The Pilgrim Road of the Christian
By Nick Bibile
1Pe 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.
Is it okay for a Christian to go to worldly movies? Is it all right for Christians to enjoy watching soap operas, sitcoms, sports etc; is it ok for Christians to rent Hollywood videos? Listen to worldly pop music? The enemy Satan is a great deceiver and a compromiser and he is a friend of the flesh and the world. Someone may say, “I know a well known Christian leader and he goes to movies etc., “ Oh! How many people are deceived by following so and so instead of our beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Great 16th Century theologian Francis Turrtin said, “Truth of Religion depends upon the life and the practice of the pastors.” Some can give good sermons but does it match with their walk?
We need to constantly remember that our fleshly will and the will of the world is opposed to the will of God. I ponder how many genuinely believe they are Christians but end up in hell, as their lifestyle did not match to the gospel of our Lord. Let us go to the basics and see from a spiritual perspective what the word of God has to say as the word of God has the final authority.
Here are two quotations from two puritan commentators on I Pet 2:11
William Ames (1576-1633) the puritan who was educated at Cambridge University said, “The lusts are deceitful (Eph 4:22) and they lead unto death (Rom 8:6, 13)
Here in 1 Pet 2:11 Peter is saying that Christians are strangers and pilgrims in this world and they are to abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. Let us take a deep look at this scripture and compare other scriptures to get the big picture.
Look how Peter addresses the Christian as he says, “I beseech you.” Beseech has the meaning of urgency, earnestly and begging to listen, it shows how important what he is going to say, not to take it lightly but to take it very seriously. It is a warning in context. Context is the most important here and if you look at the previous verses, verse 9 and 10.
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Christians are a “royal priesthood.” Priests are separated to serve God, separated from the world; they have a direct communion with God. “A holy nation.” Again, it emphasizes the holiness, the purity of the Christian, separated unto God, although we live in the world but separated when it comes to sin and evil. “A peculiar people.” The word peculiar comes from the Latin peculium, why are they peculiar because they are a people for God's own possession.
Once we were in darkness as we lived and behaved just like any other person in the world, we were ruled by our flesh, the world and Satan but now we are God’s procession. As we are living in an ungodly wicked world with temptations all around us Peter is warning the Christians in verse 11, and we are strangers and pilgrims in this world and to abstain from passions of the flesh, which wages war against the soul.
Let me show you another passage so we can see the big picture.
Heb 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
Here we see the saints of the Old Testament, believed they were only strangers and pilgrim on this earth as they were seeking another country, which is heaven.
The author of Hebrews and Peter both use the words strangers and pilgrims. Let us see these words. Stranger is a Sojourner. The word sojourner is an old French word, the French word jour means a day. The old French word sojourner means a person who spends a day, then moves on. The English meaning is a person who spends a short stay. The word strangers mean that Christians does not belong to this world but to another country, as heaven is our citizenship. Then the word pilgrim means we are not tourists but on a holy journey on this earth, a pilgrim is not a tourist as we are on a religious journey on this earth.
Abraham told the sons of Heth on Sarah’s funeral, “I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a burying place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.” Ge 23:4
Jacob told Pharaoh that he is a pilgrim on this earth. “And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Ge 47:9
Then David said in Psalm 39, “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. Ps 39:12
It is a fact that the true Christian believes this is not his country, this is not his home. The true Christian confesses he is only a pilgrim traveling heaven bound.
Joh 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.
We should be focused on God’s Kingdom. Mt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God.
Now we see the picture clearly let us see the details and the importance where the rubber meets the road. The pilgrim Christian has a destination and the destination is heaven. Heaven is upwards, the road is to ascend, and the ascending road is narrow and tough. Read pilgrims progress hundred times so you can understand.
Col 3:1 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.
Mat 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV)
Luke 13:24 Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.
The Greek word for strive is agwnizomai (agonizomai) It means to agonize, it is a struggle to enter, fight hard to enter, very difficult to enter.
The road to hell is broad and easy, hell is down. It is a descending road. The easy road for the flesh that many are taking and speeding towards the lake of fire.
If you are a true Christian and when you first became a Christian you genuinely assume that Christian walk was easy, then as you consequently read and study the Bible you begin to grow in your sanctification, grow upwards towards heaven and you start to notice your walk towards heaven which began at the plains now it’s becoming harder and harder as you grow in the Lord. If you are a true Christian you will notice this, as a pilgrim you are climbing in the narrow road, the older you get the more closer you get to your destination and the more harder the climb is going to be.
But the hypocrites who calls themselves Christians never have a hard time but an easy life on this earth as they are taking the broad road to destruction. They have no maturity, as they never grow in the Lord, they persistently remain the same. They are selfish as they are ruled by the flesh. They are not true Christians as they are deceived by their passions of this world. They are speeding towards the lake of fire.
Apostle Paul hit the nail on the head when he said the following:
Philip 3:17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this pilgrimage to ascending in the narrow road to heaven, the Christian will pass through many pleasant places that is pleasing to the flesh, he will pass through the attractions and the zealous passions of this world. He will pass through where the crowds are entering movies, amusements events, night clubs, parties of drinking and dancing, gambling places, entertainments and the pleasures of the world, the pilgrim will be tempted for covetousness as he will see attractive tempting things of this world as he goes through beautiful shopping malls, he is enticed with the beauty of the worldly things. He would be tempted for sexual immorality, to look at nude pictures, he will be enticed by his own loved ones come let us enjoy in the worldly pleasures for a while, the enemy will whisper to him, “Go ahead enjoy now, Sunday you can repent.” He will fight with his flesh daily as his spirit war against the flesh as he crucify daily these earthly passions to the cross.
The Christian pilgrim is tempted as he is surrounded with these worldly attractions and desires. But the living waters of scripture, the Spirit of truth, Holy Spirit the comforter is there to comfort him with the word of God as he is reminded, that he is only a stranger and a pilgrim in this world and to abstain from fleshly lusts that war against the soul. There is a war, a struggle in the soul to yield to these fleshly temptations. The true Christian has to agonize in prayer and in the word to say no to worldly pleasures and temptations. The word abstain in the context here is to avoid evil temptations. .
1 Thess 4: 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
1 Thes 5:22 Abstain from every form of evil.
The true Christian is content in what he has, he remembers the scriptures he had memorized. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1Ti 6:6 The true pilgrim realize he is only a transit passenger in this world. He is surrounded with outward enjoyments, loved ones, relatives, close friends and neighbors but he understands God is number one to him and he rests in his beloved the Lord Jesus and one day he will leave all of them and be with his beloved Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Christian Pilgrim is not alone as there are other Christian pilgrims walking and ascending in the narrow road, he is muchly encouraged by the other true pilgrims who are taking the narrow road to heaven, and he sees their lifestyle of obedience and unconditional affection to God. He is much encouraged by their testimony.
Heb12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
He has setup his mind not to settle down in this world as his mind is focused at the destination of his journey to heaven. He immediately accepts he is only a stranger in this world. Seeking heaven is seeking holiness, and without holiness, no one will see God. The pilgrim journey seems too long and too toilsome, pilgrim gets his patience, endurance and contentment by God’s precious word and prayer and the Holy Spirit helps him to press forward and upward.