ch29     Pilgrim's Progress Chapter 29               
Updated: May 1, 2015

The Fowler (Flatterer) and the Atheist

First Read p 377-380

The Story
Continuing their journey from the Delectable Mountains, Christian and Hopeful came to a split in the road. Both of the routes seemed to lead to the same destination, so they were unsure which of the routes they should take. While they stood there indecisively, a black man in a white robe came along and beckoned for them to follow him. He told them that he, too, was going to the Celestial City and that they could follow him there.

Watch: Pilgrim's Progress: The Fowler (Flatterer) and the Atheist 5 min video


So, they followed the man without realizing that the road along which he led them turned gradually from the true way and actually led in the opposite direction from what they should have been traveling. Before they knew what was happening, they were trapped in a net.
As they lay helpless in the trap, they realized that they had been snared by the very one of whom the shepherds had warned them—the Flatterer. They also then remembered that the shepherds had given them directions, so, if they had examined them, they would not have wondered which route to take. Now, however, they had to suffer the consequences.
An angel (Shining One) appeared to them, freed them, and reminded them of their failure to heed either the warning or the directions. The angel punished them severely, but they thanked him for doing so. Then they continued their journey singing.
Soon they spotted yet another character approaching them. This time, they were more cautious, remembering very clearly the whipping they had just received. The man was Atheist. They did not spend much time with this obvious unbeliever and left him laughing at what he considered their folly.

The Application (TCA 29A)

The main lesson of this part of our story is to teach the Christian always to be cautious and alert to the many “wiles of the devil.” Consider carefully the following two points.

How Satan Snares a Christian

Christian and Hopeful took five steps that led them into the Fowler’s net. The same five steps cause many Christians to fall today, so we would be well advised to consider them.
1. Indecision and Ignorance
Christian and Hopeful had to make a decision at the fork in the road. The shepherds had given them a map (representing the Word and wisdom of God). According to
Proverbs 2:10–12, if we hide God’s Word in our hearts and meditate upon it, the Word will keep and preserve us from the wrong way. However, we must not only know the Word but also recall the Word at specific points of decision.
Note Psalm 17:4. If we know and recall the word at every point of decision, we will not face indecision and ignorance.
But the two pilgrims failed to use their map; they didn’t recall the Word. Therefore, they were indecisive.
James 1:8 says, “A double–minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
Q: What causes doublemindedness? (Discuss.)
It’s caused by uncertainty concerning the right way. When one is sure of the right path, he is never undecided but makes decisions and walks confidently. We apply this principle to our lives by being grounded in the Word. We must know God’s principles of right and wrong.
Ignorance caused them to take the wrong road. The word ignorance comes from the word ignore. The heart of ignorance is the deliberate ignoring of readily available truth. God has given us a Book full of directions for life’s journey. If we fail to learn this Book well, we will fall into many ignorant blunders. Our failure shows up in wrong decisions!
Proverbs 2:10–12 again comes to mind. Proverbs is one of the most practical books in the Bible for leading a young person in the right path. If we memorize it and meditate on its truths, we will avoid most problems, pitfalls, and snares.
2. Flattery and Peer Pressure
When one is uncertain about whether a particular amusement or way of life is right, Satan ensures that the wrong crowd will be there to show the indecisive person the wrong way. This is peer pressure. We all want to be liked by the “right” people and to be accepted by the “in” crowd. When they encourage (or dare) us to do something, we feel flattered by their attention and are tempted to give in to what they want of us.
Proverbs, however, advises differently: “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Proverbs 1:10). “Meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips” (Proverbs 20:19).
3. Following the Wrong Crowd
Read Proverbs 22:24–25: “Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go, lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.” Running with the wrong crowd causes us to learn their ways. We become like them and fall into the devil’s snare.
Q: Why do we tend to follow the wrong crowd? (Discuss student responses briefly.)
We envy their popularity, clothes, cars, athletic ability, or apparent “wildness.” But Proverbs replies, “Let not thine heart envy sinners, but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long”
(23:17) and “Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them” (24:1).
4. A Gradual Process
No one gets out of fellowship with God overnight. It happens something like flat tires happen today. Seldom do we hear of an automobile tire blowing out today; generally flat tires today are the result of a slow leak. Similarly, we get out of fellowship with God so slowly that no one seems to notice until it’s too late.
Review the story of Lot’s decline
Genesis 13–19). By degrees (gradually), this man, who was once “vexed by the filthy conversation” of the Sodomites, eventually become like them. Only by God’s grace did he escape their fate, and that by the skin of his teeth.

