Community Baptist Church Ladies’ Book Study
Pilgrim’s Progress Chapters 5-6; December 8, 2015
I. Review of Last Lesson
a. We considered the beginning of the pilgrim’s journey, his departure from the City of Destruction, the conflict with his family and those around him, his settled determination to leave all to flee the wrath to come and to be relieved of the burden on his back. He leaves with the Book in his hand.
b. He is accompanied by two companions: Pliable and Obstinate. Obstinate soon turns back. Pliable makes it as far as the first trial: the Slough of Despond. Both the Pilgrim and Pliable sink in the Slough, which represents the paralyzing fear and desperation at the deep sense of one’s own guilt before a holy God.
c. Pliable climbs out on the side closest to the City of Destruction and leaves his “friend” to fend for himself.
d. Aid is provided in the form of one named Help, who pulls the soiled pilgrim out and encourages him to continue on the path.
II. Next Encounter: Mr. Worldly-Wiseman
a. As Christian continues on the path, he is still reeling from the near-death experience at the Slough of Despond. It is noted that he is “all alone”; he is feeling perhaps the burden even heavier than before and more anxious to be relieved of it; he is also still carrying the dirt and the stench from the Slough on his clothing.
b. In this weakened condition; he is susceptible to being deceived by the counsel of Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, who is very observant of Christian’s condition, and seeming to be of a religious mind, offers a “better”, “easier” way.
c. You’ll notice from the first paragraph of Ch. 5, the Town of Carnal Policy is “a very large community not far removed from Christian’s former home town.” Wide is the way that leads to destruction. Although what counsel is being proposed by Mr. Worldly-Wiseman seems moral and even religious, it is not far from the philosophies sported in the City of Destruction. Both are humanistic and in opposition to the Narrow Way.
d. APPLICATION: What application might we draw from these thoughts? Ask for input. 1)Straying from the path leaves a residue that we carry with us. 2)A sense of a burden of guilt and aloneness may leave us susceptible to unbiblical counsel in quest for relief. 3)No matter how good counsel may sound, promising ease and relief, if it takes us away from the way of the Cross, it will lead to death.
III. Mr. Worldly-Wiseman: The Interrogator with an Agenda
a. Mr. Worldly-Wiseman approaches the discouraged Pilgrim as a concerned, competent counsellor. He addresses him as would a friend…”my good fellow”. Pilgrim is in a vulnerable state and given the non-threatening stance of Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, no doubt his guard is down as he seeks quick relief of his burden and cure for his loneliness. He needs a friend!
b. This interrogator draws Christian in with inquiring about his burden and his family and thus has him right where he wants him and that is primed to receive his “good advice”.
c. “Get rid of your burden with all possible speed…” He goes on to tell Christian that not until then will he have “peace of mind” or be “able to enjoy the benefits of the blessing” of God. This language sound similar to the Book that he has been reading. And this ambiguous religious talk seems to hook Christian.
d. First bit of counsel: Get rid of Evangelist. He seeks to disprove the counsel of Evangelist by pointing out the perils and the hardships on the prescribed Path of which the Slough of Despond was only the beginning. Christian expressed that no price seemed too high if the end would be the removal of his burden. When that line of questioning/reasoning seemed to not work, Mr. Worldly-Wiseman changes the approach and offers the…..
e. Second bit of counsel: Get rid of the Book. No Bible, no burden. Don’t dabble in things too high for you.
f. Christian is looking for ease, comfort, & relief and finally succumbs to the promise of Mr. Worldly-Wiseman to make quick and painless work of it. Read 2nd exchange on pg. 24.
g. APPLICATION: What application might we draw from these thoughts? Ask for input. 1) Just because someone seems concerned and touts religious talk does not mean they are a safe place. 2)If someone is pointing you away from trusted biblical counsellors, BEWARE. 3)If someone directs you away from the clear direction of Scripture, FLEE. 4)Do not be duped by measures of truth mixed with error. That is the most dangerous kind of counsel and requires spiritual discernment. 5)My comfort, companionship, and ease is not the primary thing. Trusting and obeyingthe God of the Book and the Narrow Way IS.
IV. Destination: Village of Morality
a. It sounds awfully good. A man named Legality lives there along with his son, Civility. They have a reputation for being skilled burden removers. Living standards are high and reasonably priced. Sounds to me like the town of Mayfield with residents like Ward and June Cleaver. Who wouldn’t want them as neighbors?
b. Have you ever asked anyone if they believe they will go to heaven when they die and hear this answer?: “I believe I will make it to heaven because God knows that I have always tried to be a good person. On this basis I believe God will accept me.” Again, it sounds good, but the problem is it is not good enough to meet God’s standard.
c. John Kelman who wrote a book on the study of Pilgrim’s Progress (in public domain) says this: “He who sets out in earnest to reach Morality finds himself facing the most elastic mile in all the world.”
d. Christian was “somewhat of two minds”, but in the end of it all, Mr. Worldly-Wiseman’s congeniality and sales pitch wins the day. You’ll notice that he did not consult the Book, but resorts to his own reasoning ability. Trouble is around the bend.
e. APPLICATION: 1)Our fleshly tendency is to believe in our own self-worth, and to surround ourselves with those who do the same and promote that philosophy. It makes us feel better to maintain our own inherent goodness and to believe that God has no problem with us. While it may make sense to the carnal mind, eventually we will have to come face to face with the holy and righteous standard of God….either here in this life or when we stand before God. Read Galatians 2:16, 21; 3:11 2)When we rely on our own reason and leave the counsel of the Book, we are stepping off the path and into danger no matter how appealing the scenery.
