Part 4 – What are we to do?
CHAPTER 5 – Living The Christian Life continued…
Our Conduct Or Behavior As Believers
The Christian life is
A WALK, A RACE, A WARFARE, FRUITFUL,
A LIFE OF PEACE, A REST, A LIFE OF PRAYER.
SCRIPTURES REGARDING THE WALK
OF THE BELIEVER IN CHRIST
“Walking” for the child of God is a most necessary part of his life in Christ. Scripture places an importance on the believer’s walk as is evident from the number of references in which it is cited.
We will consider at this point each passage that makes reference to the walk of the believer in Christ (in the order in which the New Testament books were written).
1. Galatians 5:16,
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
The word for walk in the Greek text has the primary meaning of to tread all around, or to walk at large, or to follow. As mentioned previously in this chapter, the Scriptural command is to Walk in the Spirit. Every area of the life of the believer is the arena in which this walk in the Spirit is to occur. There is no area that is to be excluded. The walk occurs as the believer reckons himself dead…unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Rom. 6:11), and as he yields his members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Rom. 6:13).
2. Galatians 5:25,
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Instead of using the Greek word for a command to walk in a vast area in all areas of the believer’s life, as in Gal. 5:16, the focus is now turned to the believer’s following the Spirit’s specific leading. The Apostle Paul now entreats or exhorts us to walk. Here he uses a different word in the Greek, with the meaning of “to walk in line” or “walk according to the rule,” i.e., by the standard set by the Spirit. Thus, the believer is to conform to the Spirit or walk orderly in accordance with the Spirit in a moment by moment dependence.
And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
The rule by which we are to walk is given in verse 14, where Paul states,
But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Thus, as our walk is consistent with the truth that we are crucified with Christ – therefore, not under the influence of, control of, or conformity to the world – peace and mercy will be granted us. To walk in the Spirit will also be parallel to walking by this rule of glorying in the cross and being crucified to the world.
3. I Thessalonians 4:1,
Furthermore, then, we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
Previously to writing this present exhortation, Paul evidently had given some instruction to the Thessalonian Christians through personal teaching of the manner in which they could live so as to be pleasing to the Lord. We can only assume the instruction contained principles consistent with walking in the Spirit, if not that very truth itself. The only way one can be pleasing to God is by walking in the Spirit.
4. I Thessalonians 4:12,
That ye may walk honestly toward them that are outside, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
The unbeliever should see honesty in the walk of the believer. Honesty is to be an evident ingredient in the life of the believer, and will be the result of walking in the Spirit.
5. I Corinthians 7:17,
But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches.
The believer, in his personal walk in the Spirit, is directly supplied by the Lord with the means and the manner in which he is to walk. Instead of determining how he should walk by looking at how others walk, he is responsible to the Lord, so that his walk is in accordance with God’s enablement in and “call” on that person’s life. The believer is expected to walk in complete accordance with what God provides for him to do.
6. II Corinthians 5:7,
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
The believer’s walk is based on eternal, heavenly, and spiritual realities. Therefore, he is not going to determine how he should walk primarily by what is visible and tangible. The facts of faith are real and transcend the visible. They require that a person seek those things which are above… and Set…affection on things above…(Col. 3:1,2).
7. Romans 6:4,
Therefore, we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
The walk of the believer is accomplished because of and consistent with the resurrection of Christ when the walk is in the Spirit. Thus, the walk is “new” because it is based on the resurrection, since we receive resurrection life (“new” life) at the time that we receive Christ. The resurrection is essential for us to walk in the Spirit since resurrection life is the kind of life the Spirit brings to the believer (Eph. 1:19,20).
8. Romans 6:11,13,
Likewise, reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
The walk in newness of life of verse 4 above is here described in the two words of reckon (v. 11) and yield (v. 13), the essential fundamental steps of walking in the Spirit. As explained earlier in this section, as the believer practices these two steps of reckoning himself as dead unto sin, but alive unto God, and yielding unto God his members as instruments of righteousness unto God, the walk in the Spirit (a command) will be put into action.
9. Romans 8:3,4,
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
God provides the believer with the practical benefits of righteousness in the experiences of life as the believer walks in accordance with the Spirit by faith. The believer may begin to see that things turn out right, as opposed to the wrong consequences when walking according to the flesh. He will begin to realize that there could be a direct cause and effect relationship between the righteousness God has placed in the believer and the right results in the practical realm as the believer walks in the Spirit.
