Updated January 21, 2022.
Are You a Lukewarm Christian?
Here’s How You Can Know.
What does it mean to be a lukewarm Christian?
As we dive into this question I want you to know, I have nothing but love for those of you reading this. The topic of being a lukewarm Christian can be a hard one to work through because it means confronting a lot of behaviors that have become normal for many of us.
I say us because admittedly, I’ve been there too.
This article is a combination of what I’ve learned through my own experience and through personal Bible study.
A few things we need to know about lukewarm Christianity; let’s start with the lukewarm Christian definition.
Lukewarm means neither hot nor cold. In the context of faith, the lukewarm meaning in the Bible describes someone who hasn’t blatantly denied Jesus but isn’t blatantly living for Him either. They have lukewarm faith; faith in name, but not in action.
You can find what the Bible has to say about being hot or cold in Revelation chapter 5:14-22. We’ll be examining those verses more in this article as well.
To sum it up in a simple sentence: lukewarm faith is faith that doesn’t affect the way you live.
It’s interesting that the term lukewarm Christian even exists, because what makes Christian a Christian is their belief in Jesus, their love for Him. and their commitment to the will of God.
Affections shape our actions. There are several ways to identify a lukewarm Christian but all of them point to an even greater concern.
You become a lukewarm Christian when you allow your love of God to fade.
You become a lukewarm church when your reverence for God fades.
Both of these are indicators that you’re about to slide down a very slippery slope.
A book to consider if you want to leave the lukewarm Christian life:
The Dangers of Lukewarm Christianity
A lukewarm Christian is someone who claims to be a follower of Jesus but lives as though they are sufficient in themselves and don’t need Him. They might attend church, but they’re content in their own ways and rarely apply what they learn.
They might attend a worship service, but they treat it like a concert only engaging if the music fits their preference; treating it more like a concert. They might do charitable deeds but only after weighing how it will benefit them.
A Christian in a healthy relationship with the Lord will do these things because of their commitment and love for God. A lukewarm Christian dismisses their need for God and disconnects from the concept of a relationship with Him because they believe they are sufficient in and of themselves.
We see this type of behavior described in Revelation chapter 3.
“Because you say, I am rich, I have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -” Revelation 3:17
This text describes people who are so confident in themselves, they seemingly have no need for God. Because they believe they have no need for Him, they remain neutral when they should be standing for Him. Instead of standing for righteousness, they compromise.
That is why being a lukewarm Christian is so dangerous. Lukewarm Christianity teaches Christians that compromising our faith is acceptable. Instead of standing for righteousness, lukewarm Christianity encourages the body of Christ to remain neutral.
When the body of Christ becomes neutral we also become ineffective. In addition, we relinquish power and authority to those who wish to change the standards of righteousness to fit their own agendas.
A lukewarm church aids the agenda of the enemy without even knowing it. And when the Lord reaches out to convict and correct – a lukewarm church will reject His helping hand. They believe they are sufficient in themselves.
Looking to get “anchored” in prayer? Try this resource here!
A Letter to the Lukewarm Christian Church
We learn what the Bible says about being a lukewarm Christian in Revelation chapter 3. Here John (one of Jesus’ disciples) is having a conversation with God about what is to come in the last days.
God tells gives him messages to deliver to seven churches; one of them being the church of Laodiceans; also described as the lukewarm church.
This will give you an even more clear understanding of the lukewarm Christian definition and how God feels about lukewarm Christianity.
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot I will vomit you out of My mouth.]
Why is it better to be cold than lukewarm?
A “cold” Christian is typically well aware of their choice to live for themselves or join another belief system.
A lukewarm Christian is usually one that has either:
- fallen away so slowly they don’t recognize their own complacency.
- someone who is still trying to figure out how to get the best of both worlds. In both cases, we introduce a level of deception and confusion that is damaging.
Lukewarm Christianity causes the church to stop doing the will of the Lord and begin living for themselves. What’s worse is that it teaches we can do so without consequence; teaching that perverts that grace of God and the very heart of the gospel.
As Francis Chan states in the best of lukewarm Christian quotes,
“Lukewarm Christians don’t really want to be saved from their sins; they want to be saved from the consequences of their sins.”
