Pilgrims & Strangers
1 Peter 2:9-12
In today’s Reading from the 1st Epistle of Peter, the Apostle Peter tells us, that as believers, we are “pilgrims and strangers” in this earth. (That, at any rate is how we should see ourselves)
The word “stranger” has the idea of a person who lives for an extended time in a land that is not his own. He is there long enough to need a house to live in, but he is not a permanent resident. He has no legal rights, he has no social standing.
He is a stranger, an exile who lives in a foreign land.
The word “pilgrim” has a meaning that is more temporary than the other. This word refers to one who is merely passing through this place on the way to another place.
Both of those words describe who we are as children of the Lord. We are living in this world, but this world is not our home, Phil. 3:20. We are here, God willing, long enough to need a house to live in, and a job to feed us; but, we are not permanent residents. We are merely strangers living in the midst of an alien culture. We are pilgrims passing through earth on our way to Heaven.
If you have ever had the opportunity to meet someone from another culture, you soon recognize the fact that they think and act differently than you do. Well, as believers, we are supposed to think and act differently than the natives of this planet. Our new birth and our new nature are all products of heaven. As a result, we are to be heavenly minded. Our legal status is in heaven. While we are to be subject to the laws of our country, we are not to be restricted by man’s laws and man’s ways! Man’s laws and ways are lower than the standards heavenly
citizens are to live by. We should obey the laws of the land, but the law and will of God is far superior to that of this world. In other words, if we are truly heaven born people, then we are to live like heaven born people!
This is what Paul had in mind in Col. 3:1-3 where he says …
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God“.
Since we are pilgrims and strangers in this world, we need to know how to conduct ourselves in an alien culture. Today’s epistle has something to say about that. In these verses Peter shares some Reminders For Pilgrims that we need to grasp.
FIRST – A REMINDER OF OUR PAST SITUATION
In verse 9, he tells us We Have A Dark Past – We have been called out of darkness and are reminded that Jesus found us in the darkness of sin. He found us when we lived as we pleased and we were unaware that our freedom and fun was nothing more than the worst kind of bondage,
In verse 10, he says We Have A Despised Past – We are reminded that when Jesus came to us, we had not even part or portion with Gods people, We were outcasts! Gentiles, – considered part of a fallen race of people. We were the enemies of God.
Here also in v10, he says We Have A Deadly Past – When the Lord came for us, we were totally unworthy of the mercy and grace He extended to us! May I remind you that God owes us nothing!
We all, everyone of us deserve to be en route to Hell, for although we were born sinners by nature, we became, of our own free will and choices, sinners by choice and sinners by practice. If you believe at all today in Jesus as your Sin bearer and Saviour, then it was Gods grace that reached down into the hell of your darkness and delivered you from such a wretched and wasted existence! It was grace and grace alone that made the difference in your life and mine. So this was our Past Situation.
Secondly, we have A REMINDER OF OUR PRESENT STANDING
We Are A New Creation – The term “chosen generation” in verse 9, has to do with the glorious truth that God reached into the teeming masses of lost humanity and chose a people for Himself. He did this according to His own will – when He took these people He chose and created a brand new race of men. When the Lord called Abraham, the Hebrew race of people was born. A race that had never existed – came into being. The same thing is true about believers. We are a distinct race of men! We may be the same as others physically, but we are vastly different on a spiritual level. This is the reason why the world does not understand us; – why they do not accept us and our beliefs. This is the reason why we are as aliens in this world! Ps 82:v1 suggests that we are no longer regarded as just “human-kind” but of the “god-kind”?
Then, We Have A New Communion – We are called a “royal priesthood”. When we were lost, we were totally separated from God. Now, in Jesus, we have been brought
“nigh” or near to God by the blood of Christ, – Eph. 2:13.
In this new relationship we have unrestricted, unhindered access into the presence of the Lord. We do not need another mediator for our Mediator, is the Lord Jesus. He has broken down all the barriers that once stood between us and God, … we don’t need any other to speak for us but Jesus. As Hebrews. 4:16. says, we may …“come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need“.
Then, We Have A New Character – We are also called a “holy nation”. That is, God, through Jesus, has produced a change in us that now allows us to be what we could not have been before: – holy! You see, lost men can do good! The Bible says, that they have no spiritual good in them, yet they can produce some things that are good from a human perspective, but they can never produce anything that is spiritually good in the sight of God. Isaiah. 64:v6
shows that “our human righteousness is as filthy rags“.
However, when a person is truly saved, they are given a new nature. This new, spiritual nature has the capacity, through the indwelling work and enabling of the Holy Spirit, to produce works of true holiness, pleasing to the Lord! Things like prayer, witnessing, acts of faith, acts of love, kindness and forgivingness are proof that God can take a sinner, save him by His grace and then make that person holy – transformation – only God can do it! A believer can and should be holy! This is the will of God,
and it is possible as we live as new creatures.
2 Corinthians. 5:17 says …
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
It is possible because we have been delivered from the darkness and we have been placed into the light! The flesh can produce a lot of things that look good externally, but only the Holy Spirit of God can produce genuine holiness in a person’s life. The lost man may clean up his life,
but the saved man finds his life cleaned up for him!
