Every Christian has slightly different experiences in life. That’s also the way it is in The Pilgrim’s Progress with Christian and his wife, Christiana. To Christian, the descent from the hill Difficulty to the Valley of Humiliation is difficult and dangerous. The valley (when he gets there) becomes the site of one of the fiercest battles he has in the course of his journey to the Celestial City.
Yet, this valley is not perilous to all pilgrims. In part two of The Pilgrim’s Progress (not included in your textbook), Christiana describes it as a fruitful place, “the best and most fruitful piece of ground in all these parts.” It consists of meadow-lands and green valleys, “beautiful with lilies; filled with sheep, and resounding with the pastoral songs of the shepherds; and its chiefest glory is, that it was the chosen dwelling place of Jesus, the Lord of all.”
But to Christian, the Valley of Humiliation is a place of awful conflict. If one studies Christiana’s experience, Christian seems to have wandered into a danger-ous part of the valley called Forgetful Green, where he is exposed to the assault of the great foe, Apollyon.
Lesson: When we get our eyes off of the Lord, and forget momentarily what He has done for us, we become vulnerable (as a defenseless lamb) to the lion (Satan), who goes about “seeking whom he may devour.”
The Valley of Humiliation
From the great heights of the hill Difficulty, Christian goes down to the Valley of Humiliation. God has both the high ways and the low ways for the Christian. The high ways encourage us to press forward; the low ways keep us from thinking that we can make it in our own strength.
Someone has said that humility is produced by a vision of God. Christian has just learned much about his Lord in the Palace Beautiful, and this knowledge humbles him because it reminds him of his own weaknesses, his own sinful nature, and his own total dependence upon God’s Help
Some people think that the man who claims friendship with the God of the uni-verse should never walk in humility. They say that he should lift his head high and feel as though he has been exalted above most other men. Perhaps this is exactly what Christian does. He steps out of the Palace Beautiful “heady.” He thinks that no one can whip him. Therefore, he soon forgets his great God. He will soon learn an unforgettable lesson.
Humility is evidenced by the following four proofs.
The first step of humility is a reverence for and a holy awe of God. At this point, Christian does not have this reverence, although he loves the Lord. His suit of armor and his new knowledge of the Word are all that he needs—or so he thinks. He will emerge from this valley with a new reverence for God.
Confession of Sin
When one reveres God in all of His power, glory, and holiness, he automatically sees his own sinfulness and begins confessing his sin. Christian has at times admit-ted his sinfulness:
1. Before he was saved, he spoke of his awful burden of sin.
2. He admitted his sin to the porter, confessing, “I would have been here sooner, but, wretched man that I am, I slept in the arbor that stands on the hillside.” However, the vision of God that gave him this attitude has now slipped from his mind.
• Humble souls express the thought of the pilgrim when he said to Goodwill about Pliable, “I don’t think there’s any difference between him and me in that regard.” Again, at the wicket–gate, the pilgrim is amazed that they would receive someone like him. He had truly obeyed Philippians 2:3, which states, “…but in _lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves_.”
Someone has said, “Gratitude is the flower of which humility is the root.” Christian has shown gratitude numerous times, including the following.
1. At the Wicket–Gate“What a favor it is that I’m still admitted entrance here.”
2. At the Arbor upon Finding His Lost Roll“He thanked God for directing his eye to the spot where the roll lay…. ”
3. At the Palace Beautiful“But, thank God, I’m here. Thank you for receiving me.”
• He once more returns to a humble attitude and falls on his knees after the encounter with Apollyon. What does he say that shows his humil-ity by way of a grateful spirit? _I'll give thanks right here to Him who has delivered me from the mouth of the lion, to Him who helped me against Apollyon, Therefore to Him let me give lasting praise._ And thank and bless His holy name always.”
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Augustine said, “Well nigh the whole substance of Christian discipline is humility.” If one is to live a disciplined life for his Master and Lord, he must be humble. This truth can easily be seen when we apply the following four elements of humility.
1. If one does not revere, respect, and fear God, he will not discipline himself to follow Him.
2. If one is not aware of his own sinfulness and total need of Christ to fight for him, he will not follow the Lord.
3. If one is not lowly minded (i.e., if one thinks himself to be something great), he will not discipline himself to follow his Lord. He thinks, Why do I need Him? I can make it on my own!”
4. If one is not grateful to God for what He has done for him, he will have no motive or inward urging to follow the Lord.
Thus, Christian discipline is impossible apart from humility.
• Read Revelation 9:11. Describe who Apollyon is according to the passage:• His position— _" the angel of the bottomless pit"
• He was king over what creatures
(Rev. 9:1–11)? _locusts who tormented men as scorpions_
• His name in Hebrew is _Abaddon_.
• His name in Greek is _Apollyon
Thus, this part of The Pilgrim’s Progress depicts a conflict with the powers of hell and with Satan himself.
The name Apollyon means “the destroyer.” Thus, we see that side of Satan that seeks to destroy the testimony, influence, and—if possible—the life of a Christian.
Describe Apollyon according to the story.
• His Clothing— _scales like those of a fish
• His Wings— _like a dragon__ indicating his speed of attack.
• His Feet— _like those of a bear_ (for softness of tread, allowing him to attack by surprise, and for strength and power to injure)
• His Mouth— _like that of a lion to kill and to devour.
• His Breath— _fire and smoke came from his belly representing the inner fire that burns within the breast of the fallen Lucifer.
• Apollyon doesn’t begin his attack with a shocking, crushing, lightning–fast blow, like the Nazi blitzkrieg of early World War II, but with tempt-ing questions that raise doubts in one’s mind. Note how he did the same with Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. What was his first question of Eve? _Yea, hath God said, you shall not eat of every tree in the garden?
