinnati said, “Our faith in the idea of evolution depends on our reluctance to accept the antagonistic doctrine of special creation.”
Now that I’ve peaked your interest, I have to say this note is not about evolution. We can see how a desire to not want to believe something unpleasant (albeit true), or a desire to simply want to live life as we wish has not only produced blatantly false and ungodly beliefs (evolution), but has also infiltrated the church and skewed the perceptions of even those who would call themselves Christians. When I posted Meyer’s quote on Facebook, I added my own comment: “Even we who would profess to be Christians need to examine our own faith to be sure we aren’t playing the hypocrite or practicing a lukewarm approach to God and His word”
I’ve seen many (and been one) who want to straddle the fence- they want the approval of maybe their family, or the social benefits that come from attending a church. Maybe being a Christian is generally thought of as a “good” thing, and they want to be a “good” person, so they are members technically, but they have no desire to change their lives, to transform as God has commanded. They are lukewarm.
Today I want to talk about what it means to be lukewarm, and here’s a good reason for us to know what it fully means:
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” – Revelation 3:15-19
Reading this verse should instill a healthy fear of God in our hearts. God is awesome and God is merciful, but God is just and God will take vengeance on those who wasted their chance to be zealous and repent and follow Him. After judgment day, there will be no more long-suffering of the Lord, and we should be sober-minded enough to realize that and examine our faith daily.
Lukewarm, as depicted, is neither hot nor cold; it can’t make up it’s mind; it’s a little of both, in the middle, neutral, on the fence, wanting the best of both worlds, has it’s cake and is eating it too, and other similar clichés. But what does this look like, spiritually speaking?
First, and probably the foundation, is the perception we hold of the Bible and its content. Do we view it as God’s actual word? Do we believe it to be truth? Do we believe that we must do what it commands?
Do we view it simply as good, yet outdated advice? Letters written by men without the guidance of the Holy Spirit? Not something by which we will be judged?
People who don’t have reverence for the Bible and don’t believe it to be the absolute standard will understandably lack zeal and conviction, though they may be members of a church on paper.
Verses to consider:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16, 17
“The one who rejects Me and does not receive My words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” – John 12:48
“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” – 2 Peter 3:7
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” – James 1:22
““I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear Him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!” – Luke 12:4,5
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” – Philippians 2:12
There are truly many, many more verses that I could use, but I oftentimes make the mistake of trying to cram everything I know into every post I write, so I won’t do that here.
My point is that a lukewarm Christian is one who confesses a belief in Christ, yet does not diligently follow His word. This basically means that someone who is lukewarm could be described as someone who does not apply certain passages; someone who ignores verses that speak against:
Gossip, slander, tale-bearing, cursing, crude jokes, rude speech, not controlling the tongue
Sexual immorality, fornication (sex outside of marriage), adultery, lust (pornography), being a stumbling block/immodesty (swimming, sports, summer wear, etc), lasciviousness (“indecent bodily movements, unchaste handling of males and females” Prom, anyone?)
Esteeming worldly wisdom (education, self-help books, friend/family advice) above godly wisdom (what the Bible says)
Unforgiveness, seeking revenge, retaliating
Pride, boasting, thinking too highly of ourselves
Forsaking the assembly, not partaking of the Lord’s supper each Sunday
Not standing for the truth (confronting sin in others, teaching truth, opposing false doctrine, withdrawing from those believers who don’t repent)
Not taking heed to the word and studying daily
Hating others, being angry with others without a (legitimate) cause, judging based on appearances, assuming wrong
Doing anything you aren’t completely sure is acceptable before God
Drunkenness, drinking parties, social drinking
Divorcing over something other than adultery and then remarrying
Wives usurping authority over their husbands, neglecting the management of their homes and training of their children
Husbands not dwelling in understanding with their wives, not providing for their families if they are able, provoking their children or not raising them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord
Disrespecting authority, government officials/laws
Being selfish, not serving others with grace and humility, being inhospitable
Even condoning sin in others: tolerating those who practice any of the aforementioned.
Yes, I did just randomly list teachings (all based on verses, which I would be glad to supply if asked) of the New Testament. Yes, there are many more. Yes, that was a pretty long list. Yes, many of those things are difficult and contrary to our natural desires or society’s belief. And yes, God expects us to lay down our lives, our wills, for His will and obedience to His word.We will surely stumble a lot as we try to grow, but God knows our hearts and while that is often a comforting truth in times of failure, it is also intimidating if our heart is hardened, corrupted by worldly wisdom and unwilling to conform to His word. God knows if we’re putting Him first. If we’re honest and if we’re studying diligently, we will encounter commands that “rub us the wrong way” and that may sting because of the training we’ve had from the world, from society, maybe even from our family. We need to acknowledge our heart problems while there is still time, and not let the world keep us from God and a heavenly reward.
Failure to do this, failure to grow and keep these commands while simultaneously claiming to be a follower of Christ is not only called being “lukewarm”, but it is also called “hypocrisy” and the Bible condemns that as well.
So let’s accept the exhortation and rebuke of the scriptures, and of our brothers and sisters in Christ; let’s never stop growing and let’s give our everything to Him.