It may be noted that the same phrase, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, is included also at the end of verse one. Older manuscripts discovered in more recent times do not include the phrase in verse one. Its insertion at that point would teach that there is no condemnation in Christ based on how one walks. That emphasis is lacking in any other teachings of Paul. It brings the correct emphasis to interpret the phrase in its position in verse 4. In verse 4, it is stated to emphasize that one’s walk after the Spirit will be the basis for the righteousness required in God’s law (the Mosaic law) to be fulfilled in us (that is, completed or perfected). Thus, the Spirit of God is in charge of accomplished righteousness as the child of God willingly submits to the Spirit’s control.
10. Romans 13:13,
Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in immorality and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
The Apostle here exhorts the believer to have his walk in honesty, as in I Thessalonians 4:12, above. But in this verse he adds, as in the day. In verse 12, he states,
The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us, therefore, cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
In this context, Paul is using light and day in contrast to darkness and night. The deeds that characterize darkness and night are to be forsaken by the believer, and his walk in honesty is thus seen in contrast. The walk in honesty is accomplished as the person walks in the Spirit.
11. Ephesians 2:10,
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The believer has been equipped in advance to walk in the good works for which he was created in Christ Jesus. The good works in which he is designed to walk are not for the intent of regarding him as “being good” for having done the good works, but the works are for the good of the one or ones upon whom they are accomplished. This principle is consistent with the statement of Acts 10:38,
…Jesus…went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.
12. Ephesians 4:1,
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation to which ye are called.
The word, vocation, is from the same root word in the Greek as the word, called, and could be translated, “the calling to which ye are called”.
The calling of God on the child of God is a:
Holy Calling, II Timothy 1:9;
Heavenly Calling, Hebrews 3:1;
High Calling, Philippians 3:14.
This calling of God is, II Timothy 1:9,
According to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.
Since the calling of God is according to His own purpose and grace, the child of God is able to comprehend the relationship which the call of God has to the outworking in the person’s life only to the extent that the believer walks in the Spirit. To know that those outworkings of God’s eternal purpose in one’s own life are based on the principle that they were given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, brings assurance and confidence and causes the believer to trust God’s purposes more and more.
13. Ephesians 4:17,
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.
Once the believer comes to Christ, he is not to walk in the way he did previously, nor in compliance with the way that is common to the unbeliever. Though his walk will appear as being out of step with the world, he will be liberated from the bondage in which he was once held to walk consistent with his new life in Christ.
14. Ephesians 5:2,
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.
As the child of God conducts his walk, God’s love is made available through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit to flow out of the believer’s life to minister to those in need of that love. The character of God’s love is here described as the love Christ manifested by His total sacrifice of Himself for us in His death, which was a well-pleasing sacrifice to God. The implication, therefore, is that the believer’s walk in love will likewise be well-pleasing to God because it allows the love of Christ to be continually demonstrated beyond His original sacrifice on the cross.
15. Ephesians 5:8,
For ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light.
In Matthew 5:14, Jesus said, Ye are the light of the world.
In John 8:12, He said,
I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Because the believer is united with Christ at the time he is born again, he becomes what Christ is, in this case, light. Since his life is now characterized as having the light which Christ has, to walk in the light is a natural outflow of who Christ is.
16. Ephesians 5:15,
See, then, that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise.
The walk of the believer is to be characterized by being circumspect, that is, being consistent to the wisdom we have through Christ. Wisdom enables the believer to discern the immediate in regard to eternal principles. Expediency in walking will characterize the foolish person; wisdom will characterize the godly person. Diligence is needed to walk wisely.
17. Philippians 3:16-19,
Nevertheless, as to that which we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing.
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them who walk even as ye have us for an example.
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ,
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
This lengthy passage perfectly demonstrates the need for diligence as stated above in regard to Ephesians 5:15, to walk circumspectly.
Paul here warns the Philippian believers to not be patterning their walk after many whom he describes as enemies of the cross of Christ. He further states that such people will end in destruction; they commit idolatry by means of their appetites; they glory in their own shamefulness, and they are earthly minded.
Someone might regard these statements as being judgmental. On the other hand, if a person is not discerning concerning what such conduct leads to and is not taking into consideration that evil company corrupts good morals (I Cor. 15:33), that person will be liable to fall prey to the same fate.
Therefore, Paul here recommends the principle he has further elaborated in Philippians 3:13,14, as the rule by which to walk, which is, by forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Paul invites Christians to join him to walk as he models this principle or rule of Philippians 3:16 and 3:13,14.