5. Carelessness
While the pilgrims were walking along unsuspectingly, the net fell over them. That’s the way it is in life. God warns us to be sober, watchful, and careful as we journey through life. We must suspect everything and fall quickly for nothing. We are especially to be cautious when people try to teach us some new spiritual truth. Like the Bereans
Acts 17:11:4), we must search the Scriptures daily to ensure that what they are teaching us agrees with God’s Word before we accept it.

How a Christian Avoids a Snare

Again, Christian and Hopeful took five steps to get out of the snare. The same five steps can lead us out—or, better yet, keep us out—of traps.
1. Plan Ahead
Search God’s Word for verses that are designed specifically for particular sins and temptations. That way, we are prepared for the problems when we encounter them.
2. Recall Scripture
While they were languishing in the net of defeat, the two pilgrims recalled the Scriptures. Although they remembered them too late to avoid the net, they helped them get out of it. They would have been better off remembering them before they were ensnared!
God has given us His Word to use as a weapon against Satan.
Psalm 17:4 says, “. . .by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer.”
Ephesians teaches that we are in a spiritual war; therefore, we must use spiritual weapons. The Holy Spirit will gain the victory for us—we dare not fight in our own strength—but we must arm Him with His greatest weapon—the Word of God
Eph. 6:17). If we do not memorize certain verses for specific temptations, conflicts, and problems, we will be defenseless before Satan.
3. Freed by God
Just as God sent an angel (Shining One) to free the pilgrims, so He will free any teenager from the snares of sin through the Word of God
Ps. 119:45.
4. Chastened
God will forgive us when we confess and repent, but that does not mean that we won’t get whipped! God’s whippings are not merely punishments but discipline, designed to make us remember our error so that we won’t forget it and thereby fall back into the same trap.
5. Thankfulness for the Chastening
As we noted from Psalm 119:71 in the previous lesson, David was thankful for the affliction that God laid on him because it led to his spiritual revival and renewed fellowship with God.

Conclusion (TCA 29B)

Use TCA 29B to show the importance of dealing with sin through the right use of the Word and to explain how to use the Bible to deal with sin. The five steps are the same as those in Lesson 28, in which we were looking for promises (Look, Record, Categorize, Memorize, and Meditate). In Lesson 29, we are using these same steps to look for weapons against sin. If one follows the first five steps, God will give recall and victory when Satan attacks.
Read Proverbs 16:1. The literal translation of this verse is “The preparation of the heart belongs to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” If the heart is prepared with these steps, God will give instant recall and victory at the moment of temptation.
But an important point to note is that the pilgrims could have avoided much heartache, embarrassment, and chastening if they had simply used their map. God’s Word is our map to guide us in the right path. It provides the help we need to overcome temptations that would take us from God’s way and lead us in the way of destruction. Use your spiritual “map” by memorizing the Word daily and taking it with you wherever you go.


student work

• What two men did the pilgrims meet in this segment of their journey? _Flatterer, Atheist_

• Where does the first man lead them? _to become entangled in a net__

Note the steps that led them into this trap:

1. They were at a point of decision and didn’t know which road to take.

2. They met a man who flattered them and offered to help them.

3. They followed him.

4. Gradually, the road turned away from the Celestial City.

5. Before they knew what had happened, they were trapped.

Note the steps that led them out of the trap:

1. They realized that they had made two errors—they did not watch out for the Flatterer, and they failed to read the directions that the shepherds had given them.

