“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16 NKJV).
When God’s fire goes out of a believer’s soul, he does not instantly become cold, but for a period of time he may still remain warm – neither cold nor hot. Although the fire has gone out of his soul, yet the smoke of his past burning or exploits for God may still linger on, engulfing him completely.
This is a very deceptive and dangerous spiritual condition!
The Lord Jesus warns the church of the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:
15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.
16 “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (NKJV).
It is sad but true that many servants of God today have lost God’s fire, passion, or love in their souls and have become spiritually lukewarm, neither cold nor hot. Having lost God’s fire in their souls, yet they continue to bask in the ashes or glories of their past burning or exploits for God.
Like the church in Sardis, while they still have a name that they are alive, yet they are dead to God (Rev. 3:1 NKJV). Unfortunately, the spiritually blind or undiscerning men in our generation still continue to praise, celebrate and follow them.
The Elijah portrayed in 1 Kings Chapters 17 and 18 was without any doubt a fire-brand prophet. He was a man aflame with God’s love, a man aflame with passion for righteousness, a man aflame with strong desire for the restoration of the backslidden nation of Israel. He was a fearless man, fully yielded to God, fervent in prayer and full of faith.
Even when Elijah thought he was the only prophet of God left in Israel, yet he challenged, confronted and defeated four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. His bold action resulted in a national revival and the hearts of many people were turned to God (1 Kings 18:39).
However, the Elijah portrayed in the next Chapter (1 Kings 19) was an entirely different one. That was not a fire-brand prophet but a burned-out prophet. He was a man without any fire, zeal or passion in his soul. He was a lukewarm, fearful, fainting, and frustrated man.
What happened to the fire-brand Elijah?
How did a lively Elijah become a passive Elijah?
How did a fervent Elijah become a lukewarm Elijah?
How did a fearless Elijah become a fearful Elijah?
Apparently, we need to perform a spiritual autopsy on Elijah to truly understand what quenched the fire of God in Elijah’s soul.
It is therefore wisdom for us to carefully examine his remains – what was left of Elijah after God’s fire had departed from his soul.
For a proper spiritual autopsy on Elijah we shall need to first put aside all the ashes of his past burning or exploits for God covering his remains and clear off the smoke lingering on after he had lost the fire.
This is not with a view of demeaning this highly esteemed prophet of God, but for us to properly and accurately examine ourselves to ascertain whether we also are still on fire for God or have become lukewarm – neither cold nor hot (1 Cor. 10:11-12).
The Scripture admonishes us to: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2 Cor. 13:5 NKJV).
It is wisdom indeed for us to constantly examine our souls to know whether we are still aflame with God’s love or not.
First, when the fire had departed from Elijah’s soul, his spiritual eyesight became dimmed or impaired.
Having lost God’s fire in his soul, Elijah’s vision of God’s love, glory and power became blurred. He could no longer see or discern clearly God’s love, plans and purposes for his life and the nation of Israel. All that Elijah could see clearly was Jezebel’s might, threat, plot or plan. That was why he fled in the midst of the national revival he prayed and worked to bring about.
The Scripture records in 1 Kings 19:
2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”
3 And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (NKJV).
Elijah fled because he saw only what Jezebel was up to or capable of doing to him, and not what God was up to or capable of doing through him and for him. His focus shifted from God to Jezebel and himself. He became preoccupied with Jezebel’s threat and his safety.
Like Elijah, when God’s fire or love goes out of your soul, your mind or focus will be shifted from God to yourself or your enemy. You will become preoccupied only with what the devil can do to you or what he is doing against you, and not with what God has done for you, or what God is doing now in you, or what He can still do for you. You will forget about the past goodness, kindness and mercies of God that you have seen, received and enjoyed.
When Elijah was on fire for God, no one could put him to flight. He boldly rebuked Ahab the King and he alone fearlessly challenged four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal to contest on Mount Carmel, and defeated them. His boldness and courage stemmed from his clear vision of God’s holiness, greatness, purpose, power, glory and sovereignty.
However, when Elijah lost the fire and became lukewarm, his vision of God became blurred and thus his boldness and confidence in God waned. That was why he could fret, be shaken, frightened and put to flight by Jezebel’s empty threat.
When you also become lukewarm, your spiritual sight will become dimmed, and so you will begin to see, view, judge, or react to people and situation as any natural man will do. Your faith, confidence or conviction in God’s promises will begin to shake and wane.
Your soul will also become dominated and ruled by fear, doubt, anger, worry or anxiety, and like Elijah, you also will fret, be shaken, troubled and put to flight by the threats, plots or plans of your enemies.
Second, when the fire had departed from Elijah’s soul, his love or affection became set on himself.
When Elijah was on fire for God, his love and affection was set only on God. Elijah’s burning love, passion or zeal for God was indisputably challenging and contagious. He laid his life on God’s altar with all abandonment.
When Elijah was on fire for God, he was completely sold out to God. He was willing to face and suffer persecution for the sake of God. He alone stood against all the false prophets in Israel. Apparently, he did not care about himself, but about the restoration of the backslidden nation of Israel to God.
But, when the fire had gone out of Elijah, he became only self-loving, self-defensive and self-centred (1 Kings 19:3-4).
Similarly, when the fire of God’s love wanes or goes out of your soul; your love, attention and affection will become focused or centered on yourself. You will become preoccupied only with yourself – your personal needs and challenges, your selfish desires, dreams, goals or ambitions.
Becoming self-centered, self-obsessed, self-willed, self-defensive, self-driven or self-dependent is an indication that the fire of God’s love has gone out of your soul.
When your heart is no longer panting for God, when you are no longer seeking first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness, the fire has gone out of your soul. When you have no more real hunger, thirst or passion for God’s Word and can no longer tarry in the place of prayer, you have lost the fire of God in your soul.
When you no longer have or take any delight in knowing, pursuing and fulfilling God’s will, plans and purposes for your life, the fire of God’s love in your soul has waned. When you no longer have any interest in fellowshipping with other believers, in evangelism or soul winning; it is a real sign that you have either become spiritually lukewarm or completely cold.
Lastly, when the fire had gone out of Elijah’s heart, he was willing to quit the race set before him before reaching the finishing line.
Although Elijah had not fulfilled God’s purposes for his life and ministry, yet he succumbed to discouragement and despair and thus passionately prayed that he might die, screaming, “It is enough! Now, LORD, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4 NKJV).
Like Elijah, when the fire of God’s love goes out of your soul, you will easily succumb or give in to discouragement, doubt, depression or despair. When you lose God’s fire in your soul, you will become spiritually slothful, seeking to quit without finishing your race or fulfilling your divine calling in life. You will be unwilling to endure affliction, tribulation or persecution for the sake of Christ.
Beloved, don’t stay too long in this your lukewarm spiritual state. Arise now and get back to God’s altar for fresh fire!
It takes God’s love burning in your heart and soul increasingly for you to press forward toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus regardless of the threat or opposition from the devil.
How do you rekindle and sustain God’s fire in your soul?
Find out in the next piece!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, here I am today, set my soul ablaze afresh with Your love, in Jesus’ name. Amen.