by Matt Slick
A lukewarm Christian is someone who claims to be a believer in Jesus but does not appear to be committed to Christ, may occasionally attend church, rarely reads the Bible, and dabbles in the sinful things of the world. Such so-called Christians appear to be Christians in name only but are most probably false converts. However, this does not mean that every lukewarm "Christian" is not a truly regenerate Christian because there are instances where new Christians will dabble with their old ways and experience conviction of their sins, before finally giving them up. With some people, it takes longer than it does with others to seek Christ fully and completely.
I have to clarify here because people frequently misrepresent me. I am not advocating that it is okay for any Christian in any context to sin. I'm not saying that true Christians can go out and sin without conviction or consequence. What I am saying is that there are occasions in which those who are newly regenerate take a longer time to achieve an active level of sanctification and give up on old sinful habits. But, those who are truly regenerate will, because of the work of the Holy Spirit in them, struggle against their sin. Anyone who is not struggling with his sin can't be regenerate. But, different people manifest this in different ways and at different rates. Furthermore, I'm not attempting to excuse lukewarm Christians' behavior. Those who claim to be Christian ought to live in accordance with the teachings of Scripture and they ought to seek the things of God.
Having said that, being lukewarm is something not looked upon favorably in Scripture.
Revelation 3:15–16, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth."
Generally speaking, lukewarm Christians have one foot in the world and the other in church. True Christians, mature Christians, follow the Lord and seek his will. They try to avoid sin, and they grow in their relationship with Jesus. In the above scripture, we see the words of Christ written to the Laodiceans. It was a church full of false converts, and the Lord was calling them to repentance.
Signs of being lukewarm
Typically, those who might be considered lukewarm Christians have some following characteristics. For a longer list, go to What are some of the signs of being a lukewarm Christian?
- They live a different life on Sunday than they do the rest of the week
- Their friends don't know they are Christian
- They would rather be accepted socially, than reveal their Christian faith
- They don't read the Bible very much
- They don't pray very much, or only pray to God during difficult times.
- They don't share your faith very often, if at all
- They only go to church for social reasons, if at all.
What does it mean to be a real Christian?
Being a real Christian means that we take the things of God seriously and we seek to follow Christ and his teachings. Jesus wants us to deny ourselves and follow him. This is the true sign of a Christian. But, it does take time for some Christians to progress in their sanctification. Some people who are newly saved, find it very easy to give up the old ways, where others do not. Some new Christians have no problem in repenting and leaving certain sins behind, where others struggle.
We must recognize that different people have different levels of sanctification before the Lord and just because someone fails, does not mean he's not a Christian. On the other hand, we must admit that those who claim to be Christian but do not walk in the faith, don't go to church, and have no conviction about their sinful actions, are most probably not regenerate and are false converts.
What does Jesus require?
Jesus requires self-denial as well as following him. Following him can be costly because it means to be a disciple of Christ, not of the world.
- Matthew 10:38, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."
- Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me."
- Luke 14:27–28, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?"
- John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Being a Christian does not mean simply believing in Christ and then living your life as though he doesn't matter to you. Being a Christian means to follow him, to turn from sin, and to tell others about who he is and what he is done for our salvation. If you are a lukewarm Christian, there's a warning for you. You need to repent and completely trust in Christ and be dedicated to him. If you cannot do that, then you're not worthy of him (Matthew 10:38) and he will spit you out of his mouth (Revelation 3:15-16).