Home > Theology > Is there such a thing as a worldly, lukewarm Christian?

Is there such a thing as a worldly, lukewarm Christian?

I highly encourage everyone to watch through this entire sermon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBhqrtMqrv8. It’s by Francis Chan and it’s entitled “Luke Warm & Loving It.” I borrow heavily from his teachings, mixed with other thoughts.

So can you be a worldly, lukewarm Christian? If you’ve been reading my previous posts, the answer is pretty obvious. This is the last time I’ll touch upon this subject for a while, but I had to address a few more key verses before moving on.

There may be short periods of time when true believers experience worldly desires, struggles, and lukewarmness, but on the whole, no. A Christian cannot be worldly and lukewarm.

1 John 2:15: “15 Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

In my opinion, America is the lukewarm “Christian” capital of the world. There’s probably no other country where being a Christian is so convenient, comfortable…and compromised. Part of the reason, I think, is due to our propensity to be open and accepting to everything—all kinds of people, beliefs, style, and now, even morality. There is no real right or wrong anymore, there’s only “what’s right for you.” (See Lon Solomon’s 4th of July message on America and how our foundations are being destroyed: http://mcleanbible.org/media_player.asp?type=large&messageID=96038.)

But I think the biggest reason for our spiritual lukewarmness is our great wealth. We Americans idolize success, comfort, and security, all of which seem directly related to how much money is in our wallets. Money in itself isn’t a bad thing, per se, but when it becomes our priority or source of happiness, it becomes extremely dangerous. The Bible tells us that wealth is a significant spiritual handicap.

Matthew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

Luke 18:24-27: “And Jesus looked at him and said, ‘How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

The Bible can’t be any clearer than that. A big part of true salvation is the genuine realization that we are completely desolate and lost without Christ. If we have a fat savings account, healthy nest egg for retirement, and creature comforts the rest of the world can only dream about, what is there to bring us to our knees? Don’t be fooled, the rich young ruler isn’t only referring to political leaders or CEOs. It could very well apply to most Americans today.

Some people will read Luke 18:27 and point out, “See? Jesus said it’s possible with God.” Yes, that’s true. But this doesn’t negate the previous verses at all. It is still extremely difficult and rare. What would otherwise be impossible with human effort alone is possible with God, but highly unlikely.

We’ll get to some practical application in a bit.

OK, so what about morality and behavior? As Christians, aren’t we forgiven for everything we do? Why not live it up like the rest of the world does? Well, read the following:

1 John 3:6: “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”

The Bible tells us that if it is your mentality to keep sinning because of grace, you need to seriously reexamine yourself to see if you are actually saved. My previous posts delve into this some more, but the following verses show us why we simply CANNOT abuse the grace of God as true believers. (I started to bold key phrases and words, but almost all of the words were bolded. Read thoughtfully.)

Romans 6:1-7: “1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin.”

If we are truly saved, we are now dead to our sins, we are no longer slaves to it. If a “Christian” is still enslaved to sin and is not compelled by the Holy Spirit to sanctify his life, he was never born again to begin with.

Check out this video that powerfully illustrates this kind of faulty thinking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbwIagWI36o. Why not abuse grace? Because you simply cannot. You are literally unable if you are truly born-again.

I’m still not entirely sold. Is there any other passage that makes it clear that you can’t be lukewarm and saved?

I think you’ll agree with me that the following is a pretty obvious and direct passage.

Revelations 3:15-19: “15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”

Does this sound like Jesus is talking to believers? No, not at all. It sounds like he’s speaking to the church in America maybe, but not his beloved adopted children. He does not spit us out and call us wretched and blind.

Rather, this is how God sees those who are saved:

Colossians 1:22: “But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”

Please don’t believe some convoluted, reassuring commentary on lukewarmness. People will do anything to avoid the unavoidable truths that the Bible painstakingly makes crystal clear. Let’s not lean toward what’s easy on the ears, but what is spelled out for us. Jesus lovingly warns us again and again, and we’d be fools to bend his words to our will.

Practically speaking?

Well, as Francis Chan says in his sermon, if you’re lukewarm, do something about it at all costs! This is not something to be casual or slow about. Examine yourself honestly and find what parts of your life you’re clinging onto rather than giving them over to God. Some of you may find his suggestion not to eat or even go to work extreme. But really, if your eternal salvation is on the line, you can’t afford to procrastinate. The longer you put it off, the less likely it is that you’ll approach it with the proper urgency. The next time you hear a message on lukewarmness, your heart may already be hardened and your mind may check out when you hear this familiar, nagging tune. Not to mention, you don’t know how much longer you have. Even if you start now, you don’t know how long it will take to burn away all the old desires.

Furthermore, from an outsider’s perspective, I believe this concept of “lukewarm Christian” really sheds light onto some things. Why do Christians live just like the world? Why do they divorce at the same rates (or even higher) that non-Christians do? Why are there the same rates of pre-marital sex among Christians, or why is there so much hypocrisy in the church? It’s simple. In America, the vast majority of “Christians” are not saved at all. They don’t have a newness in life with Christ because they have not been willing or able to put their sinful desires to death.

If 95% of the people in America who call themselves Christians are actually unsaved, then you would rightfully expect the statistics to show no difference with the rest. I’d imagine if you went to certain other parts of the world, you would see something markedly noticeable about their Christians. Why? Because they struggle and suffer for their faith, and they don’t have great wealth to handicap their spiritual growth. This is why poorness can be a blessing. Those struggling to make ends meet for a few years on this earth can be at a great advantage for eternity. Those who achieve too much success and acquire too much don’t realize their “blessing” can really be a curse.

Of course, this isn’t to say that God desires all Christians to be poor. The Bible is rife with examples of people who had great riches. The difference is, in every case, those riches were used to advance God’s kingdom. King David ruled so that his nation would follow God. Job’s wealth became a vehicle to prove his spiritual mettle, and once his undying loyalty to God was demonstrated, nothing was withheld from him. No child of God, however, acquires wealth just because. Nothing is purely for our comfort or worldly status. It’s for His glory.

Just as most of us are not realistically capable of living a celibate life with purity (as Paul chose for himself), most of us can’t handle riches without jeopardizing our spiritual lives. Let’s refine our desires and focus intently on God himself. He’s like a treasure in the field that vastly outweighs all that you currently own. You should be more than willing to give up anything to follow him, whether or not God actually holds you to that. It’s all or nothing—if your goal is to be lukewarm, then change that goal immediately. This is one area where being “balanced” or “well-rounded” is not desirable. Being completely sold-out for God is.

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