As you open your final study in this quarter, you will want to bring out that the experience of salvation produces decisive results in the life of a new believer. It takes him abruptly away from his former course of life, and he finds that all things have indeed "become new." This transformation, though sudden and immediate, should be followed by a progressive and continuous relationship with God. There should be a deepening assimilation of the "mind of Christ" and an ever-closer communion and involvement with Him and His mission. This is, in fact, the ongoing walk of the Christian.
Your students should understand that we are called to walk as Christ walked. This spirit of humility, submission, and self-renunciation one in which Christ, and not self, occupies the center of our being-is an essential condition of all spiritual progress. You might wish to use this thought as a wrap-up for the lesson and for this quarter of materials.
The students will be able to explain what is meant by the phrase "the Christian walk." They will also be able to describe what is required to maintain a Christian walk that aligns with God's Word.
Nehemiah 5:9; Psalms 86:11; 101:2; 119:1; Isaiah 30:21; 57:15; 66:2; Ezekiel 11:20; Micah 6:8; Matthew 16:24; Mark 10:43-45; John 8:12; Romans 6:4; 8:1; 2 Corinthians 12:9,10; Galatians 2:20; 5:25; Ephesians 2:10; 5:2,8,15; Philippians 2:3,12,13; Colossians 1:10; 2:6; 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:7; 1 Peter 5:5; 1 John 1:7; 2:6; Revelation 3:4
Question 1 - What is the Christian walk? Explain the phrase in your own words, using Colossians 1:10, 2:6, and 1 John 2:6 as a basis for your answer. Then make a comparison between the Christian walk and the physical act of walking.
Response 1 - Your students' definitions of the phrase "the Christian walk" will likely revolve around the concept of appropriate conduct for one who bears the Name of Christ. The verses in Colossians and 1 John bring out that we are to walk in Him, to walk as He walked, and to walk worthy of the Lord. In comparing the Christian walk to the physical act of walking, you might wish to offer the dictionary definition for the word walk: "to advance or travel on foot at a moderate speed or pace." Your students might bring out that the physical act of walking exercises our muscles and requires the expenditure of energy. The Christian walk exercises our "spiritual" muscles, and it, too, requires energy. Walking in the physical also implies progress from one point to another, and in our Christian walk, we are progressing from earth to Glory. Extended periods of walking require stamina, and staying with this Christian walk will require spiritual endurance. In the physical realm, there are obstacles to maneuver around and hills to climb. We will encounter hard spots and trials in our Christian walk also. To maintain physical comfort and to properly support our feet, it is best to equip ourselves with the right shoes for walking. Just so, in our Christian walk, we should equip ourselves with whatever provisions God has made available for us.
Question 2 - Every walk must have a starting point, and so it is with our Christian walk. With salvation, our spirits are quickened by a direct impartation of life from Above, and we begin to walk "in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Until this happens, there can be no spiritual progress, no spiritual growth, and no development of Christian character. Once divine life has been imparted, however, and "old things are passed away" and "all things are become new," we are able to move ahead in our Christian walk. Sanctification and the baptism of the Holy Spirit are key milestones in this journey. What are other lessons we learn as we progress in our spiritual lives? Note several truths you have learned, and elaborate briefly on how each was established in your life.
Response 2 - Your students' responses might include personal examples illustrating such truths as: God supplies our needs, God is our defender, God promises divine protection, the importance of faith, and God's power to heal. Be prepared with an example or two from your own life to stimulate their thinking. Summarize their comments by bringing out one of the most comforting thoughts in the Bible: that someday "we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2). God's promise is to perfect that which concerns us (Psalm 138:8) and to someday present us "holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight" (Colossians 1:22). The lessons we learn in our Christian walk are bringing us closer to that day.
Question 3 - Walking with God requires communion with Him so that we might know His will-how He wants us to live and what He wants us to do. The Bible gives many instructions in reference to our Christian walk. Look up the following verses, and summarize how each verse says we are to walk.
Response 3 - Your students' responses should bring out the following points:
Nehemiah 5:9 - in the fear of God
Psalm 86:11 - in truth
Psalm 101:2 - with a perfect heart
Psalm 119:1 - in the law of the Lord
Galatians 5:25 - in the Spirit
Ephesians 2:10 - in good works
Ephesians 5:2 - in love
Ephesians 5:8 - as children of Light
Ephesians 5:15 - circumspectly
Colossians 4:5 - in wisdom
Question 4 - Walking with Christ as described in the previous question might, at times, seem impossible, no matter how much we wish to wholly follow the Lord. Would God require something that is beyond us? An important lesson we must learn is that we cannot walk this way solely through our own efforts or willpower. When we attempt to do so in our own strength, we will fail more often than not. The secret to success is found in Galatians 2:20: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Note the words, "not I, but Christ." Using this phrase, along with 2 Corinthians 12:9,10, describe how God has designed for us to live a life pleasing to Him, in spite of our weaknesses and human frailties.
Response 4 - Your students should come up with the thought that we must depend on the indwelling Christ to accomplish what we are unable to do in our own strength. Just as Christ was our substitute in death, He is willing to be our substitute in life. In order to avail ourselves of this substitutionary life, we need to acknowledge His presence and power and allow Him to control our lives-even in circumstances we might be tempted to try to handle on our own.
