The Progress of the Pilgrim: Worldly Wiseman.

“It has been said that one hallmark of the Puritan view of the Christian life was the emphasis placed on being “constant” (or being steady and unchanging),” explains Dr. J. Ligon Duncan.

“The Puritans, and certainly Bunyan, highly valued the Bible’s accent on faithfully, consistently, tirelessly pursuing the Christian life with a view to the long haul. Key to this is the role of the ordinary means of grace (chief among them the reading/preaching of the Word, the right partaking of the sacraments, the engagement of the soul with God in prayer). If we are to manifest the constancy of the Christian pilgrim’s life then we will also place much stock in the ordinary means of grace.”

1 John 2:15–17 (ESV) says, 15 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. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

Bunyan personified the opposition to the Gospel from the fallen world with the character known as Worldly Wiseman. He lived in the town called Carnal Policy. He and the town were like the current inhabitants of many places and governments.

The Apostle Paul encountered the philosophy of the carnal world. Particularly in Greece. He described it in I Corinthians 1:18-25.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Corinthians 1:18–25 (ESV)

Worldly Wiseman despised the counsel of Evangelist. He hated the Gospel as do unconverted people today. He told Christian, “I curse him for that counsel! There is not a more dangerous and troublesome way in all the world! You shall find this out for yourself—if you follow his advice. I see that you have met with trouble already—for I see that the mire from the Swamp of Despond is upon you. That swamp is just the beginning of the sorrows which attend those who continue in that dangerous way.”

Worldly Wiseman directed Christian to the town of Morality and a man named Legality. Early in his life, Bunyan embraced a legalistic morality. However, he discovered that while he appeared to friends and family as a godly man, he remained dead in his sin (Eph. 2:1-3).

Christian initially accepted Worldly Wiseman’s counsel, but soon discovered that the supposed “easier way” to seek relief from his burden was filled with fear. Christian, like many like-minded people today, place their faith in moralistic, therapeutic religion. They have faith, but not faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed.

To embrace the moralistic counsel of the world is to forsake the One, True God. It is to abhor the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It results in eternal death.

On which path are you on? Is it the path of morality resulting in death? Or are you on the way that leads to eternal life; the way of the cross? What is your answer?

Soli deo Gloria!

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