Believers Just Passing Through

Posted on August 24, 2020

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By David Ettinger

Familiar Concept
Most believers who consistently read their Bibles are familiar with the concept that our existence here on Earth is temporary and, as such, we are just “passing through.”

This came through powerfully as I read this verse: “If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth” (1 Peter 1:17). I had read this phrase dozens of times before, but it never struck me quite so starkly.

I read the words again – “the time of your stay on earth” – as if we are on vacation or in the hospital for a spell. Though Peter’s point in this introductory section is not to speak about our brief “fling” of mortality, this inescapable truth shines forth.

Our time on this fallen Earth as mortals is brief. In reality, God’s original intent was that we live forever here on a perfect Earth. That intent will become reality in the future – but such a study is for a different day (and a past day, as I have written of it).

Our Brief Stay
In regard to this “brief stay” of ours, Bible translators have interpreted the original Greek in fascinating ways. A sample:

  • “… pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (KJV).
  • “… conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (ESV).
  • “… live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear” (NIV).
  • “… conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence” (HCSB).

I like all of these interpretations as they convey that which Peter – and the entire Bible, for that matter – teaches us. I believe the ESV’s version – “the time of your exile” – nails the concept. We are indeed exiles in this world.

Conveying It
The Lord Jesus conveyed this truth directly on several occasions, two of which speak volumes:

  • “If you [Jesus’ disciples] were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:19).
  • “I have given them [Jesus’ disciples] Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 15:19).

And the apostle James, in his almost confrontational manner, tells us in no uncertain terms: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”

What to Do With It
So, what do we as believers do with this truth? How do we conduct ourselves in this perishing world?

We find our answer in the three verses preceding 1 Peter 1:17. As exiles, sojourners, and foreigners who have but a “stay” on this earth, we should:

… prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

May God shower you with His grace in these challenging days!