2. They recalled David’s words in
Psalm 17:4.

3. A Shining One came and freed them.

4. This creature then disciplined them severely to teach them.

5. They thanked him for his kindness and left singing.

• Returning to the way, the pilgrims met Atheist. How do we see the good effect of their recent chastening as Atheist approaches? _They were careful in case he, too, was a flatterer._

• Neither pilgrim believed Atheist’s story that there is no Celestial City. According to Hopeful, they did not believe Atheist for what two reasons? _(1) They had seen the gates of the city for themselves from the top of the Delectable Mountains, and (2) they knew that they were supposed to walk by faith. (2 Cor. 5:7)_

The Snares of the Devil

The Flatterer is sometimes referred to as the Fowler because he led Christian and Hopeful into a fowler’s net. A fowler is one who traps birds (fowls) with a net. The Flatterer catches these two “birds” using flattery.The Bible warns Christians about the various nets, traps, and snares that our enemy has laid to entangle and destroy our usefulness.

Devil–Worship Instruments
(Deut. 7:25–26)

• What was Israel to do with graven images that they captured in war?_burn them_

• What about the gold and silver that overlaid the idols? _They weren’t to desire it or take it lest they be snared._

• What about their bringing an idol into one’s house to set it on the shelf as a curio? _They were not to do so; they were to detest and abhor them._

Note the strong language: Burn it, it is an abomination to the Lord thy God, utterly detest it, utterly abhor it, it is a cursed thing.

• Read Acts 19:18–19. What happened at Ephesus under Paul’s ministry that parallels the command in
Deuteronomy 7:25–26?_Many who believed burned the books dealing in curious arts before all men (publicly)._

Any instrument that has been used in the worship of Satan has a curse upon it that stays with the instrument as long as it is not destroyed. Therefore, all former demonic instruments are to be burned. We must realize that the spirit world is very real.

False Religions
(Deut. 12:30)

• Think back to our lesson on the twelve steps toward a reprobate mind. The first step was a natural curiosity. Here we see this fact illustrated. After what is Israel warned not to inquire? _the gods of the nations they would conquer_

That is, they are not to ask how those nations served their gods. It is dangerous even to study too closely the teachings of the cults (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, Moonies, Hare Krishna). You might want to study them a little bit so as to be able to expose them, but Satan will use their materials and talk to trap you and make you begin to doubt the truth.

• The best policy is to know simply what you believe and what basic bibli-cal principles such false religions violate, and nothing more. Remember, according to Romans 16:19, we are to remain “wise _unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil_.”

Worldly Crowd (Josh. 23:13)

• God had commanded the Israelites to destroy completely the seven nations that occupied Canaan. However, they only partially drove them out. Therefore, Joshua warned Israel never to get involved with them because they would become ensnared by them. Joshua says that because the Israelites did not utterly destroy the nations, they would be snares and _traps and scourges in your sides and thorns in your eyes_.

According to verse 12,they were not to go back and cleave to the remnant (the small portion that they did not destroy) of these nations, neither were they to _intermarry with them or go in unto them or they to you_.

The book of Judges records what happened after Joshua died. Israel did what Joshua had commanded them not to do. As a result, they soon became like the nations that they had not destroyed.

Similarly, God tells us to separate ourselves from the world. This doesn’t mean that we are to live in a monastery, but it does mean that unsaved or carnal Christians are not to have influence over us. What do the following verses from Proverbs say concerning the worldly crowd?

