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How You Walking? - Shepherd of Hope

 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. – 1 John 2:6

 

Hey, have you seen those young guys who walk the edges of roof tops and jump from roof to roof? It’s called parkour or free running. Crazy stuff! I get dizzy just watching the videos. I’m not a fan of heights so I’m not tempted to give it a whirl, but I’ll tell you one thing, it makes me glad I’m walking on solid ground. Life can sometimes feel like you’re one of those roof top walkers and jumpers. Life can be precarious. Life can be edgy. Life can be risky. Life can be scary. Life can seem perfectly timed only to miss a spot and plummet to a great fall. Which brings to mind a question, “How you walking?” Are you walking on the edge? Walking on a ledge? Or are your feet on solid ground?

Walking can be a metaphor for life. When I ask, “How you walking?” I’m really asking, “How’s life?” or “how’s your life going?” How we “walk” is important. How we “walk” determines the abundance or satisfaction or fulfillment we experience in life. For some people, walking on the edge of a roof and jumping from edgy ledge to edgy ledge is all they’ll ever get. But I’d like to share a “walk” with you that offers so much more; oh, so much more

The Apostle John wrote a Gospel, three epistles (i.e. Letters) and the last book of the Bible, Revelation. He was known as the Apostle whom Jesus loved (cf. John 13:33; 20:2; 21:7, 20). John has a particularly close relationship with Jesus. And John lived the longest of the Apostles. He lived a full, exciting and purposeful life.

John loved Jesus, but he was no weak, effeminate, confused person. He knew who he was in his relationship with Jesus. He was a godly man. He had a billowing thunderous voice which gained him the nickname bronto phonos. He used that voice to broadcast his love for those around him. I’m sure as he walked from place to place, he could be heard introducing his presence with “Little children. . . love one another” (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11, 12; 2 John 5). Maybe while he was teaching in a fellowship he’d say, “These things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” And then, perhaps after a pause and consideration of their stares of inquiry, he’d add, “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Then I’m sure he would teach them about the love of Jesus. He’d say many things as he ministered to his loved ones.

And as he left for his next mission, I’m sure they’d remember him saying, “Little children, it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). Yes, I can hear him saying in that deep powerful loving voice something like, “Remember, my children, it is the last hour. Jesus is coming soon.” I believe that’s truer today than ever before. Jesus is coming soon. And because of that, the way we walk or the way we are living, is of all the more utmost importance.

There’s a phrase found in a verse of John’s first epistle that addresses that question, “How you walking?” The phrase is found in 1 John 2:6. It reads, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” What does it mean to “walk just as He walked”? To answer that question let me reflect on something to you, a cultural trend that attempted to address this question.

Years ago, there was a craze centered on the question, “What would Jesus do?” It was well intentioned but as is so often the case, that which started with good intentions, degenerated into an overly marketed money-making venture. There was all kinds of jewelry and assorted paraphernalia made up with the initials “WWJD” alluding to the question, “What would Jesus do?” It did, for a time, cause people to ponder, just what would Jesus do? But it didn’t last for long.

WWJD became a big marketing bonanza with T-shirts, bumper stickers and the like sold and worn by Christians and non-Christians alike. But what happened to that craze? You still find traces of it in places, but nowhere near as much as it was at the height of its popularity. There’s a lesson to learn here. When truths of the Bible are turned into pop-culture trends, they tend to fizzle out eventually. And with the fizzling comes an inoculating effect that leaves those who were caught up in the trend a little bit duller. And many times too, people are left, a little bit deader in their capacity to hear and heed the Spirit’s call.

