The believer is a pilgrim.
Having said this we have not said anything distinctive about him.
All men are pilgrims whether they belong to Caesar’s kingdom, that is, to a kingdom of this world, or whether they have their citizenship in heaven. All men not only stay on this earth temporarily in one of Caesar’s kingdoms, but all men are traveling to a different country than that of their earthly life, and presently will be everlastingly in a realm other than that over which Caesar or one of his counterparts ruled.
The believer is a pilgrim who is walking with his eye upon the city that hath foundations, whose designer and builder is God. The unbeliever is a pilgrim who is rushing ever more swiftly to an abode of desolation, of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Neither one will remain here forever. The believer shall return to life on this earth after it is purified and renewed. The unbeliever, who thinks of nothing but this life and gives his name to his possessions in the hope of remaining here through his works and posterity, shall be swept off, never to have a moment of laughter and joy upon it again.
And although the child of God, chosen by Him, loved by Him and having some wonderful promises from Him, is approaching every moment of his earthly life that city which hath foundations, it pleases God to make him a citizen of a kingdom of this world for a time. He is a citizen of God’s kingdom and of Caesar’s. The unbeliever is a citizen of Caesar’s and of Satan’s kingdoms; and Caesar and all his cohorts and counterparts are likewise citizens of that kingdom of darkness. It makes no difference to what earthly kingdom the unbeliever may belong, he is at once and at the same time a citizen of the kingdom of unrighteousness. But it makes really no principle difference to the child of God either to what earthly kingdom he belongs. He may have more persecution in the one and more freedoms in the other. He may be able to make a better living in the realm of one of Caesar’s kind than in another. But since this is not his goal, and he is only passing through, his concern is the kingdom at the end of the way. He knows that these are not only temporary afflictions which now he suffers, but also such very light afflictions in contrast to the everlasting weight of glory that is laid away in Christ. II Corinthians 4:17, 18.
However, the believer is a citizen of Caesar’s kingdom for God’s and Christ’s sake. And he is a loyal citizen also for that very reason. He is a citizen of Caesar’s kingdom, and he recognizes Caesar as his king. He is a citizen of Christ’s kingdom, and he recognizes Christ as his King. But there is no conflict here. He does not refuse to be a citizen of Caesar’s kingdom in order to remain a citizen of Christ’s. He remains a loyal and faithful citizen in Caesar’s kingdom exactly because he wants to be pleasing to Christ, his King. The believer, as he lives from the principle of his faith is the most loyal citizen that any earthly kingdom could ever want or find.
That does not mean that Caesar and his like will always make this judgment. This does not mean that his compatriots will do the same. Was it not exactly the Jews who accused One of their own of being unloyal to Caesar? Was this not exactly their cry whereby they obtained a cross in order to get rid of Him? Were not the apostles of Christ accused of the very same thing? and long before this was not this the cry of Haman before king Ahasuerus, in order to have all the Jews all over the world exterminated? Oh, no, we may expect to be called obstructionists, narrow-minded, traitors and the like.
But the fact remains that the believer as he lives out of the principle of his faith is the most loyal and most-to-be-desired citizen in any kingdom of this earth. He honors his father and his mother. He submits to every ordinance of man for God’s sake. He pays his taxes in full and without complaint. He obeys all laws even when he cannot see the wisdom or justice of them. He will do anything that his government demands of him and that does not require of him that he sin against the King of the City toward which he is traveling.
It is exactly because he is a citizen of Christ’s kingdom that he will do all this. There was no better citizen than Christ. He did not hesitate to inform His tormentors that they must render to Caesar the things of Caesar. He never broke a law of Caesar’s rule. He was willing to be born in a stable when the demand of Caesar came that all the world should be registered for a coming taxation. When Caesar through Pilate nailed Him to the tree, He remained there though men taunted Him to come down, and He had the power to do so.
And the Christian partaking of Christ’s anointing, reborn with His life, controlled by His Spirit, loving the law of God, by the love from Christ shed abroad in his heart, will do as Christ did. He will “render to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” Romans 13:7. He will do this when he lives from the principle of his faith and new life. That life and that faith will allow him to do nothing but that which Christ would do in the circumstances.
