1 John 2:6-
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
For too many years, (they seem to have been wasted years, but they have not) I believed that “my walking as He walked” meant that I was supposed to do good things, love people and get to church on time.
But, there was a problem. Whenever I tried to do good things, I always knew that I wasn’t trying to do good so others would benefit; I was trying to do good so I would feel better about myself for obeying. The people I did good things for were thankful and from outward appearances it seemed to them that I was helping them because they needed help. What they didn’t know is that I was actually using their need as a means to serve myself.
Or, as one man put it, “I see men as trees, walking…” Mark 8:24. I used people. I saw that their situation could be my way of being fruitful. Their need became my deed so I could meet my need. It’s one of the more subtle forms of selfishness and the years that seem to have been wasted have proven to have been necessary as the Lord has shown me what I hope to somehow find the words to share with you.
I did good things, I tried to love people and the people who went to church with me knew which place in which pew had become “my spot.” I went to church a lot, just as I should’ve, but it’s not “that” I went to church that became an issue, it was “why” I went at all. I thought that because the bible says we are not to “forsake the gathering” I needed to be there so I would appear to “walk even as He walked.”
But, my problem remained. I wanted to keep this command, but it has taken years for me to realize that it’s not a command at all. It’s a statement of fact. If you insist it is a command, I can agree with you up to a point; if it is a command, it is one that cannot be kept from beginning to end. If the “abide in Him” is not done, the “walk even as He walked” is an impossibility. If this is a commandment, it must be “kept” from beginning to end.
I tried to “walk even as He walked” without any understanding of what it means to “abide in Him” and that’s why my life as a believer has been more a source of despair and confusion than the blessing I thought it would be.
What I mean by “it’s not a command at all. It’s a statement of fact.” Is that there either has come a time or will come a time when we must learn to “abide in Him” and until this happens you cannot walk as He walked. You may do it outwardly and you can certainly walk as He walked in your own strength, but you will tire of it and your days of confusion will either continue or commence.
“Walking even as He walked” isn’t God’s will for you. The “abide in Him” is God’s will and the “walking as He walked” is the result of having done God’s will.
But, in our “works” dominated religion many of us have wearied ourselves trying to “walk even as He walked” but I daresay that none of us asked why we were doing it at all. Like loyal sled dogs, we put on the harness of spirituality and headed into the blizzard of life, pulling this burden of “obedience” but we couldn’t see 2 feet in front of our own faces.
We called this Christianity; we called this “keeping the faith.” How thankful I am to have learned (and I’ll need to learn this again tomorrow) that the “walk even as He walked” is not God’s will for me. Not at all. It’s the outcome of “abiding in Him.” Just “being at home” in the heart of God the Son, that’s abiding.
What do I mean? Well, we begin, of all places, at the beginning! Don’t worry, I’m not going to start in Genesis and drag you all the way to this verse in 1 John. No, since our personal “genesis” was the day we were born again, I’ll start there.
“You have heard that it was said…but I say to you.” (Matthew 5:21, 22)
Most of us “have heard that it was said” that this verse in 1 John means we are to imitate Jesus as much as we can, but I say to you that this verse doesn’t mean that at all.
Most of us “have heard that it was said” that this verse in 1 John means we are to do good things, love people and get to church on time, but I say to you that such teaching isn’t in agreement with what God means.
Why would I say that? Because the emphasis in most sermons is on the “walk even as He walked” instead of the “abide in Him.”
Now, this get’s a little tricky, so as you read along, take the time to pause and really think through what I am saying. We’re confused enough as it is and I certainly have no intention of telling you something that will only add to your confusion.
The verse in 1 John can be read “carnally” or it can be heard “spiritually.” It can be read by the “old man” and because we believe “the old man” is required to keep all the commandments, we’ll try to “walk even as He walked.” The “old man”, that person we were before we were saved, is dead.
Dead does not mean “inactive”, it means “separated” and the old “us” has been separated from God eternally. The new creature, the “new man” has been eternally united with the Father because of the Son’s death on the cross and by the power of the Spirit in us. If salvation meant that “people who wouldn’t keep God’s commandments before are required to keep them now” then none of us need a Saviour, we just need a teacher.
The carnal man will try with all his might to keep the commandment of 1 John. The spiritual man won’t try at all, he’ll just do it. The difference between the two isn’t the act itself; it’s the source of power to do it. One man will try, the other will succeed.
Remember, the carnal man, or the “old man” isn’t dead, he’s just separated (from God, but not from us, not yet) but he will try and live his life through us any way. At any given moment you can sin or you can obey.
The “old man” will try to do God’s will his way; the “new man” will do God’s will God’s way. The difference between the two is easy to see when we answer the question; “Who gets the glory?” Me? Or God? (If you answer too quickly, you’re probably lying, with all due respect)
If this verse, which words were spoken to and for the spiritual man, are read carnally we don’t have to look too far to realize it.
The carnal (fleshly, I can do it myself) person will only “say” he’s abiding in Him. Notice the order of the words as you read them again;
“He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
“He who says…” We spend a great deal of time talking, don’t we? We talk about things we really know nothing about. If I could get back every minute of every hour of every day I’ve spent just talking about spiritual matters, I’d probably add 25 years to my life.
As good and perhaps as beneficial as it may be to explore the differences between “carnality” versus “spirituality” I need to change course here or this will be a 900 page book.
The best way to learn about the “spiritual” man is by looking at the spiritual One, Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to “walk even as He walked?”
Well, for years I tried and tried to imitate Him, but it’s not “what” I did, it’s why I did it. Until we are absolutely convinced of our place as His sons, we try and keep the commandments so we’ll become sons. That’s carnal Christianity.
