Have You Started Walking? In “Pilgrim’s Progress” John Bunyan depicted the Christian life as a walk. He got the idea from reading the epistles of the apostle Paul who often compared the Christian life to a walk, as in “We walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7 NKJV). Jesus Himself spoke of discipleship as a walk (Jn. 8:12). In no way did this mean a short stroll, but rather a life-long trek just as Bunyan vividly depicted it. To go successfully on a trek, you have to: make a definite decision to go (Gal. 5:25); decide your objectives (Rom. 8:4); make necessary preparations, including a map (Ps. 119:105); and identify places to stay on the way. You must also have the necessary gear and dress appropriately (Rom. 13:14). Once you set out, you have to maintain an appropriate pace and “walk carefully.” In the United Kingdom we must observe the “Country Code.”
The Christian “walk” is an all-embracing, lifetime occupation. It is no mere matter of attending church meetings and acting appropriately. Of the 96 New-Testament occurrences of the Greek verb peripateo, about 42 literally mean “walk.” All its remaining occurrences speak figuratively of conduct or manner of life. That is why newer versions very often translate this verb for “walk” as “live.” To use a 21st century word, it is about lifestyle. The major Hebrew word for “walk” in the Old Testament means “to live, to regulate one’s life, to conduct oneself.”
Is Your Christian Life Going Anywhere?
Grace & Truth Magazine is for readers who want to live for Christ. This series of articles is for those who agree with the hymn writer, C. Simmonds: “I want to walk with Jesus Christ, all the days I live of this life on earth; to give to Him complete control of body and of soul.” Do you want to “walk worthy of the Lord” who saved you? Do you want to walk “worthy of God”? (Col. 1:10; 1 Th. 2:12). Certainly! “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
However, our conduct is a good indicator of what we really believe. The Lord Jesus knows those who truly believe in Him, and others who, in the end, will give up on the Christian way of life, turn back and no longer walk with Him (Jn. 6:60-66). There are also real Christians who walk “disorderly and not according to the tradition … received from us” (the apostles). But, if they are real Christians, they can be made ashamed of their actions and repent (2 Th. 3:6,11,14).
Are You Following These Examples?
Thus, the true Christian’s heart will respond to John’s statement: “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus walked” (1 Jn. 2:6 NIV). John was reinforcing what he had reported that the Lord said about abiding in Him, the true Vine (Jn. 15:4-7). A real Christian should be like Christ in character, attitude, speech and actions. The apostles were recognized as those who “had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13), when, like their Master, they courted martyrdom. In discussing suffering as a Christian, Peter said, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth;’ who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:21-23; 4:16).
The true Christian will also follow the example of the apostles. Paul exhorts us in Philippians 3:17: “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (1 Cor. 11:1; 1 Tim. 1:16). The 21st century Christian lifestyle should be no different from the first-century Christian lifestyle! But the lifestyle of those pretending to be Christians will be found out: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often … that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ … who set their mind on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-19).
True Christians are God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). After healing the disabled man at the pool of Bethesda, the Lord said this to him: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more” (Jn. 5:14). He now had power to “walk” – figuratively as well as literally! It is because we have been saved by grace, that our lives must change from what they were before salvation: “You He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world … among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh … I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind” (Eph. 2:1-3; 4:17).
At least seven characteristics of the lifestyle of unbelievers are given in Ephesians 4:17-5:21. Their ways are: aimless, blind, ungodly, shameless, sordid, indecent and insatiable (and these ways also apply to so-called decent people of society). Christians should live in a way that is fundamentally different from unbelievers. Otherwise a big question mark is put over the reality of our conversion to Christ. Also, our witness will be ineffective in our postmodern society. (See “You Asked,” Grace & Truth Magazine, Jan. 2012.) “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy” (Rom. 13:13).
But most of the New Testament exhortations about the Christian walk are positive, not negative. Therefore, future parts of this series will explore this teaching in more detail. My prayer is that the outcome of our study will be that we will walk and live our lives worthy of the Lord – that we will walk as He walked!
By David Anderson
With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org