Strangers And Pilgrims
Don't use your freedom to sin, but to glorify God. Turn habits over to God by faith and use your freedom to serve others.
Alright, thank you very much. Nice to be put on the air with my friends at the transmitters. I got lot of friends out there at the various radio stations, and I’m grateful for them. God bless you people. And hello radio friend. How in the world are you? Yes this is your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. What a privilege it is to be able to broadcast the Word of God. You know, there’re a lot of countries where you can’t do that. And people have to depend upon the folk who broadcast by way of shortwave.
Thank God for the Christian broadcasters whose shortwave stations reach clear across the world, into areas where one cannot buy any time on a radio or a television station to broadcast the Gospel. “But God’s word is not bound,” said the Apostle Paul. The Word of God is not bound, and it goes on in anyway. Hallelujah! When you’re thinking about things that you can do to, to encourage God’s work, you pray for and support those who are broadcasting the Gospel in this country and across the world. That’s a worthy, worthy cause, believe me.
Well he, we were talking about strangers and pilgrims the last time we got together, in 1 Peter 2. He said, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims…” Now I, I explained to you, stranger means you don’t fit. You’re a different kind of person from a different place with a different kind of life. Pilgrim means you’re on your way somewhere, you’re just passing through, you don’t have any permanent connection with this old world system. ‘This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through; My home is somewhere else, way beyond the blue’ —remember the old song?
Well, you’re just passing on through, you’re on your way to the heavenly city. Now he said, because of what you are and because of where you’re going, those two reasons he said, please take care of the one possession you have that is going to be valuable throughout eternity. You see, there’re lot of things you, you won’t take with you into the presence of your blessed Lord. When the doctor says, “That’s all I can do and, and steps away, and your spirit takes it’s flight, they close your eyes and weep over you and then bury your body, you my dear friend will still be alive, very much alive, in the presence of your Lord.
And the one thing that you will have brought with you is your soul, see? Now because that’s true, he said don’t damage that. Don’t damage the one thing that you will have with you, so to speak, in eternity. “Abstain,” said he, “from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” Giving in to the desires of your flesh and of your mind, giving in to the temptations that are all around each one of us, giving in to the pressures of the world, will not affect the fact that Jesus died for you, and rose again, and that you are His child. But it will terribly damage and dull your spiritual life and your perceptions.
You meet people every day, who you know, they’re professing Christians and they may well get to heaven — you and I are not the judge at that point. But they’ve, they’ve, they’ve been damaged. They’ve been dulled. Their spiritual sensibilities are almost nil. Why? Because they’ve been giving in to the desires of their old nature, and they’ve been collapsing under the pressures of temptations round about them. Now he says, avoid that, abstain from, avoid it, pass by it, detour around it, refuse it.
Why? Because it will damage the one thing that you will take with you to eternity — your soul. You’re a pilgrim. You’re on your way to the very presence of God. Why, why should you appear before your blessed Lord with a dirty face on your soul? See, that’s the way you put it so that we can understand it. Why limp into the presence of God because you’ve been damaged by what you allowed to go on in this life? You follow me there?
Now all of this is under the heading of ‘Live Unto Righteousness’, isn’t it. You should live unto righteousness. And he gives us then some comparative expressions that show us what that means: ‘As newborn babes feed on the Word’, ‘Living stones, built up in the very purpose of God’. He says, “Strangers and pilgrims, you take good care of that which is most precious — your spiritual life.” Don’t let anything dull it, damage it, fight against it, and weaken it.
Then you go down to verse 16: “Live unto righteousness.” How? As free, but not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness of mischief. You’re free, but don’t use that as an excuse to do things you shouldn’t. I recall (Laughs) a good many years now, being confronted by a young man who’d been caught doing something quite seriously wrong. And I remarked to him, I said, “Well son, you’ll be suspended from school now, until this is settled.” And he became very angry. He said, “Why do you do that to me? Why do you suspend me from school? Why?” He said, “I’m just a good, as good a Christian as you are. I just made a mistake.”
“Well,” I said, “probably you are just as good a Christian as I am. But you can’t be involved in what you just did and still stay in school until it’s settled.” Yeah that’s tough. Tough to, to say, and, and tough to receive. But you know, that’s, that’s how it is. You’re, you’re free. You are let us say, a believer of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have let us say, committed yourself to Him in faith. And He has made you his child. And that is an irreversible decision.
“Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” God is faithful by whom you were called into the fellowship of His son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Being content of this very thing that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ. When God starts that blessed work in your life, He keeps on, the Bible tells me. But at the same time, at the same time, because you’re free from the law, O blessed condition, because Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law of being made accursed for us, as it is written, “Curseth is everyone that hangeth on a tree.”