Spiritual Christians don’t obey to “be a son” they obey because “they are sons.”
Jesus didn’t obey so He could be the Son; He obeyed because He was the Son.
If we are to “walk even as He walked” it needs to be with this in mind. He “walked as He walked” because He loved the Father and the Father loved Him. He didn’t “walk as He walked” to gain the Father’s love, approval and acceptance.
Before Jesus entered what we call “His public ministry” what happened there at the Jordan River? He was baptized and then we hear something that is key to understanding, not just Him, but ourselves in relationship with Him.
“This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
Jesus didn’t do any thing to become a Son. Just as I was born male, there is nothing I needed to do to become a son, I was born a son, I am a son.
Before Jesus turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana or raised Lazarus from the dead, taught in a synagogue, opened blind eyes, fed the multitudes, He was loved, approved and accepted. He didn’t do a thing to be a Son, He was the Son. So are you!
Look at Matthew 3 again, but let the words of verse 16 be a trumpet call to your soul. Before the Father said this, what had just happened? Read it for yourself;
“And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:…”
Why was Jesus baptized? Not for His sins, He had none that needed to be washed away. He “suffered it to be so for now” so we could see that even He needed the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Without controversy, great is the mystery…” indeed! How God the Son could suspend His omnipotence (all powerful or “the Lord God Almighty”), his omniscience (man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart, He’s all knowing and knows all) and His omnipresence (He’s everywhere present) and limit Himself to the same “tent” we live in is a mystery.
He “layed aside”, if you will, His garment of deity and became a man in every way that you and I are men. He who is clothed in light chose to be robed in flesh. How do you take the light from a light bulb and put a coat on it? I have no idea, but that is precisely what He did when He came to earth.
Jesus did not walk in His own power, use His own mind, heal with His own hands, or raise the dead with His own word although He could have. No, it was the Spirit within Him who did those things through Him and the Spirit did them according to the will of the Father.
Jesus said it himself; “I do only those things I see my Father doing.” Although He had a will, He subjected Himself to the will of the Father. “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Jesus “walked in the Spirit” just as we are told to “walk in the Spirit.” He not only has told us to do that, He did it first so that we would know how, but first we need to know Who? Him!
The key to “walk even as He walked” is in the abiding, not the doing! As with most scriptural truth, we have it backwards.
If we only “say” we are abiding, then we set ourselves up for religion and a confused one at best. But, if we are abiding and are sure of our place as sons then we won’t be saying it at all, we’ll just do it.
Jesus didn’t do what He did to prove He was God’s Son. He did all that He did because He was and so are you! If He had done a single thing to prove He was the Son that would mean there was a chance that He wasn’t. He said He is the Son, but He never tried to prove it! The Pharisees wanted proof, but He only offered one sign as proof; His resurrection.
What proof do you and I have that we are sons of God? Our resurrection? Yes, but that’s only part of it. It’s His resurrection in us!
What do you mean? It’s simple really. We are made from the dust of the earth, right? We have hearts of stone, don’t we? For years Jesus was dead to us and we wanted nothing to do with Him or with His people, but then the day came when we heard and believed and we were baptized.
(It saddens me to hear people being told they must be baptized to be a son, instead of telling them they are baptized because they are sons)
On that day, the Spirit of Christ came inside of us; inside this “earthen vessel” but He couldn’t, He wouldn’t “show Himself”, there’s something in the way. What is that? Our stony heart. The stone must be rolled away!
“Walking even as He walked” is a commandment to the carnal Christian, but it is an incredible statement of fact to a spiritual son.
If I simply “live in Him and He in me” then I will (super) naturally “walk as He walked” Where did the first man walk? In the garden! With who? With God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! When? In the cool of the day!
He didn’t come to make us Christians, not at all; in fact He never calls us “Christians.” That was a term of derision coined by the people at Antioch. (Acts 11:26) They called them Christians but they meant it in the same way we call people “whack jobs.” God never calls us Christian, He calls us…and then He calls us sons!
“Walk even as He walked”, today, starting right now! On your knees, driving to work, jogging around the park, “walk as He walked” right now!
You are a son, He’s given you His Spirit and the Spirit knows you are a son better than you do, but the Spirit will show you the Son so you’ll always know what a son looks like, not so you’ll imitate Him, but so you can fellowship with Him.
Jesus walked in total dependence on the Father and the Father sent the Spirit to do in Him, for Him and through Him what Jesus chose to not do in His flesh and the Father was glorified. Notice Jesus wasn’t glorified until after He’d left earth. All the glory, honor and power are Yours, we are told and I suggest that we “walk as He walked”, in His power, so He is glorified and honored.
You and I don’t have the power to walk as He walked until we’ve spent time with Him and He fills us again, but when you’ve taken the time to dialogue with God, you’ll see yourself doing things you’ve never done before and you’ll be amazed at how easy the life of a son really is.
There are many, too many, sermons which emphasize “be a doer of the word, not hearers only” but what they don’t tell us is that until we abide in the Living Word, keeping the commandments will be grievous and burdensome.
I realize and accept that some of you will read this and laugh. I appreciate that. It’s just one more proof! Ishmael laughed at Isaac, Cain killed Abel, Saul threw spears at David and Pharisees mocked the Son; sounds like I’m in pretty good company if you ask me!
“Abiding in Him” is why He came at all. Now that you’ve heard “abide”, do it! Then you’ll not only be a hearer of the word, you’ll be a doer as well.
Now, that’s the Gospel. Trying to “walk as He walked” apart from abiding isn’t very good news and many have “walked” away because it was just too hard. May you never again live in the fear that you might become one of them.