We all desire to please our God and yet we know how easy it is to fail in this, our greatest desire. We find the very world in which we live and from which we have been called out by our Heavenly Father, strives to allure us by attracting the basic instincts of man; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. This modern world constantly bombards us with its temptation of beautiful homes, motor cars, clothes and the hundred and one other delights it offers. It encourages us with the idea that “if it’s good, then do it”; “you are number one who counts most”; “be assertive” and the like. In so doing our society has become selfish and greedy and waits as a snare to trap the unsuspecting and unlearned. These are some of the most subtle yet greatest trials our ecclesias face today. Down through the ages God’s people have been tried that they might be moulded and shaped to His divine character. Each epoch has had its trials to bear for this moulding purpose, as seen in the letters to the seven ecclesias of Revelation 1–3. However, while this testing during our probation takes place, God never leaves us nor forsakes us. He sends His Son to walk amongst the ecclesias (Rev 2:1), to aid us in our walk along the straight and narrow road.

Walking in the Ecclesia

 This concept of the heavenly host walking with His people is not new. Yahweh Elohim walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. God told Israel He would walk among them and be their God and they would be His people (Lev 26:12). Our Heavenly Father is no different with His people today than He was then, for Paul wrote to the Corinthian ecclesia: “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor 6:16). God, through His Son, is walking among us now. We need to pause, contemplate and appreciate this wonderful privilege of having a living God to call upon in the sterile environment of this world. We need to be awake and alive to the fact that Christ walks amongst us for he said: “Where two or three are gathered together there am I in the midst of them”.

Yet with this privilege comes a great responsibility. Just like Israel we need to learn the lesson of hearkening to our God, for Yahweh went on to point out to His people: “If ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will walk contrary unto you” (Lev 26:27–28). God does not want to be contrary to us, for His greatest desire is to have us all in His Kingdom, but there is an immutable law that cannot be altered to which Amos alludes when he asks: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Sadly Israel walked after the imagination of their own hearts and after their own devices (Jer 16:12; 18:12, 15), and this is an easy trap for us to fall into in this modern world. Jeremiah goes on to point out that their problem came because they stumbled from “the ancient paths”, a term used to express the way they should walk both in doctrine and practice. This ancient path was well trodden and exposed by their faithful forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 24:40), and by David, their illustrious king, who “walked in integrity of heart, and in uprightness” before Yahweh (1 Kings 9:4).

Here then we have a powerful exhortation to us in these closing last days of the Gentiles. Our God has not changed. In Him there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning”. We are the ones who change, who often slip from the well defined ancient paths. There is a need more than ever today for us to take stock of where we are going. If we have lost our first love we need to revive it, for with Christ alongside us we can do all things. When we are baptised, Paul reminds us, we now “walk in newness of life”, righteousness having been imputed or accounted to us by faith. We, who are Gentiles of the uncircumcision, must now walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham. There is always a consistent need to examine ourselves, to correct our walk, to assess our attitude and to ask ourselves if we are walking “worthy of God, who hath called us unto his kingdom and glory” (1 Thess 2:12, 13). An honest appraisal of ourselves by the Word of God is what is needed. Can it be said of us, as was said of the brethren of Thessalonica, that we can be remembered without ceasing for our “work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”, and that we “increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men” (1 Thess 1:3; 3:12).

Examining Our Walk

 When we examine our walk in Christ there are two aspects of it that need to be considered; two parts that are quite different, yet intricately linked together; two aspects that go hand in glove and depend on each other. The Apostle Paul beautifully ties them together in Galatians when encouraging us to use our liberty in Christ aright. He uses two different Greek words to explain our walk. The word “peripateo” is a personal and individual walk, when we are encouraged to “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). Here we have a very personal and individual attitude developed by the knowledge of God’s Word. Walking in the Spirit is not achieved by self-will, nor merely by dogged determination. That part of our character and energy should be reserved for determining a regular reading habit, a prayerful imbibing of the Word. It is the power of truth that will motivate us, causing us to want to serve God because of what He has done for us and what He will do in the future. It is this developed desire that Paul calls being “led of the Spirit” (v18). He tells us that if we are not “led of the spirit” we will not inherit the Kingdom of God (v21). How tragic to be found at our Master’s return walking naked to our eternal shame.

A list of “the fruit of the spirit” is given to us in the following verse to help us to examine ourselves. These are not laws, but rather attitudes of mind which will be produced by the spirit mind. If we are walking in this path then the second aspect of our walk should become quite obvious. The Apostle now uses the other Greek word for walk, “stoicheo” which means “to march in rank, to keep in step” (v25). If we then are spiritual and we live in the Spirit we will do all in our power to walk alongside our brethren and sisters; we will not be walking individually and be found out in front or behind. Our whole demeanour will be one of self-sacrifice, esteeming others better than ourselves. Here then is a co-operative spirit, one that recognises Christ as the head and ourselves as part of his body. We all have our part to play, however small and insignificant it may seem to be, in the building of God’s family, the ecclesia. A spiritual mind is one that appreciates that we are part of a larger family chosen not by us but by God, and growing as “a building fitly framed together” or completed thoroughly (Eph 2:21). This same expression is used to describe the ecclesia in the terms of a human body “fitly joined together” (Eph 4:16).

There is then a great need in our community to co-operate together in brotherly love. We are told that this ecclesial body should be “compacted” or driven together, and this is only achieved by “the edifying (or building up) of itself in love” (Eph 4:16). In these last days it is this co-operation that is essential if we are to survive the onslaught and inroads of this modern age. Our ecclesias will only survive if, as individuals, we work in love with one another, and collectively as ecclesias we patiently work together, encouraging the building up of the house of God.

There is a continuing need to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph 4:24). We were once in darkness; now we must “walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8). We need to awake and “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16).

How walkest thou then? Are we walking in the Spirit bringing forth its fruit in our lives, or are we walking after the flesh, manifesting its ugly works? Let a man examine himself.