A lukewarm life is a displeasure to God; He would have us to be “fervent in spirit.” (Romans 12:11) God is pleased with us when we are lively stones, but not when we are formal and lukewarm. A lukewarm state is a dangerous state. One very dangerous thing about it is that usually when a person is lukewarm he is unaware that he is lukewarm. If a man is sick and does not know that he is sick, he is in great danger of his life, because he is not at all likely to take the proper care of himself. So the man who is cold and formal but thinks he is spiritual and full of love is not at all likely to do anything for the improvement of his spiritual condition. He is very much like the Irishman’s turtle. I hesitate to relate anything so amusing, but it so well illustrates the state of the lukewarm professor that I think I am justifiable:
Some Irishmen had caught a large turtle and cut off his head. Then they waited for him to die, but the turtle scrambled about for some hours. Desiring an explanation of such a phenomenon, they accosted an Irishman who was passing by. After watching the turtle for a moment, he remarked, “He is dead, but does not know it.”
This is the condition of the lukewarm professors. They are spiritually dead, but are not aware of it. The professors of Christianity at Laodicea were lukewarm, but they thought themselves rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing (Revelation 3:14-18).
Diseases of the human body are attended with certain feelings and symptoms by which the physician can tell the nature of the affection in a particular case. The diseases of the human soul are also attended with certain symptoms by which the nature of the malady in a given case may be known. I will now tell you of a few of the symptoms of lukewarmness, so you may know whether such is your state.
First. A kind of doubtful or uncertain feeling as to whether you are right with God, together with an unwillingness to examine yourself closely for fear you are wanting. Being filled with the Spirit gives us fullness of assurance.
Second. If when you testify to being saved, sanctified, and ready for the coming of Jesus, your heart fails to say amen, and you wish down in your soul you had a little better assurance that what your lips say were true, you are not as spiritual as you should be. When we are filled with the Spirit, our souls are assured and satisfied.
Third. Going along day after day in the same routine of life taking it for granted that you are at the work the Lord wants you to do, and not earnestly seeking to know His will. Those who are spiritual cannot be contented without a definite knowledge of the will of God. If you are going along without any real and positive knowledge of the will of God and not seeking to know it, surely you are lukewarm.
Fourth. If when your routine of life is in some way interrupted, you are dissatisfied and complain; if you do not enjoy being moved out of your old channel, but you wish to be let alone, it is evident that you have chosen your own way and that God is not ordering your steps.
Fifth. If when you are called to the assistance of a neighbor or the sick or even an enemy, you find a reluctancy to go and an often returning of your own mind to your own concerns and a desire to hurry back to them, you are, it appears, looking upon your own things, and not on the things of others. The Bible tells us to “Look… upon the things of others.” (Philippians 2:4) If you see your own needs, and see and care but little about the things of others, you are selfish. Those who are spiritual have time to help others and do it willingly.
Sixth. If when called upon to go to the assistance of some unfortunate one and you cannot possibly go, if you do not have a deep heart-regret and if you do not oftentimes during the day think of the poor unfortunate man and be pained at heart because of your inability to help him, you must be more concerned about yourself than about others. You look on your own things and do not see nor feel the needs of others. If such is true in you, you are in a lukewarm state.
Seventh. If you were to be asked whether you are doing the work you are now doing, solely and purposely for the glory of God, and you should be obligated to answer that you had taken no particular thought about it, but supposed it mattered little to the Lord just so you were doing something, this would surely show neglect, indifference, lukewarmness.
Eighth. If you are indifferent and unconcerned about making spiritual progress; if you are not desiring and earnestly seeking for more of God; if you are not earnestly striving to be more meek and humble, to be more kind and patient; if you are carelessly tolerating acts of selfishness, of impatience, unkindness, harshness, lightness, you are certainly lukewarm.
Ninth. Neglect to read the Bible and to pray in secret; greater fervency in public prayer than in secret prayer; more outward manifestation than real inward piety; testifying or preaching beyond the true standard of living—these too are evidences of lukewarmness. A man may become enthusiastic in prayer, testimony, or sermon, and think he is making great advancement; but if he does not live up to every word he speaks, he is losing instead of gaining, because he is not walking in light.
Lukewarmness is very loathsome to God. It reproaches Him. To make no profession of love to God at all is not such a reproach to Him as to profess love and be lukewarm. God wants all your heart. If He cannot have it all, He will have none. He desires warm, fervent love. To love Him only partially, and not supremely, makes it appear as if He were worthy of only half-hearted love. It makes other things equal with God.
After the physician learns the symptoms and pronounces the disease, he then prescribes the remedy. Thank God, there is an unfailing remedy for lukewarmness. Of course, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” “Repent, and do the first works.” (Revelation 2:5) Come to God and buy of Him gold refined in the fire. Exercise yourself in spiritual things if there yet be any love in your heart. Shake off everything that is stupefying. Press your way through to God in spite of dryness and deadness. Stir up your soul. Give yourself to deep meditation upon the great love of God to you. Pray in fervency and faith. Consecrate to the whole will of God. If your case is not hopeless—and it is not—this will effect a cure.