"He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also to walk even as He walked." I John 2:6.
THE one great secret of a life full of blessedness is abiding in Christ. Abiding in Christ is the one all-inclusive secret of power in prayer : our Lord Jesus says in John 15 : 7, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will and it shall be done unto you." Abid ing in Christ is also the secret of fruitfulness : our Lord Jesus says, I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing." And abiding in Christ is the secret of fullness of joy: in the same chapter to which we have referred twice, the Lord Jesus says, " These things have I spoken unto you (i.e., these things about abiding in Him), that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full," a clear statement that our joy is made full, or filled full, when we abide in Him, and then alone. But according to our text this morning the one proof that we do abide in Him is that we walk even as He walked. The great test of whether we are abiding in Christ or not is not some ecstatic feeling, but our daily conduct. If we walk as He walked that is proof, conclusive proof, that we are abiding in Him whether we have ecstatic feelings or not. On the other hand if we do not walk as He walked, that is conclusive proof that we are not abiding in Him, no matter how many ecstasies and raptures we may boast of. So the practical question that faces each one of us this morning is, Am I walking as Jesus walked? This brings us face to face with the question, How did Jesus walk?
I. HOW JESUS WALKED.
Some years ago Charles Sheldon brought out a book named "In His Steps," in which he tried to imagine how Jesus would act in various imaginary relations of life; how, for example, He would conduct a news paper, etc. The book awakened a great deal of interest, but was necessarily not very satisfactory. We are not left to our own imaginations in this matter. Far more practical than the question of what Jesus would do in various imaginary relations of life is to find what He actually did when He was here on earth, and find out how He really walked. How did Jesus walk?
1. First of all He walked with an eye absolutely single to the glory of God. He says in John 8:50, seek not mine own glory." In no act of His whole life did He have regard to His own honour or glory, He was entirely absorbed in the glory of him that sent Him. In the prayer which He offered the night before His crucifixion He said, "Father the hour is come: glorify thy Son." Now that looks at the first glance as if He were seeking His own glory, but listen to the rest of the petition: "that the Son may glorify Thee." It was not His own glory that He was seeking, but altogether the Father's, and He simply asked the Father to glorify Him that the Father Himself might be glorified. In the fourth verse of the same chapter we hear Him saying, "I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which Thou gavest me to do." His own glory was a matter about which He was entirely unconcernecd; the glory of the Father was the one thing that absorbed Him. In every act of His life, small or great, He was simply seeking the glory of God. He had an eye absolutely single to the glory of God. Even in the eternal world before He became incarnate, when He was existing in the form of God, when the whole angelic world saw by His outward form that He was a Divine person, and when He might have retained that Divine glory, He thought it not a thing to be grasped to be on an equality with God, but emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross (Phil. 2:5-8), because by this giving up His own Divine glory and taking upon Himself humility and shame, greater glory would come to the Father. And now may I put the question to you, and to myself as I put it to you, are you walking with an eye absolutely single to the glory of God? Is there but one thing that concerns you in determining upon any course of action, viz., will I glorify the Father more by doing this than by not doing it? I heard two Christian women discussing the other day the relative merits of the East and West as a place to live. One spoke about the maples and the oaks and the beeches of the East, about the various social and other advantages. The other dwelt upon the fruits and flowers of Southern California, upon the air and the cleanliness. But if we are to walk as Jesus walked we will not determine our home by such considerations as these, the whole question will be will it be more to God's glory for me to live in the East or the West ?
2. In the second place, we find from a study of the walk of Jesus as recorded in the four Gospels, that He walked in whole-hearted surrender to and delight in the will of the Father. Not only could He say, "I do always the things that are pleasing to Him," but He even went so far as to say, "My meat," i.e., His sustenance and delight, "is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to accomplish His work. The circumstances under which He said this were significant; He was tired, hungry, and thirsty, so tired that when His disciples went into the neighbouring village to buy food for Him and them, He was unable to go along, but rested wearily upon the well at Sychar. As he rested there He looked up the road and saw a sinful woman coming toward Him. In His joy in an opportunity of doing the Father's will in winning that lost woman He entirely forgot His weariness and His hunger, and step by step led her to the place where she knew Him as the Christ. At that moment His disciples again appeared and wondered that He was talking with a woman, and then urged Him to eat of the food which they had brought from the village, saying, "Rabbi, eat." He looked up at them almost in wonder and said, "I have meat to eat that ye know not." In other words, He says, "I am not hungry; I have been eating." The disciples were filled with surprise and said one to another, "Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?" Then Jesus answering their thought said, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to accomplish His work." All the joy He asked, all the gratification He asked was an opportunity to do the Father's will. He not only did His Father's will always, but He delighted in doing it, it was His chief gratification, the very sustenance of His inner most being. Are you walking as Jesus walked? Are you walking in whole-hearted surrender to the will of God, studying His Word daily to find out what that will is, doing it every time when you find it, finding your chief delight in doing the will of the Father, no matter how disagreeable in itself that will may be? This is the way Jesus walked. Are you walking as He walked?
