I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ch. 4:1-6)
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with hishands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ch. 4:17-32)
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. . . . Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. (Ch5:1-2, 14).
Putting off and Putting on – Our Life, what we are
We have learned the truth as it is in Jesus. We have put off the old and put on the new – ‘created after God in righteousness and true holiness’ (ch 4:24). Darby notes – not yet love.
God has been perfectly revealed through the work of Christ. Evil has been dealt with and Christ is glorified: He is sitting at the right hand of the majesty in the heavens (see Heb 1:3) : He is the righteous One who hates evil and delights in what is pure and good: He is holy. If we are to be ‘after God’it must be in righteousness and true holiness.
God is known now not merely as a Creator, but One whose whole nature is revealed in the work of redemption. Through redemption we have new creation: we are quickened out of our state of death in sin, and are raised as Christ out of His grave. By new creation we have become partakers of the divine nature.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit
God Himself dwells in us by His Spirit. His love is shed abroad in our hearts, sealing us for the time when we shall fully enjoy Him. We are not to grieve such a holy and blessed Guest. The Holy Spirit guides, orders, reveals the things of Christ to our minds, communicates what is blessed to us, filling us with what is divine. So nothing inconsistent with His presence, where all is peaceful with holy love flowing in our hearts. This governs our walk and speech.
God is Love
God has two essential names: Love (1 John 4:16) and Light (1 John 1:5). These characterise the Christian’s walk, Christ being the model. The measure of the Christian is not what he or she ought to be, but what God is morally, in holiness and love. God is sovereign: He can love without a motive. We need a motive and an object which we find in the Lord Jesus and His work.
Imitators of God
We are to be imitators of God, as His beloved children. As we are born of Him, partaking in the divine nature, we walk in love. We are to be tender-hearted and forgive, showing grace to one another. God has forgiven and shown grace to us (See Col 3:13).
There are two evidences of divine love in man:
- It says, ‘And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour’ (Eph 5:2). This means that sorrowing over the evil in myself and in the world, I offer up myself, as Jesus did, perfect in love. Our path is to follow Him in this. As in 1 John 3:16, ‘Hereby know we love, because he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’.
- Christ offered Himself to God – with a motive – He did so for us, despite our worthlessness. The object and motive were perfect. Hence, we are called to add brotherly love to love (see 2 Peter 1:7), which, we are told, is the bond of perfectness. We are therefore told to present our bodies living sacrifices (see Rom 12:1) – weak and sinful they may be, but self must be given up to God.
God is Light
God is light – essentially pure in nature. Christ was the light of the world: now He is our life. We are to be shining lightsamid a crooked and perverse generation (see Phil 2:15). We were in darkness, but nowwe are shining, and we are exhorted to walk as children of light. ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’(2 Cor 4:6) – The fruits of light contrast with the darkness of the world. ‘But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord,(2 Cor 3:18). We are irreproachable. But in spite of all that, the apostle has to say, ‘Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light’(Eph 5:14).
Such, then, is the true measure of Christian walk – what God is in His nature as love and light, has its true, perfect, and blessed expression on the earth, in man, in Christ. Thus we are to be followers of God as dear children, the fruit of the light and the purity of the divine nature being seen in us.
Based on J N Darby: ‘The True Path of a Christian’ – JND’s Collected Writings Vol 34 Miscellaneous 3 page 99