The Christian life is described in the Bible in numerous ways. One of the favorite motifs employed by the New Testament writers is, “the walk.” We can learn much from the depiction of living in this fallen world as sojourners and pilgrims
The alternative to the Christian life is a life of walking in the flesh (Rom 8:4). The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of achievement in life is the course of this world (Eph 2:2; 1 Jn 2:16). It is the wide way that leads to destruction, and there are many who travel it (Mt 7:13). Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes at the end of his days. Within this book of wisdom literature is a lament regarding the vanity of life in this world (Eccl 1:2). We come into the world with nothing, we fight for survival, walking as mere men (1 Cor 3:3), and then we die with nothing (1 Tim 6:7). It is all futility, but it is the popular way.
The universal human problem is sin (Rom 3:23). It is the reason humanity suffers so much. A life enslaved to sin leads to death (Rom 6:23), appointed once for everyone (Heb 9:27), and then each one stands before the great white throne of judgment (Rev 20:11). An eternity of punishment awaits unredeemed sinners, for they have walked through this world as enemies of the Cross (Phil 3:18). The sinner walks in darkness (1 Jn 1:6), in craftiness (2 Cor 4:2), and stumbles because of it (Jn 11:10). He is overtaken at some point on his night journey into places unknown (Jn 12:35). To make matters worse, he has company. It is the blind who lead the blind into the pit (Mt 15:14).
The Christian walk begins when a person hears the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:17), receives the regeneration of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; 1 Pet 1:3), and commences a new life of faith in Christ. The Bible gives us a number of phrases pertaining to the Christian pilgrimage on the narrow way. Let us walk through the pages of Scripture and consider a few of them.
First, walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4). When a sinner is saved, he is said to be “born again” into a new life in Christ (Jn 3:1–8). All things become new because the old man becomes a new man (Eph 2:15). He is a new creature, the first fruits of a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), forthcoming with a new heavens and a new earth (Rev 21–22). He is a heavenly man, he that is spiritual (1 Cor 2:15–16). The new life is positional, in Christ, but it is not stagnant. The new man sojourns toward the celestial city that is his home. The second most published Christian book in history, behind the Bible, is titled, Pilgrim’s Progress, by the Puritan pastor John Bunyan. It characterizes the walk in newness of life with profound imagery.
Second, walk by the Spirit (Rom 8:4; Gal 5:16, 25). The Holy Spirit gives life to the elect, who are dead in their trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). He causes them to be born of God (1 Pet 1:3), and then He guides them on the path of righteousness (Ps 23:3), known as the straight and narrow way (Mt 7:13–14). The Spirit helps the pilgrim, by manifesting Christ through His indwelling presence in the believer’s heart (Jn 14:17). The fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23) is the production of godliness within the living branch, attached to the living Vine, who is Christ (Jn 15). The Christian walk is a growing into conformity to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29), who is the express image of the invisible God (Col 1:15).
The desires of the flesh war against the Christian (Rom 7) because we still walk in the flesh, but not by the flesh as we once did. Sin no longer has dominion. The Holy Spirit illumines our dark domain (Col 1:13) and empowers us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph 4:1). We are not without sins (1 Jn 1:8), but the Spirit brings to remembrance the blood of Christ and renews us with assurance of forgiveness day by day (2 Cor 4:16). Because we have the promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5), we confidently press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14).
Third, walk in love (Rom 14:15; Eph 5:2; 2 Jn 1:6). One selection of spiritual fruit is love (Gal 5:22). Before Jesus returned home to heaven, He gave His disciples a new commandment as a rule of life (Jn 13:34). The Law of love, which is the Law of Christ, is made possible by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, who has written the Law upon the Christian heart, under the new covenant (Jer 31:33). God is love (1 Jn 4:8), and the Holy Spirit is manifesting God’s love in and through the objects of His love. God demonstrates His love toward us, ungodly sinners, by Christ’s death on the Cross (Rom 5:8). If Christ laid down His life in love for us (Eph 5:25), then we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 Jn 3:16–17). This is love for God, for our neighbor, for one another, including love for our enemies (Mt 5:44).