The Lord in His word says, “Follow me!” (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 16:24; 19:21; Mark 2:14; 8:34; 10:21; Luke 5:27; 9:23,59; 18:22; John 1:43; 10:27; 12:26; 13:36; 21:19). That’s a call to a certain walk, a certain way of living. When Jesus first calls a person, He calls them to salvation. He calls them to be “born again” (John 3). That happens when we ask God’s forgiveness for our sins and by faith receive Jesus as our Savior (John 1:12; 3:36; 5:24; 20:31; 1 John 1:9). But after conversion, Jesus continues to beckon believers to follow Him in their new life with Him. The apostle John conveys this thought in his first epistle when he writes:

  • 1 John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

What does it mean to “walk just as He walked?” Are there some subtle differences between asking, “What would Jesus do?” and heeding the call of God in this verse to “walk just as He walked”? I think there are. There are differences between cultural Christianity and Jesus Christ. And when we look at the context of this verse, John’s first epistle, we see a much fuller and life impacting call of God in Christ. This study is aimed at explaining what it means to “walk just as He walked.”

Walking the Talk

 In 1 John 2:6 John links what a person “says” with their “walk.” It is not enough according to John’s inspired words, to merely say something or talk a talk. There’s more than that. There are many people who can talk a good talk, but talk is cheap. Talk is vain and empty unless it is backed up with actions.

There are those in the church who have taken the message of God’s grace and used it as a license to sin. They say God’s grace covers their sinful actions. To a certain extent that is true. Those who confess their sins seeing them from God’s perspective, will always find forgiveness from God on the basis of Christ’ work (1 John 1:9; Romans 5:1-8; 8:1-2).

But God’s grace is never a license to sin. God’s grace should never be interpreted in a way that causes people to take sin lightly. Sin put Jesus on the cross. That’s serious. That’s sacrificial. That would be completely sorrowful if not for the resurrection. But even so, sin is not something to treat lightly. Sin is should not be treated superficially.

Those who name the name of Jesus as their own, ought to seek freedom from sin. They ought to put as much distance between them and sin as possible. We are not free to sin, but free not to sin. Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to “Go and sin no more,” not “Go and sin some more” (John 8:11). The gospel is a powerful antidote to sin. The gospel gives us power over sin. The gospel points us to Pentecost and the empowering of the Holy Spirit. And in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome our sinful tendencies (e.g. Romans 8; Galatians 5). That is a gloriously good point of the gospel (Romans 6).

When the WWJD fad was at its height everyone from Hollywood stars to rock stars to any number of a host of non-Christians wore the jewelry. But the walk and talk of these fashionistas were certainly at odds with the spirit of WWJD. They wore WWJD in hypocrisy. Unfortunately, some Christians also live a lifestyle that is contradicting to their stated beliefs. This should not be. Jesus had some hard words for hypocrites (see Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 23; Luke 12:1-3).

To Jesus, love was much more than a feeling. Jesus connected love and obedience. He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). Love and obedience must walk hand in hand. God’s love flows through the door of obedience. That’s true. That’s reality. No amount of scripture twisting can change that.

Judas seemed to be a follower of Jesus, but his betraying actions proved he was not. Peter seemed to have forsaken Jesus with all the other apostles. But Peter’s return to Jesus in humble submission proved in the end he was indeed a follower of Jesus. Peter learned the hard way how it is insufficient to merely talk a good talk. You have to walk the talk too. That is the first lesson of 1 John 2:6.

Abiding Consistency

Now we come to the distinctive difference between the fad and the foundational truth of God. Let’s look at our verse again. It states:

  • 1 John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

What is it specifically that John puts under the spotlight that people say and do? John points to the one, “. . . who says he abides in Him . . .” The word “abides” is translated from the Greek[1] term meno which has the meaning of, “abide, continue, dwell, endure, remain, be present, stand, and tarry.” To “abide in Him” therefore means to, continue in Him, dwell with Him, endure with Him, remain with Him, live presently with Him and stand with Him. This is a relational term that expresses a consistent connection and attachment to Jesus in life. Eternal life, according to Jesus, is knowing Him (John 17:3). Do you know Him? Does your life reflect your relationship with Jesus? If you know Jesus, He’s going to rub off on you. If you genuinely know Jesus, your walk and talk will never be the same.

