"He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" John 8:12
How easy it is to read these words, but how difficult it is to put them truly into practice! It is much, very much, to be thankful for if the Holy Spirit has wrought a real desire in the heart of the reader to "follow" Christ — for such a desire surely cannot be within multitudes of those who bear His name and with their lips sing His praises. Daily does the Christian need to beseech God to strengthen this desire, until it actually becomes the uppermost longing of his soul and the dominant purpose of his life.
It is much, very much, to be thankful for when the Holy Spirit makes us to realize that, of ourselves, we are unable to carry out that desire and "follow" Christ. As He Himself tells us, "Without me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). This fact ought deeply to humble us as we are made to feel our inability to do that which is right, and should forever remove all pride and boasting from us. We are apt to think that this inability is merely a "weakness" or lack of strength. But in reality, it is sin within us, the "flesh," that awful and depraved nature with which we were born into this world. "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom 8:7).
While that "enmity" receives its death-blow at regeneration, it is not altogether dead in the Christian. At times, the remainder of this "enmity" slumbers, and Satan seeks to delude us into thinking it is completely slain, thus taking us off our guard. No, the "flesh" remains in us to the end of our earthly course, and its unchanging tendency is to draw us away from "following" Christ. How this should make us "abhor" ourselves (Job 42:6) — that there is that in us, that which is part and parcel of our very being, which is opposed to Christ!
Now, to "follow" Christ is to take His "yoke" upon us (Mat 11:29). It is to enlist under the banner of the "Captain" of our salvation. It is to yield completely to His lordship. It is to obey His commandments, and thus truly serve Him. It is to seek and do only those things which are pleasing in His sight.
For this, divine strength is needed. "Draw me" (Song 1:4) must be our daily prayer. Only as we "receive" from His fullness (John 1:16) are we enabled to follow "the example" which He has left us. As we are thus enabled to "follow" Him, we shall "not walk in darkness"(1 John 1:6). No, we shall be in fellowship with Him who is "the true light."
Nor must we be dismayed because we do not fully enter into this blessed experience all at once, "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day" (Pro 4:18). The way to get more strength and light is to use what has already been given us. To "follow" Christ is to tread the path of divine blessing. True, it is a narrow path, and oftentimes a lonesome one, for "few" (Mat 7:14) there are who tread it. It is sometimes a rough and thorny path — yet God has provided shoes for our feet (Luke 15:22; Eph 6:15). Yet it is also a most blessed path. It is there we enjoy the Lord's accompanying presence. It is there we are favored with the rich compensations given to those who turn their backs on self-pleasing and the world.