Fourth, walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7). Men walk by sight. They live in a state of “show me.” They will not believe something unless they see it for themselves. Unfortunately, they are blind (2 Cor 4:4). Christians have not seen Christ but they love Him (1 Pet 1:8). Faith is a gift of God (Eph 2:8–9), granted by Him (Phil 1:29) and received by His elect, redeemed people (2 Pet 1:1). It is also the way of life on our course toward heaven (Gal 2:20). It is impossible to please God without faith (Heb 11:6). Faith overcomes every obstacle in the pathway (1 Jn 5:4). It is assurance of future goodness, which we have not seen (Heb 11:1), but we believe because we hear much about it from God’s Word preached (Rom 10:13–17). Because we do not generate faith ourselves, we cannot lose it. It is preserved for us (Heb 10:39) by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22).
Fifth, walking with God (2 Cor 6:16). The whole point of the Christian walk is for us to journey home with a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prv 18:24). God journeyed with Israel during the wilderness wandering, a forty year period of testing (Exodus). Our new life is a departure from the world of Egypt, and into a journey of faith through a difficult land. It is the wilderness of sin. Like the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day, the Spirit is within the believer to teach, protect, comfort, help, and lead her. The reports of the Promised Land are few, but they are all good. We are headed home to the New Jerusalem, a better country (Heb 11:16), with the instructions to only be strong and very courageous (Jos 1:9) because every battle belongs to the Lord (1 Sam 17:47). If He is walking with us, then who can be against us? (Rom 8:34)
Sixth, walk in good works prepared for us (Eph 2:10). These good works were prepared by God in advance. Unbelievers cannot do good works (Is 64:6; Tit 1:16). First, they must be born of the Spirit, and then good works are the natural outworking of Him who wills and does His good pleasure through us (Phil 2:12–13). Good works are evident (1 Tim 5:25). Some examples include: generosity (1 Tim 6:8); raising godly children and hospitality (1 Tim 5:10); in general, meeting pressing needs (Tit 3:14).
Good works produce a reputation of godliness for the Christian (1 Tim 2:10), which has a powerful effect on skeptical unbelievers (1 Pet 2:12). This helps others to glorify God (Mt 5:16), which is the chief end of man (WCF). Mary did a good deed in anointing Jesus’ feet, but she was criticized for it (Mk 14:6). She lived as an example (Tit 2:7), and so we, too, should be zealous for good works (Tit 2:14). Our example spurs others on to even more love and good works (Heb 10:24). Good deeds come with a reward on the judgment day (Mt 5:29; 2 Cor 5:10). God provides everything for the Christian to be equipped for every good deed (2 Cor 9:8). A walk of faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17, 26).
Seventh, walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Eph 4:1) and in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col 1:10; 1 Thess 2:12). The adopted children of God represent their Father in heaven (Rom 8:15, 23). Christians are called to be ambassadors for Christ on the earth (2 Cor 5:20). Because we are peculiar people, the world watches us, even though they do not know us (1 Jn 3:1). Our wise work is to win souls (Prv 11:30); therefore, we must keep our behavior excellent before them (1 Pet 2:12). We, like Paul, become all things to all men that some might be saved (1 Cor 10:33).
Eighth, walk as children of light (Eph 5:8; 1 Jn 1:7). The children of darkness dwell in the domain of darkness (Col 1:13), love darkness (Jn 3:19), doing the deeds of darkness (Rom 13:12). Christians have been called out of the darkness and into the marvelous light of the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (1 Pet 2:9), Jesus Christ, the Light of the World (Jn 8:12; 9:5). We are not ashamed of our birthright, being born of God, children of light, because we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Rom 8:17). Light enters the darkness, but the darkness does not comprehend it (Jn 1:5); however, God has shone His light in our hearts to give the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor 4:6). We must not hide our light under a bushel, but let our light so shine before men (Mt 5:16). This is so they may see Jesus.
