A team of Swiss scientists recently reported a medical breakthrough that could potentially change lives throughout the world. The research group NeuroRestore has identified nerve groups impacted by paralysis and discovered a way to stimulate them back to life in order to restore the ability to walk. Early results are promising and it may be that their treatment plan soon finds its way to rehabilitation centers and hospitals all over the world.
Walking is a basic human function which we tend to take for granted until we can’t do it anymore. The ability to move around freely has an affect on every aspect of life. Is it any wonder, then, that the Holy Spirit chose the concept of walking as a way to illustrate how Christians are to live?
Scripture often uses the word “walk” to denote a way of life. The Old Testament describes walking through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4) as a picture of both great difficulty and facing the prospect of one’s own demise. Israel was to walk before the Lord in truth (1 Kings 2:4). The blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly (Ps. 1:1) but rather walks in uprightness (Ps. 84:11). Abraham walked before God in perfection, or blamelessness,(Gen. 17:1) and Enoch “walked with God” (Gen. 5:24), both standing as textbook examples of how God expects His children to live before Him. The New Testament uses the term in the same way. Christians are to walk in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith (Rom. 4:12). We are to walk in the light (1 John 1:7) and walk according to the Spirit (Rom. 8:4). Perhaps the best study of the term is found in Ephesians where Paul uses it 6 times to describe the way Christians should live.
- Walk in good works (Eph. 2:10). Though it is true that we are saved by grace and not of works (Eph. 2:8-9), it is also true that we are created for the purpose of good works. We cannot earn or merit salvation (Rom. 4:4-5), but we must respond to God obediently (Jas. 2:24), and continue to serve Him obediently. The Christian life must be characterized as being zealous of good works (Tit. 2:14), ready to do good works (Tit. 3:1), and maintaining good works (Tit. 3:14). Faith only is a false doctrine both before and after becoming a Christian.
- Walk worthy (Eph. 4:1). Christians must “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” The idea of the language is “measuring up” or “coming into balance.” In other words, our demonstration much match our proclamation. If we claim to be a Christian then we had better live like one! The practicalities of this command are unpacked throughout the remainder of the book.
- Walk in newness (Eph. 4:17). Ephesians 4:17-24 is a section of great contrast. On one hand, the Gentiles live a life of vanity and alienation because their thinking has been darkened through ignorance and worldliness. On the other, God’s people live a life of renewal because their thinking has been changed by the gospel of Jesus the Christ. The result is a life of righteousness and holiness. We must not “walk as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.”
- Walk in love (Eph. 5:2). Ephesians 1:5 explains that we have been adopted into the family of God by Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:1 tells us that as a consequence, we must bear the family resemblance. One way that we imitate our Heavenly Father is by walking in love. God displays His love for us in a multitude of ways, chief of which is the sacrifice of His Son (John 3:16). Love always seeks the best interest of its object, and our Father displays that perfectly, as does Christ, our Savior. Our lives must be characterized by the same sacrificial love seen in Him (John 13:34; 15:12; 17).
- Walk in light (Eph. 5:8). Throughout scripture, light and darkness serve as illustrations of good and evil. Because we walk in love and good works
(Eph. 2:10; 5:2) striving to live according to the gospel (Eph. 4:1) with a renewed way of thinking
(Eph. 4:17), we must live as those who belong to the light (Eph. 5:8). God is light and has nothing to do with darkness (1 John 1:7-10). Likewise, those who belong to God have been transferred from darkness to light (Col. 1:13). And so we must strive to be as He is.
- Walk in wisdom (Eph. 5:15). To walk in wisdom is to walk with our eyes open. It is the idea of looking ahead to see challenges and opportunities
(cf. Matt. 10:16). In context, Paul specifies redeeming the time and understanding the will of the Lord. That is, seizing opportunity when it presents itself and seeking what God wants in a situation instead of what we want.
If there were one passage to summarize the whole of the Christian walk, perhaps it would be 1 Peter 2:21, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in His steps.” Jesus left us a perfect example of how to live. May God bless us as we strive to walk as He walked.