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 weak.

 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 he is pure.                              
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 not.

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 LORD.   
Joshua 24:15

Joshua didn't care what anyone else decided. He was militarily 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 life:

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 found.

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 state!
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. Amen.                                 
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 kind.

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 witnessed.

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.         Colossians 3:1,2
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 lowering temperature.

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 ground.
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 result in pursuing holiness. If the pursuit of holiness is gone, the love has grown cold and hypothermia has set in. Be your own diagnostician now.