Ninth, walk as wise men (Eph 5:15). The wisdom of God is wiser than men, although it looks like foolishness to them (1 Cor 1:18). Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). With Christ in us (Col 1:27), we have mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16), who walked through the perils of this world without sin (Heb 4:15). He was tempted in every way, but He overcame the world by the wisdom of God (Jn 16:33). As we follow Christ, we must be wise as serpents, and yet, harmless as doves (Mt 10:16). Fortunately, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 Jn 4:4).
Tenth, walk in the apostolic pattern (Phil 3:17). Far from being a Panglossian life, there is much suffering for the Christian (1 Peter). We are called to learn Christ, and then we are sent out on mission to bear witness of Him to the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8). We, like Paul, suffer for the sake of the elect (2 Tim 2:10). We overcome the world (1 Jn 5:4) through many trials and tribulations (Jas 1:3). Still, we rejoice in the God of our salvation, for Christ our Savior has become our all in all.
Eleventh, walk in Christ (Col 2:6), in the same manner as He walked (1 Jn 2:6). Christ walked in righteousness, holiness, godliness, and perfection. We are to be holy as He is holy (1 Pet 1:16), which anticipates our destiny of being presented holy and blameless before the Father (Eph 1:4; 5:27). Christ has been made our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor 1:30), and it is God’s work to position us in Him. Therefore, we walk in the same manner, under the power of the same Spirit. His is a triumphant walk (2 Cor 2:14).
Twelfth, walk to please the Lord (1 Thess 4:1). Christ was always pleasing to God His Father (Jn 8:29). We must learn to please God (Eph 5:10). Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “It is our ambition to please Him” (2 Cor 5:9), not men (1 Thess 2:4), for it was God who has enlisted us into His army (2 Tim 2:4). Our fight of faith honors our God and pleases Him (Heb 11:6). Like obedient children, pleasing to their parents (Col 3:20), in obedience to all that is commanded (1 Jn 3:22), Christians are equipped by God to do that which is pleasing in His sight (Heb 13:21).
Thirteenth, walk in truth (2 Jn 1:4; 3 Jn 1:3). It is a joy to see Christians walking in the truth. It is the fruit of enormous time and effort expended by so many workers of truth (3 Jn 1:8), who are unashamed workmen, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). Again, it is the Spirit of truth (Jn 14:17; 15:26; 16:13), sent by the Father and the Son (Jn 14:26; 15:26) who guides us into all truth (Jn 16:13) and enlivens our testimony through bold witness of Jesus Christ, the truth (Jn 14:6).
Fourteenth, walk together with one another (Rev 21:24). In the end, God’s holy nation (1 Pet 2:9) of people in Christ, drawn from every nation, tribe, and tongue, will walk in His glorious eternal light (Rev 5:9). Therefore, we must learn another group of phrases from the Bible on the Christian life, the “one anothers.” That which God has brought together must learn to live in unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).
Together, with all the saints who have gone before us (Heb 11) and who dwell with us around the world, as a chosen race (1 Pet 2:9), we work our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). He is able to make all grace abound toward us (2 Cor 9:8), as we serve as royal priests in the temple of the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:11–22). Together, we walk with our God through the wilderness of this world, bearing the ark of testimony of Christ (1 Cor 1:6), until we cross the Jordan into God’s Beulah Land.
Beautiful feet, with shoes that will never wear out, marching onward as Christians soldiers to Zion, we will soon leap as lame men made whole, as we enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Come, pilgrim, for this night will soon break forth in eternal day, when we meet our bright and morning star, who beckons us to come home. Will you join us on our inextricably beamish walk?
David E. Norczyk
Spokane Valley, Washington
January 18, 2021