|Most of us have heard the
warnings of hypothermia. It's a condition where our internal body
temperature gets too low. We'll die if something isn't done to reverse
the condition quickly.
I was watching a documentary on a hiking expedition. They were
warning about how hypothermia slips in unnoticed and the other members
of the party need to keep an eye out for each other. The hiking party
was on a mountain-climbing expedition. Two of the party came down with
hypothermia. A man and a woman. The leader called for a rest, but the
two just kept on going. The man had to be forced to stop. He was dazed
and was sure he was all right. This was filmed, and you could see he
was like a determined zombie. Hypothermia hits both the strong and the
Hypothermia has a spiritual counterpart. A condition of deathly
coldness, where the victim is totally unaware of impending death. Just
like the two hikers, we may have to be saved by the observations of the
fellow hikers in our spiritual walk. The stronger man had to be
physically grabbed and forced to stop. He was sure he was fine. If the
others weren't there to help him, it would have spelt his end. This is
one important reason we need to listen to the warnings of those who can
spot these symptoms of coldness. Don't just shake them off and
determinedly tramps on disregarding their pleas.
I. Spiritual Coldness
Our world is entering a hard winter and few are prepared with adequate
clothing. Many Christians march on with such confidence the cold isn't
affecting them. Many even criticize Christians who have kept themselves
prepared and warm, as not really knowing what they are talking about.
I want us to take a warm, hard look at some lifesaving scriptures:
3 And every man that hath
this hope in him purifieth himself, even as
1 John 3:3
This first verse is brief, but to the point. The
basic idea is simple.
As a Christian, one is pure by the blood of Christ. Our sins are
covered, so before God, we're pure. Behavior is another thing. Bringing
forth the fruits of that repentance, that places us in Christ, is a
process. We learn what purity is like and change accordingly. When
someone first becomes a Christian, there's a lot to learn. We have been
trained as the world would train us, and so are unaware that much
behavior is wrong. Some things are immediately obvious, but much is
John points out that whoever's in Christ has one prime characteristic,
he "purifieth himself". He cares with great diligence to sweep away all
filth. He doesn't have a "careless" heart about impure things. Here's
the killer coldness that is slaying many Christians. They've become
numb to impure things. They excuse impurity with all kinds of lines,
such as, "I was just showing you how bad they really were," or "you've
gotta live in this world". These lines show no desire for purity. They
belittle how evil, evil really is. They forget such calls as this verse
makes of us.
Another important aspect of this verse, is the warning that lies buried
in it. "Every man", think about it. If someone doesn't purify themself,
this verse classifies them as belonging to those who don't have such
eternal hopes. To become cold spells death. To begin reasoning, "hey,
it isn't such a big deal, you're getting too picky," is a sure sign of
one of two things. One, you have never met Christ, or two, hypothermia
has set in. I love the call of Joshua. You find it emblazoned on many
wall plaques for people to put up in their houses.
15 And if it seem evil
unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day
whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that
were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in
whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the
Joshua didn't care what anyone else decided. He was
dedicated to an all-out fight for the Lord. He didn't want to hear
excuses for toleration. He didn't want to hear arguments over the
benefits of preserving an impure culture! He steps out on fire with an,
"if that's the way you want to go, forget you, I've got a battle for
the Lord to pursue."
Taking sin with a jest or excuse is a primary sign of spiritual
hypothermia. The two verses seen this far, shout this out. If you can't
see it, like the male hiker, let these strong verses wrestle you down
and begin to warm you up.
II. Peter's Contribution
John's ministry sought restoration. He addressed an ailing church,
trying to call them back to their proper mooring. In that context, we
found the previous verse. Peter takes us from another angle. His
ministry sought the initial introduction of Christ to a people. With
this, we find him telling us this basic beginning of the Christian
15 But as he which hath
called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner
of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
1 Peter 1:15,16
"Holy" is a big word. It calls for something greater
than the word
"moral". Drop this word in the place of "holy" and notice its weakening
effect. We often do this unconsciously in our mind. Try other words
such as "respectable", "upstanding" or "dignified". The word "holy"
brings the image of sparkling crystal. Pure and flawless. No water
spots, no dust, perfectly transparent with a certain silvery sheen that
bespeaks its value and quality.
