Recently in this space in a post entitled ‘What is Your Temperature?’ I explored Jesus’s concern about our faith as revealed in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”
At the end of the post I asked the question: “If God takes your temperature, what will it be? “ I am delighted that many of you said that your faith was “hot” for the Lord. Our faith is the key element in our relationship with God. While God will remain constant, our part of the relationship will have its ups and downs. And as much as we may desire it, our sinful nature will not allow for us to be always “hot” for the Lord.
So the question now is: “How do I keep my faith “hot” for the Lord?”
The Greek city of Corinth is the setting for Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians. The city was legendary for its corruption, immorality and pagan religious practices. Against this backdrop Paul addresses the new Corinthian Christians, many of whom have become “lukewarm.”
I recommend the two letters to the Corinthian to you as guidebooks to help us in keeping our faith “hot.” Specifically for this post, I want to point your attention to I Corinthians, 6:9-20, where Paul addresses avoiding sexual sins.
For as Paul admonishes us: “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.” 1 Corinthians 6:18
I address this subject because frankly for me, as for many Christians, sexual sin is the sin that could be keeping us from being “hot” all of the time in our relationship with God, leaving us “lukewarm.”
At one time, I fell into the classic “lukewarm” trap of seeing Christianity as only a set of rules that restrict the way I eat, the way I act, the way I love and the way I live. In fact, I started to question if willpower was more important to God than faith! These were the same questions the people in Corinth were asking.
Paul responded by providing an alternative to a life governed by rules and restrictions, rather a life of freedom that surpasses a life of rule keeping. In this exchange from I Corinthians, 6:12 from the Voice translation of the Bible, Paul crystalizes the freedom that our faith gives us: “I can hear some of you saying, “For me, all things are permitted.” But face the facts: all things are not beneficial. So if you say, “For me, all things are permitted,” my response is: “I will not allow anything to control me.”
Sexual sin can easily take control of us; it can ruin our lives, the lives of others and our health. It can take us from being “Hot” for God to being “Lukewarm.” Because our bodies are a ”temple of the Holy Spirit,” given to us by God and bought with a “high price,” I Corinthians, 6:19, we honor that high price by not allowing sexual excess to take control of our lives. God asks us to live balanced lives – in our sexual practices as well as in other every other aspect of our lives.
The Bottom Line Forgive and Stay Hot
The temptation of sin is always around. No matter the strength of our faith we are apt to either fall to sin or to suffer because of sins committed against us. However, as Matthew, 6:14-15 tells us, the Father is able to forgive us so we may forgive others and ourselves. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” So remember our bodies are the temples given to us by God. Avoiding sexual sin is hard. It is hard for me and it may be hard for you, also. But with prayer, accountability, and forgiveness we can avoid being “Lukewarm” and can stay “Hot.”