– Francis Chan
Which brings us to the next question. Are lukewarm Christians saved? There are a lot of opinions on whether or not a lukewarm person will receive salvation.
Instead of wading through each opinion, we’re going to wade through the Bible to see what God has to say about the issue. We’ll start by examining the following scripture on being lukewarm.
Are Lukewarm Christians Saved?
Salvation is a beautiful gift. Although God did His part to make it available to everyone, scripture makes it very clear that there will be people who miss out on it.
In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus is talking to His disciples about the Kingdom of Heaven and He says to them,
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
Shortly after that Jesus warns again,
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven. Matthew 7:21
A lukewarm church is a church that believe a polluted gospel, one that leads them away from doing the will of God and away from a relationship with Jesus.
If a relationship with Jesus and commitment to walking with God’s are two essentials for salvation (see John 14:6, Matthew 7:21, Revelation 3:15-16) then lukewarm church has a big problem!
I believe that’s why God had this message writing to the church of Laodicea and preserved through the Bible.
He wanted to warn them that complacency and compromise could cost them more than they could imagine. This is why in the next portions of Revelation chapter 3 He offers the people both correction but hope.
Correction and Hope for the Lukewarm Christian Church
“I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your wickedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:18-19
God is not willing to embrace a lukewarm church. He is however willing to embrace a repentant church!
5 Signs of Being a Lukewarm Christian
- You’re content without Jesus. A lukewarm Christian doesn’t have any desire to spend time with Him in prayer, worship, in the Bible, or to serve alongside Him.
- You ignore teaching and conviction. You don’t allow others, Holy Spirit, or even the Bible to counsel you.
- You welcome and value teachings of philosophers and thought leaders over the full counsel of God. A lukewarm Christian allows philosophies and ideologies to be the foundations of their choices. They expect God’s grace to uphold them even when they oppose Him with their choices.
- You would rather remain neutral than live “set apart.” A lukewarm Christian will not pick sides. They’ll run from the responsibility of choosing between righteousness and worldliness and will fight to create a middle ground. They remain neutral in an attempt to gain the best of both worlds.
- You use your voice to advocate for your preferences even when those preferences cause you to oppose God’s moral standards.
- Your confidence lies in your possessions, connections, and influence instead of in the Lord.
- You expect God to conform to the will of people instead of encouraging people to conform to the will of God. What God has spelled out clearly, a lukewarm Christian will allow society to alter and redefine. A few examples, the definition of marriage, gender identity, social justice and reformation.
How to Not Be A Lukewarm Christian
Overcoming spiritual lukewarmness will challenge you because it will require you to give up a lot of the things you’ve become accustom to.
Below are 7 steps that will help you answer the question, how to stop being a lukewarm Christian. I’ll list them individually first, and you can keep reading to get the full break down.
- Acknowledge your need for Jesus.
- Delight in sound biblical teaching.
- Value the wisdom and counsel of the Lord.
- Prioritize choices that protect and honor your relationship with Jesus.
- Choose Jesus over and over again.
- Treasure the giver over the gift.
- Model righteousness. Model love. Encourage both.
Acknowledge Your Need for Jesus
We all need Jesus. There isn’t one person in this world who can be saved for eternity without Him. In Romans 3:23 Paul teaches, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
A few chapters later in Romans 6:23 Paul states, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Salvation for eternity can only be found in Jesus. We are not sufficient on our own.
Overcoming spiritual lukewarmness requires us to confess our need for Jesus. Next on the agenda is building a relationship with Him. Learn more about building a relationship with Jesus in this article.
If you confess with your mouth that the Lord Jesus and believe in your hearts the God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
Delight in Sound Biblical Counsel
There are a lot of voices that fight for space in our minds. Some of them are intentionally deceptive, some of them have good intentions but are misleading, others are ignorant; and then there’s the Bible, the counsel of the Lord.
Find joy in obtaining wisdom that comes from God.
In Psalm 1:1-3 David says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful, But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law, he meditates day and night.”
One way to not be a lukewarm Christian is to find joy in studying the Bible and spending time with God.
If you’re new to Bible study and not sure where to start, I share more about my all-time favorite Bible reading plan in this article.
Value the Wisdom and Counsel of the Lord
We live in a society that teaches us to find wisdom in people. Unfortunately, people fail. Our wisdom fails. That’s why it’s important for us to value God’s wisdom the counsel of the Bible and Holy Spirit above any other voice.