Paul realized this great truth and explained to the church at Corinth that he could actually glory in his infirmities, because it was then that the power and glory of Christ could be most clearly revealed. We limit God when we try to do in our own strength what should be turned over to Him. Though it might not be a case of willful resistance, when we endeavor to find solutions through our own efforts or willpower, we, in effect, tie His hands. Because God will not violate our will, He waits patiently until the moment we give up and acknowledge that He alone is able. Only then will He begin to work fully. The point should be made that this is not a one-time goal to be attained but, rather, a day-by-day process. Thankfully, if we are committed to learning and to practicing this great truth, God patiently reminds us, "Without me ye can do nothing," and then sends lessons to demonstrate this.
Question 5 - God commends humility and delights to see it in His people. Isaiah 57:15 and 66:2 clearly show the esteem with which God views the humble person. In fact, God not only values humility, but also requires it (Micah 6:8), so exemplifying this attitude is certainly a necessary part of our Christian walk. Look up the following Scriptures, and use them to identify three ways in which a true spirit of humility can be shown in our relationships with others.
1 Peter 5:5
Response 5 - Careful study of these verses should reveal that exemplifying humility toward one another can be done in several distinct ways. 1 Peter 5:5 shows the importance of submitting to one another. These verses do not say that we submit only if the other person is correct, holds a higher position, or has done nothing to hurt us. Rather, they indicate the importance of continually modeling a Christlike attitude by yielding our "rights" through a humble spirit of submission. Mark 10:43-45 shows the importance of patterning after Christ by serving one another. Philippians 2:3 brings out that "lowliness of mind" is demonstrated by esteeming and honoring one another. Ask your students how the quality of humility fits with Paul's admonition found in Ephesians 4:1-3. Why will a humble attitude help maintain the "unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace"?
Question 6 - When we look up the word self in the dictionary, we find one definition that refers to, "one's own welfare, interest, or advantage." Do you see any danger lurking there as a trap Satan might use to cause you to falter in your Christian walk? Study Matthew 16:24, and note how this verse refutes any "self" traps set by the enemy of our souls; including self-assertion, self-indulgence, self-righteousness, self-interest, self-justification, and self-pity.
Response 6 - Your students' comments should bring out that this view of self can lead to many forms of self love, which oppose the words in Matthew 16:24, "let him deny himself." If we are determined to obey this command, our Christian walk will reflect a turning away from asserting ourselves, indulging ourselves, or viewing with approbation any righteousness of our own. We will not put our own interests ahead of others, we will not justify ourselves when criticized or ridiculed, and we will not pity ourselves when affliction or trial comes our way. These are not easy attitudes to maintain, but they are part of the Christian walk that ties in with daily taking up our cross and following Him.
Question 7 - One essential step in a successful Christian walk is learning to have sensitivity to the instruction of God's Spirit. In Isaiah 30:21 (the key verse for this lesson), we read the promise, "And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." God will always provide clear guidance. The devil might attempt to confound us, by bringing a number of questions or accusations before us at once, but God deals with us one issue at a time. How careful we must be to pay instant heed to the Spirit! When God speaks, we must obey. When He calls on us to walk a certain path, we must be quick to follow His leading. We must be careful to heed His instructions, for if we do not, His Voice might seem fainter the next time He calls. If we continue to excuse an action He has "checked," to justify questionable behavior, or to pretend we never heard Him, we will eventually deaden our sensitivity to the point where we cannot hear anything from the Spirit. In reference to this thought, study Philippians 2:12 (the last part) and 13.
Describe how you think Paul's admonition to the Philippians, in these verses, relates to our sensitivity to the Spirit.
Response 7 - Your students should see that one of the ways we "work out our own salvation" is by maintaining this sensitivity to the leading of the Spirit. When God brings to our attention something that needs correction, we must respond with "fear and trembling." This is not an attitude of terror but is a compelling desire to rectify the matter so no word or act of ours will hinder God's working in our lives. God works in us "both to will and to do of his good pleasure," by allowing a desire to follow His admonition to rise in our hearts. Then God will help us to take whatever action He has indicated to us. Your students should see that there are actions that grieve the Spirit and others that demonstrate a sensitivity to the Spirit. Ephesians 4:25-31 is a good reference to bring out at this point. Ask your students to offer Biblical examples of those who heard a definite instruction of God-the "word behind them"- and who either obeyed and received God's blessing or disobeyed and received their recompense. Some possibilities are Abraham, who obeyed in his offering of Isaac; and Jonah, who disobeyed God's command to go to Nineveh and, as a result, spent three days and nights in the belly of a whale. It should be brought out that the Spirit does not operate independent of the Word-the Word is the Voice of the Spirit.
Question 8 - The Christian walk requires discipline, commitment, and perseverance to reach the Goal. At the end of his Christian journey, the Apostle Paul was able to say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness" (2 Timothy 4:7). He goes on to say that this crown is not for him only, but for all who love Christ's appearing. What other benefits come as we align our Christian walk with God's Word and seek to please Him?
1 John 1:7
Response 8 - These verses reveal that Christians have a number of benefits, both in this world and in the next. They include:
Ezekiel 11:20 - being God's people
John 8:12 - having Light
Romans 8:1 - freedom from condemnation
1 John 1:7 - fellowship with one another
Revelation 3:4 - eternity with the Lord
The Bible also continually holds forth the glory of Heaven as a motivation for Christian perseverance. See Romans 5:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, Hebrews 12:22-29, and 1 Peter 4:12,13.
Conclude this lesson with the thought that our Christian walk might lead us through valleys; we might need to scale some high mountains; we might face obstacles and obstructions; we might be subject to attacks from the enemy of our souls. We certainly will need to expend energy, determination, watchfulness, and endurance. If we persevere, though, the end of our Christian walk will be worth it all!