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September 12, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”—Revelation 3:17 (NKJV)
In the above verse, the Great Physician gave His diagnosis. Jesus was speaking to His church in Laodicea with a harsh indictment of their spiritual attitude. While renowned at the time for their wealth and self-sufficiency, we know them now as the “lukewarm church.”
Whenever I see this verse, I think of coffee. Any avid coffee connoisseur knows the only way to enjoy it is either piping hot or ice cold. When coffee reaches room temperature, it loses its luster. The flavor is neutralized.
Likewise, Christians can take on an “air” of lukewarm spirituality, a sense of superiority or pride. This pride is called self-righteousness—relying on our own means of morality to be acceptable to God. To help warn and guide us, the Holy Spirit revisits this unsavory self-reliance throughout Scripture.
Two striking examples emerge when I think of spiritual pride: King Nebuchadnezzar and the Pharisees/Sadducees.
Nebuchadnezzar, the pagan Babylonian king, through a series of events, eventually came to a place of true humility and worship of the Most High God. He embraced the Lord’s sovereignty. Before dropping off the scene biblically, he declared, “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down” (Daniel 4:37 NKJV). His is an honorable testimony of God’s glory.
In contrast, many Jewish leaders reviled Jesus’ call to salvation (see John 7:37–38). They embraced their legalistic traditions and laws. Their declarations implied superiority, mocking anyone who would believe and call attention to themselves (John 7:48). This polarizing denial of the person of Christ not only demonstrated their pride and refusal to be led by Jesus, but it caused others to be led astray as well. A wretched way to be remembered.
Spiritual pride is an insidious enemy, a lukewarm stronghold that neutralizes our relationship with God because He sees it as sin. It is deceptive and takes our thoughts away from God (Psalm 10:4). He would rather us take every pretension and every thought captive to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5). Furthermore, it can choke our effectiveness as witnesses for Christ because we are, in effect, bragging. It’s like saying, “Look at me!” rather than extolling, “Look at what Jesus did in me!” The glory should be to God alone, for He delights in it (Jeremiah 9:24).
DIG: Why do you think Jesus would prefer a hot or cold attitude over a lukewarm one?
DISCOVER: In the gospels, what groups were more likely to believe and follow Jesus?
DISPLAY: Continue to pray for the cold or lukewarm people in your life and ask the Lord to strip away any spiritual pride you may have.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.