• His sole purpose in asking this question was to get her to doubt God. He tries the same tactic on Christian in the Valley of Humiliation. What does he first ask Christian? _Where did you come from? Where are you going?
• His purpose is to convince the pilgrim that he belongs to him. It’s the old temptation that Satan still uses: “You’re not good enough to be God’s child. Why don’t you quit pretending. Look at all of your failures. You’ll never be like those saints. Give up and forget it. Get back to your home where you belong.” He reminds the pilgrim of his many sins as evidence that he has no business trying to act like a Christian. What sins does he recall to the pilgrim? _falling into Slough of Despond; trying to get rid of his burden in all the wrong ways instead of waiting for the Prince to remove it; sleeping and losing his roll; etc.
• Here, as is stated in Revelation 12:10, we see Satan enjoying his role as the _accuser of the brethren_. His tactic is always the same. First, he seeks to get a Christian to doubt God’s Word or his own salvation. Failing there, he flies into a rage and seeks by wrathful means to accomplish the same purpose.
Two great characteristics are prominent in Christian in this episode: his faith and his courage.
• At first, Christian starts to run from Apollyon. This initial reaction is further evidence that he has temporarily forgotten his Lord. Still thrilled with the blessings of the Palace Beautiful, he has not “come back down to earth” and is jolted by the realization of his weakness by the sudden appearance of Satan (Apollyon). However, he soon recovers and defends his Lord against the lies of Satan. He then states boldly, “I believe that the Prince _whom I now serve is able to clear me of that crime and, yes, even to grant me full pardon for what I did in your service_.”
• Apollyon then reminds him of the hundreds of Christians who have been killed trying to follow the Lord, yet God did not save any of their lives. Instead, He let them be slaughtered! What does Christian answer to this accusation that shows his faith? _My king delays to deliver them because He’s testing their love to determine if they will cleave to Him right up until the bitter end. As for the bad end you say they come to, that’s an excellent thing on their account. They don’t expect deliverance now because they endure hardship for a later glory.
• Apollyon begins the actual attack by throwing a flaming dart at Christian’s chest. How does Christian fend it off? _with a shield_
• According to Ephesians 6:16 what does that represent? _the shield of faith_
Christian’s courage is rooted in his faith. If he had not had faith in the power and watchcare of his God, he would not have had the courage required to face such an awesome foe.
Courage consists of the following three characteristics.
1. Resolution—A Determination to Press on at All Costs
• At the first sight of Apollyon, Christian is afraid. Yet, upon further thought concerning the greatness of his God, he “determined to _take his chances and stand his ground_.”
• We see the same resolution to go on regardless of the danger as he neared the top of the hill Difficulty and was warned by Timorous and Mistrust about the two lions. At first, he was afraid, but he determined to venture on, and eventually he got past them unharmed.
2. Fearlessness Though Afraid
• Someone has said, “Real courage is not the absence of fear but the cour-age to go ahead when you are afraid.” Anyone can move forward when he or she is not afraid. It is showing fearless conduct outwardly when one is fearful inside that is the true sign of courage. Christian frankly admitted his fear of the lions, but he pressed forward anyway. Apollyon, too, frightens Christian, yet note his fearless words: “Apollyon, beware what you do _ because I'm in the King's highway, the way of holiness_. So watch yourself!”
What brave, courageous words! And his heart was beating ninety miles an hour for fear!
3. Fortitude (Endurance)
• Endurance is stored courage. Christian—although he was wounded, flung to ground, weak from bleeding, and having lost his sword—did not give up! His courage is seen in his nimbly grabbing his sword and giving Satan a decisive thrust. What words from Romans 8 does he then quote as he wins the battle? _Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us_
• Thus, his courage, firmly rooted in his deep faith in the power of God, wins the day. “May God give you the faith and courage to stand,” as Ephesians 6:11 says, “against the _Wiles of the devil__.”
• Remember, it was by the sword that Satan fell. As we hide God’s Word in our heart, record it, and then quote it back to Satan when he attacks us, we have victory.
What does Psalm 17:4 say about this? _By the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer_
notes from the teacher’s lesson (TCA 11)
Memory Verse #1 from Creation lesson #1
Memory Verse # 2 from Creation lesson # 3
Hebrews (11:6) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Memory Verse # 3 from Creation lesson # 5
1 Corinthians 13:12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Memory Verse # 4 from Creation lesson # 6
Genesis 1:1–2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
Memory Verse # 5 from Creation lesson # 7
1 Corinthians 15:21–22
For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive .
Memory Verse # 6 from Creation lesson # 9
Romans 3:4 ....let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written:
“That You may be justified in Your words,
And may overcome when You are judged.”
Memory Verse # 7 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch1 Don't worry
Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say to you,do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?...
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Memory Verse # 8 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch3
Proverbs 29:1 Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy
Memory Verse # 9 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch5
Memory Verse # 10 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch7
Memory Verse # 11 from Pilgrim's Progress lesson ch 9 James 1:12
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
1. Read C. S. Lewis’s little book The Screwtape Letters. List the various methods that the character Screwtape suggests will help his nephew Wormwood suc-cessfully tempt his Christian victim. Make another list of the practical lessons that you learn from reading this book.
2. Read firstname.lastname@example.org, Don Hawkins’ modernized takeoff on C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters. List the methods of temptation included in that book. Then list the lessons you can apply to your own life from that book.
3. Using a commentary and a concordance, conduct a study of Ephesians 6:10–18 and share your findings with the class either orally or in writing.
4. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. In the column on the left, list the ways in which Satan most frequently tempts you. In the column on the right, list ways by which you may resist those temptations. Include Scripture references that you can use in your resistance program.