Text: 1 Peter 2:11

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” (1 Peter 2:11)

The customs and border control of any country is invariably split into two broad sections. One section deals with those who are citizens of the nation. The other section will handle the visitors from other countries. Sometimes, this section is labelled as “aliens”, reminding those in line that they never truly belong to the country they are visiting.

We who received Christ as our Lord and Saviour are no longer citizens of the world but of heaven. He has chosen us out of this world to be His own – a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, called out of spiritual darkness into His marvellous light. We are aliens who do not belong to this world. We are pilgrims who are just passing through. We are citizens of heaven living temporarily in a fallen world plunged in sin.

Sadly, we often live with our minds geared toward this present life and the cares of the world. How should I proceed with my education? How should I advance in my career? How should I raise my children? How little do we think of heaven, which is our home to come!

A person who is just passing through a land has a different mindset from a native of the land. A native makes his decisions and plans with the assumption that he will be a permanent dweller of the land. On the other hand, the pilgrim does not live in the same way as a native. He lives according to different manners and customs.

It is with this in view that the Bible exhorts Christian pilgrims to abstain from fleshly lusts. This stands in contrast with the people of the world. They embrace sinful passions and spend their lives seeking to fulfil these desires. However, the Christian must take decisive action in putting away such sinful allurements and be wholly devoted in his pursuit of holiness.

Though believers are cleansed from their sins by the blood of Christ, yet they practically struggle with the sin principle that still dwells within them while they are on the earth. The Apostle Paul describes this struggle most vividly in the seventh chapter of Romans. “14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” (Rom. 7:14-25)

Every Christian pilgrim should not live like the way the world lives. The world revels in sin, but the Christian abhors and renounces all sinful pleasure. He must flee from sinful lusts and run to Christ who will help him to overcome the world. He must not walk in the flesh but after the Spirit (Romans 8:4). There must be a decisive commitment not to yield to temptation but pursue after righteousness.

Sadly, Christianity today is weak in warring against sin. Some are not only hesitant in their fleeing from fleshly lusts, but readily indulge in sinful pleasures. There is no stand against fornication, covetousness and materialism. Instead a brazen display of wickedness and total disregard of holiness. Very often, the church is no different from the world, for the world is seen in the church.

Dear reader, how are we walking in this world. Are we fighting a good
warfare against our fleshly lusts? Or are we living no different from the rest of the world? If we are truly strangers and pilgrims on the earth, we cannot be living like the people of the world. Our attachment must not be to the things of this world, but the things which are above. May the Lord help us to live pleasing before Him as we walk this pilgrim journey on the earth.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew