“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today. . . be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life, and by this word you shall live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”
This is an excerpt from the long article, Spiritual Upheaval, in which we are talking about the various areas of our lives that are not surrendered to the Lord, and which He uses times of spiritual upheaval to push to the surface.
When we think of lukewarmness, we often think of a half-hearted passion for God. And while this can also be the case, lukewarmness is more so characterized by impurity in the faith. This is because passion for God flows from obedience to God. We often try to stir up passion because we believe this is the way to be wholeheartedly for God, but the path of wholeheartedness for God is obedience.
Now of course, I do not mean that we are to obey God without our hearts; we are of course seeking to have them fully devoted in love to God. I am only talking about the means by which we become fully devoted. Many of us think that emotionalism and passion will get us there, but it is intentional obedience that makes the difference. We obey God to pray, to read His Word, to direct our hearts in faith, love, and devotion to Him. Our choice to put our hearts into love and passion for God stems from obeying the Word that teaches us to do this in the first place! We cannot imagine to have any sort of passion for God if we despise the very means to which we find it—obedience.
So many people today throw off obedience imagining that doing so is freedom. And then they find their hearts for God withering away, their faith dimming, their hearts hardening, and their eyes darkening. This is because they have been deceived by the devil’s lie, and they have cast away from themselves the very path to life: obedience. They have believed that obedience is bondage, and that only being outside of it is freedom.
When these people find themselves in such a state, they then throw themselves upon passion and emotions in order to rekindle their love. They fail to understand that this is fleshly effort! They preach so long about not having to live in striving, etc, and yet their very means are striving! They do not yet comprehend that the ways of God are spiritual, and that the means by which we approach God must also be spiritual (John 4:24). However, we are not free to play around with the “spiritual” realm and imagine what these things are, for as we must worship God in spirit we must also worship Him in truth. The means by which we must seek God are spiritual, and God clearly defines what these means are: prayer, the studying of His Word, faith, and obedience.
Indeed one of the hard parts of testing is seeing where our character is revealed in our failing, showing us to be living by our own strength of passion, thinking this to be faith. Peter’s failures speak to this (Matt 14:30, Luke 22:54-62). Many people find their passion is of the flesh and not of faith. This work is not to condemn us but to correct us. Just as Peter thought himself better than all the other disciples and was deeply humbled, yet also restored, Christ corrects us for what we think we possess of ourselves and for not walking in right faith.
Lukewarmness is not a problem of passion in and of itself, it is a problem of devotion. A devotion that is pure, and pure doctrinally. Many people have a “full measure” of passion, yet they are not doctrinally correct in this passion. These people are lukewarm, regardless of how much passion they have (Rev 3:1). For the measure of lukewarmness is not a lack of emotional highs, it is a measure of right obedience to the Truth.
When we are impure in our beliefs, motives, and thoughts, we are a part of the world. It is having this worldliness mixed within our Christianity that makes us impure. When the rule of our lives is governed by the world’s commands above God’s commands, we are corrupted within ourselves.
It is this corruption that God is often after: where we are passionate but not according to right knowledge (Rom 10:2). Being passionate but not according to right doctrine actually reveals our passion for the world, self, and sin. It really means very little if we are emotionally stirred up or not when we are equally grounded within the truth.
In fact, being passionate for things that are opposed to God is the same as a heart that is loveless to God by being dispassionate about Him and His ways. This too is lukewarmness: both are based upon a disregard of God, thinking ourselves to be rich when we are poor (Rev 3:17). Both think little to nothing of the true things of God and think much of what is false, carnal, and of this world. Our very passion condemns us. Passion means nothing if it is not grounded in the truth. And this also means that our efforts, though appearing on the surface to have success, will themselves be found to be nothing more than striving after wind (Eccl 1:14).
January 29, 2021