“How We Should Walk”

Categories: M. W. Bassford, Sermons

All of us know Christians who have fallen away.  Even though they committed their lives to Christ, they broke the covenant that they had made and now are living the doomed life of the people of the world.  Usually, they didn’t make this change all at once.  Instead, the devil used subtle temptations to lure them away from the Lord bit by bit.

These tragic stories are more than just a source of grief to us.  They also are a warning.  None of those Christians who have fallen from grace obeyed the gospel intending to abandon Jesus.  They all thought they were going to stay faithful and inherit eternal life—just like we do.  However, the devil enticed them away, and he would love nothing more than to do the same to us.

It’s vital, then, for each of us to hold the line against worldliness.  All of us are constantly tempted, and without constant determination and vigilance, Satan will get us where he wants us.  The grace of Christ will do us no good if we turn our backs on it.  With this in mind, let’s examine a text from Ephesians that tells us how we should walk.

The first portion of this context instructs us in PRESERVING OUR INHERITANCE.  Let’s read from Ephesians 5:3-7.  Paul warns us about two classes of spiritual problems here.  The first is a familiar list of sins:  sexual immorality, impurity, and greed.  The second is speaking crudely about or joking about sexual immorality and impurity.

I understand the latter temptation all too well.  I love words, and I love joking.  I know that if I were not a Christian, I would have a potty mouth and make lots of dirty jokes.  However, we must recognize the great spiritual danger that comes with so doing.  Once we start talking about sex and sexual sin in careless, ungodly ways, we open the door to careless sexual sin.  What is on our lips is in our hearts and soon will be in our lives.

This could not be more consequential.  Paul tells us plainly that if we give in to the sins he discusses, we will lose our inheritance in the kingdom of God.  We must remember how deceitful the devil is here.  On the one hand, he is working as hard as he can to get us to spend eternity in hell.  On the other hand, he constantly is whispering in our ears that it’s never going to happen to us. 

If he can keep us fooled until our lives end, he’s got us.  Sadly, there are going to be lots of surprises on the day of judgment, and none of them will be good.  There are going to be countless millions of people who believed Satan when he told them that their sins weren’t a big deal, and they will find out too late just how strongly God disagrees.  We must not let that happen to us!

As part of our vigilance, we must beware of the empty, deceitful arguments that the world around us makes.  The worldly redefine sin as love and then ask how love can be wrong.  They suggest that shacking up is a great way to prepare for marriage.  They tell us that more money and more stuff will make us happy.  All of those and many others are lies, and if we believe them, they will cost us more than we can afford.

Additionally, Paul tells us that we must live AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT.  Let’s keep going with Ephesians 5:8-14.  The first thing that Paul tells us is that this involves a walk.  Here, as elsewhere in Scripture, we are confronted with the difference between walking in the light and walking in darkness. 

This isn’t about any one action or any one choice.  It’s about the total of all the choices we make.  Either we are walking with Christ and sharing in the benefits of His grace, or we aren’t.  We’re not supposed to see how close to that line we can get.  We’re supposed to do our best to make sure we aren’t anywhere near it.

If we are walking in the light, it will produce fruit in our lives, fruit like goodness, righteousness, and truth.  As is true throughout this lesson, this passage calls us to relentless self-honesty.  Everybody wants to believe that their lives bear this kind of fruit.  Do ours really?  Or, instead, do we justify our apathy and sin by pointing to the few exceptions? 

One of the best tells here is our willingness to expose the unfruitful works of darkness.  This doesn’t mean pointing to the enemies of the gospel and decrying their sin.  It means exposing sin among our own.

Sad to say, Christians have had a hard time with this since the days of Ananias and Sapphira.  Maybe the sinner is a family member, so we turn a blind eye to their misdeeds.  Maybe the sinner is a church leader, a preacher or elder engaged in sexual sin, so we try to deal with the sin quietly or maybe even ignore the accusation altogether.

In all these instances, Satan is trying to use fear of the consequences to manipulate us.  We worry what will happen to our families, our churches, or even to us if the truth comes out.  Brethren, God is not pleased with those who condone sin out of fear.  Whatever we fear the consequences of telling the truth will be, the consequences of hiding the truth will be even worse.

Finally, our walk should involve MAKING THE MOST OF THE TIME.  Our reading concludes with Ephesians 5:15-17.  Notice that this reading begins with another appearance of a theme from the context:  the importance of walking carefully instead of carelessly.  People who walk carelessly don’t pay attention to what they’re doing or where they’re headed; people who walk carefully pay a great deal of attention to both.  The latter is obviously harder, but we must remember that nobody goes to heaven by accident.

Second, Paul urges us to make the most of our time.  If I remember correctly, the first sermon I ever preached in the Dowlen Rd. preacher-training program was about this verse, so I’ve been familiar with it for a long time.  However, I will say that since my diagnosis, it has taken on a whole new importance.  I know that my time is limited, so I want to use the time I have left as effectively as I can for the Lord and the people I love.

Really, though, isn’t that the way that every Christian should be living all the time?  We all have limited time, even though we usually don’t know how limited.  God and others are most important in all of our lives, even if circumstances haven’t brought that fact to our attention yet.  If we live with those priorities and that sense of urgency, we never will regret it.  The times we will regret are the times we don’t.

Last, Paul tells us that wisdom entails not only walking carefully but also understanding the Lord’s will.  No matter how carefully we drive, unless we have a road map that tells us where we’re going, we’re going to get lost.  In this case, God isn’t going to drop the road map into our minds for us.  We have to seek that map for ourselves through study and prayer if we want to understand His will.