By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:8-16 NIV)
God also has prepared for us a better country and city! Therefore, our theology, our pursuit of Him, must be according to what He wants and not what we have imagined. Let us throw off the imaginations and plotting of the old man, the old heart, and put on the new man, Jesus Christ, who is renewed in righteousness. Let us look in the direction where He has pointed us and fix our eyes on that promise and not the things of this earth! In regard to this world, I believe the words of Jesus are essential if we are to be released from the quagmire, the quicksand of false doctrine, doctrine that gives us a choice between fatalism and inaction. If we choose to follow the world, we will always be caught between bad choices, choosing our people over other people, our country over other countries. Rather, let us choose our promised-country over this world. Jesus has overcome the world and has given us His victory. His overcoming victory is seen in choosing Him over the world. He says, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15). “The world is passing away” is jaw-dropping! We cannot elude it! Even America, the place we call home-our country-is also passing away; we cannot escape it. Of course, while we are here, we must try to make things better, but at this time, we have something better, even in this moment we have a heavenly country! Just as our forbearers in the faith saw themselves as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, we, their children, are also strangers and pilgrims, who like them, look for a homeland, a country of our own.
This promised-country is one in which righteousness dwells, not one where we fight, scratch, and devour one another. The apostle Peter tells us that because we look for and expect such a country, we should be diligent to be found in Christ, that is, in peace, not having spot and blameless. We must deal with sin in our lives! The scriptural example is seen in the celebration of the feasts of Unleavened Bread and Passover, where the Israelites were required to remove all yeast from their homes before worshipping God! We too, must remove sin from our lives and live in peace with our fellowman, trusting in Jesus Christ! We must make every effort to live in peace with all people, knowing that without holiness, we shall not see the Lord! We must put off the former conduct of our old self and “not lie to one another, since you [we] have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but [where] Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:9–11).
To be continued…