 John points to how people “walk.” This refers to the way a person lives or acts. It points beyond what he or she says. How a person walks confirms their belief in what they say. If a person says one thing but then acts contrary to what they say, then they are exposed as liars. If someone yells “fire!” in a crowded room, and then does nothing, you can bet they don’t believe what they’re saying. But if someone yells “fire!” and then rushes out, they have demonstrated they believe what they said. Similarly, if a person says they abide in Christ and that they have a relationship with Him, yet in their life they live contrary to God’s word, it brings into question the truth and validity of what they say and truly believe.

When we look a little deeper into the words of this verse, we see that the two words, “abides,” and, “walk” are both verbs. The grammatical form of each of these words further conveys the thought of an ongoing continuous action (Greek Present Tense). This is important because it points us to the distinctive difference between a fad WWJD happening and a lasting deeper life impacting experience in the Lord.

What we’re talking about here in a word, is consistency. We are talking about consistency in two senses. First, we are speaking of consistency in terms of agreement. Is a person consistent in what they say and do? Do their actions agree and follow what they say in word? 1 John 2:6 states that there needs to be consistency in agreement between what we say and do. If there is not, there is cause for questioning the authenticity of what someone says. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Then there is repetition. To be consistent in this sense means to be regular, reliable, and repeatedly adhering over time to the statements one makes. Is a person obedient only sometimes or seldom, or are they reliably seeking to obey the Lord at all times? Are they an on-again-off-again confessor of Christ, or are they consistently abiding in their relationship with Jesus? Over time do the actions of the one who confesses Christ show that there has been a lasting and enduring impact by Jesus in their lives?

This is where fads fail and foundations are established. The WWJD fad faded away. Fads fade, but the call of Jesus is an ongoing abiding consistent walk with Him. Where WWJD was superficial show, God’s call to “walk just as He walked” is substantial spiritual fruitfulness. We need to be consistent in the agreement of our word and actions. We need to be consistent in our enduring, regular, reliable and abiding relationship with Jesus in our daily lives.

Consistency is one of the most important aspects of spiritual growth. Inconsistency is one of the most common reasons why Christians are impaired and delayed in their spiritual growth. Inconsistency stifles a person’s walk with the Lord. If, for example, a person only reads the Bible, prays, fellowships, and worships the Lord only occasionally and sporadically, they will not grow like they should in their relationship with the Lord. Consistency on the other hand, builds concrete solid foundations for faith.

We see evidence of the importance of consistency in various areas of life. Sports teams win championships because their players consistently perform well. Teams that are consistently healthy, do better than teams that are not. A healthy fit person is the person who consistently eats well, exercises regularly and sees their doctor for regular checkups. Strong marriages are built when spouses consistently spend quality time together. Parents discipline their children effectively when they are consistent and true to their instructions with their children. The person who is consistently on time at work, and consistently works hard, is the person who has the best chance of succeeding. Consistency is important throughout life, but it is most important in our walk with the Lord.

The person who consistently abides in Jesus is the person who is walking the talk and growing in their relationship with Jesus. In the context of 1 John 2:6 there are a number of things that we should consistently abide in as we seek to “walk just as He walked.” John teaches us what it means exactly to walk as Jesus walked in this epistle. We should therefore pay close attention to what he teaches so we too can be consistently abiding in Jesus.

Elements of Consistently Abiding in Jesus

 When we look at John’s inspired first epistle, we see a wealth of truth on what it means to walk just as Jesus walked. Let’s look at what a summary overview of this epistle yields in terms of statements about what it means to walk just as Jesus walked.

First, to consistently walk just as Jesus walked means to share the word of Life, Jesus, with others (1 John 1:1-3; 2:1-2). John opens his epistle by acknowledging his eyewitness experience with Jesus and how he bears witness of how Jesus was manifested. Walking as Jesus walked involves sharing His eternal life with others, just as Jesus “was manifested” to us (see also John 1:1-2, 14).

