The Herald Weekly Vol XVII : 9

Pitfalls to Avoid in Life

We are pilgrims traveling on the road of life, needing God’s mercies to keep us and help us all along the way. John Bunyan (1628-1688) wrote a classic Christian allegory on this, called The Pilgrim’s Progress, describing the trials and triumphs of a protagonist named Christian as he traveled from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. His journey took him through the Slough of Despond, the House of Mr Legality, and the Valley of Humiliation, where he fought valiantly with Apollyon. However, he was captured at Vanity Fair and was later imprisoned by Despair in Doubting Castle. He escaped by using the key called Promise, and after crossing the River of Mortality he finally reached the Celestial City.

As pilgrims on our journey through life, we must be careful to avoid the many pitfalls that are strewn along the way. I would like to highlight four of them, and – following the spirit of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress – I will call them Amnesia Atria, Stagnation Station, Pride Pinnacle and Hypocrisy Hall. Please be sure to avoid these four places as they will only hinder your journey to the Celestial City.

Amnesia Atria

Inside this huge shopping mall people are constantly on the move, acquiring all the good things in life. They are so busy doing this that they have completely forgotten that they are pilgrims on the journey of life. The sight of endless rows of shops filled with a dazzling endless rows of shops filled with a dazzling array of goodies and gadgets has cast a strong spell of forgetfulness on them. And since the mall is open 24 hours they really don’t have time for anything else.

A roll of honour, prominently displayed at the entrance, lists all the customers who have regularly spent their time shopping here. It includes names like King Solomon (1 Kings 11:4) and Demas (2 Timothy 4:10). To ensure that faithful pilgrims like you do not enter Amnesia Atria, God has placed a big warning at its portals with Deuteronomy 6:10-12 written on it.

Dear pilgrim, forgetfulness in a dangerous pitfall, especially for those who are reveling in many material pursuits in life. As we become busier in our careers and in taking care of our material assets we may not have any time left for spiritual things. We become so deeply engrossed that we forget the Lord and all the precious lessons we have learned from God’s Word about the Christian life, faith and service. For this reason, we need to be reminded in Proverbs 3:1, “My son, forget not My law; but let thine heart keep My commandments.”

How can you avoid this pitfall? Firstly, always remember that God is the source of all your material blessings and that you should thank Him for them constantly (Deuteronomy 8:10). Without Him, you would not have an income and all your earthly possessions. 

Secondly, do what is written in Hebrews 2:1 – “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” Keep on reviewing the precious truths you have learned from God’s Word. No matter how busy you are, make time for Bible study, for church and for fellowship with other believers. These are the God-given means by which you can retain the spiritual truths and principles you have learned. But if you are cutting down a lot on these things, please be careful as you may be slipping into Amnesia Atria!

Stagnation Station

In your journey of life, please do NOT alight at this station, because you may find yourself stranded there for a very long time. Somehow anyone who alights to rest at Stagnation Station find it very difficult to get back on the train to resume their journey. At this station many people are sitting around, doing nothing. They have stopped progressing. Although they look old enough to be full-grown adults who can digest strong meat, they are still drinking infant formula! As they cannot take care of themselves, they depend on others to care for them and feed them.

To ensure that faithful pilgrims like you will not alight at this station, God has programmed a warning message that is announced loudly in the train every time it approaches this station. “Next stop: Stagnation Station. Passengers going on to Perfection, please do not alight at this station!” This is then followed by a warning from Hebrews 5:12 – 6:1.

The original recipients of this warning were Christians who had stagnated in their spiritual growth. If they had grown normally, they would have become mature enough to teach God’s Word to others. But because of their stagnation they had not even mastered the basic doctrines of the Christian faith and basic principles of Christian living. In fact they had to re-learn the basic principles of the doctrine of Christ. And because of their shallowness, some of these stunted Christians were even on the brink of departing from the faith.

