The Christian's Walk
James Smith, 1865
"We walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7
There are two paths in which we have to walk.
1. We have to walk to God, as sinners, for acceptance; and the path is Jesus, and Jesus alone. Not Jesus — and our feelings; nor Jesus — and our good works; but Jesus alone. He said, "No man comes unto the Father — but by Me."
2. We have to walk to heaven, as justified and accepted believers; and the path is filial obedience to God's will.
If I seek acceptance with God, as the Judge of all, I exclude everything but Jesus, and expect to be accepted for the alone sake of Jesus, and what He has done and suffered. But if I look upon myself as a child of God, going home to his heavenly Father, through a wilderness of trials and troubles — then the precept marks my path, and good works are required at my hands.
The principle that actuates the believer, is faith. Does he seek acceptance with God through Jesus? — it is by faith. Does he seek to do the will of God from the heart? — it is by faith. What does his faith include?
1. Crediting God's Word. He believes what God has said concerning His beloved Son. He believes what God requires, as expressed in His holy precepts. He is fully persuaded of the truth of God's Word, and assents to it.
2. Trusting Christ's merits. He renounces all his own supposed excellency, casts away all his own performances, and places his sole trust in the obedience and blood shedding of the Lord Jesus. On Christ, and Christ alone, he relies for pardon, peace with God, and admission into heaven.
3. Confiding in God's care. He believes that God cares for him, will take care of him, and fulfill his promises to him. He sees that the end of his life is to please God, and to leave himself and all his concerns in God's hands while doing so. That anxiety is unfitting, which fears. It indicates unbelief, and that it is his privilege to cast every care on God, who cares for him.
4. Observing God's precepts. This is not faith — but it is the immediate and inevitable effect of it; so that where there is not a careful observance of God's precepts — there is no living faith. Men may pretend to believe — but they do not. They may talk of faith — but they do not possess it. "For as the body without the spirit is dead — so faith without works is dead also."
The Christian, as influenced by a living faith, makes progress. He goes from stage to stage, from strength to strength. He walks after the Lord. His walk leads him nearer to God, and faith realizes more and more of the Divine presence. He walks more with God. The world loses its attractions, and old sinful habits lose their power. He finds full satisfaction nowhere but in God's presence, with no one but with God himself. Fellowship with God becomes necessary to his existence; and, as a social being — he could as soon be happy without society, as, being a Christian — he could be happy without communion with God. He learns to walk . . .
with more courage — resisting the devil, and overcoming the world;
with more confidence — trusting in Christ, and committing all to Christ;
with more constancy — not so prone to wander, or be diverted or charmed by the occurrences of time;
with more comfort — resting on the promises, rejoicing in the doctrines, and deriving fuller supplies from God.
As he gets nearer to God — he gets further from the world, and enters into closer fellowship with the saints. He walks more humbly, as he learns more of himself, and more of his dependance upon God. He walks more prayerfully, as he realizes his danger, and his need of daily supplies of the Spirit of Christ. He grows in acquaintance with the truth, especially as revealing the mind of God, and setting forth the person and personal glories of the Lord Jesus. He realizes more and more the solemnity of eternity, and the importance of being built on a sure foundation, and being made fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light.
Faith is at the root of all this; and the comfort, quickness, and consistency of the Christian's walk — is just in proportion to his faith.
Let us then, as believers in Jesus, seek to walk by faith, and not by sight. Let us go forward as seeing Him who is invisible. Let us endure toil, trouble, and temptation — not looking at the things which are seen — but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal — but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Let us daily walk — looking unto Jesus. He is our adorable Redeemer. He is our source of supply. Looking to Him will . . .
enlighten us in darkness,
cheer us in solitude,
strengthen us in weakness,
fortify us in conflict,
embolden us in danger,
comfort us in sorrow, and
render us more than conquerors over every foe.
Let us daily walk leaning on Jesus. He will be at our side, He will lend us His arm, yes, His bosom! The posture of the Church should be ours, "Who is this that comes up out of the wilderness, leaning on her Beloved?" It is the Church of Christ, and her example should be followed by every Christian.
Let us daily walk communing with Jesus. He loves to converse with us, and to receive communications from us. Let us tell Him of our foes, fears, afflictions, privations, griefs, and woes. Let us tell Him everything that tries or troubles us. He says, "Let me hear your voice." Yes, O Savior, You shall hear me; for I will bring all my sorrows and joys, all my trials and triumphs, all my doubts and deliverances — to You!
Let us daily walk imitating Jesus. He has left us an example, that we should follow in His footsteps. In the family, in the world, and in the church — let us endeavor to imitate Jesus. And may we receive grace to conform our conduct to His, that all who see us may take knowledge of us, that we have learned of Him who is "meek and humble in heart;" who was "holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners."
O for such a faith as will lead us to God through Christ — that we may be pardoned, justified, and accepted by Him; that will lead us to live in the world — so as to prove that we are not of it, enabling us to do the will of God from the heart while we are passing through it! May our spirit, temper, course, and conduct conspire to bear testimony that "we walk by faith — and not by sight."
"By faith in Christ I walk with God,
With heaven, my journey's end in view;
Supported by His staff and rod,
My road is safe and pleasant too.
I travel through a desert wide,
Where many round me blindly stray;
But He vouchsafes to be my Guide,
And will not let me miss my way.
Though snares and dangers throng my path,
And earth and hell my course withstand;
I triumph over all by faith,
Guarded by His Almighty hand.
The wilderness affords me food,
But God for my support prepares;
Provides me every needful good,
And frees my soul from needs and cares."