“The neighbors also came out to see him run. As he ran—some mocked, others threatened, and some cried after him to return. Among those who did so, were two who were resolved to fetch him back by force. The name of the one was Obstinate—and the name of the other was Pliable. Now by this time, the man had gone a good distance away from them; but they were resolved to pursue him—and in a little while, they caught up with him.” – John Bunyan
Do you remember when you sensed something was missing in your soul? Your life wasn’t making sense and you were aware that the world’s answers were not helping. The culture was not only not helping but raising more questions than answers.
Two individuals who resolved to take Christian back home, by force if necessary, were named Obstinate and Pliable. Obstinate is a stubborn and unmoved sinner. He resembles some of the Greeks at Mars Hill when they mocked the Apostle Paul’s message of the Gospel (Acts 17:32). Pliable is the opposite. He is flexible and adaptable to any and all teaching and teachers. He receives the Word of God with joy, but he has no room in his heart; like the shallow soil (Matt. 13:1-9, 18-23).
“They that fly from the wrath to come are a gazing-stock to the world,” Bunyan wrote.
Jeremiah 20:10 (ESV) says, “For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.”
When Obstinate cannot convince Christian to return home, he storms off in disgust. However, Christian convinces Pliable to join him, which he does with an initial excitement and enthusiasm. However, once the two of them fall into a bog called the Swamp of Despond, Pliable becomes disheartened and leaves for home.
“When the sinner begins to seek salvation, well-meaning friends often try to stop him,” explains Pastor Warren Wiersbe. “Obstinate has great strength of will, but he lacks the insight and values to put it to work in the right way. Pliable seems to have some insight, but he lacks the willpower to act and continue to the end. Pliable is in a hurry to get to heaven. Unlike, Christian, he has no burden for sin to hold him back. He is a picture of the person who has never felt conviction of sin.”
Prior to your conversion to Christ, which of these three characters defined you? Were you aware of your need for Christ like Christian, or were you either like Obstinate or Pliable?
What about today? Are you a dedicated follower of Christ or rather obstinate or pliable languishing in the Swamp of Despond? Something to consider.
Soli deo Gloria!