Walking in the Light
There has been continuing correspondence with a neighbour and I commented in a recent letter to him, “I did not choose my walk”.
He responded, “I have always understood that a person chooses their path. They choose how they react to the circumstances of life.”
He also asked, “What are the circumstances that result in a person being on the same walk that you are on?” and “How many possible walks are there to take?”
My Dear -------
When I am writing, it is with the understanding that I write to you as a fellow-believer. So… we have already chosen Jesus - but He said, “You did not choose me, I chose you,” (John 15:16) hence my comment that I did not choose my walk. This is confirmed in the following: (John 8:28, John 15:4, Rom 8:28, Eph 1:11, 2 Phil 2:13 and Tim 1:9)
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
We do not choose that walk. Oh, it may seem as if we do but once we have believed in His Son, then our Spirit is quickened, we are indwelt by Christ, transformed by the renewing or our mind and the Holy Spirit then takes us on the path of enlightenment. (John 14:16, Rom 12:2 1, Cor 2:16) We have nothing to do with this spiritual walk except to be willing to have faith and, even that tiny, little, mustard-seed-sized, shred of faith, is originated and completed by Jesus. (Heb 12;2) God leads us into situations, which cause us to search a little deeper, pray a little harder for knowledge, in our efforts to understand.
Therefore, in answer to your other questions, I believe that for a believer there is only one walk. It is the walk taken with our little faith. It is a walk into the light out of the darkness. (Isa 42:16) It does not refer to a walk that we consciously take. It is the Lord leading us, in the Spirit, from one level of faith to another, even though we are not aware of it. Once faith has replaced ‘works’, we are led to see that faith depends upon our enlightenment - not upon our intellect. It took me years to let go of my understanding and of my working it out. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and Lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct they paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes….” (Prov 3:6) I am so glad that that verse is in the Bible because, as I was searching the deep things of God, I found it so hard to understand. I was getting glimpses that all was in the hands of God. At the time I was struggling; there was a popular phrase going the rounds, “Let go and let God”. How could I let go of what I thought was my responsibility for leading a good Christian life. I felt so dense at times as I struggled to understand what I was being led into. I said that I was letting go; I thought that I was letting go, but I was still trying, in my efforts to please God, to make it happen. It was as if I was holding a balloon – I thought had let it go but I was still holding on to the string.
It was a long time before I really let go and trusted that God was in control. I had stated, early in my Christian life, “Either the Bible is inspired by God or not. I choose to believe that it is and that, if it is, then I cannot pick and choose those parts that suite my lifestyle or my particular stand, it has to be all or nothing at all.”
I had also very seriously prayed, “Spirit of the living God, please descend on me, break me, melt me, mould me, fill me. Spirit of the Living God please descend on me.”
That took me right into the walk of fundamentalism, where, for years, I was so sure that I understood - everything was black and white. However, I was still not walking in grace, in fact, everything still depended upon my working for and pleasing God. We struggle and strain to understand the Word, as I did, by our intellect, not knowing that enlightenment is only truly revealed by the Spirit, Who gradually, as we seek, leads us into revelation. This is a way that was promised years before in Isaiah “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. (Is 42:16-17)
We have been told several times that this walk is a mystery; that it will seem to be a foolish way: a way that will confuse the intellect; that it is a hidden, secret way; a way that had never been seen or thought of before; a way that will be revealed only to those who love God; (1 Cor 1:27, 1 Cor 7:14)
It seems foolishness for us to believe that it is not we who govern our lives, but the Word says, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Phil 2;13)
So… He is at work in me not only leading me into the light of His revelation but in creating the desires of my heart to do His will but He is at work also in my actions. Does this leave anything for me to do except have faith that it is so?
This is the process of the revelation of the mystery, which can only be given by the Spirit. I was living in the written Word and, in essence, the Bible became my god. I was following it slavishly to the letter and suffering much condemnation because I failed to live up to its demands. I had absolutely no awareness of the Holy Spirit working in me until the written Word, as understood by the intellect, was given a deeper spiritual meaning by the living Word within me and He revealed truths that did seem foolish to my practical, prove-it-to-me mind. (2 Cor 3:6)
This is where I had difficulty because I was expecting a manifestation of the promises of the Word by sight, by feeling or by hearing. I expected to change into a more loving person, with purer thoughts, with holy motives, with more patience etc. I was looking in the wrong place, I have learned that it is by the process of receiving from the Sprit a sudden appreciation of a deeper meaning, which I had never grasped before, to which my spirit responds with “Yes, I see!!!!”
I become aware that there is a knowing within me and I discover that I believe without the proof that I sought. That is the substance of spiritual revelation, which then results in my faith now being upheld by such a deep, inner conviction, which can never be shaken. This is the substance of faith spoken of in Hebrews 11:1; it is the evidence of things unseen.
It was years before I understood all that the word “grace” entailed. I now know that it is a completely unmerited favour, a gift with no strings attached. No shoulds, should-nots, musts, or must-nots. I had nothing to do with my walk of faith, I could not pray enough, attend church enough, be ‘good’ enough, love enough, work enough or pray enough to please God. I could not walk the right way to earn my salvation. I could not learn enough or understand enough to satisfy the yearning in me for evidence that I was pleasing to God. I had to learn that I could never please Him by my efforts, that it was only in and through the faith of Christ in me, not in my doing His work of being righteous in His eyes. To put it simply, as a friend of mine says, “It does not depend upon my holding my mouth in just the right way.”