We easily see this is a prime quality of God. This passage goes
further, it calls for it in Christians.
Now the word "conversation" in this passage, tends to be a little
misleading. We think of this referring to our speech, which is does
include. The original word includes far more. It includes everything
that comes from us: our manner of life, conduct, deportment, our
behavior in every involvement.
How does a "holy" temperament respond to
pornographic art? Does it excuse indecency as art, culture or "that's
just the way it is"?
How does a "holy" temperament feel in the midst of
gossip? In the midst of complaining about different people or races?
How does a "holy" temperament respond to ungodly
behavior in professing Christians? Is there great grief and a call such
as Joshua's, or just a "let it pass" attitude?
Holiness, by its very nature, demands revulsion at iniquity. If the
revulsion isn't there, neither is holiness. This isn't called for of
some special class of "priests". It's called for of every believer.
Phinehas' and Joshuas should be all around us, but hardly one is to be
Hypothermia is rampant, the fire dead. The situation isn't just one of
a group of lacksidaisical, ho hum Christians. The problem's become much
more severe. We now find a majority of Christians actually promoting
the acceptance of that which is unholy, and taunting the Joshuas among
us. They ridicule the call for purity as something offensive. More
offensive than whatever evil comes under consideration.
A perfect illustration of this coldness towards ungodliness and
ridicule of those who find ungodliness offensive came over the radio.
Some old-time restored bombers make tours over the U.S. They stopped at
our airport a year ago. My wife took the children down to see them, but
upon her approach, they found a giant naked woman held by a dragon
painted on the plane. My wife was terribly embarrassed and quickly took
the children away. These bombers returned for another showing this
year. The radio station was discussing them. The woman promoting it
commented on how some were offended at the nude on the plane. She
thought that was ridiculous, and defended it saying it's a part of
history. The pilots used to have painted skull and cross bones, their
wives or even Betty Boop. She felt a pornographic picture was no worse
than a skull and crossbones. Whoever spoke against such public display
of obscenity was being considered outrageous. There you have just one
example of public ridicule of those taking a holy stand.
Those who refuse to take a holy stand and are growing cold, may feel
uncomfortable as they approach the plane, but will choose to overlook
this public vulgarity. The lure of looking in the bomber is greater
than the revulsion to the pornography. This is a spiritual hypothermic
In Peter's second epistle, he continues this vital issue:
1 This second epistle,
beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I
stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful
of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the
commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this
first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after
their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for
since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from
the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant
of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth
standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that
then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and
the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved
unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with
the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The
Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness;
but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish,
but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will
come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away
with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the
earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing
then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons
ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for
and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens
being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with
fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for
new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent
that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as
our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him
hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them
of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which
they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other
scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved,
seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away
with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But
grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.
2 Peter 3:1-18
This entire concluding chapter of 2 Peter outlines what should be a
core theme amongst Christians. Peter would most certainly be ridiculed
in Christiandom if he were to come disguised on the scene now.
Christians would call him extremist, and possibly even legalist. They'd
think him close-minded and a deadweight holding the church back.
We find in 3:1 this leading concern of Peter's. This verse tells us
this is his second epistle, and no longer is introducing the
fundamentals of what's expected. This time he's reminding, and again
uses that word "pure" like John did. This purity is key and crucial.
Hearken to it, don't resist it.
In 3:2-7 we have the call to stand firm. There will be many who will
criticize your commitment, which is pure. They'll scoff at your
Christianity, which scoffing is abundant today. These verses describe
the more blatant ridiculers, who don't even believe in the second
coming, but these same ridiculers are also found amongst believers
suffering severe hypothermia.
Peter swerves into this discussion about the end because it pulls us
into focus on a main point. It helps us clear our focus, and keep
priorities as they should be. Verse 7 pulls up the purity and purifying
issue. There will come a time of house cleaning of the most thorough
Verses 8 and 9 let us see the reason the time hasn't yet come, isn't
because purity isn't that pressing an issue with God, but because Gods
extending grace, for a time.
