Lukewarm is what you get when you mix hot with cold. It’s mixing the white-hot love of God with the stone-cold commands of the Bible. It’s mixing the new and everlasting covenant of grace with the obsolete covenant of law.
Are you lukewarm? You might be if…
1. You think Christians need the law
The law is meant to lead you to Jesus so that you may be justified by faith (Gal 3:24). If you have Jesus, you don’t need the law. You don’t need it to guide you, teach you, or show you how to live for you have a far better teacher in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Spirit would teach you all things (John 14:26), leaving nothing for you to learn from the law.
You died to the law so that you might belong to another (Rom 7:4). As Paul says in Romans 7, running back to your old husband the law is cheating on Jesus. It’s spiritual adultery that will leave you lukewarm and fallen from grace.
2. You’re sin conscious
An old covenant mindset is sin-focused, but the new covenant is Son-focused. Under the old you had to run from sin, resist sin, pay for sin, turn from sin, confess sin, and keep track of sin. But on the cross Jesus did away with all sin (1 John 2:2). Because of Christ, sin is no longer the problem.
“But I can’t get rid of this sin.” A lukewarm believer will never have lasting victory over sin because they are trying to accomplish that which Christ has done. They’re operating in unbelief and walking in the puny power of the flesh.
Are you struggling with sin? Fix your eyes on Jesus who offers you his righteousness and who empowers you to go and sin no more. Don’t say no to sin; say yes to Jesus!
3. You think God is impressed with your sacrifices
The old covenant was characterized by repeated sacrifices that did nothing to take away sin. The new covenant is characterized by Christ’s perfect sacrifice that did away with sin once and for all (Heb 9:26). An old covenant mindset says I must deny my God-given appetites, be who I’m not and die daily, but the new covenant declares Jesus died for all.
A lukewarm mindset says, “I must make sacrifices,” thus revealing unbelief in the finished work of Calvary. “God won’t bless me unless I…” Not true. God has already blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:3). A new covenant mindset says, “See Jesus! His perfectly perfect sacrifice is without sequel.”
4. You’re trying to become holy
The lukewarm believer says, “I’m saved by grace but sanctified through the pursuit of holiness. I’m positionally holy and progressively sanctified.” Yet the Bible says you were sanctified and are holy (1 Cor 6:11, Heb 10:14). You’re as holy as Jesus.
Under the old you had to take steps to get holy, but in the new there’s only one step and it’s Jesus. He is our holiness from God (1 Cor 1:30). You are the holy temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).
Holiness is not something to pursue but to work out. Scripture exhorts us to “be holy” meaning be the holy saint you already are. Live out of your true identity in Christ instead of a false, half-holy-and-trying-to-get-holy caricature invented by man.
5. You’re making promises to God
“Lord I promise I’ll never do that again.” How do you know you won’t? Why are you bragging to God about your abilities? Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.
The old covenant began with the Israelites making promises to God (Ex 19:8) and they broke every one. In contrast, the new covenant is built on the better promises of God to you (Heb 8:6) and he will never break his word.
6. You feel condemned
The law ministers condemnation (2 Cor 3:9), but there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). A surefire sign of double-mindedness is a pervasive feeling of unworthiness. “Look at me, I’m so unworthy.”
Stop thinking about yourself. Stop listening to messages that focus on you and your shortcomings, and fix your eyes on Jesus and his sublime perfections. We are not changed by fault-finding and navel-gazing. We are transformed by beholding Jesus.
7. You see yourself as God’s servant
“I’m just a humble doorkeeper serving in the courts of the Lord.” Except you’re not. You are dearly beloved child of your Father. Why settle for old covenant servanthood when you’ve been offered new covenant intimacy? Don’t distance yourself from the Lord. Listen to Jesus who came to reveal a God who loves us like a Father.
A lukewarm Christian has a muddled identity. When he sins he comes crawling back with a “make me one of your hired hands” speech (Lk 15:19). Your Father is not interested that speech! He wants sons, not servants.
The cure for a lukewarm life
We’ve looked at seven symptoms of a lukewarm life and there are many more. But the cure for lukewarmness is simple; stop mixing hot and cold. Turn off one of the taps!
If you are trusting in your own righteousness, bathe yourself in the cold-harsh law that Jesus preached. Open that cold tap all the way and it will drown your futile attempts to live right. The cold law reveal your desperate need for God’s grace.
If you prefer grace – which is the better choice – stop mixing covenants. Turn off that law tap and never touch it again. Stop listening to muddled messages from muddled preachers that muddle grace with law. Instead of paddling in the muddied pools of mixture, start swimming in the vast ocean of your Father’s love.
Make “Christ alone” your unmixed doctrine and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. Allow the Holy Spirit to reveal your Christ-given identity. Tell yourself every day, “I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am my Father’s beloved child.” Abide in his love and you will no longer be tossed and turned by every muddled and mixed-up teaching.
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