BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews is devoted to the Bible characters who lived by faith. Among them were Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, whom the Bible says, in verse 13, all confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13 NKJV). Note the phrase “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” The Christian Standard Bible uses the phrase “foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.”
That means that these heroes of faith knew that the earth was not their home. They knew that their stay on the earth was temporary. They lived as strangers and pilgrims on earth but many people today live as if they are permanent residents on the earth.
The Apostle Peter also referred to believers as strangers and pilgrims, who shouldn’t adopt the lifestyle of non-believers among whom they live, but their loyalty should be to God. “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 NKJV).
If you are born again, you should see yourself as an ambassador of Christ here on earth; you are on a foreign mission. You are accountable to your home government where you got your letter of credence. Your attitudes and behaviour should not be controlled or influenced by the world. “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJV).
Pilgrims cannot afford to have the mentality of indigenous people, who believe that they own their place of abode, or the mentality of settlers, who believe they have arrived at their permanent place of abode.
This earth is not forever
This earth is temporary, and it is already passing away. “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17 NKJV). The earth, as it is, will disappear completely one day when God will judge the earth. It will cease to exist. “But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7 NKJV).
Verses 10-13 say, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (NKJV).
So if this earth and everything in it will be burnt up, what wisdom is there in pursuing the things of this world as if this earth is permanent? Everything, no matter how magnificent it is, will be consumed with fire. Don’t hold on tightly to this earth as if it will exist forever. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17 NKJV). God shall make new heavens and the new earth (Isaiah 66:22). Also, speaking about a new heaven and a new earth, Revelation 21:1 says the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Don’t live as a citizen of this earth. This earth will cease to exist one day, no matter how long you live. There is life after this earth.
That is why 1 John 2:15 says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (NKJV). If you will not pass away with the world, you must not love this present world; you must live as a stranger and pilgrim who is looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. “And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4 NKJV). Have a pilgrim’s mentality; you have a brief time to stay on earth.
How to live as a stranger and pilgrim on the earth
1. Be born again. “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3 NKJV). The devil should not continue to be your lord and master. Terminate his authority over your life by coming into a new relationship with Jesus. You need to give your life to Jesus Christ thereby becoming a new creature. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV). Toward the end of this message, I’ll show you how to be born again.
2. Be renewed in your mind. This comes with the help of the Spirit of God, as you continuously study and meditate on the Word of God. Ephesians 4:23-24 says, “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (NKJV). You cannot put on the new man and live a life of righteousness and holiness unless you daily renew your mind with the Word of God. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 NKJV).
The key to life transformation is the renewing of the mind through the Word of God. This will enable you to view life from God’s perspective and live as He wants you to. When your mind is renewed, you will live a transformed life that lines up with the Word of God.
3. Make the most of your time here on earth. Don’t live as if you won’t die or you’ll live forever on earth, as it is at present. Don’t congest your life with all manners of engagements, activities, projects, etc. such that you have no time or enough time for what is most important. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NKJV). The Contemporary English Version renders it thus: “Teach us to use wisely all the time we have.” And as the New Living Translation puts it, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Appreciate the brevity of life and use wisely all the time you have.
Grow in wisdom; don’t live as fools. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15-20 NKJV).
Those who live their lives as strangers and pilgrims on the earth no longer live the rest of their time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God (1 Peter 4:2).
4. Lay up your treasures in heaven. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV). Those who see themselves as permanent residents of the earth don’t lay their treasures in heaven. They heap up wealth, live a selfish life, and delude themselves that they can continue to enjoy forever like that rich fool in Luke 12:16-21. “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be required of you. Then who will own what you have accumulated?’”(Luke 12:20 Berean Standard Bible).
How do you lay up or store your treasures in heaven? By being generous to God and His causes on the earth, especially soul-winning. The other way of storing your treasures in heaven is by being generous to fellow human beings, particularly the needy, orphans, and widows. “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Proverbs 19:17 NKJV). James 1:27 says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (NKJV).
Those who don’t store their treasures in heaven are not involved in these types of giving. All their treasures are here on earth; they hoard their wealth and are selfish, and though they’re rich while alive, they are poor after death, for they have no treasures stored ahead in heaven.
5. Don’t be attached to the things of this world. That means you shouldn’t be engrossed with the affairs of life or get carried away by the activities of this world, your success, your progress, and all that this world offers because it won’t last. “Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away” (1 Corinthians 7:31 NLT). Another translation says, “Those who use the things in this world should do so but not depend on them. It is clear that this world in its present form is passing away” (GOD’S WORD Translation). Don’t live dependent on the things of this world. Don’t be fully occupied with them.
The things the world offers could be deceptive. You should be careful not to be deceived. That’s why the Bible warns about the deceitfulness of riches. “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22 NKJV). Don’t hold tightly to the things of this world.
6. Set your mind on the things that are above. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4 NKJV). Note the phrase “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” It means, “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth” (NLT). The Amplified Bible puts it this way: “Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value].”
Unserious Christians and non-believers focus their minds on the things of this earth. They are overly concerned about earthly things. But serious Christians set their minds on things above, and not on things on the earth. They know that, just as Jesus told the Jewish leaders, they are in this world but not of this world. “And He said to them, ‘You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world’” (John 8:23 NKJV).
Conclusion: Let your mentality not be like that of those who think and live as if this world is their home. Don’t be engrossed in and entangled in worldly things; don’t enjoy so much the good things this world offers that you forget about eternity.
Live as a stranger and pilgrim on this earth; don’t live to pursue vanity and lose your soul. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37 NKJV).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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