Jesus was manifested to provide a way to be forgiven for our sins. Jesus was manifested to help us to overcome our sin and to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 2:1-2; 3:4-10; 5:16-19). John wrote this epistle in part to help believers avoid sin. But if we do sin, we cannot offset or compensate for our sin before Holy God by doing good works. No, we can only be forgiven for our sin when we turn to Jesus as our Advocate. Jesus is the one who paid the price for our sins on the cross (i.e. propitiation). We confess our sins to God and receive forgiveness for those sins based on the work of Jesus and accepting that by faith. This is the gospel truth worth sharing with the lost world.

Second, to consistently walk just as Jesus walked means to live in fellowship with God and those who follow Him (1 John 1:3). John declared Jesus to his readers for the primary purpose “that you also may have fellowship with us.” John continues, “and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” Fellowship is coming together in relationship with Jesus. True fellowship is all about coming together with around Jesus. Jesus was constantly seen in fellowship with people. The Lord’s Supper is the greatest example of what true fellowship is. This fellowship is entered into by God’s grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Much of John’s epistle is a further elaboration and explanation of what this fellowship involves.

Fellowship with God involves being truthful. To consistently walk just as Jesus walked means to walk in truth and His light (1 John 1:5-10). God is total light; there is no darkness in Him (1:5). God is truthful; His words and actions are completely congruent and in agreement. Those who are in fellowship with God need to align their words and actions with His so that they too are in agreement with Him (1:6). When we walk truthfully and in His truth before Him, we have fellowship with Him and each other and His blood keeps us clean from our sin (1:7). But when we lie, rationalizing and denying our sin, we are self-deceived. When we live a lie and refuse to admit our sin, His word is not being lived out in us. When we deny our sin, it means we are actually denying Him and calling Him a liar (1:8, 10). Instead, we should be truthful about our sinfulness, confess it to Him, and be forgiven and cleansed from all our sin (1:9)

This fellowship with God involves depending on the Holy Spirit, especially to help with discerning the devil’s strategies and schemes (1 John 2:18-27; 3:24; 4:1-6; 5:6-8). Jesus said the Holy Spirit would indwell and guide His followers into all truth (John 14:15-17; 26; 15:26; 16:13). To walk as Jesus walked is to follow the leading of the Spirit; to listen attentively to His voice.

Fellowship with God involves consistently growing in your walk with Him (1 John 2:12-14). By John referring to children, young men, and Fathers, he is pointing out the need for spiritual growth. Believers need to grow in their walk with the Lord learning more of Jesus and applying more and more what they learn to their lives.

Fellowship with God involves following Jesus’ example of holy love (1 John 2:3-11; 15-17; 3:3:1, 11-15, 16-23; 4:7-21; 5:1-5). Jesus said the identifying mark of His disciples is the love they have (John 13:15, 35; 15:13). Jesus and the Father have given the world the greatest example of holy love (John 3:16). And it is the Holy Spirit who provides such love to the believer (Romans 5:5). The verses in 1 John noted here teach the contradiction of hatefulness in those who purport to be followers of Jesus. Instead, true followers of Jesus will be characterized by their obedient holy love. That’s what it means to walk as Jesus walked.

Fellowship with God involves forsaking our love of the world. In contrast to Jesus walk of holy love, is the love of the world (2:15-17). Love of the world and the things in it is inconsistent to our walk with Jesus. The things of the world should never become the priority in our lives. At most they should be a means to see God’s will accomplished in this world. We need to hold the things of the world with open hands before God if we are to consistently walk as Jesus walked. Remember, Jesus said you can’t serve two masters (Matthew 6:24)

Third, to consistently walk just as Jesus walked means to experience fullness of joy (1 John 1:4; 5:9-15, 20-21). Joy is the inner assurance of the Holy Spirit that comes from depending on God. Joy involves happiness, but it does not depend on it. You can be full of joy and sorrowful at the same time. Happiness is a feeling based on happenings around you. Joy is an act of faith based on your relationship with Jesus that transcends happenings. Joy is an assurance, a steadying confidence that you are right with God, that He is in control no matter what, and that He is watching over you. To walk just as Jesus walked is to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus endured the cross with joy because He was sure of the salvation it would work (Hebrews 12:1-2). We should walk in full joy no matter the circumstances because we are assured Jesus is in control. His purposes will not be thwarted in the end.