Then too We Have A New Classification – Peter calls us a “peculiar people”. Now that has been often misquoted and taken out of context for many years. It does not mean that we are weird, or strange, or scary, … the real meaning of the word “peculiar” is of “a purchased possession, a unique possession, something of rare beauty and of a priceless nature.” It brings to mind the way Malachi referred to the Lord’s people in Mal. 3:17 as “Jewels” In fact, the word “jewel” in Mal. 3, means the same thing as the word “peculiar” in this verse does!
(Rather like the Cullinan 1 & 2 Diamonds, in the Queens State Crown and Sceptre Cross, – both extremely rare and peculiar treasures)
This means that we are a precious people. He paid a high price for us, (his own life’s blood) and now He possesses us and we are precious to Him. Of course, this means that He keeps a close watch on us. He looks after us with the greatest of care. He protects us and shelters us. Once we were a despised, worthless people, now, through the blood, we are God’s prized possessions! Have you ever lost a set out of a ring? Ever lost a jewel or a prized possession?
We all have! Thankfully, God will never lose any of those who are precious to Him, (his Children) – never!
So we have a reminder of our Past Situation
And our Present Standing
Finally Peter gives us A REMINDER OF OUR POWERFUL SERVICE
We have seen who we were and who we are, now let us focus on what we are supposed to be? You see, instead of being partakers of the culture and mind set of this world, we are to attempt to share and transfer the culture and mind set of Heaven with this one. Remember, we are from another world, God has chosen or taken us out of this one, John 15:19. We are literally “ambassadors” from heaven to this world,
2 Corinthians 5:v20.
We are to do all we can to share the culture of our homeland with these earth bound people living around us. We are to
show and tell them how the citizens of Heaven live their lives!
First of all, We Are To Declare The Truth About Our Saviour – The phrase here “show forth the praises” means to vocally declare what the Lord has done for us. The word “praises” refers to “those qualities that make Him excellent.” We are to declare to a lost and dying world the excellency of the Lamb of God! This is why the good should never be enough, this is why we must aim at the excellent. Do you aim at excellence in everything you do? In the Service of your Lord and Master, is your preparation excelling? Sometimes in our churches we have developed the attitude that “any old thing” will do.
Years ago a man offered me the gift of a car, I got excited
and thought it was a real answer to prayer, until I clapped eyes on it! It was a run down, rusted, heap of scrap. But his attitude was, “give it to the Lords work, I can’t drive it, but the Minister could run around in it.”
We should be eager to declare what He has done for us, and to do so in such a way that honours him the best we can.
When you mature in Christ, you are motivated to leave the good for the best, leave the best for the excellent and leave the excellent for the exceptional.
Are your gifts to God exceptional – the best offerings you can make? We should be a vocal people in our willingness and our desire to share Him with the world! There is a right and a wrong way to do even this good thing! You can be open about your relationship with Jesus without being obnoxious to those you are witnessing to. You can point men to Him without drawing attention to yourself!
Then, We Are To Demonstrate The Truth Of Our Salvation – There is a vocal side to our witness and there is also a visible side to it. Peter speaks about that aspect
of our walk with the Lord.
In verse 11 he speaks of A Pure Walk – Since we are citizens of Heaven, we are to avoid living like the citizens of the earth. When we live on an earthy, fleshy level, we find our witness ruined and our lives enslaved by the power of the lusts of the flesh.
Then in verse 12 he speaks of A Powerful Witness – Peter says that believers are to live right in front of a lost world. They may criticize us for the standards we have or for the things we oppose, but if we are
consistent and holy in our walk and dealings with them, they will be touched by our good works. He even indicates that some will be saved as a result as the phrase “day of visitation” indicates.
The truthfulness and honesty of our lives should make a statement for God that none of the world-lings arguments can overcome. One business man I heard about recently, ostensibly a Christian and a pillar of his Church, lied to a customer, and was challenged by a young employee about it? “Oh that’s only a business lie” he said, “that doesn’t count.” What nonsense! You never know who is watching your walk and talk, and what a difference and impact will be made on others because of the way you live!
Our lives can have a powerful affect on everyone we touch, either for Good, or for evil. What sort of testimony do you carry? Jesus tells us
“occupy ‘till I come” are you doing that?
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
Until Jesus comes, we are to be “pilgrims and strangers” in this world. Let us remember that we are surrounded by an alien culture that needs to hear about Jesus and that needs to see His truth lived out by those who claim to know Him.
The tragedy with so many of us, particularly here in Ireland, is that we are far too “earth bound” to be of any real “heavenly” use. Once you have surrendered your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, as many of you claim to have done, then you are no longer British, or Irish, or Chinese, or Russian, or Polish, or
European, or any other similar classification – for you have been
made a citizen of Heaven, and an Ambassador for Heavens Kingdom – an everlasting dynasty.
“Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come” Hebrews 13:14 “… whose builder and maker is God”
Your only Loyalties should be in heavens Kingdom, there and not here. You should not be fighting over the Banners or Borders of the Kingdoms of Men or Monarchs, your heart should not be in any of that, unless of course you have a divided heart and divided loyalties? “In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north.”
Unless and until you recon yourself as a “pilgrim and stranger” here, you can be of no benefit to the King or
They used to encourage visitors to the national trust parks and properties, to “leave them cleaner than they found them.” We should seek to promote and produce the culture of Heaven in
this world, so that when we leave it, it will be cleaner and better than we found it!
God Bless you