I am merely the temple, the vessel, the clay pot, the branch, and the bride. All receptors. All containers, created only to receive and that it is only in my reception of God’s gifts of grace as ‘freely given’ that I function in this God-given capacity of unshakable faith in the unseen. It was only when I realised that I had already received everything that I had searched for on the day that I accepted Christ, that I have already been blessed, that I am now perfect, I am now complete, I am sanctified, I am holy, I am all, in this very moment, that Christ is in me, that it all falls into place. As someone once adequately explained, it was as if I were searching for my glasses, only to find that they were on my head all the time.
When I stop looking in myself for the manifestation of these gifts and realise that they are not in me, nor were they ever meant to be, they are in only Christ Jesus and as I walk in faith that I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal 2:20) then all the foolishness is revealed as the most wonderful mystery of God in His wisdom. We understand that “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:15-17)
We are told that we are to “walk in the light as He is in the light,” (I John 1:7), “Whosoever says he abides in Him ought himself so to walk even as he walked.” (I John 2:6.) “He that doeth righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous.” (I John 3:7) “Whosoever hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.” (I John 3:3.) The “letter which killeth”, understood by my reasoning intellect, led me to believe that these verses meant that I had to be just like Jesus – perfect. The Spirit, gave life to those words when He revealed that it is no longer I that liveth but it is the Christ, who lives in me Who is the source of these deeds, He is the perfect One in Whom I am now hid.
It is interesting that in this book, chapter 2:12, John talks of three stages of a believer. The first stage is that of a child knowing only that Jesus has forgiven their sins. The second stage is that of a young man, who knows the Word and fights the wiles of the Devil. The third stage is the fathers who have known Him that is from the beginning. Who is He that is from the beginning? He is the I am.
Who am I? I am all that He says I am. Amen - I am!!!
He says I am perfect! Amen – nothing more to be done.
He says I am blameless! Amen – I will not take condemnation.
He says I am holy, blessed, beloved etc and I say Amen! Amen! Amen! No more trying to be a super-human being, now content to be the little ‘i-am’ enveloped in His big ‘I AM’.
As He is so are we in this world. So, to know ourselves we look to Him for He is who we are now. No longer searching, for we know we already are and we can say, “I am” to all the attributes we longed for, not because of some miraculous change in us, of some wonderful God-helped change that has been made for us to become the holy person we longed to be. No, we are one with the Holy One Who dwells within our temple, a vessel filled with all He is, a branch depending upon Him to produce the fruit, a bride accepting His seed of love.
In faith I walk as He walked, I walk as His light, I walk as His righteousness and, as I walk His spiritually, determined faith walk, I am purified even as He is pure, which is really His walk in and through me, for He told me that I abide in Him and that of myself I can do nothing. Oh, how this takes the glory away from man. Once received, this gift of sight fills our hearts with thankfulness and all the glory is to God. No longer basking in the self-righteousness that comes with the blind walk of self-effort of keeping the letter of the law. (2 Cor 3:6)
What is there left for me to do? Am I just to sit back, rest and stop trying and working at my Christianity? Yes, for we go on to find that our ‘ceasing from our ‘works’ results in a promised ‘rest’ in God.
“There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:9-12)
This ‘rest’ does not mean I do nothing, but that I do what comes spontaneously next, absolutely depending upon His leading me. He does not lead me into an ideal life where everything is rosy, where I have abundant riches, where there is no more pain. He more often leads me into trials and suffering. I know that even the devil’s work is subject to God, who uses it for good.
When trials and tribulations come, knowing that He is underneath it all, I trust Him to work it out, however it may seem to the eyes of the world – the double eyed vision. I no longer have to try to conquer my weaknesses for He uses them all; it is in them that He is strong. He does not help me overcome, which would result in my being the victor. No, He works with me, just as I am, with all my warts and seeming imperfections – He is the overcomer - He is the victor and I am protected by His armour.
He has ordained our lives for us to be His vessel. Each so different, each with different experiences and personalities but each fit for His use in His perfect, particular way. I cannot do the work He has ordained for you and you cannot do the work he has purposed for me. So in that sense our walk may seem to be different but they are all with His purpose of sharing the deepest truth of all He has given us in love.
As you know ----, my answers to your questions cannot be answered with a straight yes or no. You send me searching deep into my ‘knowing’ to find the words with which to express what has, sometimes, not even been thought out in detail before.
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” 1 Peter 3:15 and my hope is in Jesus and all that is promised.
I also asked many questions and I thank God for those who were willing to provide me with the reasons for their hope. At one time though, I must confess that I was sceptical and my questions were aimed at proving them wrong. I was afraid that what they were telling me was urging me to taking the easy way out, too good to be true, even blasphemy, but all I can tell you now is that from the moment, over forty years ago, that I accepted the words of an old missionary, that “Christ lived in me”, and went on to know that He lives as me and through me, that my life changed. It has not been easy or without suffering, nor do I expect it to be without suffering in the future for we are told that this is His way of our living our lives for others. I may be “troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken. (2 Cor 4)
Accepting the revelations has, at times, boggled my mind with the barriers that my thoughts have put up to resist the simplicity of God’s truth.
An occasional tempting to take on the ‘work’ again or to feel the condemnation again, will take me right back into a temporary visit to darkness again. However, it is dealt with quickly when, by faith, I see God in the midst of all, know that I live, move and have my being in Him and that without Him I can do nothing.
So… my answer to your questions is that there are only two ways to walk, in darkness or in light. Once, having chosen Jesus, we are all on the same walk into the light, with the Holy Spirit leading us and revealing the truth of His Word as we struggle to understand. That may mean that we wander up different paths on the way but all is in His hands and all paths are His.
What I especially enjoy about understanding this walk is that it eradicates the denomination splits within the Christian family. I believe that these splits are not problems to God because He deals with individuals and He leads each one of us in the way we are meant to go, even though, to the eyes of those who judge, it may appear to be the wrong way. In God we all live, move and have our being in Him.
With His love,