by Mike Ratliff
For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. (Hebrews 10:37-39)
As we end this study of the Pilgrim’s Heart, let us take notice of the vast difference between the self-focused Christian, the Soul-led, and the God-focused Christian, the Spirit-led. The former is fleshly. He or she may very well be a genuine Christian, but they struggle mightily with besetting sins and are still focused on self-gratification as a means of fulfillment. His or her heart is relatively hard or callous towards God. The latter is not nearly as fleshly. He or she is a genuine Christian, and besetting sins are actively fought via mortification. The Spirit-led believer seeks to obey God and deny self. He or she has learned to take every thought capture so that sin does not have a chance to take root. His or her heart is relatively tender towards God. The Spirit-led believer, in his or her obedience, is Spirit-filled. That means he or she walks and obeys God by His grace. These fundamentals are the basis for all aspects of the victorious pilgrimage.
The Pilgrim on this Pilgrimage to the Celestial City maintains their godly walk via a Worshipping Heart that blesses God and humbles self. Prayer and worship is constant. Those who do not stumble in this journey also must guard against having a divided heart. Nothing can come between them and their devotion to their sovereign Lord. They maintain this attitude of worship, prayer and devotion to their Lord by having a contrite, penitent heart. This is the heart that mourns and remains humble before the Lord.
As the journey deepens and God builds Christ’s character in the Pilgrim, they develop a selflessness which is Christlike. They willingly accept the pruning from God and see it as necessary and cleansing. This constant growing in grace through sweet pain makes the heart tender towards God. If resentment or bitterness develops because of the fiery trials endured then spiritual growth slows or stops until repenentence.
The Pilgrim will learn along the way that being Spirit-filled is not getting more of God, but giving more of self to God. The Pilgrim obeys God by the grace of God in faith. These acts of obedience are evidence of a Spirit-filled and powerful walk in grace. Humility grows as pride dies in this walk. The fleshly character the Pilgrim was born with is denied as Christ-likeness grows. This godly character is winsome. It isn’t contentious nor beligerent. It softly exhibits Christ-likeness even to those who persecute.
As trial after trial comes upon the Pilgrim he or she becomes strong in the Lord. Their hearts are Enduring Hearts that have the strength of faith that has been built up by God’s good work there. As these Pilgrims walk by faith in the midst of trials, doubt springs up. Some tests or trials are perplexing and are designed to cast doubt upon the entire journey. However, the Pilgrim has learned to trust not in feelings or experiences, but in the Word of God for assurance. This builds strength in faith and enables them to work out their salvation in fear in trembling even in the worst trials.
As the journey is coming to fruition, the Pilgrim has learned to stay in God’s word and seek only what the Word says to base doctrine and their life upon. This Disciple’s Heart is denying self, taking up his or her cross and following Jesus, even when others don’t. This discipline and spiritual growth builds discernment. This discernment is heightened and far above that of the fleshly Christian. This Spiritual discernment is based upon God’s Word as well. God gives the Pilgrim Wisdom in order for him or her to complete their journey.
Those who complete this pilgrimage will arrive in the Celestial City, Heaven, to be welcomed by their savior and the hosts of Heaven. Their journey of self-denial, walking by faith, running the race set before them, walking in the spirit and abiding in Christ will be blessed with treasure in Heaven because that is where they laid it up with each act of obedience by the grace of God. Those who believed, but never started their journey by faith, will have built up only a treasury of bitterness, anger and hatred in their hearts with only wood hay and stubble in their treasury in Heaven. Of course an untold high percentage of these Soul-led professing believers are probably not genuine. They will arrive at the end of their journey spiritually bankrupt with the judgment of God awaiting them.
I pray that God used this study to work His good work in your Heart and also, if you have not committed yourself to this Pilgrimage, you will prayerfully take those first steps of obedience in dying to self and taking on Christ’s yoke of His Lordship. Get into God’s Word and get it into your heart. Pray for God to change you and grant you repentance. Draw near unto God. He will draw near unto you. Learn to follow hard after God. Learn to see this world as lost and dying and not your home. See the Eternal life with Christ as the genuine reality. I pray that you will take up your cross, exit the city, and begin your Pilgrimage all for the glory of God.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.
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