The Lord is speaking to the churches that don't stand with conviction, passion and zeal. These are the people that create their own idea of who Jesus is. Therefore, they have one foot in and one foot out. I have discovered that "lukewarm Christians" are those who base their entire idea of who Jesus is, off of a few verses that suit them. The most common deception is the idea that we don't have to DO anything for Christ. We can't work for it, so don't. You see this has truth, in that salvation is a gift and it is not earned (Eph. 2:8-9). However, this verse does not stand alone as if to imply that we shouldn’t do good works (James 2:14). Unfortunately, 'Lukewarm Christians' don't see the fullness of this truth found in other passages.
Lukewarm Christians deny striving for holiness. It's a life without conviction or repentance. They are basically saying, "We can do whatever we want as long as we believe in Jesus. We will go to heaven, and God forgives us no matter what. In fact, I don't really need forgiveness, because I can do whatever I want because of my freedom in Jesus. The more I sin, the more grace I receive." Paul specifically deals with these deceptions in his letters to the churches. Again, there is truth in here, but a little bit of lie contaminates the whole thing. This is why we need to consistently be reading our Bibles. It's easy to go along with these ideas because they are self-gratifying and bear some truth! Recall how Satan tried to deceive Jesus. Satan spoke truth to Jesus, but out of context or without the fullness of the truth. This is how the enemy deceives us, by putting partial truth in front of us that looks and feels good.
If you were cold, then you would at least be honest and not hypocritical. Even though being cold is not living in truth, it is much likelier that salvation will be fully received in honesty and sincerity. Therefore, it's easier to go from cold to hot, than lukewarm to hot. 'Lukewarm Christians' live their lives pleasing people rather than pleasing God. It's a life of little to no conviction. It's sad to see how this kind of living does appeal to the masses, because it spits on the justice of God. God is mercy, but He is also justice. Jesus tells us to take every thought before Him. I do not want to trust my own soul to interpret how to live for Jesus. I want to listen to the one who knows all things, created all things and is pure truth.
Another aspect of the 'lukewarm Christian' is the stance that we are NEVER to judge a person in any circumstance whatsoever. Again, this idea stands on one verse, throwing out all others that regard to judging. The problem with this, again is taking one Scripture and running with it alone and also taking it out of the context of the passage. You might as well not even claim Christ, because your stance is that truth is relative. It's saying 'what is true for me, may not be true for you. Therefore, I have no right to judge you for it.' It is true that we are not to judge people that do not claim to be a follower of Jesus. But it is boldly clear that we are required to hold our own brothers and sisters accountable.
Jesus continues, “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 (vs. 17).
Jesus sees the ‘lukewarm Christian/church’ different than they see themselves. Actually, it’s not just different, it’s completely opposite. Their blindness doesn’t allow them to see the truth about themselves. All the while they seemingly have it all together, they are actually in a wretched and pitiful state. Regardless of what physical wealth says about a person or church, it’s the nature of the soul that tells the truth. Matthew Henry caught my attention in his theory, “Perhaps they were well provided for as to their bodies, and this made them overlook the necessities of their souls. Or they thought themselves well-furnished in their souls: they had learning, and they took it for religion; they had gifts, and they took them for grace; they had wit, and they took it for true wisdom; they had ordinances, and they took up with them instead of the God of ordinances.” You see the devil will mimic the things of God and in turn deceive man. Paul warns the church of Corinth, “…for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
Please brothers and sisters, keep your eyes and ears open to the voice of Holy Spirit, and consistently seek the Scriptures for truth, in order not to be deceived as well. My advice is to always go to the context of every verse. If Holy Spirit gives me a Scripture, I always go to the Word and read it within its context. If I see a cool verse posted on Facebook, I go to the fullness of the passage to make sure I am applying it correctly when sharing. Also, be sure to consider the Scriptures within the fullness of the Bible, aligned with the character of God and understand it within which it was written. Also, many times I will go back to my concordance to find the deeper meaning of the word in its original language. Unfortunately, English does not always convey the fullness of many Hebrew and Greek words. For example, there are four different Greek words for “love”. When reading the Bible in English, they are always translated into our same word “love”, but each of the four have deeper separate meanings than simply “love.” Please don’t be intimidated by this, because ultimately God Himself is who opens our hearts to understanding. That’s why it’s always good to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding before you read or listen to a sermon. I can always tell whether I’m in tune with God when I write. I have many posts still sitting in my “drafts” folder, and I guarantee that I did not pray before writing the majority of them.
“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” (vs. 18).
In Jesus’ way of grace, He identifies and counsels them towards the truth and healing. However, it’s one thing to acknowledge when Jesus tells you the truth, but it’s another to receive the counsel and act on it. He calls them beyond simply confessing. Jesus urges them to “buy” from Him. If they are poor then how do they buy? Recall Isaiah 55:1“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” Jesus is invoking them into action. In other words, He is telling them to “trade” their pitiful, poor state in for true kingdom wealth. 1 Peter 1:6,7 further explains what Jesus means by gold that has been refined in fire. The process of refining the church is through testing and trials. The gold is the genuine faith that is produced through this kind of seasonal suffering. Genuine faith is true kingdom wealth. Proverbs 11:4 says, “Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.”
He continues to urge them towards trading in their dirty clothes for white ones, in order to cover their shameful nakedness. Throughout Scripture we see God talk about cleansing man from their sinfulness by making us “white” through the cleansing of our sins by Jesus’ blood and sacrifice. Jesus reminds them of the cross and that only He can remove their sin and shame, as was prophesied from the beginning and fulfilled in the gospels. White garments also signify light, which would also allow them to see themselves in truth, by casting the darkness withins.
Jesus finally offers them salve (medicine) for their blindness. Jesus is the great physician. He prioritizes healing the soul over the body, as the healing of our soul brings us into righteousness, that is eternal salvation. So, where do we get this salve for our eyes? It is through God’s Word. The Word of God is our food, water and medicine. Come to Jesus and eat, drink and be healed.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (vs. 19-20).
As a mother, I have always used this line with my children, “I correct and discipline because I love you.” It took many years towards maturity for my kids to understand this concept. It didn’t make sense to the immature mind. I think it’s hard for immature Christians to understand this in the same way that a 3-year-old questions punishment. Jesus tells the lukewarm, wavering mind to sincerely repent. Jesus gives us insight into the process of listening and responding. He will not force His way in, but He chases us down because he loves us. Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. In John 10:27, Jesus says that His sheep hear his voice. Our response is to let Him in, and He will come in and commune with us. This is a lovely picture of God’s forgiveness and grace. Ask God for ears to hear His voice.
“To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (vs. 21-22).
Jesus is reminding us that He was victorious over the same temptations. He urges the lukewarm church to be victorious and overcome the world through their faith. He tells them the great reward, which is to sit with Jesus on His throne. Jesus repeatedly urges the reader to have ears to hear. These are ears of understanding and wisdom, which come only through the power and teaching of Holy Spirit.