Revelation 3:14-16 – what does it mean to be hot or cold?

“The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.’”

I bet you have heard these verses expounded at some point in your life. And perhaps it’s usually been taught that being hot is what God is after in your life. And if you are cold (meaning that you are either lazy or not involved in ministry somehow) then you are less of a Christian and God isn’t all that pleased with you. If that has been your experience, then read on and I think you will see God’s grace in these verses.

I was watching part of this science program about cold, really cold – it was way over my head with the molecular and physics involved in really cold – like Kelvin measurement of cold vs Fahrenheit or Celsius. The show was talking about something colder than anyone on earth could imagine. Most people think of cold as a negative thing, but the program was about the great things that can happen when it’s really, really cold. I won’t go into all of it, but one thing did reveal to me something in the spirit world.

Per the program’s information, when things are very hot or very cold, they act the same. No kidding…you know when things get hot they expand, and pressure builds up because of expansion. Well when it’s very cold the same things can happen. Interesting! And here’s the thing – both the very hot and very cold become super conductors, meaning energy, electricity etc. flows through it with much more efficiency and ease. When things are only lukewarm (in the world of conductors), there’s too much molecular resistance. The energy trying to flow through the conductor is slowed down because the molecules cannot pass freely. Apparently there is too much to go around (resistance) as the molecules bump into each other too often without achieving their potential. Whereas in hot or cold, the molecules line up in a startling and organized fashion, allowing energy to pass freely, which is what a super conductor does.

Ok all that said…now think of Revelation 3 where Jesus was talking to the church in Laodicea: “I know your deeds that you are neither hot nor cold but are lukewarm. And I would/wish that you were either hot or cold but because you are lukewarm” etc.

We usually read that thinking that being cold is a negative thing, don’t we? The light went on as I watched the science program, now knowing that cold is a great, good and otherwise positive thing. It can act just like when things are hot. So, to God (who made hot and cold) both are great ways to conduct energy. I saw that God wants us to be channels of His energy; power, love and grace. When we are lukewarm, it hinders the flow of the Spirit (the energy passing through the molecules). There’s too much resistance when we’re lukewarm. This isn’t talking about being “on fire for God” either. I believe, since the context is about “I know your deeds”…it’s talking about the motivation by which we do things. If we mix law and grace, we are lukewarm. By that I mean, thinking that our actions “for God” will get us answered prayer, or that God will be more pleased with us because of our actions or behavior. If our deeds are motivated by “trying” to move God to do something, it becomes stagnant – it’s a lukewarm situation. This is also true when you do something because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t. That mixture cannot allow the flow of the Spirit to move freely.  If we’re trying to live with just a little law alongside of grace, total grace, then that is a mixture God would spew/spit out of his mouth. Pretty strong language.

I also realized, the heavens we know of, are very cold. No heat from our sun = very cold. God is not put out by cold and in fact, says in Revelation that “He would/wish that we be hot or cold.” I thought too, that this was written in a hot climate, so of course something cold would mean more than it would to us who live in colder climates. And interestingly, I looked up the word lukewarm in that passage and it means that heat has been “added to the cold.” It’s not necessarily that being on fire for God has been compromised, but almost rather, that some heat was added to the cold to make it lukewarm. That says a lot about how positive cold is to Him who made it. It tells me that the flow of the Spirit is God’s heart, so that He can do what He will do to bring His love and salvation to many and glory to His name. But when we try to balance law and grace we end up with neither. Like in Galatians, “cast out the bond-woman (law) and her child”…for grace has come to stay forever.

On the medical side of life, germs thrive in lukewarm places. I don’t know how much John knew about germs and lukewarm, but I’m sure people had some common sense, that when they left things out too long, they spoiled. In our world today we have refrigeration to prevent spoilage. But there again is the benefit of either hot or cold in preventing foods from spoiling.

Another aspect of either being hot or cold, is our emotions. I’ve observed that so many people try to erase how they really feel. You’ve all experienced asking someone how they are, and they answer “fine” or some version of “ok.” We all do this, don’t we? I’m not talking about a casual passing in the street or in the aisle at church, but someone who truly wants to know how you are doing. Some people don’t want to let anyone know how they really feel for fear of rejection from either God or others. There seems to be some unwritten law that Christians shouldn’t ever feel certain emotions, strong emotions like anger or fear or deep sadness and grief. But if you take out all the strong emotions, even great joy, from our lives, we end up “lukewarm!” At least what others see is lukewarm; a sort of pasteurized or homogenized person. You try not to offend anyone (by not being honest) but end up becoming a lukewarm person (pleasing no one, not even yourself). This putting on a front so others see that we don’t struggle, is what God calls hypocrisy. The worst part of it is, that when we hide from our true feelings, we miss the comfort, wisdom and instruction the Lord wants to give us. If you think you are being strong and a good witness in pretending how you feel, you are wrong. If you never confide in God about your broken heart, how can He mend it? God respect us if we truly don’t want to talk to Him, but then we miss out on all that He wants to give us. It takes humility to confess we actually have a need and are weak in some area. God honors that humility!

So be either hot or cold in how you feel. If you really want to do something, go do it (not sin of course)! If you really don’t want to do something, then don’t do it. Also, don’t allow others to dictate your decisions. Don’t let fear of what others may think guide your life. This is part of being hot or cold. Jesus said that we should let our yes be yes and our no be no (Matt 5:37). Take a risk and allow yourself to feel hot or cold and see if He doesn’t meet you right in the midst of it with all the love He desires to show you.

How does this work with receiving all that Jesus died to give us? Just come to Him as you are today. It will glorify His name if you are honest about everything going on in your life. Allow Him to give to you. Even if you are caught in some sin, some bad habit you can’t break, let Him into it and show you all the love He died to give you. He took all your sin, your sickness and pain on the cross. Our lives don’t surprise God in any way. To receive can mean just tell Him all about what’s on your heart and ask Him to act for you, out of His unearned and undeserved favor = grace.

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