ICY HOT: The New Spiritual Morphine

By Mallesha Malcolm


For the New Year, we are usually inspired with a sense of renewal! We get fired up and make resolutions that we hope will keep burning throughout the year. We reignite old passions and dreams of our hearts, in order to make this year different, to make this year “right.” We are always HOT and excited about changing our lifestyles and becoming better. But are we really??

The hard truth of the matter is we are hot for our ambitions and goals, but cold in regards to our spiritual lives. Pastor Andrew Pileggi, the Associate Pastor of Ephesus SDA Church, highlighted this message in a compelling sermon entitled “Why Me? CIPA” on Saturday, January 5, 2013. The condition of our hearts, emphasized Pileggi, has rendered us cold and numb to the sin and pain all around us. In biblical terms, our hearts are hardened. In medical terms, we just may be suffering from a serious case of the CIPA syndrome.

CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis) is a rare genetic disorder of the nervous system that is characterized by the inability to feel pain, temperature, or any other nerve-related sensations. Anhidrosis refers to the lack of sweating in the body, which explains the inability to regulate body temperature. Even though it may not seem so bad living in a body that is pain-free (who wouldn’t want that?!), the big issue with this disorder is that the lack of pain sensations leaves individuals with CIPA in a precarious danger zone. You see, pain exists to warn us that something is wrong and that we should seek healing. We seek help from medical professionals because we have pain and other symptoms that indicate that something is just not right.

Our ‘CIPA-syndrome’ takes over when we mask our ability to feel pain.  Our culture today teaches us that when there is pain, we should seek pain relief. Icy Hot, a popular over-the-counter drug which is used for pain relief, is known for stimulating nerve receptors through its dual action of heat and cold. Icy Hot’s benefits are marketed as fast, long-lasting pain relief from aches and pains. Its famous tagline is “icy to dull the pain, and hot to relax it away.” Consumers gravitate towards it to get rid of pain instantly. Similarly, we use what I like to call our ‘Spiritual Icy Hot’- our positions in church, our faithfulness to the laws, our good deeds, our ministry and everything else that from the outside indicates that we are HOT for Christ- to mask the coldness in our loveless hearts like a spiritual morphine. If we take our individually prescribed concoction of Icy Hot on a daily basis to numb our pain and rid us of our symptoms, we will no longer recognize our need to seek the ultimate cure of relief and healing in Jesus Christ.

Pastor Pileggi highlighted this point by guiding us to Luke 18: 9-14, in which Jesus told the parable of a Pharisee and a publican (tax collector) going to a temple to pray. This parable was intended for those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others (vs. 9). The publican’s symptoms were pronounced and convicted him to prayer, as he acknowledged himself as a sinner. The Pharisee, however, thanked God that he was not like other men- other sinners- not like the publican. Unlike the publican, the Pharisee expressed no need to repent because he was doing everything ‘right.’ In other words, he had no symptoms of pain; thus, he had no need for repentance, or for our Savior Jesus Christ. Pastor Pileggi explained that the heart of the Publican was warm with conviction, soft and tender. The Pharisee’s heart was cold and hard as a rock, yet hot with passion about following the laws to a degree of perfection.

Because the enemy tries to convince us that we are not that ‘bad’ after all, just like the Pharisee, we may be indicating through our words and actions that we don’t need to be redeemed. Pastor Pileggi drove home the message by saying that because we are not the masterminds behind ‘big’ crimes such as Sandy Hook, or because we may not have sinned ‘outwardly’, we presumptuously believe that we are okay. We believe we are safe, saved, and sanctified. But the reality is we all suffer from the same heart condition.

This world as we know it is filled with pain and sin. However, before you start asking “Why Me?” in regards to suffering, we must first ask “God, Why ME?” in regards to Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. This will remind us that we ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Pastor Pileggi's message showed us that God know our hearts and he will expose them.  Only then can He come in as the Great Physician and implant within us a clean heart that is warm and tender, full of compassion and love.  So as we begin this New Year, let us do away with the coldness which can freeze over our hearts, and be HOT for the right things, the right purpose, and for Christ.


Mallesha Malcolm

Ephesus Communications Department, Contributor