3. Furthermore, He walked in utter disregard of self. This is involved in what we have already said, but we mention it separately in order to make it clear. His own interests, His own ease, His own comfort, His own honour, His own anything were nothing to Him. "Though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be come rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). Not His own interests, but those of others were His sole consideration. What riches did He give up? The greatest that any one ever knew; all the possessions and glory of God. How poor did He become? The poorest man the world ever saw. He not only became a man, taking all a man's dishonour upon Himself, He became a poor man, a despised man. When He went out of this world He went out of it tripped of everything. He had not had food for many long hours; every shred of clothing was torn from Him as they nailed Him to the cross; He was stripped of all honour and respect, lifted up on the cross as a condemned felon, while jeering mobs passed by mocking Him, and this end He Himself chose because by thus emptying Himself of everything He secured eternal life and an in heritance incorruptible, undefiled and that passeth not away, for others. His own interests were nothing, the interests of others were everything. Are you walking as Jesus walked? Are you living your life day by day in utter disregard of your own interests, your own reputation, your own authority, your own comfort, your own honour, doing the things that will bring blessing to others, no matter what loss and dis onor the doing of them may bring to you? "He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also to walk even as He walked."
4. Furthermore, He walked with a consuming passion for the salvation of the lost. He Himself has defined the whole purpose of His coming into this world ; in Luke 19 : 10 He says, The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost." He had just one purpose in leaving heaven and all its glory and coming down to earth with all its shame, that was the seeking out and saving of the lost. The saving of the lost was the consuming passion of His life. For this He came, for this He lived, for this He prayed, for this He worked, for this He suffered, for this He died. Are you walking with such a consuming passion for the salvation of the lost? Oh, how many are there of us who indeed are doing something for the salvation of the lost, but what we do is perfunctory; we do it simply because we think it is the thing we ought to do, not because there is a consuming passion within that will not let us rest without doing everything in our power to save the lost, to bring the lost to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If the professedly Christian men and women walked with such a consuming passion for the salvation of the lost as Jesus walked, how long would it be before hundreds and thousands were turning to Christ here in Los Angeles.
5. He walked in a life of constant prayer fulness. In Hebrews 5 : 7 we read that in the days of His flesh He "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears." His whole life was a life of prayer. The record that we have of His life in the four gospels is very brief, only eighty-nine very short chap ters in all, and yet in this very brief account of the life of our Lord the words "pray" and "prayer" are used in connection with Him no less than twenty-five times, and His praying is mentioned in places where these words are not used. People wonder what Jesus would do in this relation or that, but the Bible tells us plainly what He actually did do, He prayed. He spent much time in prayer. He would rise a great while before day and go out into the mountain to pray alone. He spent whole nights in prayer. If we are to walk as Jesus walked we must lead a life of prayerfulness. The man who is not leading a life of prayer, no matter how many excellent things he may be doing, is not walking as Jesus walked.
6. He also walked a walk characterized by a diligent study of the Word of God. We see this in many things. His whole thought and the things that He said showed that He was saturated with Old Testament Scripture. He met each one of the three assaults of Satan in His temptation in the wilderness with a quotation from the Old Testament, and we read in Luke 24 : 27 that "beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures," conclusively showing that He had pondered long and deep all parts of the Old Testament, the only written Word of God then existing, and in the forty-fourth verse of the same chapter we read that He said, "All things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the Psalms, concerning me." He himself was the incarnate Word of God, neverthless, He diligently studied and steeped Himself in the written Word in so far as it then existed. Are you in this matter walking as Jesus walked? Are you digging into the Bible? Are you saturating yourself with the Word of God? Are you permitting your whole thought and the very language you use to be saturated with Scripture? It was thus that Jesus walked, with an eye absolutely single to the glory of God, in whole-hearted surrender to and delight in the will of the Father, in utter disregard of self, with a consuming passion for the salvation of the lost, with a life of constant prayerfulness, in diligent study of the Word of God. Are you thus walking? Many of us doubtless will have to say this morning, "I am not," and that brings us to the next question.
