Conceited Holiness

A thrice Holy God demands that we be holy (1 Peter 1:16).  By definition, holiness is the complete conformity of one’s life and heart to both the character (His quality) and will (the expression) of God.   Holiness results in sanctification and separation as demonstrated by the title ‘a holy priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:5).  The term ‘holy’ in both its Hebrew and Greek usages means ‘sanctified’ (i.e. set apart).  God has called out of the masses an assembly of sanctified people.  Thus, the church (the called out assembly) is made up of saints (sanctified people).   The term ‘priesthood’ harkens back to the priesthood of the Old Testament, in which those who were sanctified were sanctified for service.

Sadly, holiness has been twisted in the minds of the masses of Christendom.  Too many today claim to be holy, but in reality are living out a ‘conceited holiness’.  Conceited holiness is the idea that one is holy and yet in reality is unholy.  Proverbs 30:12 says, There is a generation which is pure in their own eyes and yet is not washed from their filthiness.  How many church-going people fall into this type of holiness!!!  It is astounding in the present day that so many claim the name of Christ and thus by extension, claim to be holy who have not experienced divine holiness, but have bought into Satan’s deceptive counterfeit – conceited holiness.   An examination of the church of Laodicea (Revelation 3: 14-22) will demonstrate ‘conceited holiness’ in action.

Conceited holiness is rooted in complacency (lukewarm).

The first charge brought upon the Laodicean church is that it was complacent.  Scripture says that it was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm.  The city itself was located near Hierapolis (known for its hot springs) and Colosse (known for its cold mountain stream).  Laodicea which had neither hot springs or cold mountain stream had to bring water in via underground aqueducts.  The result was dirty, lukewarm water.  Anyone who tried to drink it would immediately spit it out.

Conceited holiness is no different than  dirty, lukewarm water .  Such Christians are known by their complacency.  They are not interested in the things of the Lord that matter.  They appear interested, but like the water, upon closer inspection they are unprofitable.  They have no true witness or testimony.  They possess the Scripture, but are apathetic and unconcerned regarding spiritual things.  They think they  are spiritual; in reality, they are carnal.

Conceited holiness is rooted in pride (I am).

The second charge brought upon the Laodicean church is that it was prideful.  Note the use of the phrase ‘I am’.  They had great pride in their riches and goods.  Pride is one of the three primal sins – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.  Pride was the sin that cast Lucifer from Heaven (Isaiah 14:3-20).

Pride is a pre-occupation with one’s self.  It can either be demonstrated by thinking too highly of oneself or too lowly of one’s self.  Pride skews one’s perspective of oneself.  Pride is motivate by what brings attention to self not upon what brings attention to God.  It is living in dependence upon what one does, thinks, acts, etc. rather than on the revealed precepts and principles of Scripture.  Notice that the Laodicean church believed they were blessed because they were rich and increased with goods.  God’s blessing is not necessarily related to one’s things; rather it is related to integrity in all areas of life, striving to glorify God in all that one thinks and does.

Conceited holiness is rooted in materialism (rich, increased with goods).

The third charge brought upon the Laodicean church is that it was materialistic.  They were obsessed with what they had.  At the heart of materialism is greed and covetousness.  The problem with greed and covetous is that they are blinding.  While riches and goods are not evil in and of themselves; man’s fallen condition makes it easy for one to trust in these things rather then in the Provider of these things.

So many ‘Christians’ perceive that they are holy because they believe that God has blessed them with material goods.  This is not to say that God cannot bless someone materially; there are times that He does.  A principle must be restated here: God’s blessing is not related to one’s possessions.  Material possessions can be both a blessing and a curse.  More often they are a curse, because these ‘things’ become the center of one’s attention; thus becoming the object of one’s worship.  It is easy to replace the Giver with gift.

Conceited holiness is rooted in self-sufficiency (have need of nothing).

The fourth charge brought upon the Laodicean church is that it was self-sufficient.  The ‘Christians’ at Laodicea believed that they had everything they needed.  This is materialism in full bloom.  They had placed such faith in their goods, that their goods had displaced God in their lives.

‘Self-discovery’ has become the watchword of conceited holiness.  Self-centeredness hides itself behind this veil of pious ‘self-discovery’.  ‘Self-discovery’ is the new form of discipleship.  Again, many ‘Christians’ perceive that they are holy because they are on a journey of ‘self-discovery’.   They are seekers who are looking to have their ‘felt’ (i.e. perceived) needs met.  The issue here is that the chief end of man is not to seek self-discovery or ‘felt’ needs, but to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.


Believers are commanded to examine themselves.  Part of this examination involves measuring oneself against the command to be holy.  Remember the words of Proverbs  30:12 says, There is a generation which is pure in their own eyes and yet is not washed from their filthiness.  Do not be deceived… one can appear to be outwardly holy, but, in reality be merely embracing a conceited holiness.   God-given holiness depends on the conforming of one’s life to the character and will of God.  This conformity results in sanctification, being set apart and separated unto God for priestly service.

– GGCJr., copyrighted 2011