But that Christian pilgrim is in for some rough days. And all of it will not come from those who claim no other loyalty and citizenship than that of the earthly kingdom wherein they were born or obtained their citizenship. This will certainly be part of it. But, as was the case with Jesus, who was attacked not directly by Caesar and Pilate, but, of all things, by His own countrymen, and those who professed to be the children of God, by the rulers in the church of that day, so it will be in the days that are rapidly approaching us.
You see, Jesus gave what is called the great commission; and He sent His apostles out to disciple (That is the word Jesus uses) all nations. But while this is going on, Satan has also commissioned his viper’s brood to disciple all church members for and to baptize them in the name of the Antichrist. And Satan and his cohorts and laborers seek to realize a church that is Christ’s for Caesar’s sake. THAT is the battle of the ages. That is the struggle of which God spoke in Genesis 3:15, when He promises to put His own love in the hearts of the seed of the woman while leaving the hatred of God in the hearts of the serpent’s brood. The Word of God tells us to be Caesar’s for Christ’s sake. The philosophy of man urges us to be Christ’s for Caesar’s sake.
Satan does not mind if you are Christ’s as long as you are Christ’s for Caesar’s sake. When he can press the church into serving the kingdoms of this world, he knows that he has diverted her from serving Christ. He is quite willing to see the church moving into the area of all the social problems of the world, because while she is busy with these she has no time or enthusiasm any more to be busy with the problems of sin and of salvation. Let it be clearly understood that solving the social problems of the world has nothing to do with salvation. All that you gain for man in this way, he is going to lose anyway. And all the earthly benefits you may realize for him are not going to bring him one inch closer to the kingdom of God. But if the church can only preach along with Satan, “Thou shalt and can become like God,” Satan is quite happy to have you in that church.
The serious-minded believer today will take stock in what is taking place in the church world. The world has always boasted that it will be like God. It has always made fantastic claims of what it is going to do. It has boasted of the diseases it will cure and of the death it will ultimately overcome. It boasts today of the day when it will control our weather, and when it will create life in the test tube of the laboratory. Caesar has never said, “Render unto God the things of God.” He has always said that it all belongs to man. And nothing else can we expect from the world.
But so much of the church has joined Caesar in his antichristian ambitions and projects. That is the tragedy of it. So many churches make no attempt to get at the root of all social problems: Sin. So many therefore explore every way for a solution but the way of a rebirth and a new heart by the grace of God. And many that call themselves Christian psychiatrists reveal the same folly. Sin is not the cause of our quirks and even of murder. No, there is a more palatable explanation that gives a little more hope to man. If he is totally depraved, there is, of course, nothing that other men can do for him. But if it is some experience in childhood, some environment, some childhood deprivation or scare that can be blamed for it all, then MAN can solve man’s problems; and we do not need Christ and His cross and Spirit. We do not pray then, but we pay. No prayer to God is needed; but you can pay dearly $0 the “head shrinker” for his words of foolishness!
Much of the church wants no “blood theology” of the cross of Christ and forgiveness of our sins through it. Instead they stand with open mouths to drink in and devour the spoutings of the world that come with a salvation by science. Many in the church world today do not glory in the cross of Christ anymore but boast of the “social gains” that they have made. And the reason for it all is at hand. They want no salvation from sin and for the glory of God. They want no ability to walk in His fear and to be His royal priesthood. They want a salvation that gives their flesh freedom and opportunity to seek more fully the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye and the pride of life. They will be Christ’s, if it will enable them to be Caesar’s to the full extent of their flesh’s earthly cravings.
What is the conclusion of the matter? Be a good citizen of Caesar for Christ’s sake: Be loyal and faithful to the powers that God sets over you during your pilgrimage here below. But let no man deceive you into becoming Christ’s for Caesar’s sake. Let the dead bury the dead. But, as living stones, live in His fear.