The Holy Scriptures are the written record of the revelation of God and of His will with respect to the creature. Many passages of Holy Writ speak directly concerning our walk while here upon the earth. One of these passages was penned by the Apostle Peter in his first epistle, the second chapter, verses 11 and 12. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
The apostle is writing to the church here on earth, the whole church, not just fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, but to the young people as well. Very often the younger generation tends to forget this with the result that they brush off such admonitions as found here. But you too, young people, are strangers and pilgrims during your present lifetime. This is not something that one puts off until later years. For some they may not be these later years.
Strangers . . . probably better translated as boarders. A stranger is one who lives in a home, but who does not belong to the family. He has no right in the house; he simply lives in the house. This is your and my position in the world; we are in it, but do not belong to it.
A pilgrim is almost the same thing. He is one who travels in a foreign country to which he does not belong. He is a citizen of another country, namely, an heavenly country. Consequently, as long as he is in this world he does not build his foundations deep, but pitches his tent as he moves from day to day.
As one makes his sojourn as stranger and pilgrim in a strange land he must always be conscious of his conversation, that is, one’s walk as to its outward manifestation. This is very important because that which is outward is motivated by inward principles. One’s walk includes his thoughts, desires, and intents of the heart for they regulate the members of the body with respect to that which is without.
Scripture speaks of the walk of the ungodly and of the godly. The ungodly is inwardly corrupt, thus, his outward conduct and manifestation of life are revealed in every kind of abominable work. When he speaks, he lies and curses. When he sings he rejoices in the works of darkness. The songs that the world puts out today have their source in hell as one can readily hear. You see, the ungodly does not have grace, does not have faith; and whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
However, the apostle is concerned with your walk, the walk of the godly as it is motivated by the principle of grace. Such a walk manifests itself both negatively and positively. Negatively, one abstains from fleshly lusts which war against the soul. This is all that arises out of and appeals to the old man in us. The devil likes to work on this old man especially in the youth. This is the impressionable age. This is the ages when young people tend to shrug off the parental authority and want to do their own thing. Well, the devil will show you plenty of things to do. The ungodly theater beckons you with its colorful display of wickedness which makes adultery and fornication the way of life, something to seek for fulfillment of life. The radio, television, and cheap paperback books do the same thing. Sin is no more sin, but erotic pleasure—so much so, that if we do not do these things our life has no meaning at all. Yes, peer pressure is great; everybody does it.
But God here instructs us to abstain. This means that in no way may we indulge in or make provision for these fleshly lusts. Do not try to find something good in these evil practices, for there is no good there. Whatever arises from the flesh is wicked.
This, of course, involves a fight. Fleshly lusts war against the soul. Peter refers to the soul of the Christian that has been regenerated. The fleshly lusts fight against this soul which is now governed by a new principle of life. The Christian, therefore, is a stranger and a pilgrim. Fleshly lusts do not belong to the kingdom from which the Christian is born. Result . . . a fight. Not just simple shadowboxing, but a fight to the death. In the measure that you fight you will overcome and be sanctified; and in the measure that you do not fight you shall be overcome and walk in darkness.
The other side of this admonition is the positive side: walk honestly. Walk in the way that is good, beautiful. One is honest in his walk when in every respect he manifests himself to be what essentially he is, a Christian. Honesty is the opposite of the lie. Therefore, the outward manifestation of our life must be good, that is, in harmony with our inner life which is good because of regeneration. The moment that we walk contrary to that inner principle we are dishonest, we live the lie. God is the God of truth. He hates the lie, dishonesty, and a walk that is patterned after the world of which we are not citizens.
But do not fear. You can do it. No, not by yourselves, but by grace. By grace you are impelled to fight against fleshly lusts; by grace you are impelled also to walk a new .and holy life. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6)
The apostle goes on to say that this must be done among the Gentiles. The Christians in Peter’s day were scattered among the Gentiles, who served other gods, and who were satisfying the lusts of their flesh. In the wider sense the term Gentiles refers to the present evil world, with its corrupt practices, and its ungodly system. It is the world with all its departments, politically, economically, and socially. In the midst of that world you and I are called to walk.
We must not try to seclude ourselves in the physical sense of the word. Many sects have tried and have failed. As long as the Christian lives in the flesh he must take the world along with him no matter where he goes. Your calling is to go about your daily work in the midst of the world, but as you do so, you do not seek the places of ungodly amusement or the dens of vice and sin. No, wherever you go you walk honestly, for you are a pilgrim and stranger whose citizenship is heaven.
This calling will be difficult for you and all of God’s children. According to the nature of the flesh you are quite at home in the world, a citizen seeking the things of the flesh and of darkness. But you have obtained mercy, your life is changed, you have a heavenly citizenship. Because of this, the Gentile world will speak against you who are a stranger and accuse you of being evildoers. That is the way it was in Peter’s day. When there was an earthquake or a pestilence the Christians were blamed. When they refused to worship Caesar as God they were treated as criminals. So it always is. The church is either laughed to scorn or persecuted. If she is faithful, what happened to Christ also becomes her experience. Thus, the life of the Christian is very difficult.
Now God has a purpose for us and our honest walk. Something that we do not always think about. Peter is talking about our life and its relationship to the day of visitation. The day of visitation can refer to the day of God’s judgment and to the day when God visits with His grace. The latter is meant here. The day when God calls the sinner out of darkness into His marvelous light, when He converts the sinner from His evil way.
The idea is that the Gentiles may see your good works, and glorify God when He visits them also with His grace. Christ said in Matt. 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Peter says almost the same thing here. These good works are those which proceed out of true; faith, are done according to the law of God, and unto His glory. They are truly the manifestation of an honest walk.
The ungodly will not glorify God unless they are converted. But when God visits them in His grace and converts them, they will see the good walk of the Christian in an altogether different light. When once they falsely accused the children of God, and slandered them whom they observed were walking honestly, they will now glorify God for His grace, which they behold in the good works of the Christian. Thus, when we reveal ourselves as those who are partakers of the anointing of Christ; when we walk in all good works which God before prepared in order that we should walk in them, God is pleased to use that Godly walk to bring others to conversion.
Did you ever stop to think about that? Certainly, God gathers His church by His Word and Spirit, but He also uses us and our walk to bring the unbeliever to Christ. Our actions speak very loudly to those around us. Do your actions speak of a new life, or of the old man? May God give unto us continually that grace to walk honestly to the end.