"To the angel of the church of Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth". (Rev. 3:14-16)
God always knows the spiritual condition in which we are. He says, "I know your deeds …" (Rev. 3:15)--there is no hiding or pretending before God. And it has always been God's will that we follow a particular course in our lives, but that decision is left in our hands.
From Old Testament times God has always presented two options to His people, outlining the consequences of the choice they make (Deut. 28). It is either one is on the Lord's side or on the devil's side (cf. Ex. 32:26; Jsh. 24:15); there is no middle path.
The same applies in the New Testament (Mt. 6:24; Lk. 14:26; Lk. 9:62; Rev. 3:15) where following Jesus Christ requires that we "… love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength …" (Mk. 12:30 KJV); and where we can only serve one master (Mt. 6:24). And so when God realized the lukewarm state of the Laodicean church, He quickly admonished them to make up their minds—to be either cold or hot.
Specifically, God used the expression “neither cold nor hot” to describe the spiritual condition of the church in Laodicea. But more importantly, the expression also described the spiritual condition of the believers within the church since it was by their lifestyle, behaviour and worship that the church had graduated into lukewarmness.
Hence, if the church was described as “neither cold nor hot”, it meant that the believers within the church were “neither cold nor hot”. It is, therefore, important for us as individual Christians to draw lessons for ourselves from this church, and from other biblical characters. Nonetheless, the issues discussed here would be useful to the church as a whole.
The Lukewarm Condition
Yaw Frimpong-Manso describes the lukewarm condition as "a sickly state that winks at sin while accommodating righteousness. It neither rebukes sin nor does it uphold truth. It is marked by a divided allegiance or wavering faith … It is crying 'Lord, Lord' but refusing to do the things which He commands (Mt. 7:21)."1 This suggests a life of indecision, compromise, idleness, indifference, and self-satisfaction towards righteous living.
Truly, Christians who are 'neither cold nor hot' (lukewarm) are not totally with the Lord and not totally with the world and its pleasures. In other words, their hearts are not 'so close' to the Lord neither are they 'so close' to the world. They do not give all their heart to the LORD (Jer. 29:13). They are characterized by a divided allegiance and superficiality (Jer. 3:10, Mt. 6:24); this division in allegiance would not help them live for Christ. And so it is difficult for the lukewarm Christian to confess wholeheartedly, "I love you Lord".
A Christian in this (lukewarm) condition lives a life of two tastes--a double life--but this kind of life is never fulfilling. Devoting self to either of them would have been fulfilling--one fulfilling to the soul, leading to eternal life, and the other, fulfilling to the flesh, leading to eternal damnation. This is why God warned the Laodicean church, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!" (Rev. 3:15) God told them, "So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16)
This shows that lukewarm Christians cannot remain in their state forever; either they will revert to hotness as a result of repentance, or they will backslide, whereupon they would have lost fellowship with the Father. Until such time that he or she repents, fellowship cannot be restored, for sin blocks the passage of communication between God and the believer.
God has said in His word, "You cannot serve both God and Money." (Mt. 6:24). This truth is seen in the action He was going to take if the Laodicean church failed to depart from lukewarm Christian living: "So because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth." (Rev. 3:16) You cannot live a double life and have a fulfilling spiritual life--serve God and reap eternal glory, or serve the world and the devil and reap eternal death!