In these darkening times, it is all too easy to slip into moral purgatory. Perplexing moral dilemmas emerge almost daily. Apostasy wreaks havoc with the faith and relativism renders void absolute truth in the minds of many. A plethora of mind & mood altering drugs fuels escapism. An instinctive tendency to withdraw from an increasingly depraved culture and world sinking into anarchy and chaos, creates islands of cut-off social outcasts. Adrift without a rudder, evil becomes good and wrong metamorphoses into right. With deception rampant, insanity becomes the norm.
Irrespective of whether one recognizes it, their root beliefs inevitably frame their worldview and ultimately determine how they live their life. Beliefs regulate action. Jesus was quite clear in His warning of Matthew 7:24-27 that a house (i.e., a life) built on anything other than His absolute, revealed truth is destined to fail when tested or shaken. In contrast, a life centered on His truth will stand solid and immovable. Sadly, many contemporary Christians pulled up anchor long ago and now drift aimlessly with the ebb and rapidly changing tides of the culture. On the other hand some never dropped anchor in the first place. Such believers are in moral purgatory, a condition Jesus diagnoses of the 1st-century church at Laodicea and warns will be characteristic of much of the church at the end of the age ...
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot! So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked (Rev 3:15-17)
Ironically, this same passage includes the well-known and often-misused picture of Christ knocking at the door (Rev 3:20). Usually (and wrongly) quoted in the context of Christ reaching out to the unbeliever, it is in fact an invitation extended to believers in moral purgatory.
Exacerbating the problem is the reluctance of many churches to teach systemic Biblical ethics, probably out of an unfounded fear of misinterpretation as a gospel of works. While justification is solely by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, moral obedience is grounded in the imperative that believers should increasingly live out the image of the Creator. If the ethical system in Scripture is grounded in the moral character of God, then God's very nature determines right and wrong - and in the ultimate sense, what ought to be. The implication is that God's moral standards are for all people and all cultures throughout all history because they are the moral standards of the infinite, eternal Creator of everything.
Unless a Christian has read through the entirety of Scripture several times (which I suspect very few have), it is difficult to gain a systematic and comprehensive overview of the Biblical ethics of any particular issue. All Christians face multiple practical decisions in life that require ethical judgement - i.e., sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, sex, money, work, recreation, suicide, assisted suicide, euthanasia, bioethics, end of life, civil government, war, capital punishment, stewardship, stewardship of the creation, etc. There is an obligation for pastors to inculcate systematic Biblical ethics in their congregants and teach them a Biblical framework for ethical decision making. Otherwise moral purgatory is the inevitable result.
Repentance is the key out of moral purgatory (Rev 3:19). Note the exhortation for repentance in 3:19 is directed towards the church, not unbelievers. We see the same call from Christ to other churches in Rev 2:5, 2:16 and 3:3. Without repentance, there is little hope of escaping the quicksand. Unfortunately, much of the modern church has relegated the message of repentance to a bygone era.
With the vast majority of the culture now firmly ensconced in moral purgatory, those Christians who stand solid and refuse to acquiesce are ominously marked by the culture with a bulls-eye. But they are also gloriously marked first and foremost by God almighty Himself (Rev 3:21) and freed from the coming wrath (Rom 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10). Not ensnared by the fickle moral whims of the culture, they walk in true freedom (John 8:32).