II. HOW CAN WE WALK AS JESUS WALKED ?
It is a very practical question, and the all-sufficient answer to it is in our text: "He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also to walk even as He walked." It is clear from this that there is only one way by which we can walk as He walked, and that is by abiding in Him. But what does that mean? Our Lord Himself has explained this in John 15:1-5. In these verses He tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches, and that if we would have fruitage and power in prayer, and joy, we must abide in Him, just as the branch that bears fruit must abide in the vine. That is to say, abiding in Him is maintaining the same relation to Him that a fruitful branch of a grapevine bears to the vine ; it has no life of its own, all its life is the inflow of the life of the vine, its buds and leaves and blossoms and fruit are not its own, but simply the outcome of the life of the vine flowing into it and bearing fruitage through it, so that if we are to abide in Him and bear fruit we must seek to have no life of our own, we must renounce all our self-efforts after righteousness, not simply renounce our sins, but renounce our own thoughts, our own ambitions, our own purposes, our own strength, our own everything, and cast ourselves in utter depend ence upon the Lord Jesus for Him to think His thoughts in us, to will His purpose in us, to choose His choice through us, to work out His own glorious perfection of character in us. Many try to be like Christ by imitating Christ. It is absolutely impossible for us to imitate Christ in our own strength. The most discouraging thing that any earnest-minded man can attempt is to imitate Christ. Nothing else will plunge a man in deeper despair than to try to imitate Christ in his own strength. Instead of imitating Him we should open our hearts wide for Him to come in and live His own life out through us. Christ in us is the secret of a Christian life. The only Christ that many professed Christians know is the historic Christ, that is the Christ who lived nineteen centuries ago on this earth and died on the cross of Calvary, an atoning sacrifice for sin. They only know the Christ who died for us on the cross. Oh, we need to know something further than that if we are to be like Him; we need to know a living Christ to-day, a Christ who not only arose and ascended to the right hand of the Father, but a Christ who has come down and "dwells in us, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). From the bottom of my heart I praise God for Christ for us on the cross. All my hope of acceptance before God is built upon Him bearing my sins in His own body on the cross, and I do praise God for Christ for us. But, oh, how I praise God, not only for Christ for me on the cross, but for Christ in me, a living, personal Christ in me to-day, living His life out through me, and causing me to walk even as Jesus walked. How we may thus have Christ in us Paul tells us in Gal. 2:20, A.R.V. He says, "I have been crucified with Christ," i.e., when Christ was crucified on the cross He was crucified as our representative and we were crucified in Him, and we must see ourselves where God put us on the cross in the place of death and the curse, and thus cease to live in our own strength. Then he goes on to say, "It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me;" i.e., as he had been crucified with Christ he counted himself what he really was in his standing before God, dead, and as a dead man, no longer sought to live his own life, but let Jesus Christ live His life out through him. And then he goes on still further to say, "That life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." The whole secret of being like Christ is found in these words. We must count self dead; we must give up our self-efforts after likeness to Christ; we must distrust our own strength as much as we distrust our own weakness and our own sin, and instead of striving to live like Christ, let Christ live in us, as He longs to do. Of course we cannot thus have Christ in us until we know Christ for us, making a full atonement for our sins on the cross. Paul explains the whole secret of it in another way in Eph. 3 : 16-20. Here he prays for the believers in Ephesus that they "may be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." The thought is, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to form an indwelling Christ within us, and the way to know Christ in us is to let the Holy Spirit form Him within us.
Are you walking as Jesus walked? Do you wish to walk as Jesus walked, cost whatever it may? Well then, realize that you have not been walking as Jesus walked, and that the reason you have not walked as Jesus walked is because you have been trying to do it yourself, and give up your own attempts to do it and just look up to the Risen Christ, through, whose death on the cross you have found pardon and justification, and let Him come and dwell in you and live His life out through you ; to have His perfect will in you, and just trust the Holy Spirit to form this indwelling Christ in your heart.