“Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one." - Francis Chan, Crazy Love, p.70
That is a bold statement and I, like many others, enjoy this thought provoking quote. I would, however, modify it slightly as follows below. This restatement more accurately describes what happens on the front-line of the war between sin and obedience. It also let’s us open up discussion about the cycle of sin.
“Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they often want to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely and fully hate their sin; at times they aren't even sorry for it. Lukewarm people, for one reason or another, ultimately choose their sin over complete obedience, reliance, and transformation through Christ Jesus."
Let’s go through this together and use it to examine scripture.
“Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they often want to be saved from the penalty of their sin.”
No person likes to feel wrong or in trouble. This is a common truth that is accepted in the secular world as well as the church. Popular scriptures such as: ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ (John 10:10) or There is no condemnation in Christ”; are often misquoted to excuse or justify sinful behavior. There may be no condemnation in Christ, but there is conviction.
In no way does this mean that there are no sinners who don’t want to be actually saved from their sin. Most of the time though, if honest, people that are desiring salvation are looking for a get out of jail free card. This is why preaching a condemnation message followed by an altar call, often has little lasting results. Individuals feel bad, so they seek something to make them feel better. Once they feel better, all too often, these people go right back into the behavior that led to the sin that was making them feel bad in the first place. This starts the cycle again and so it goes on and on.
“They don’t genuinely and fully hate their sin; at times they aren’t even sorry for it.”
Not liking the end result of a course of actions, and hating the actions that lead there, are two totally different things. If you don’t like the penalty for your choices, you can certainly like the journey it takes to get there. A person cheating on their spouse may not like the divorce proceedings, but probably enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh along the way. As usual the word of God tells us to be different. The bible calls on us to have hatred towards our sin: Romans 12:9 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good”, Psalms 97:10 Let those who love the Lord hate evil, for He guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Now I can understand that hate is a strong word, and not popular, however that is what it takes to move away from sin. This is not a overnight process to enact, but it is a decision that must be reached. Once the decision to hate your sin is made, it must be remade and recommitted to frequently. Make no mistake, hating certain sins is akin to a titanic struggle. It is taking a complete about face from your sin. Take heart though; because if you can persevere and really make choice after choice to move away from your sins, while replacing them with Godly things, it will get easier over time.
“Lukewarm people, for one reason or another, ultimately choose their sin over complete obedience, reliance, and transformation through Christ Jesus.”
This explains why so many people begin to turn from a sinful course, only to turn back to their wrong ways. We all know others, or have been there ourselves, who seem to be on the same cycle of behavior. The reason is simple, we often like our sin, and we especially like it more than 0 submission to Christ. If you are shocked by this, wake up. Our sin started for a reason, and it continues for one.
Complete obedience, requires reliance on God; replacing our reliance on other things. This, if continued, leads to transformation. Notice the period at the end of that sentence. The bible repeatedly shows that being a Christian means having a transformation from an old life to a new. That’s what happens. If you aren’t transformed then you aren’t obeying God and relying on Him. ‘What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?’ (Romans 6:1-2)”