Hot, Cold or Luke-Warm? [New Version]

Jesus tells us in His letter to the seventh and final church in Revelations in Revelations 3:15-16 (ESV) that hot and cold He can use. Luke-warm, He can’t. He implores us to decide what one we are and warns us if we stay luke-warm, He’ll spit us out:

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.

Pretty strong words, right? But I am so glad He warns us of the danger of being luke-warm, because really none of us deep down wants to live like a hypocrite and we would sure appreciate God’s discernment in the matter.

Oh yes: we can be each one of these states – luke-warm, cold and hot – at different times in our lives, just as Peter was:

1. He was luke-warm (not living out his true convictions) sitting with the Pharisees, so Jesus rebuked him through Paul to lead him to repentance, so he could be of use again.

2. He was cold, when the cock-crow reminded him of what Jesus had said (in part) and he wept bitter tears because he didn’t yet experientially know the depths of God’s love and grace for him and others, nor how to walk in step with the Holy Spirit. His heart is hardened in pride and bitterness, as he believes he should have been able to stand firm in his own strength and not deny Jesus.

3. He was hot in his passion – zealous and fervent – to follow Jesus at the beginning (but often led by the flesh) and after his restoration (now surrendered to and growing in the Holy Spirit’s leading, who was transforming his mind and revealing Christ’s heart in and through him, more and more, through leading him to repentance).

Burning hot has its use. Sometimes Jesus has known that I in fact need His fire in others to burn away the dross of my pride, so He has sent people into my midst to speak it as it is, without adding polite niceties to soften the blow. It has woken me up, praise God!

It has stripped away what I really don’t want hanging out in me, by opening my eyes to see how I was in fact judging others in my “truth speaking”, rather than walking in humility and inviting Jesus to show me what He could see about the situation and the person I was addressing.

And that zealous desire and commitment to obey God’s promptings also undergirds the gift of godly encouragement I have received so often in my life. Jesus has known when I have needed the gentle warmth of His kindness to help me to trust His intentions toward me and to draw me into His arms to comfort me and help me see what He sees.

With my trust restored, through timely Scriptures, hymns, dreams and/or visions the Body of Christ have sent me or given me (even complete strangers!), I have been encouraged to repent of my desire to choose the easy route, and have set out upon the harder path, now trusting by faith that this harder path of God’s choosing for me will bring the most fruit in my life and the lives of others.

But luke-warm has no use. It’s neither here nor there. It’s hypocritical. I have been there too and still sometimes sadly fall into it even now. But praise God – because I gave Him my life and heart – He always rebukes me in my luke-warm state, and opens my eyes to see what I am doing. He always invites me to repent, knowing that this repentance (changing of my mind and actions) is my true and pure desire in Him.

When I am luke-warm, I claim to be following Jesus, and yet simulatenously bow to the fear of man, not willing to risk losing the affections of and standing among my fellow men. I soften my words and actions, placating and flattering others, to safeguard my seat, when Jesus has called for fire. This, even where, I know those in my midst are hurting themselves and others in following the letter of the law, rather than the Spirit of the law, and placing heavy burdens upon themselves and others in doing so.

I am also luke-warm, when I point fingers and hand out (verbal) blows to defend myself and others, trying to persuade those around me to believe me at my word [note how I said me at my word – not Jesus – notice how I put myself at the head]. And I have noticed I do this when Jesus is quietly calling me to hold my tongue and listen to the heart of the other, or when He is calling me to depart and shake off the dust, and to entrust myself – and those He is calling me to leave behind – into His capable care.

But praise God, just as with Peter, God sees my heart’s desire to follow Him and always firmly and yet gently rebukes my luke-warm state, leading me to repentance. He often does this through my body – which is of course a Temple of the Holy Spirit. In the beginning, whenever I tried to bow down to man and silence His Voice in me, or when I tried to fight back in the flesh, not believing God would protect me and that I had to now protect myself, I would experience massive trauma triggers. Through those triggers, I learnt to cry out to God to comfort me with His Word, as He exposed lies I believed about Him to uproot them and replace them with the truth.

Now, I no longer experience such intense trauma triggers as often – I am learning to trust His gentle promptings to slow and listen to His loving Word to me: except where there is still a strongly rooted lie, He desires to uproot. Then, the fresh waves of trauma tell me I am believing something about his nature that doesn’t fit with who He is. It’s then, I get the honor of asking Him what He wants to reveal about Himself to me that I don’t yet deep down know. And when He shows me that, I ask Him for a Scripture to help me receive that part of His character and to release the lie. It is incredible how He has uncovered and spoken to my deepest heart’s desire through that.