In Proverbs 1:7 we’re advised, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…”. Wisdom starts and ends with the counsel of the Lord.
A lukewarm Christian will lean on the unstable guidance philosophers, thought leaders, and world figures. A genuine Christian will lean on God’s wisdom even when it requires them to go against the grain.
For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.
Prioritize Choices that Protect and Honor Your Relationship with Jesus
Aim to be a friend of God over a friend of the world (James 2:23 and James 4:4). Be a co-laborer (1 Corinthians 3:9). Those are two precious pieces of our identity in Christ we should not give up so easily.
Of course, building a friendship with God means learning to hear His voice and consider His heart, and acknowledge His ways. Two primary ways we hear His voice are through the Bible and through prayer.
If prayer is something that is confusing or intimidating to you, I highly recommend the book A Woman’s Guide to Steadfast Prayer. It keeps prayer simple and approachable for women no matter where they’re at in their relationship with God.
Choose Jesus over and over again.
Your choices are a reflection of what you love. Love Jesus more than anything. Be passionate about what He’s passionate about. Love what He loves, hate what He hates, and advocate for the things He stands for.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”
Treasure the giver over the gift.
We are only whole when we are walking in a relationship with Jesus. Be thankful for what God has provided and allowed you to enjoy, but keep your confidence in Him.
When we have nothing we still have Him. When we have everything, genuine Christians will still value God most.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
Model Righteousness. Model Love. Encourage Both.
The ways of the world will lead us astray every single time. That’s why Paul instructs us in Romans 12:2, “…Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Don’t allow the world to redefine what God has already set in stone. Love God enough to stand by Him. Love people enough to encourage them in truth.
The good news about being a lukewarm Christian is that you’re not too far gone to be loved by God and make your way back to Him.
In fact, one of the most popular stories in the Bible that depicts the love of God towards lukewarm Christians is the story of the prodigal son. You’ll find it in Luke chapter 15:11-32.
Just as that father was eager to welcome his son back into his arms, God is eager to welcome the repentant Christian back into His arms. That’s my story anyway.
It starts with a simple confession, “Jesus, I need you.” In just one prayer you’re one step closer to a genuine relationship with God.
What spoke to you the most about being a lukewarm Christian? Let us know below!
Great resources for avoiding being a lukewarm Christian:
Hi friends! I’m Alonda Tanner; an Alaska Grown author and educator, with an ever-growing love for Jesus, books, and sparkling cider. In addition, I love serving the world by creating free education and resources that inspire women to embrace their God-given identity and live purpose-driven, faith-filled lives. I’m a firm believer that it all starts with digging into the Word. Ready to venture into a richness of the Bible? Join our Bible Study community and I’ll send you our most well-loved resources – our Bible study Highlighting Key – for free!
10 Signs of Lukewarmness in a Christian Teenager – Godly Youths Hub
Tuesday 11th of April 2023
[…] Here’s an article I really like about this subjectWith all these beings said, here are ten signs of Lukewarmness and what to do about it. […]
Wednesday 18th of January 2023
I don't understand, and this has frustrated me for a long time. What exactly do you mean by living for yourself? Do you mean you shouldn't buy a home or have a family? Have non sinful hobbies? Go to work? What? What do you mean by that? I need more clarification I try to avoid sin and keep God on my mind in life and consult him for his will. What are examples of living for yourself?
Tuesday 27th of December 2022
Would love to share the graphic on 7 steps to not be a lukewarm Christian, but is there one posted somewhere that says Step 2 instead of Step 22? Good stuff in this article!
Wednesday 14th of September 2022
I looked up how to have a better relationship with Jesus and I came across your page, you explain things so well and they're easy to understand. What stood out to me was the topic of finding joy in spending time with that. In all honesty, that is not me. Often, I prefer to do other things but the problem with that can be results in sadness and hopelessness. So, my goal is to find joy in reading god's word so I can get to know Him more to have a better relationship with Him. I believe if I and others do this...we won't feel hopelessness anymore. Thank you again for all the explanations you've given!
Monday 1st of August 2022
Wow! Thank you this was very thought provoking and impactful. The Holy Spirit was gracious enough to point me here to catch this before I fell further.