Have we lost our first love? Have our works increased, or are they not perfect before God? Do we persevere and labor, or have we become weary? Are we zealous for God and His Way, willing to overcome and to repent of what may be wrong in our lives? Or have we become lukewarm?
The Bible uses the term “lukewarm” only once, in Revelation 3:16, where Christ addresses the Church of the Laodiceans. The Greek word, “chliaros,” describes someone who is somewhat warm, but not hot. It refers to “the self-sufficient and complacent security of a traditional faith” (Fritz Rienecker, Lexikon zur Bibel). The Nelson Study Bible agrees, adding that Christ “rejects the halfhearted efforts of self-satisfied Christians.”
God requires zeal, dedication, commitment, vigor and perseverance until the end. We are to love Him with all our heart, mind and soul. Our life must be in total service to Christ who bought us with His precious blood so that we do not belong to ourselves.
In our booklet, “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation“, we quote Lehmann Strauss as follows: “… the Lord is saying to those at Laodicea that if, instead of being lukewarm, they were so cold as to feel the bitterness and severity of that coldness, they would flee to the true warmth of refuge. If we are really cold, and admit to the fact, our confession will lead to the removal of our sin… The Greek word for ‘hot’ … means ‘boiling hot’… the members in the church at Laodicea were not boiling hot; they were not ardent Christians. They had no enthusiasm, no emotion, no zeal, no urgency. It is possible to have a large measure of doctrinal correctness without the fire of spiritual fervor and affection…”
We also point out in our booklet that “all in God’s Church must remain, or must become zealous, and they must repent… in order to be accounted worthy of escaping the terrible times ahead, and to stand before the Son of God when He returns (Luke 21:36).”
The Bible predicts an end-time falling away of true Christians from the Truth. We read that many will fall away (Matthew 24:10, Revised Standard Version). They will engage in works of unrighteousness so that the love of God within them will grow cold (Matthew 24:12). We must all be on guard, eradicating any temptation of wanting to give up and depart from God’s Way of Life while seeking pleasure in the affairs of this world. This can easily happen when we become “lukewarm”—when we become “too familiar” with what we are supposed to be doing, because familiarity may breed contempt.
In Malachi 1:13, God describes Laodiceans as saying about our dedication to God: “Oh, what a weariness!” (Compare also Isaiah 43:22). Rather than zealously pursuing what is right and good, they become guilty of offering “what is blemished” (Malachi 1:14); they depart from the Way and stumble at the Law (2:8); they engage in prohibited marriage relationships and divorce for unbiblical reasons (2:11, 14-16); and they rob God by neglecting or refusing to pay God’s tithes and give Him offerings (3:8). This attitude leads to a most serious condition of some of God’s people who say: “It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, And that we walked as mourners Before the LORD of hosts? So now we call the proud blessed…” (3:14-15).
We must not allow this kind of attitude to enter our lives. Have we been lacking in prayer, Bible study or Church attendance? Have we considered these commanded activities as weariness and as not being that important, instead of being deeply convinced of their necessity for our spiritual survival and growth? Have we become self-righteous and do we feel content with our spiritual condition instead of being willing to humble ourselves and to increase in the knowledge of Christ? Have we stumbled at the Law and engaged in conduct which God condemns? Are we slowly casting away our confidence and drawing back and drifting away (Hebrews 10:35-38)? If so, then the time to reflect and change is now! Christ tells us: “Be zealous and repent.” He is standing at the door. Let us open the door and let Him come in to take full control of our lives.