Throughout our Christian life, there is no shortage of distractions. We are constantly being pulled this way and that by the counsel of others and the “wisdom” of the world. In The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan does a masterful job shining the light of the gospel upon the world’s wisdom and reminding us of the refuge we have in the gospel:
Mr. Worldly-Wiseman . . . is well named because he loves only the doctrine of this world (he always goes to the town of Morality to attend church). He loves that doctrine best because it keeps him away from the cross. And because he is of this fleshly disposition, he tries to direct poor sinners away from the path to which I send them, even though it is the only right path.
“The person to whom you were sent for relief, whose name is Legality . . . is not able to loose you of your burden. No man has ever gotten rid of his burden by Mr. Legality’s help, nor are any going to. You cannot be set free by the works of the Law, for by the deeds of the Law no man living is able to get rid of his burden.
“Mr. Worldly-Wiseman is an alien, and Mr. Legality is a cheat. . . . Believe me, there is nothing in all the noise that you heard from these dull men but an intent to rob you of your salvation by turning you away from the way in which I directed you.”
After this, Evangelist called aloud to the heavens for confirmation of what he had said, and with that there came words and fire out of the mountain under which poor Christian stood that made his hair stand on end. The words that Christian heard were these: “For all who rely on works of the law are ‘under a curse’: for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.’”
Christian looked for nothing but death and began to cry out desperately, even cursing the time that he had met with Mr. Worldly-Wiseman, calling himself a thousand fools for listening to his counsel. . . . Christian asked, “Sir, what do you think? Is there hope for me? May I go back to the way and up to the sheep gate? Will I be abandoned for this and sent back from where I came, disgraced and ashamed? I am sorry I listened to Worldly-Wiseman’s counsel. Can my sins be forgiven?”
Then Evangelist said to him, “Your sin is very great, for by it you have committed two evils: you have forsaken the way that is good, and you have walked in forbidden paths. Yet will the man at the gate receive you, for he has goodwill for men.”
Adapted from John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come (Kindle Edition)