18. Colossians 1:10,
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Paul’s prayer for the believers at Colosse properly relates to any believer who is walking in the Spirit. Such a walk will be well-pleasing to the Lord because it will be in keeping with His nature. It will also result in an increase of every type of good work and an increasingly greater knowledge of God through a practical relationship with Him.
19. Colossians 2:6,
As ye have, therefore, received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.
There is possibly a two-fold significance to this statement. First, there is the principle of the consistency of the manner in which the walk is realized. In our human tendencies we seem to delight in the things that are different and unexpected. Therefore, we might pursue a course to follow that could be wrong, but its appeal to us may be only in its difference. Such seemed to be the problem of the influence of the Gnostic heresy upon the Colossian believers.
Secondly, the emphasis could have in mind that as the believer receives Christ by faith, so his walk should also be by faith.
20. Colossians 4:5,
Walk in wisdom toward them that are outside, redeeming the time.
As the child of God is walking in the Spirit, he will have wisdom from God to relate to unbelievers as God would have him do. Walking in wisdom could be considered as walking in view of the eternal. That is, present actions have eternal worth. This then enables the believer to relate to unbelievers (those that are outside) in view of the eternal outcome. In this way the believer redeems the time so as not to waste opportunities God gives him.
21. I John 1:7,
But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.
The walk in the Spirit is a walk of fellowship between the child of God and Jesus Christ, and thereby with all believers so walking. It is in the light, that is, in agreement with the very nature of Christ as the light. By being in the light, there is the benefit of life (John 1:4), truth, honesty, understanding, and freedom from darkness.
22. I John 2:6,
He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.
To endeavor to accomplish a walk as Jesus walked could lead to frustration and futility unless the child of God understands that by abiding in his identification with Christ and Christ’s abiding in the believer, Christ makes it possible for the believer’s walk to be consistent with the person and nature of Christ. Therefore, the believer is the continuation of Christ, enabling Christ’s life and ministry to be seen in the present day.
23. II John 4,
I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.
As the child of God walks in the Spirit, his walk will be in complete compliance with God’s truth. Thus, the believer is not operating by trial and error or in a hit and miss manner. The walk in truth will free him from subtlety, secrecy, deceit, regrets, and uncertainty.
24. II John 6,
And this is love, that we walk after His commandments. This is the commandment, that, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.
Commandments are divine prescriptions or precepts. When walking in the Spirit, the child of God will be willingly following what God prescribes. There is a consistency in what God prescribes, thus resulting in a consistency in the manner in which the believer adheres to what God has directed. John says, …this is love, meaning that love is evident as the believer walks consistently with what God has ordered.
25. III John 3,4,
For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.
The Apostle John commends Gaius, to whom his third epistle is addressed (v.1), for his walk in the truth. John regarded Gaius as one of his children, most likely as in a spiritual sense, and expresses joy that Gaius is walking in truth. We can be encouraged to realize that people have successfully practiced the things God affords them in Christ and that their conduct manifests their true position in Christ.
In summary regarding the Christian’s walk it can be seen, by studying the foregoing passages of Scripture describing the Christian life as a walk, that all that is true of the believer’s position in Christ is the basis for the character of the believer in his conduct. In other words, the believer’s walk is the outward evidence of who he is in Christ.
In addition to seeing the Christian life as a walk, Scripture also presents the life of the believer as a race to be run, as well as other ways of illustration which will be considered later. But there is a vital principle to be considered first which is essential to fulfilling all of the Scriptural illustrations of the walk, race, warfare, fruit-bearing, peace, rest, and prayer. There is a need to understand Christ’s teaching concerning keeping His commandments, and as we understand the teaching, we can avoid the pitfalls of “performance-based acceptance” or of a mere legalistic religious life-style.
Next Week: Part Five continued: The Walk is one of Obedience
Copyright © 1996 A. Ward Brandenstein
Used with permission.
A. Ward Brandenstein
Pastor Ward earned an M.A. in Guidance and Counselling from Eastern Michigan University after taking special courses in psychology at Wayne State University, and earned a Bachelor of Theology (Th.B.) from Baptist Bible College and Seminary with Greek and Hebrew studies, and earned a diploma from Philadelphia Bible Institute (now Cairn U.), including New Testament Greek studies. His knowledge of the Bible and close walk with God are appreciated by all who know him and have sat under his teaching. Pastor Brandenstein and his wife Rose Ann reside in California, teaching college level singles and married couples, young professionals, and retired pastors and missionaries.