V. First Sign of False Advertising: High Hill
a. Mr. Worldly-Wiseman had made mention of “the Hill” as almost a passing comment. But it has an alarming effect on Christian.
b. It overwhelms him. The closer he gets the more it looms over him looking almost as if it would topple and crush him.
c. It increases the feeling of the weight of his burden. He feels that this obstacle is impossible to overcome so that he might be on his way to his intended destination.
d. He is nothing short of terrified. He comes face to face with the terror of the law.
e. All of the promises of his advisor lay in ashes as his feet.
f. Did anyone take the time to reflect on what it might have been like to be an Israelite on the day that God called them to the foot of Mt. Sinai? Care to share?
g. John Kelman (The Road): “The whole incident shows at least this, that Mr. Worldly-Wiseman is a comfortable friend to only those who can find their own devices to get past Mt. Sinai. There is a point in most lives when it needs an obstinate and perverse courage to silence conscience, by deliberately choosing the world and forsaking Christ. Those may thank God who find that attempt a failure, to whom Worldly-Wiseman’s promises are broken, and who find instead of ease, safety, and friendship, the increasing burden and terror, and the deepening loneliness which these promises bring.”
h. READ TOZER’S NOTES ON EX 19.
i. APPLICATION: 1)While we may look good in our own eyes when we compare ourselves to others, if God gives us a glimpse of His holiness and by necessity what that requires of us, we will experience dread, fear, and despair. “Our God is a consuming fire.” 2)No one will be justified by the works of the law. It is impossible for us to keep the law of God; our sin nature renders us incapable.
VI. God’s Mercy in the Form of Evangelist
a. Here comes Evangelist again in the “nick of time”. He questions Christian with, “What are you doing here?” And Christian begins to recount the tale of his encounter, explaining the seduction and the straying.
b. Evangelist once again points him to the Word of God, speaking of Israel’s rejection of God and the real possibility of our own departing in light of that. He speaks to Christian of his dangerous backslidden condition.
c. Christian collapses at Evangelist’s feet, broken by his sin. Evangelist lifts him up and encourages him of sin forgiven and to not be faithless, but believing.
d. Evangelist then sets out to expose the deadly errors of Mr. Worldly-Wiseman…..
VII. Error Exposed
a. You will notice that Evangelist does not make this about himself…i.e. “Why didn’t you take MY counsel?” He makes it about a departure from the Cross.
b. Mr. Worldly-Wiseman loved the doctrine of the world because it saved him from the Cross.
c. Again from John Kelman in “The Road”: He severely criticizes the Gospel of Morality, but the heart of the accusation of Mr. Worldly-Wiseman is his turning Christian from the Cross. The cross of Christ is foolishness unto them except to make signs with it, and put it on the roofs of their houses, and the outsides of their churches. As for Evangelist, ‘where e’er he goes there stands a Cross.’ The cross interprets life to him, and all views of life which omit the cross are merely shallow and deceitful imaginations. In this instance Evangelist sees one laboring to persuade a man that the means to eternal life will be his death.
d. In the words of Evangelist, “You must completely loathe this doctrine.”
e. Who is to blame? While Evangelist exposes the lies of Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, he clearly points out that responsibility of Christian’s plight lay on himself for ‘consenting thereto’ and departing from the way prescribed by the Book. Christian could make excuses like he just wanted to be free of the burden, but in reality he drew back and there was no one to blame but himself.
f. APPLICATION: 1)Have we entertained doctrine or philosophies of life that have taken us from the Cross? 2)Have we resorted to human reasoning to justify taking an “easier” way? 3)Is the cry of our hearts, “Jesus, keep me near the Cross….be my glory ever?”
VIII. Encouragement Given/Warning Issued
a. “Is there any hope for me?” is Christian’s question of the hour. Have you ever felt that question in the depths of your soul when confronted with sin in your heart/life?
b. Praise God that Evangelist has a word of encouragement for him issued with a warning. God forgives sin and welcomes the prodigal.
c. Thesober warning: “Even so, be careful that you do not turn aside again, for then you may perish altogether when his wrath is kindled but a little.”
d. APPLICATION: 1)God forgives sin and welcomes returning pilgrims. 2)We cannot presume upon the grace of God.
e. And so Christian returns to the right way……