12/7/14: Pilgrim’s Progress (2) — Stuck In The Swamp Of Despondence
On November 30 we read the first portion of John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’ Progress in which Christian, tormented by the burden on his back, fled the City of Destruction. This past Sunday we read how two of Christian’s neighbors, Obstinate and Pliable, sought to convince him to return. When Christian remained resolute in his purpose, Obstinate went home in disgust. Pliable, attracted by Christian’s description of the Celestial City, decided to travel with him…until he fell in the Swamp of Despondence.
Immediately disillusioned, Pliable crawled out of the swamp and went home. Christian persevered to the far side of the swamp but, because of his burden, couldn’t get out. Thanks to a character named Help, he got out of the swamp onto more solid ground.
I emphasized several points as I taught through today’s portion of the story.
- Every true Christian will experience opposition and persecution (2 Timothy 3:12)
- A true follower of Jesus will not turn back for anything (Luke 9:62)
- The Swamp of Despondence symbolizes the condemnation that can easily attend conviction of sin
- When we are tempted to feel condemned by our sin, we must look for gospel steps through the swamp (like Isaiah 35:3-4). Though we are great sinners, we have a great Savior!
- Pliable was carried for awhile by the faith of another — he never experienced personal conviction of sin
As I ended today’s message, I was very aware of how many Pliables could be seated before me — young men and women being carried along by the faith of their parents and pastors. Undoubtedly there are many students in the 12:13 class who have not yet experienced a personal crisis of faith that cries out, “What must I do to be saved?”
For the Pliable in all of us, Hebrews 10:39 gives a faith-stirring challenge: “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” May our heavenly Helper bring every student in the 12:13 class toward that glorious end!
FOR DISCUSSION WITH PARENTS
- Do you ever feel swamped by condemnation? What gospel “steps” has God provided in his Word?
- How can you avoid being like Pliable?