 Fourth, to consistently walk just as Jesus walked means to eagerly anticipate and wait for His return (1 John 2:28-3:3). Waiting and living in light of the soon return of Jesus has a purifying effect on us because we want to be found serving Him when He returns. Our desire to be pleasing to Him at His return motivates us to stay consistent in our walk with Him.

 Our Obligation to Obey

 Lastly, let’s look at our verse one more time. There are two words to fix our eyes on for this final point. Returning to our verse it states:

  • 1 John 2:6 – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

The two words John uses which we need to pay attention to are, “ought himself.” These words call us to personal responsibility. The word “ought” is translated from the Greek term opheilo which means, “to owe, to be under obligation, and be bound, indebted.” The word “himself” is a personal pronoun that helps convey the thought of personal responsibility. It is our personal responsibility to consistently abide in Christ, to “walk just as He walked.” So, let me ask you, are you walking the way you should be in Christ? How you walking?

 To walk consistently as Jesus walked is important. A poem entitled Blame Me Not by an unknown author conveys this when it states:

Ye call me Master and obey me not,

Ye call me Light and see me not;

Ye call me Way and walk not;

Ye call me Life and desire me not;

Ye call me Wise and follow me not;

Ye call me Fair and love me not;

Ye call me Rich and ask me not;

Ye call me Eternal and seek me not;

Ye call me Gracious and trust me not;

Ye call me Noble and serve me not;

Ye call me Mighty and honor me not;

Ye call me Just and fear me not;

If I condemn you BLAME ME not! [2]

How a person walks is important. I ask once more, “How you walking?” Do you deny Jesus with your life?

I close with this. Somnambulism, or sleep walking is a condition seen primarily in children but on occasion will persist in children through to adulthood. In one case study it stated:

A case of childhood-onset somnambulism is reported in which a 43-year-old man presented with repeated sleep-related injuries incurred during violent nocturnal activity, which included frenzied running, throwing punches and wielding knives. He had also driven an automobile a long distance during a presumed somnambulistic state. His wife had been repeatedly injured, and she felt that her life was threatened by his nocturnal violence 2-3 times yearly. [3]

Sleepwalkers are known to cook and even commit murder in their sleep state. People can do amazing things while they sleep. Some walk in their sleep. But it’s a dangerous thing to sleep walk through this world. Can you imagine sleep walking the roof top edgy edges I mentioned I the beginning of this article? Scary.

While on a mission trip to Russia my son Daniel was so tired, he would get up in the middle of the night and start getting dressed and mumble to himself. When we’d ask him what he was doing he’d mutter something like, “I have to go see the Russians.” It was really quite funny. But what isn’t funny is that too many Christians are sleep walking in their faith. They are walking without direction or purpose. They are sleep walking through life. What we need to do is wake up! We need to walk just as Jesus walked. Then we will go clearly, consistently, confidently and purposely on our way in life all the while growing in our relationship with Him. And best of all, then we will not only know Jesus better and better, but we will be bringing glory to His name and be ready for His return. Let this be our prayer, “Lord, in Jesus name help me to walk just as You walked. Amen.”

 

[1] The New Testament was originally written in Greek and later translated into English for us.

[2]Tan, P. L. 1996, c1979. Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: [a treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers]. Bible Communications: Garland TX

[3] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve& db=PubMed&list_uids=8638069&dopt=Abstract

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