17 December 2009

Strangers & Pilgrims – 12.17.09

Genesis 4:11-12 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

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 marvellous 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;

Interesting contrast between these two verses. A fugitive has a country but has had to flee that country. A stranger has a country, but is temporarily absent from that country. We are strangers. This world is not our home. Our citizenship is in heaven (Ephesians 1:3; 2:6). We are God's ambassadors, left to represent His cause and preach His gospel on the earth (2 Corinthians 5:21).

A vagabond is a wanderer with no destination. A pilgrim is a traveler who has a destination. The Bible says we are pilgrims. We seek a better country (Hebrews 11:14, 16; 13:4). We press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). We eagerly anticipate our departure (2 Timothy 4:7) from this world to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21-23).

Now, if all that's true, the passage in 1 Peter says that there are 2 things we should do:

1. We should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, and they abide in the darkness we have left behind. But God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness has shined in our hearts – why? To GIVE the light of the knowledge of the glory of God – how? By PREACHING not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). It is God's purpose to make us his ministers and his witnesses and to send us into all the world…to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith (Acts 26:16-18).

2. We should abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. If we are strangers and pilgrims then we should set our minds on the things of eternity (2 Corinthians 4:18), set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:1-4), and set our hearts on laying up treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). We should walk in the Spirit so we don't fulfill the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). We should build our lives on Jesus Christ so that we're left with more than wood, hay, and stubble when this life has run its course (1 Corinthians 3:10-14).

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