Are you a lukewarm Christian? What does it mean to be lukewarm?
Let’s first think about this on an earthly level. Drinks are most enjoyable hot or cold. If it’s lukewarm, it’s not very good. No one wants lukewarm water. You either want it cold or hot.
This same analogy is used in Revelation 3 to the church in Laodicea. Let’s further consider what this means.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links and we may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned.
What is a lukewarm Christian?
A lukewarm Christian is someone who has a superficial belief in Christ. They say they believe in Jesus but their lifestyle doesn’t reflect this belief.
The concept of a lukewarm Christian comes from Revelation 3. John was given these words to write to the church in Laodicea.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. 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.” (Revelation 3:15-16 ESV).
Being lukewarm is considered to be bad in this passage. As Christians, we can’t be neutral. We can’t live double lives. We must choose to follow Christ wholeheartedly.
The Dangers of Lukewarm Christianity
Lukewarm Christianity is dangerous because many who are in this camp don’t realize it. They believe they’ve got their ticket to heaven and they’re all good.
In the Letter to the church in Laodicea, it continues to talk about their lukewarmness. It reads,
“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see,” (Revelation 3:17-18 NIV).
Lukewarm Christians are blind to their state of being. The Laodiceans believed they were rich, but were actually wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. Similarly, lukewarm Christians believe they are in right standing before God but aren’t.
Are lukewarm Christians saved?
Are lukewarm Christians saved? Let’s turn to the Bible to find out.
“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:17-23 NASB).
Lukewarm Christians might profess to believe in Christ, but unless they repent from their sins and truly trust in Christ, they are not saved. You will know a true Christian from a false Christian by their actions. Do they live the same lifestyle as the world or are they set apart?
7 Signs of a Lukewarm Christian
No one is immune to being a lukewarm Christian. It’s so easy to be self-deceived and think you’re a genuine believer. I encourage you to examine your standing with God.
Here are 7 signs of a lukewarm Christian.
#1 You say you love Jesus but you don’t obey his commands.
If you love someone, you’re more willing to listen to them. Within the context of a marriage, there are boundaries communicated and kept between the couple. You keep these boundaries and respect your partner out of love.
Similarly, if you love Jesus, you’ll want to obey him out of that love. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (John 14:15 ESV). It’s a natural outflowing of love to want to obey. Of course, you won’t perfectly obey his commandments. But the desire will be there.
#2 Your life hasn’t changed since becoming a Christian.
If your life hasn’t changed at all since becoming a Christian, I’d question your salvation. Once you become a Christian, your life is completely transformed. It doesn’t necessarily happen overnight, but overtime, you will be made new. More of your sin is revealed to you. The Holy Spirit works within you to change your desires and enables you to obey God.
The Apostle Paul says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV).
If you practice these things (the list in the passage above) habitually and don’t repent, you will not inherit the kingdom of God. But if you trust in Jesus and repent, God will make you new. You will be washed, sanctified, justified.
#3 You cherry pick what you want to believe from the Bible.
Unfortunately, many cherry pick passages in the Bible. It’s important to take the context into consideration when reading the Bible. You can’t pick and choose what you want to believe.
Context is important. For example, many use the verse “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1 ESV) out of context. They use this verse as a way to escape judgement from what they’re doing. However, that’s not exactly what this verse is saying when you read it in context.
Also, when you’re picking what you want to believe in the Bible, you are making a god in your own image. You’re creating a god in your mind that’s okay with your sin.
#4 You’re self dependent and content without Jesus.
You’re a fan of Jesus, but you don’t really need him. You’re self dependent and content. This is the opposite of how it should be for a Christian.
Here are a few Proverbs that talk about self dependency and self righteousness:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil,” (Proverbs 3:5-7 ESV).
“There are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth,” (Proverbs 30:12 ESV).
“All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit,” (Proverbs 16:2 ESV).
Don’t depend on yourself. Depend on Jesus.
#5 You don’t want to give up your life of sin.
You believe in God but you don’t want to give up your life of sin. You love your sin too much to give it up. Maybe you think God will forgive you and will accept you just the way you are. But that’s not biblical. Here are a few passages that speak of obedience and giving up sin:
“Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness,” (1 John 3:4 ESV).
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says,” (James 1:22 NIV).
Repentance is a part of the gospel. Repent means to turn away from sin and turn to Christ.
#6 You don’t make God your first priority.
Maybe you go to church on Sundays, but for the rest of your week, you’re living for yourself. You’re one person on Sunday morning and another for the rest of the week. God isn’t your first priority. You’re your first priority. You’re living for yourself.
Simply going to church, Bible study, prayer meetings, or other religious meetups doesn’t mean you’re saved. I like this quote by S.M. Zwemer: “Unless Jesus is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”
#7 You think you’re a good person.
Last but not least, you think you’re a good person. Maybe you think that’s what will get you to heaven. But this is the opposite of what the Bible says. The Bible says we’re all sinners. We’ve all lied, cheated, stolen, lusted, hated, etc.
“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one,” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV).
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it,” (James 2:10 NIV).
How to Not be a Lukewarm Christian
It’s important to not be lukewarm because if you are, you’re in danger of eternal punishment.
There are a couple steps you need to take in order to ensure you don’t stay in this lukewarm place.
Here’s how to not be a lukewarm Christian.
#1 Repent and believe in the gospel.
Step 1 is to repent and believe in the gospel.
The gospel is this:
God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect and sinless life on earth. He was sent to save his people. We are sinners and as sinners, we deserve death. The Bible says, “for the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23 ESV). God is a just God and sin needs to be paid for. Instead of having his people pay for it, Jesus paid for it through his death on the cross. He was buried and three days later he rose from the grave. Because Jesus paid our debt, we can be reconciled to God and have eternal life. All you have to do is believe this gospel message and repent from your sins.
Repentance means to turn away from sin and turn toward Christ. Do this and believe in the gospel and you will be saved.
#2 Devote your life to Christ.
Now that you’ve repented and believe in the gospel, devote your life to Christ. Repentance and believing in the gospel isn’t a one time event. We must continue to repent daily. We must devote our lives to Christ daily. It’s not a prayer you pray one time. It’s a continual following after Christ.
Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” (Luke 9:23 ESV).
#3 Start practicing spiritual disciplines.
You’re saved, but that’s not the end of it. As a Christian, God will begin to change you and make you a different person. To ensure growth and maturity as a believer, it’s best to start practicing spiritual disciplines.
This includes: joining a local congregation, being discipled, reading the Bible, and praying.
Be sure to also read: