Friday, 11 March 2011 09:56

Battling Spiritual Sickness; Has Lukewarm Become Your Normal Christian Life?

Written by  Alan Cross
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Recently in church, we talked about spiritual sickness and spiritual healing. You can be sick spiritually just like you can be sick physically. Sometimes, the symptoms of spiritual sickness are obvious. Galatians 5:19-21, Colossians 3:5-9, Romans 1:18-32, and Ephesians 5:3-7 give us some examples of spiritual sickness. If you see any of these things popping up in your life along with things like pride, fear, and anxiety (see Matthew 6), then you are suffering from spiritual sickness.


A doctor in our church talked about the signs of physical sickness and how we know when we are getting the flu. It is pretty obvious and we generally get motivated to do something about it because it causes us discomfort, reduces our quality of life, and keeps us from fulfilling our desires. If we are reasonably well adjusted, we don’t desire to be sick or reorient our life as though sickness is normal. We don’t see people building lifestyles around having the flu or choosing to have cancer. Of course, it does seem as though some enjoy being sick, but the rest of society considers them to be abnormal.

But, when it comes to spiritual sickness, we have come to accept this situation as normal. We build lifestyles and practices around our spiritual maladies. We even claim that there is no such thing as spiritual sickness -- just choice. But, just like there is a norm for physical well-being that we should desire, there is also a norm for spiritual health and well-being. This norm is found in God, our Creator, and He reveals it to us through His Scriptures, the Bible. It was illustrated, lived out for us, and provided for us in Jesus Christ, and now, through faith, we can partake of His life and righteousness. We can live, as some have called it, the Normal Christian Life.

The only way to find spiritual health is through a relationship with Christ by faith. We need His righteousness. We cannot develop our own righteousness to fix our problem because WE are the problem. We carry spiritual sickness around in us and it taints all that we do. We need healing from the outside. We need a full dose of the person and work of Christ to eradicate sin that results in spiritual sickness and brokenness.

Another kind of spiritual sickness that often goes unnoticed is something called “Spiritual Lukewarmness.” Jesus accused the church at Laodecia of this in Revelation 3:14-21. He said that they were neither cold nor hot. They thought that they were rich and in need of nothing. They thought that they were fine. Jesus denounced all of this and said that they were actually very needy. They just didn’t realize it. He said that he would rather they be hot or cold, not lukewarm. If they were hot, that would be better, obviously. If they were cold toward God, even that is better than being lukewarm because you know that you are separated from God. You are not living under the illusion of being close to God when you really aren’t.

Francis Chan gives us some symptoms of lukewarmness in his book, Crazy Love. He quotes Luke 14:34-35, which says, “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown out.”
Chan goes on to say, “Jesus isn’t just making a cute little analogy here. He is addressing those who aren’t willing to give everything, who won’t follow Him all the way. He is saying that lukewarm, halfhearted following is useless, that it sickens our souls. He is saying that this kind of salt is not even ‘fit for the manure pile.’ Wow. How would you like to hear the Son of God say, ‘You would ruin manure’? When salt is salty, it helps manure become good fertilizer ... but lukewarm and uncommitted faith is completely useless. It can’t even benefit manure.” Those are sobering words.


Signs of Spiritual Sickness
How do you know if you are spiritually sick? How can you tell if you have wrapped your life around what is actually abnormal for the Christian, but you now call it normal for yourself? Would your “faith” ruin manure? Is it completely worthless? Or does your faith in Christ become a conduit for God to work in and through your life in a way that He is glorified and the world is changed? Do you live for yourself and ask God to bless your endeavors, or do you live for God and ask Him to use you as He sees fit? Lots of questions, but here is a checklist that might help you find some answers:

  • Do you enjoy spending time in prayer, meditating on the Scriptures, and in worship, or is it a chore to you?
  • When you encounter the Word of God, do you consider how you can conform your life to God’s will (with His help), or do you look for the parts that affirm you as you are?
  • Does entertainment, sports, politics, and material things (your house, “stuff,” vacations, recreation, etc.) excite you more than the things of God?
  • When you think about church (the community of believers), do you first think about what you can get out of it and how the church can meet your needs, or do you think about what you can give and contribute to others?
  • Do you care more about what other people think of you or about what God thinks of you?
  • When you see people who are different from you in any way, do you sit in judgment on them, or do you make an effort to love them as your neighbor
  • When it comes to the poor and those in need, do you think about how you can be a blessing to them, or do you primarily think about how you can spend your material resources on yourself?
  • Do you see God as a means to an end (God is the way to achieve blessing and the “good life”), or do you see God as the beginning and end of all things? Would you worship and serve God even if it cost you everything?

C.S. Lewis says that the first reward of our obedience to God is a greater desire for Him. Do you desire God? Do you hunger and thirst for Him? If not, you might want to ask Him to show you where you are disobeying Him and how you are trying to carve out a life for yourself apart from God. A checklist to follow to be restored to spiritual health are the prescriptions found in Philippians 4:4-9. Take these dose by dose and you will find your desire for God restored!

  • Rejoice in the Lord always! That means all the time, in all circumstances, whether good or bad. We can rejoice in the Lord because HE never changes.
  • Be gentle – God is near. We don’t have to be harsh or angry or vengeful. God is near. What do we have to fear?
  • Do not be anxious about anything. Why be filled with anxiety? God is near. Look to Him. Trust Him. Go to the Scriptures and pray every day and receive from the Lord what He has for you.
  • In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Don’t take your needs anywhere else. Bring them to God.
  • God’s inexpressible peace will guard your heart and mind. God will make things right in your life. Shalom (peace) will surround you when you look to Him.
  • Think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:1-3). Think on things above (Col. 3:1-4).
  • We all need to be spiritually healed. Recognize your sickness, present yourself to God, the healer, and ask Him to restore you. Repent of living for yourself. He will forgive and restore.

Alan Cross is pastor of Gateway Baptist Church, 3300 Bell Road, in Montgomery. Check out his blog at

Last modified on Thursday, 27 October 2016 10:03
Alan Cross

Alan Cross

Alan grew up outside of New Orleans and still cherishes the great cultural he was raised in.  Not only is he an avid Saints fan, but he still makes time to go back regularly to the French Quarter for beignets in the morning and Jazz in the evening.  Now Alan lives in Montgomery with his wife Erika and their children.  He is also the pastor at Gateway Baptist Church on Bell Road.

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