Because you’re free, because Jesus died to pay for that freedom, don’t presume that you can just do whatever you jolly well please and get away with it, that’s what Peter is saying. If you’re going to live unto righteousness, then use your freedom to glorify God, use your freedom to glorify God, not just to have your own way. You see? He said, “Brethren,” Paul said, “brethren, ye have been called unto liberty only lo-, use not your liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another,” free, not just to have my own way, but free to serve other people for Jesus’ sake. That’s the kind of freedom it is. As free.
Now let me stop here long enough just to ask all of us — including myself — a question. Do you have a real experience of, of freedom in the Lord Jesus? It must be admitted that many a person continues to labor under a burden of guilt, or of doubt, or of fear, or of resentment, or the domination of some acquired habit that has become now your master through many years. Some of you listening to me are, are in that category, I am sure. Would you not like to be free? Would you not like to just turn all of that over to the Lord Jesus Christ? “Well,” you say, “brother Cook, I’ve prayed about it many times.” No, I’m not talking about praying about it.
Sometimes it’s far easier to say a prayer than to let go of something, isn’t that true? You remember the story of the way they, they catch the little monkeys in, in a certain part of our world? They get a, a vase with a narrow neck, and they put some rice down in the bottom of the vase and leave it out tied to a stake or to a branch of a tree, leave it out where the little creature can see it and discover that there’s food down there. And so he reaches his tiny fist down into the narrow neck to vase with his fingers extended, and he can get it down there. And he, he closes those fingers tightly around the grains of food. And then he can’t get his fist out because he’s not willing to let go of the, the grains of rice. He can’t let it go, so it has captured him.
It’s a pity, isn’t it? But that’s how it is with habits, and with sins, and with all of the acquired baggage of this old world system. Free, free, how do you get free? My friend, just the same way you got saved. “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,” Colossians 2:6 tells us. You took Him by faith, by faith. You didn’t pay anything, promise anything, do anything. You just brought your poor wretched self to Him and said, “Jesus save me,” and He did, right?
So you bring your need of being freed of some thing, or some relationship, or some habit. You bring that need to Him and you let go of it. And you let Him handle it. Like Stewart Hamblin who just passed away a few months ago, said when he gave his testimony back in the late 1940’s. He was saved I think in 1949-it was — something like that. And he gave his testimony, he said, “I had to tell God all about the way I was living. So I told Him about my gambling, and I told Him about my dirty stories, and about my drinking, and about my smoking, and about all the rest of the things in my life. And,” he said, “when I finished, I heard the heavenly switchboard click in the skies.”
That was his way of saying he got free when he turned it over to the Lord Jesus Christ. You, my beloved friend, must do the same thing. As free, you can be free. And that blessed freedom then is freedom to serve. “By love, serve one another,” Paul says in Galatians 5. Freedom to love — you can love another person by faith, even though your human tendency would have been to be resentful and hateful. You can take love for any other human being, by faith. And Jesus our Lord will manifest Himself through you. Free to serve, free to love, free to give.
“This we say,” Paul said, “not as we hope, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.” Free to give, and free even to die when it is God’s time to glorify Him. Free, absolutely free because God has made you free. And in that relationship then, there is no thought of just having your own way or, or working some kind of, of malicious or mischievous work upon other people’s lives. No, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us,” Paul says in Romans 5:5. And so the, the, the great thrust of your life, when God makes you free, is to love Him and to love other people, and to serve God and to serve people — that’s the way it works. Free.
Then, now all of this is in connection with 1 Peter 2:24, the last half: “You should live unto righteousness,” you remember? “As newborn babes feed on the Word of God, as living stones build up in the purpose of God.” The place where you are is God’s place for you. As strangers, you don’t fit any longer. You’re, you’re, you’re a different person by the grace of God. Pilgrims, you’re on your way to a heavenly city. As free. Now what? He as, “As the servants of God, the servants of God. That’s our word ‘slave’.
You’re free so that you can serve God like a slave serves his or her master. We’ll get into that the next time we got together. Oh I love the Word of God, it talks to my heart. Does it to you? I hope so. I pray every day that God may put His truth and His blessing and His love into the words that are spoken, even into the tone of my voice. You ever think about Cook, you pray for me to that end, will you? I want to spill over blessing as long as I live, honest I do.
O dear Father, help us to live that blessed miracle life of faith in Jesus, that keeps us loving and serving, and keeps us clean and shining. I ask in His name. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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