Dear pilgrims, this very sad state of affairs could also be yours, if you are not careful to keep growing and going on with Christ in your spiritual life. How much have you grown spiritually, since you came to know the Lord? We must keep growing “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God; unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13)

If you think that you are already stuck at Stagnation Station, now is the time to get out of it. Get on board the next train that comes and press onward in your pilgrimage toward Christian maturity! To keep yourself from stagnation again, never regard yourself as having “arrived” at an acceptable spiritual level and be content to remain there. Follow the apostle Paul who said, “…this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13,14)

Pride Pinnacle

This is the tallest skyscraper in town, built by the same developers who designed the Tower of Babel. It boasts of having the greatest and best of everything: the largest displays and convention halls, and the fastest lifts in the word that can take you to the top within a few seconds. Many people love to get to the very top of this tower to enjoy the breath-taking view from up there. It was this same view that gave Nebuchadnezzar the euphoric feeling of his own importance (Daniel 4:30).

But it is dangerous to even enter this tower. This is because its foundations are extremely weak. It was built upon the most transient dreams and illusions of self-glory ever conceived by the human heart. Pride Pinnacle is therefore tottering and ready to fall soon, causing a disaster of immense proportions! That is why God has placed a big warning sign for pilgrims who may be unwittingly lured into this tower, which reads, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

Pride is a sin of the heart. Some forms of it are highly visible, while others cannot be seen by men at all. There are many areas in which a person may become proud, including achievements, service rendered to the Lord, and even in having virtues like goodness, humility, and faith.

Whatever the area of pride, God’s response to it is always the same: He will bring judgement on it (Isaiah 2:12; Proverbs 15:25; 16:18). Knowing how much God hates pride in us, let us do all we can to put it away. The remedy for pride is to have a biblical view of oneself (Romans 12:3). See yourself as nothing but a hopeless, helpless sinner, incapable of gaining acceptance with God by your own efforts. It is only the grace of God that has made you what you are today (1 Corinthians 15:10). Most people will never want to see themselves this way. But the sin of pride can never be dealt with effectively until one does.

Hypocrisy Hall

This is a large clubhouse where people love to rub shoulders with all who belong to the same elite class. There is however, one little peculiarity they all have: Everyone wares a mask when they are there, but once they leave the hall they remove their masks and revert back to their true selves! The people of hypocrisy hall are descendants of a group of people who lived long ago in Jesus’s time, and whom He had warned His disciples about: “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1)

Hypocrisy is a very dangerous pitfall especially for mature Christians who have been attending church for a long time. When they were young in the Faith they were enthusiastic and excited about worship, prayer, Bible study and discipleship. But as they get used to doing these things year after year, they just go through the motions to satisfy themselves and to keep up a good appearance before men. Jesus said, “This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is fare from Me.” (Matthew 15:8)

Dear pilgrims, if this accurately describes your present life, you are probably a shareholder of Hypocrisy Hall. You stand together with the Pharisees who fasted, prayed, gave alms and tithed very meticulously to be seen by men, but they were spiritually dead (Matthew 23:25-28). You are also a close associate of Ananias and Sapphira who pretended to be more generous and godly than what they really were. In doing so, they lied to the Holy Spirit and were immediately struck dead! (Acts 5:1-10)

Hypocrisy is deceitful and it leads to self-deception. All who dwell at Hypocrisy Hall deserves severe judgement from God (Job 15:34 36:13). What can you do to avoid this? Firstly, do not lose your first love for the Lord (Revelation 2:4). Do not allow anything to extinguish the flames of loving devotion in your heart. Maintain an intimate relationship with God in your daily quiet time.

Secondly, be honest and sincere about your motives. God’s Word says, “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.” (Proverbs 16:2) “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2). Ask yourself: Why am I doing this? Is it for God to see, or for people to see? Would I be doing this if no one is watching me?

Dear pilgrim, now that you have been forewarned about these four pitfalls that are represented in Amnesia Atria, Stagnation Station, Pride Pinnacle and Hypocrisy Hall, please exercise all diligence to avoid them. Ask the Lord to keep you far from them so that you may proceed onward in your journey of life and earthly pilgrimage, until you reach the fair mansions of the Celestial City.

Rev Charles Seet
Article from Life B-P Church Weekly, 24 Feb 2019

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