In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he wrote in chapter 1, verses 9 and 10, that he did not cease to pray that they might walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.
A bit later in his letter, he wrote, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6, 7).
Then near the end of his letter, he wrote, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time” (Colossians 4:5).
It is clear that Paul was not simply talking about the act of putting one foot in front of the other. In his letter to the Colossians, he was using the word “walk” in the same sense that Christ did when He said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life,” and again in John 12:35, when He said, “Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you.”
The Greek word translated “walk” is peripateō, which Strong’s Concordance defines as “figuratively to live, deport oneself, follow.” With that understanding, the relationship between the Bible writers’ use of ‘walk’ and the principle expressed in this quote from the Testimonies becomes clear: “God leads His people on step by step. The Christian life is a battle and a march. In this warfare there is no release; the effort must be continuous and persevering. It is by unceasing endeavor that we maintain the victory over the temptations of Satan. Christian integrity must be sought with resistless energy and maintained with a resolute fixedness of purpose.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 313.
It would be a challenge to find in inspired writings stronger counsel concerning our daily challenge, i.e., our Christian walk.
Paul often referred to the conduct of our daily lives as a walk. In Romans 6:4–6, he wrote, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.”
In chapter 8 of Romans, verses 1 through 4, he wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
As he neared the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote, “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:13, 14).
Paul’s understanding of life as a walk is expressed throughout his epistles. Each one of them contains similar usage of the word. We have already cited instances in Colossians and Romans. Here are some from his other letters:
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled” (2 Corinthians 10:3–6).
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (verse 25).
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3).
“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (verses 17–19).
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:1, 2).
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (verses 8–10).
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (verses 15, 16).
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Philippians 3:13–17).
“Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus” (I Thessalonians 4:1, 2).
“For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11).
It would be near impossible to read through these texts without gaining a fairly comprehensive understanding of what the Christian walk should be like—and what it should not be like. Perhaps most importantly, we are to walk, meaning, of course, to live, in a manner that fully pleases the Lord. To accomplish that noble task, we must know not only what pleases Him, but what He finds abominable as well. Such can only be accomplished through a thorough and continuing search of His word.
Understanding the enlightened instruction Paul provides in his letters gives us an excellent starting point for knowing how to walk in a manner that is “fully pleasing” to God the Father. A recurring theme is Paul’s admonition to “walk in the spirit” versus his caution against walking in the flesh. A summary of the principles expressed in the verses cited above should provide clear guidance for living the Christian walk. Let’s look at some of Paul’s instructions to gain a fuller understanding of the manner in which a Christian should conduct his daily life.
- After baptism, we are to walk “in newness of life.” Old habits and conduct that is contrary to the will of God must be “done away with” (Romans 6:4–6).
- The Christian walks “according to the Spirit,” not “according to the flesh,” (Romans 8:1–4), “and by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
- The Christian does not make provision for the flesh, but rather walks “properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy” (Romans 13:13, 14). Note the similarity in Paul’s allusion here to walking “in the day” to that which Christ made in John 8:12 and John 12:35 regarding light and darkness.
Paul provides an excellent summary of the Christian’s spiritual walk versus walking in the flesh in Ephesians 4. A Christian walks “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (verses 1–3).
Contrary to that is the fleshly walk, expressed so clearly in verses 17 through 19: “You should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”
Paul continues to clarify the contrast between the Christian walk and walking in darkness in Ephesians 5:1–21. A prayerful reading of those texts will provide an excellent means of “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (verse 10).
Truly, the Christian walk is “a battle and a march,” but with prayerful study of God’s word, the sincere seeker can obtain clear instruction on how to win that battle and how to march successfully.
All quotes NKJV unless otherwise noted.
John Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. After retiring as chief financial officer for the Grand Canyon Association, Grand Canyon, Arizona, he moved to Wichita, Kansas, to join the Steps team. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com.