The Christian life is about walking with God, with our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. But how do we walk with Christ? How do we walk with One whom we cannot see? We walk by faith. In 2 Corinthians 5:7, the apostle teaches that as long as we remain in these earthly bodies we for we walk by faith, not by sight.” But faith must have an object. Otherwise, we risk the danger of having faith in faith. Therefore, the book of Colossians directs our faith to Jesus Christ, the supreme One, the King, the Savior, the Sovereign Lord. He is central to all things and, therefore, should be the center of our lives. A key command in the book pulls the centrality of Christ and our need to follow Him into one. That is Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
The Command to Keep Walking in Christ (v. 6)
As believers, we are called to walk in the say way we “received Christ Jesus the Lord.” But how have we received Christ?
- By Grace – What kind of grace is this? What is God’s grace like? It is saving grace (Eph 2:8-10), sanctifying grace (Titus 2:11-14), serving grace (Gal 5:13), and sufficient grace (2 Cor 12:7-9).
- By Faith – Believers receive Christ by the faith that is produced by the Word of God, the gospel (Rom 10:17), which leads to our being justified before God and made to be at peace with Him (Rom 5:1).
- As Lord – Believers receive “Christ Jesus the Lord” (v. 6). This title is used only here by Paul and refers to the doctrine of Christ in all its fullness. When these people had believed in Christ through the hearing of the gospel they received a person, not simply a philosophy; a Lord, not only a Savior (Rom 10:9). Of this, Charles Spurgeon said, “It is interesting to notice that the Apostles preached the Lordship of Christ. The word Savior occurs only twice in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5:31, 13:23). On the other hand it is amazing to notice the title “Lord” is mentioned 92 times; “Lord Jesus” 13 times; and “The Lord Jesus Christ” 6 times in the same book. The Gospel is: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The lordship of Christ is not a secondary doctrine.
Paul’s command to “walk” is best translated “keep walking.” It refers to continual, habitual action. It stresses the daily walk of spiritual development. Paul is saying:
- You received Him by grace—keep walking in grace.
- You received Him by faith—keep walking by faith.
- You received Him as Lord—keep walking in a progressively deeper submission to His lordship.
Our walk is “in Him.” As believers we live in union with Christ (John 15:4-5). It is only in Christ that we become new creatures. It is only in Christ that we become fruitful. It is only in Christ that we are accepted by God.
The Characteristics of Walking in Christ (v. 7)
The apostle describes the believer’s lifelong walk in Christ in four ways.
- It is a firmly-rooted walk (having been firmly rooted). The word used here describes the solid foundation of a building. This is a settled state brought about by conversion. Christ and His gospel of grace is our sure foundation.
- It is a steadily-progressive walk (now being built up in Him). This is the superstructure that sits on top of the basement: the 2×4’s and the drywall. It signifies that becoming like Christ is not an overnight event, but a process–a lifelong process. Sometimes we think that gaining victory over a particular sin in our lives should be as instant as pudding. But it is not. It is a long process that involves an increasing dependence upon God’s grace to constantly lay aside the old man and put on the new man. Sanctification is a slow, steady growth like that of an oak tree, not a short-lived poplar. We are being built up in Him. This is God’s work in us (1Cor 3:6-9).
- It is a doctrinally-established walk (established in your faith, just as you were instructed). “The faith” is probably a better translation than “your faith.” This is objective faith, i.e., the Christian walk is built upon doctrine, which provides stability for the Christian life (see Col 1:21-23). A person will not find much stability in their subjective faith, or in some spiritual experience. These are always lacking and always inferior to the clear assurance that comes from the Word of God. Peter referred to Scripture as a more sure word than even the most dramatic spiritual experience (2 Peter 1:19).
- It is an abundantly-thankful walk (overflowing with gratitude). The believer’s walk of faith should abound in thankfulness. The more we grow in understanding of the doctrines of the Christian faith the more grateful we will be (Col 3:16). This sounds so elementary—and it is—but how often we forget this! God wants His children to be thankful. It is His will for each of us (1 Thess 5:18). In light of all that God has done for us in Christ how can we be anything else?
The Christ-centered life is a walk of faith. Jesus will never fail you. Keep the compass of your life pointed toward Him.
[This post is adapted from last Sunday’s sermon.]