God has used and continues to use these triggers to free me from the suffocating hold of legalism and my own hypocrisy. He always sees the root of each sin and moves into action to defend me, by drawing me into His arms of love and mercy. That shaking of my body merely reveals the foundation of Jesus in me, as it leans me into His arms, as His Spirit in me compels me to lift up my heart to God and cry out for His Word to me.

In that renewed thirst and hunger for righteousness, Christ fills me with His living bread, washes me in His living water and pours out His Holy Spirit upon me. I receive the convictions of sin and affirmations from His Word that I need in order to discern the enemy’s voice from the Holy Spirit’s gentle promptings and to walk into my Savior’s good and perfect will for my life.

I am emboldened by God to speak aloud my convictions, to invite those in my midst to respond, to seek the forgiveness of those I have hurt in my fighting and fleeing, as they too share their convictions with me. And then I find God either inviting me to stay and open my heart to learn from those in my presence, or to depart and shake off the dust, when He shows me that those in my midst are unwilling to receive His beauty in me.

He has helped me release others into His hands and then to release them into His hands afresh again, when I have begun to turn back to try to cling to them anew, believing myself to be “mentally unstable” or “crazy” instead of one who has not been given a spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of love and power and a sound mind.

Praise God that even when I have condemned myself in the enemy’s attacks against me, God has moved to defend me, cleansing my guilty conscience with His living water and reminding me that His mercy is enough for me and that I am not defined by my past, but by Him and His life and love growing in me. He reminds me how proud He is of the growth He sees in me.

A dear friend once sent me this Scripture (Psalm 116:6, HCSB, my emphasis):

The Lord guards the inexperienced;
I was helpless, and He saved me.

not knowing how perfectly timed it was and how that one bolded Word would lift off the heavy yoke of responsibility from my shoulders. For, it reminded me that God always knew my every weakness and purposely sent me to places He knew would reject His beauty in me and where He knew I also would reject His beauty in others – not to hurt me or others, but to bless and affirm us all.

For, He saw that precisely my weakness being put on display, and my open confessions of sin would sow the seeds of righteousness into my own heart and into others in these communities that were – just like me then – still listening to and heeding our old nature of self-righteousness (believing it to be godly) and not our new nature in Christ Jesus.

He has been walking me through deeper healing, to root me in His love and sovereign completion. He has been growing me in truth and grace, helping me to shake off my old legalistic mind-set and thinking, to pursue a living and breathing relationship with Him and abide in the new thinking and heart He has given me and is uncovering more and more in me.

And in that relationship a deep passionate desire to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and to follow my Jesus wherever He leads me, with my whole heart, is taking over my body. That Holy Spirit flame in me is bringing the peace I have so longed for, as piece by piece by piece, I am growing in the confidence of God’s love for me and others, as God blows upon me afresh through each trial He sends my way to prove Himself in me.

That fleshly desire to be luke-warm still rears its ugly head: but praise God, He is empowering me and training me in His love, truth and grace, to nip it in the bud much more quickly and to return and rest in His arms.

Praise God for His deep, deep mercy for us all!

Father, oh how I praise You for Your faithfulness to us, the work of Your hands. Thank You that You defend Your children from the enemy’s accusations of condemnation and his scare tactics. Thank You that when we are afraid, we can trust in You, by crying out to You for help, laying our fears and cares at Your feet and inviting You to give us a fresh Word of encouragement.

Thank You that You are not a harsh task master, who enslaves us and others to a long list of rules or a set of legalistic steps to cleanse and free ourselves. Thank You that You desire and delight in a living and breathing relationship with us, where You gently take us by the hand and lead us into the truth.

Thank You that moment by moment You bring Your Word to remembrance that we might be encouraged and strengthened to walk in Your good and perfect Way for us. Thank You that through Your love for us, we are able to love You and each other fervently and passionately, in truth and in grace, as we learn to move in step with Your Holy Spirit, in Your merciful and compassionate leading that meets us where we are.

Thank You for warning us of the danger of becoming luke-warm and believing that we are rich, when in fact we are letting go of our eternal riches in Christ Jesus, by chasing after earthly belonging and validation. Forgive me for every time I have been luke-warm and lived in hypocrisy. Forgive me for every time I have turned my back on you and attempted to convince the world around me and myself that I haven’t.

Remind me to continue coming before You daily, to ask You where I am in relation to You – if I am looking at You or turning away. And remind me to invite You daily to show me what I can let go of, and what I can receive of You to draw nearer to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Will you join me today to delight in Jesus and His life in us?

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