Verse 10 lets us know the time of purifying has only been slightly
delayed. It pictures the greatest of holocausts this world has yet
Verse 11 summarizes the point of this reminder of what is to happen. He
poses a question to the reader. Considering the end of this world, and
all that is in it, how really important are those other things you
spend so much time being consumed with? You should be looking toward
purity and holiness, toward fulfilling God's will in your life, and
seeking to forward the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of this world,
which is to be burned. The hypothermia prone individual spends much
time focusing in on this world, the healthy person always has this
world's end in the forefront of his thoughts. He can't help but think
of its fleeting nature whenever he considers it.
Verse 12 shows the soon approaching conclusion of this world. We not
only should be living our lives in the consideration of this world's
short life, we should be eagerly expecting the consummation of the age,
"hasting unto". This coming time of true purity and holiness is not
something we just know will happen, we should be looking forward to it.
If its approach doesn't thrill us, the dreaded cold of this world has
settled in on the heart.
Verses 13 and 14 carry through this point of eager expectation of a
righteous state that's to exist. They call for that caution against the
spiritual hypothermia. In verse 14, we see we're to be obviously aware
of what is yet to come, and yet not fall into deception with ourselves.
We can think we're good Christians, because we look forward to the
Second Coming, and yet suffer the hypothermia, unnoticed by growing
cold in the area of our pursuing purity and holiness. The cry of Peter,
"be diligent"! He wouldn't make this call to alertness unless there was
the possibility of failure in it. He says in essence, "Considering what
is to happen, keep your focus on being right with God, not on prophetic
happenings, but on obeying God."
Verses 15 and 16 quickly take us over why the delay, and refers to
Paul's confirmation of these facts. These two verses thrust us into the
point of verse 17 full force.
Peter throws out his clarion call to BEWARE of scripture twisters!
You've been warned of the coming judgment, don't forget it! Keep it in
the forefront of your memory, and take great heed not to be led astray.
To go astray in this view of what's yet to come, inevitably ends up in
falling away from the Christian walk. Start looking at this world, and
you stop looking at Christ. Start looking at Christ, and you stop
looking at this world. As long as you gaze at Christ, you will see this
world just like Pilgrim did in "Pilgrim's Progress". You will consider
yourself a voyager through this world, you have a better destination in
view. Your real home is yet to be seen.
1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek
those things which are above,
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on
things above, not on things on the earth.
Putting It Together
This lesson considers two distinct points: The first being spiritual
hypothermia. Growing cold without realizing it. We should be on fire
for Christ, but can grow cold. The second point is the clear call to be
diligent in the pursuit of holiness. To be pure and refuse acceptance
of whatsoever is unclean. These two actually become one point. To enter
the spiritual hypothermic state, the commitment to holiness has to
wane. The demand for purity must be slurred as senses are dulled in the
Two things must be pursued to avoid spiritual hypothermia. This
purity-holiness and the love of God. They are intimately tied, but
sometimes men form a kind of separation. If either of these wane, the
disease sets in. If both of these are guarded, the disease has no
The scriptures we've looked at are clear. If you're trying to reason
away the clarity of these references, stop! Be honest, look at what
they say. Don't try to excuse it! Humble yourself and seek God's
ability to face and receive it. Denying it doesn't change the facts,
and will not stand in the Day of Judgment. Start looking at what the
scriptures actually say, and let them form your view of things in life.
Don't keep trying to explain them to fit the way you think things
should be. This is that wresting of the scriptures to their own
destruction Peter was talking about. This wresting flows from the
instability of one's life. Only grounding ourselves in the word gives
us the safe foundation to keep from desperate searches trying to
protect desired beliefs.
We can summarize this: Be on fire for
God, whole heartedly pursue
holiness, and love God. To truly love God will automatically
pursuing holiness. If the pursuit of holiness is gone, the love has
grown cold and hypothermia has set in. Be your own diagnostician now.