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Doctrine of Lukewarm Believer

July 22, 2014

The doctrine of the lukewarm believer

1) The lukewarm believer is the complacent believer. He is complacent toward doctrine, it is not a priority in his life, it is not the priority in his life. If you are a baby believer, if you haven’t grown very much, you need to get to the point where you recognize that there is no life apart from doctrine. You were saved, you were bought with a price, the Scripture says, for a purpose. Ephesians 2:10 NASB “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We are created in Christ for the purpose of serving God, and that is our priority. Until you get to that point in maturity there will always be a level of conflict, a tug of war in your soul because the Holy Spirit is trying to push you in one direction but you are being pulled by your sin nature in a different direction. And that is characteristic of spiritual childhood, learning to get to that point where we recognize that doctrine has to be number one in our life. So the lukewarm believer has become complacent towards doctrine, he is living according to the flesh, walking by the flesh, and his thinking is shaped by the world view of the culture around him. He is a cosmic believer.

2) A lukewarm believer is a believer who is not merely out of fellowship but one who has turned his back on the grace provision of God for living the spiritual life. If we continue to walk by the flesh as out standard procedure day after day after day, then we get described by these harsh categories we find in the Scriptures: fallen from grace, lukewarm, worldly, all of which indicate believers who are walking like an unbeliever, walking in darkness, and their life is no different from the life of anybody else and their Christianity isn’t doing them any good whatsoever.

3) They end up being believers who give lip service to doctrine, but they are enmeshed in religion, morality, if they are going to a church. If they are not involved in a church and they end up giving themselves over to licentiousness and sin and various other categories. But in context we are talking about a church at Laodicea. They are mired in religion, they are just going through the motions. As Paul says in Timothy, they are going through a form of godliness but they deny the power of it, which is the Holy Spirit.

4) The cosmic believer operates on human viewpoint systems of knowledge, he is an epistemological rebel, a rationalist, an empiricist or a mystic, and he always justifies his actions by appealing to something other than Scripture, although it is made to sound as though it is doctrine.

5) So revelation takes a back seat. He is not dependent on the sufficiency of Scripture but what makes his life work. One of the great trends in our generation is pragmatism: “It must be of the Holy Spirit because it works.” There is a lot of human viewpoint that works but that doesn’t mean it is from God.

6) We have to remember that the spiritual life is a supernatural life and you can’t ignore that. You can only go forward when you are walking by the Holy Spirit.

7) The only way to recover from sin is confession. If there is no confession there is no fellowship, no abiding in Christ, no walking by the Spirit.

8) The Bible uses other terms for describing the lukewarm believer. In Galatians 5:4 he is said to be “estranged from Christ.” Why? Because he is no longer walking according to the principles of grace, but legalism. Because he is operating on legalism he has broken fellowship with Christ. In Hebrews 12:15 the term that is used is that “he has fallen short of the grace of God,” and therefore it is easy for him to become involved in mental attitude sins such as bitterness, envy, resentment. 2 Peter 2:7-9, using Lot as an example, says the soul is tormented, there is no inner happiness, no inner peace. Another term that is used in James 1:8 is a “double-minded man.” The Greek word that is used there is DIPSUCHOS [diyuxoj], talking about multiple personalities. He is trying to operate like a Christian but he is living like an unbeliever and so there is an inherent instability in his thinking. The solution is given in James 4:8: NASB “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Cleanse your hands is another metaphor for confession of sins.

9) The lukewarm believer is a person who has a superficial form of spirituality. Somewhere along the line there is no real consistent obedience and walking by the Spirit.

So the solution is found in Revelation 3:18: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire.” Notice this is refined gold, it is not just gold. How do we get this? It isn’t talking about salvation. Salvation is free, you don’t buy it. We are taking here about something you purchase, you work for. This is indicated in 1 Corinthians 3:12 with reference to the judgment seat of Christ: “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident…” They are going to earn something and they earn with their life. Each one’s work will become clear “…for the day will show it because it is {to be} revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” It is purified by fire. That is where you get the refined gold. How do you buy refined gold? By walking by the Spirit, and living a life through the Spirit is producing in you the spiritual growth and the fruit of the Spirit, and that yields the result of purified gold at the judgment seat of Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:14, 15 NASB “If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

There are rewards for those who live and walk according to the Holy Spirit. They will receive a uniform of glory, mentioned here and in Revelation 3:4, 5; they will be given white garments, a special reward or indication of their spiritual status in heaven. “…and {that} the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed.” In other words, don’t walk around by the flesh because eventually you will become exposed in your inadequacies at the judgment seat of Christ.

Then last, He says to purchase “eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” This was what was produced there in Laodicea, as we have seen. It was a powder that was used in an ointment to heal eye problems and ear problems. They are exhorted to open their eyes to spiritual truth, so that they are not walking around in spiritual darkness and self-deception because of arrogance.

But how do you get back there from being in a position of lukewarmness? Then the Lord reminds them, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” This is Hebrews 12:7. Whom the Lord loves, He disciplines. This is divine discipline. Therefore He says, “Be zealous.” Be passionate about the Word of God. Make it your priority. The Laodiceans were too busy getting distracted from coming to Bible class. Bible class once a week is not enough, it is never going to counter the input from the worldly system around you. Three times a week isn’t either. We have to get serious about the Christian life and be zealous and change.

Revelation 3:20 NASB “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” This is a picture of Christ outside the church wanting to get in, because they have excluded Him, they have rejected His sufficiency, they are not walking by the Spirit, they are not abiding in Christ. “If” maybe you will and maybe you won’t, this is the option, “anyone hears my voice and opens the door.” How do you open the door? You confess your sins. That is how you recover fellowship. “I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” The picture here is sitting down at a communal meal and having fellowship. That is the imagery that is also used of the Lord’s table in Scripture. It is a time of coming together and expressing our fellowship with God. It is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But it doesn’t stop with getting saved, that is the starting point. We need to have an ongoing fellowship and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as the core of our spiritual life and spiritual growth. Jesus stated it in John chapter 15, that we must abide in Him or we can’t produce fruit. Paul says it a different way. He says we have to walk by the Spirit or there won’t be any spiritual fruit/production. So it is that ongoing fellowship/communion with the Lord Jesus Christ. After you are saved you need to be a part of your ongoing Christian life, otherwise it is a dead Christian life.