Proverbs 22:5— _to stay far away from them_

Proverbs 22:24–25— _not to make friendship with them_

Proverbs 23:20— _not to be among them_

Avoiding the Snare

It’s nice to know what to avoid, but it’s not as easy to avoid harmful influences. The shepherds had warned Christian and Hopeful to avoid the Flatterer, but when the time of testing came, they failed. The best way to learn how to avoid evil is to study both the steps into the snare and the steps out of the snare. The teacher’s lesson deals with this subject.

notes from the teacher’s lesson

How Satan Snares a Christian

• Indecision and _Ignorance_

• Flattery and _Peer Pressure_

• Following the Wrong _Crowd_

• A _Gradual_ Process

• Carelessness

How a Christian Avoids a Snare

• Plan _Ahead_

• Recall _Scripture_

• Freed by _God_

• Chastened

• Thankfulness for the _Chastening_

Dealing with Sin

When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee (Pro. 2:10–11).

Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer (Psa. 17:4).

Preparation–– _The Heart_ (Pro. 16:1)

1. _Look_ for Promises in His Word

2. _Record_ Every Promise

3. _Categorize__ Each Promise

4. _Memorize__ the Promises by Category, and Claim Them When They Are Needed

5. _Meditate_ on (Review) the Promises

Victory––But the _Answer lies in _ (Pro. 16:1)

application activities

1. Think of someone (perhaps a teacher, a parent, a youth worker, or a minister) who had to discipline you in the past. Write a brief explanation of how and why that disciplining was necessary and what you learned from it. Then go to that person (or write them a letter) and thank them for doing what was ultimately in your best interest.

2. Read the book of Proverbs and note all of the verses that warn us against traps, snares, gins, and other entrapment devices that Satan uses against us. Based on the fact that these various terms (traps, snares, gins, etc.) are not synonymous, use a Bible dictionary to look up each term and distinguish between them. Why do you think that Solomon was so specific in the terminology he used in these verses. Does it make a difference in how one prepares himself to avoid these various devices?

3. Read the book of Proverbs and note each of the verses that warn against flatterers or flattery. How does Satan use flattery to sidetrack you in your Christian walk? How can you defend against this deceitful weapon of Satan?

4. Make a list of principles whereby you can make accurate, God–honoring deci-sions when you are faced with a spiritual “fork in the road” of life (e.g., which college to attend, which career or ministry to pursue, which person to marry, which job offer to accept).

5. Study carefully the hymn “Teach Me Thy Way, O Lord” by B. Mansell Ramsey (1849–1923). What life lessons can you learn from this hymn?


Quiz—Lesson 29
The Fowler (Flatterer) and the Atheist
Name____________________________________________ Date ______________ Score_________
Multiple Choice
1. The man who disciplined the pilgrims in this lesson was the
A. Atheist
B. Flatterer
C. Shining One
D. Lawgiver
2. The Flatterer was a false prophet who changed himself into
A. A shepherd
B. A sheep’s clothing
C. An angel of light
D. A pilgrim
3. Another name for the Flatterer was the
A. Deceiver
B. Fowler
C. Atheist
D. Egotist
4. After they had been disciplined, how did the pilgrims respond to the person who had rebuked and punished them?
A. Said they would get even
B. Cursed him, saying he didn’t love them
C. Threatened to sue him
D. Thanked him
5. Who concluded, “. . . the hope that I first had I now know doesn’t exist”?
A. Flatterer
B. Atheist
C. Hopeful
D. Shining One

Short Answer
6–7. What two errors caused Christian and Hopeful to follow the Flatterer down the wrong road?
8. We must not only know God’s Word but also ______________________ the Word at specific points of decision.
9. The heart of spiritual ignorance is the deliberate ignoring of readily available________________
Circle the T or the F to indicate your answer.
T F 10. Loss of fellowship with God is never a blowout; it occurs gradually like a slow leak.
T F 11. The greatest weapon of a Christian in his spiritual warfare is a thorough knowledge of false religions.
T F 12. Someone who faces Satan without memorizing Scripture is like a man without a sword and a house without a roof.
13–15. Explain the first two of the five steps in avoiding a snare, that is, planning ahead and recalling Scripture.



Lesson Objectives:
1. To instruct the students in the ways by which Satan snares believers
2. To equip the students in the ways to avoid (and to escape) Satan’s snares
3. To encourage the students to use the weapon of God’s Word to wage effective spiritual warfare



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