Living a Pilgrim’s Life

1 Peter 2:9-11: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; 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. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

Many of us are familiar with John Bunyan’s story, The Pilgrims Progress. If you have not read it, it should not be too difficult to find a copy to read this summer before starting school again. In this book, we see a man named Christian, dwelling in his house with his wife and children. One important thing to notice here in the setting of the story is that Christian is carrying a heavy burden on his back. This burden represents the heavy burden of sin that every believer carries, but only when the Spirit of regeneration works in the heart does the Christian realize it as a grievous burden sinking him deeper and deeper. At the very moment when the Spirit gives the conviction of the existence of sin in the sinner, he also gives the feeling of guilt or regret for these sins, and a desire to be rid of that burden of sin. The Spirit then continues to work to bring the guilty sinner to his knees with the earnest, desperate cry, “What must I do to be saved?”

This was exactly the kind of conviction that Christian had, which led him to flee from his house and from the City of Destruction, and seek deliverance. Once he came to the place where the cross stood, and beheld the glorious mystery of the work that was accomplished there, he experienced that deliverance. Finally the burden he had so earnestly wanted to get rid of fell off from him, and rolled down the hill and was buried in the sepulcher at the bottom of the hill. Now that he was free, he had no desire to head back to the city in which he dwelt. He saw that city as Egypt, the spiritual place of bondage. Rather, he looked for a home far away from the vanities of this present world. He continued his journey until he reached the Celestial City, which was a picture of heaven. During the course of this journey, the Word of God was his only rule for faith and life. He turned to this Word whenever he fought against his spiritual foes; through that Word he gained the victory.

Such is the experience of every child that God has called out of this world into his marvelous light. The Spirit gives us a deep awareness of our sin and misery, causing us to seek some way to be delivered from the guilt and power of sin. The Spirit then points to the cross, and draws the elect irresistibly by its power to believe that the sacrifice of the Lamb of God on the cross undoubtedly covers his sins. The believer is granted the assurance that this Lamb of God is his complete Savior, so he knows that in the sight of the holy and just God he is righteous, but only through the death and resurrection of the Lamb.

Because of the victory that Christ has accomplished for us, we are called to be pilgrims and strangers here on earth. A pilgrim is defined as a traveler to a holy place. Our life here on earth is set in that light. We set our eyes toward that goal, and seek to do so without looking to the left or right. With all fervency, we “press toward the mark” of our high calling. We learn that we are those who are set apart from the citizens of the kingdoms of this world.

Is this pilgrim’s life for everyone? Do all men have a desire to flee from sin in all of its forms? Of course not! The Bible is clear that only some people belong in the categories mentioned in the text in 1 Peter 2. In the context of verse 9, Peter refers to a chosen generation and a peculiar people. This means that from the vast multitude of all of the people that have lived or will live, there is a certain remnant that is looking for a city “which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). These elect are brought to realize the need for a spiritual mindset, “for to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).

A spiritual mind is crucial for living a Christian life. Romans 8:7 reminds us that we are engaged in spiritual warfare against carnality. The carnal mind is enmity against God! In a materialistic culture, we often lose sight of the fact that we are fighting a battle against earthly-mindedness. In our abundance, we feel pretty comfortable with this world and what it has to offer. Our inclination is to surrender to the enemy, forgetting our victory that we have over the enemy in and through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan uses cunning tactics and military strategies that are designed with all craftiness to allure us to walk after the flesh, and not after the Spirit. One enticing way he does this is by causing us to forget our obligation to be good stewards of our time. Satan uses Hollywood to snare Christians to take their mind off of their heavenly home and to find a life of fun and entertainment here below. How easy it is to spend several hours a day watching the television and very little time praying and meditating on the things of God! We can easily be deceived into thinking that if its behind a TV screen, the filth of this world isn’t really so bad.

The internet is another tool Satan uses to keep the Christian from a pursuit of holiness. We all know the dangers in their vilest forms (pornography, violence, blaspheming God, etc.). Understand that Satan will stop at nothing to make our spiritual senses numb! Some more crafty and cunning ways Satan snares us are through the time we spend on Facebook, YouTube, etc. These things can be used for the spread of the gospel and the edification of the church, but I believe that if most of us are honest with ourselves, we would realize that most of our time online usually is wasted.

Scripture makes it clear that the devil masquerades as an angel of light, causing us to lose sight of the reality that he is a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6 that we wrestle against principalities and powers, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

If we are those who be of a spiritual mind, we must put on the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6 says that we must be equipped to fight these spiritual foes. We are equipped with truth, righteousness, faith, and the gospel of peace. We wear the helmet of salvation, so that our head is guarded against any carnal doubt that may be instilled in our minds concerning our redemption in Christ. We fight with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We fight also by means of prayer. We pray for boldness as we fight to make known the mystery of the gospel. We have the assurance that God’s Word will not return to him void. We must be fervent, and lay down our lives for the sake of that gospel!

May God grant us a deeper knowledge of our salvation, and always cause us to persevere as those who seek a heavenly country that God has prepared for us, where he is not ashamed to be called our God! (Hebrews 11:16).