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Apostasy Starts with Lukewarm

Dr. David Jeremiah

Five Prescriptions for Lukewarm

Christ | Culture | Creator

Has anyone ever said to you, or have you ever said to another person, “You make me sick!”? Those are strong words, but it’s precisely the message Jesus had for the church at Laodicea.

Laodicea was a wealthy city known for its advances in business, science, and industry. But Jesus had nothing positive to say about its church.

The Laodicean believers were comfortably proud of their own wealth, their own status, and their own accomplishments “for the kingdom.” They thought they were prosperous and successful, but in reality, Jesus said they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (3:17).

In His letters to the other churches, Jesus expressed anger over their apostasy, but He became positively ill—absolutely disgusted—by the casual indifference of the Laodiceans. He said to the church, “Because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (3:16).


Jesus became positively ill by the casual indifference of the Laodiceans.


This is the only place in the New Testament where the word “lukewarm” appears. It is a word picture that would have been familiar to the Laodiceans based on the city’s geography. The water at Laodicea was not drinkable, so the residents had water pumped in from surrounding cities—hot water from Hierapolis (north) and cold water from Colossae (south). Hot water can be cleansing and healing; cold water can be refreshing. But by the time the water reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm and hard to stomach—just like the faith of the church there.

Unfortunately, there are many Laodicean churches today. They have become lukewarm about the Gospel. They have lost their zeal for evangelism, and they don’t take a stand on spiritual or moral issues.

Some churches grow vast congregations, increase the variety and number of their programs, and build larger and larger buildings to accomplish their purposes—which they mistake for those of Christ. In reality, He may be pushed outside and left knocking at the door. How sad to think of Him returning to His Church at the end of the age and finding Himself persona non grata!


How have you pushed Christ aside and left Him knocking at the door of your heart?

In light of their lukewarm condition, Christ, the Great Physician, gave the church at Laodicea—and lukewarm churches today—five prescriptions:

  1. For spiritual poverty, Jesus prescribed “gold”—spiritual riches, such as character and virtue, and other blessings and rewards—all refined in the fire of suffering (3:18).

  2. For spiritual nakedness, Jesus prescribed the garments of righteousness (3:18).

  3. For spiritual blindness, Jesus prescribed a spiritual salve that would open their eyes to their true spiritual condition (3:18).

  4. For spiritual compromise, Jesus prescribed repentance and zeal (3:19).

  5. For their spiritual deafness, Jesus prescribed a listening ear to hear His voice—His knock—and open the door and welcome Him to come in (3:20).

What about you? Are you rich in Christ and Christlike character? Are you growing in knowledge and the fullness of His grace? (Colossians 1:9-10) How have you opened the door of your heart to Him lately?

Lord God, give me a heart that burns with love and holy zeal for You! Forgive me for the times I have been lukewarm. Jesus, I gladly open the door of my heart and welcome You to come in today. Amen.

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