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Walking as Christ

1 John 2:6 (ESV) … “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”

“Baby Christians” must constantly be warned or rewarded. Mature Christians listen to God’s Word and obey it simply because they love Him.

Walking in the light involves honesty, obedience, and love; it also involves following the example of Christ and walking as He walked (1 John 2:6). Of course, nobody ever becomes a Christian by following Christ’s example; but after we come into God’s family, we are to look to Jesus Christ as the one great Example of the kind of life we should live.

This means “abiding in Christ.” Christ is not only the Propitiation (or sacrifice) for our sins (1 John 2:2) and the Advocate who represents us before God (1 John 2:1), but He is also the perfect Pattern (He is “Jesus Christ the righteous”) for our daily life.

The key statement here is “as He is” (1 John 2:6). “Because as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). We are to walk in the light “as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7). We are to purify ourselves “even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). “He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). Walking in the light means living here on earth the way Jesus lived when He was here, and the way He is right now in heaven.

This has extremely practical applications in our daily lives. For example, what should a believer do when another believer sins against him? The answer is that believers should forgive one another “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32; cf. Col. 3:13).

Walking in the light—following the example of Christ—will affect a home. Husbands are supposed to love their wives “even as Christ also loved the church” (Eph. 5:25). Husbands are supposed to care for their wives “even as the Lord” cares for the church (Eph. 5:29). And wives are to honor and obey their husbands (Eph. 5:22–24).

No matter what area of life it may be, our responsibility is to do what Jesus would do. “As He is, so are we in this world.” We should “walk [live] even as He walked [lived].”

Jesus Himself taught His disciples what it means to abide in Him. He explains it in His illustration of the vine and its branches (John 15). Just as the branch gets its life by remaining in contact with the vine, so believers receive their strength by maintaining fellowship with Christ.

To abide in Christ means to depend completely on Him for all that we need in order to live for Him and serve Him. It is a living relationship. As He lives out His life through us, we are able to follow His example and walk as He walked. Paul expresses this experience perfectly: “Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20).

This is a reference to the work of the Holy Spirit. Christ is our Advocate in heaven (1 John 2:1), to represent us before God when we sin. The Holy Spirit is God’s Advocate for us here on earth. Christ is making intercession for us (Rom. 8:34), and the Holy Spirit is also making intercession for us (Rom. 8:26–27). We are part of a fantastic “heavenly party line”: God the Son prays for us in heaven, and God the Spirit prays for us in our hearts. We have fellowship with the Father through the Son, and the Father has fellowship with us through the Spirit.

Christ lives out His life through us by the power of the Spirit, who lives within our bodies. It is not by means of imitation that we abide in Christ and walk as He walked. No, it is through incarnation: through His Spirit, “Christ liveth in me.” To walk in the light is to walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lusts of the flesh (cf. Gal. 5:16).

God has made provisions for us in these ways to conquer sin. We can never lose or change the sin nature that we were born with (1 John 1:8), but we need not obey its desires. As we walk in the light and see sin as it actually is, we will hate it and turn from it. And if we sin, we immediately confess it to God and claim His cleansing. By depending on the power of the indwelling Spirit, we abide in Christ and “walk as He walked.”

But all this begins with openness and honesty before God and men. The minute we start to act a part, to pretend, to impress others, we step out of the light and into shadows. Sir Walter Scott puts it this way:

Oh, what a tangled web we weave

When first we practice to deceive!

The life that is real cannot be built on things that are deceptive. Before we can walk in the light, we must know ourselves, accept ourselves, and yield ourselves to God. It is foolish to try to deceive others because God already knows what we really are!

All this helps to explain why walking in the light makes life so much easier and happier. When you walk in the light, you live to please only one Person—God. This really simplifies things! Jesus said, “I do always those things that please Him” (John 8:29, italics added). We “ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thes. 4:1). If we live to please ourselves and God, we are trying to serve two masters, and this never works. If we live to please men, we will always be in trouble because no two men will agree and we will find ourselves caught in the middle. Walking in the light—living to please God—simplifies our goals, unifies our lives, and gives us a sense of peace and poise.

John makes it clear that the life that is real has no love for sin. Instead of trying to cover sin, a true believer confesses sin and tries to conquer it by walking in the light of God’s Word. He is not content simply to know he is going to heaven. He wants to enjoy that heavenly life right here and now. “As He is, so are we in this world.” He is careful to match his walk and his talk. He does not try to impress himself, God, or other Christians with a lot of “pious talk.”

A congregation was singing, as a closing hymn, the familiar song, “For You I Am Praying.” The speaker turned to a man on the platform and asked quietly, “For whom are you praying?”

The man was stunned. “Why, I guess I’m not praying for anybody. Why do you ask?”

“Well, I just heard you say, ‘For you I am praying,’ and I thought you meant it,” the preacher replied.

“Oh, no,” said the man. “I’m just singing.”

Pious talk! A religion of words! To paraphrase James 1:22, “We should be doers of the Word as well as talkers of the Word.” We must walk what we talk. It is not enough to know the language; we must also live the life. “If we say—” then we ought also to do![1]

[1] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 484–485). Victor Books.

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