Walking with Jesus
Taken from the Alliance Weekly - March 17, 1951
By NORMAN P. GRUBB
I want to write again about the Christian's daily walk—"walking with Jesus" as it is called by those Africans to whom I referred in previous articles. A knowledge of the way must certainly precede the walking in it, arid I do not mean to belittle that. Salvation and sanctification (Gal. 1:15, 16 and 2:20) are fundamental. However, knowing something of the background of the readers of the Alliance Weekly, I am taking that for granted on this occasion. But I am also assuming that many of you may be where I have been: truly saved by God's grace and with a real experience of the fullness of the Spirit, yet not really and completely victorious over all sin, whenever temptation assails and draws me in my daily life.
Yet it has not been light on the crisis which has shown me the way of total deliverance, but light on the daily walk; and it has come through truth which God has recently shown me from the Book of First John.
I would like, therefore, in this article to underline a few points which might help to clarify the matter further,
First, a walk is step by step—just that, one step, then another, then another. I believe that this is important. I believe that we are often deceived through concentration on a long-term experience which we thought to be all-sufficient, and then are condemned and confused when it doesn't turn out to be so, when we constantly slip in spite of the experience. What God is really requiring of us is not to be occupied with an "experience" which is supposed to give permanent victory, but just the handling on the spot of any temptation as it arises, or sin to which we may give way. Just the next step—that's all.
I suggest that the difference between Satan's condemnation and God's conviction lies right there. Satan deals in generalities. He likes to point out to us the general fact that on occasions we are proud or hard or cold or selfish or lustful, and that that does not tally with our "sanctification experience," and then get us into a spiritual depression through persuading us to agree with him (and he usually does it by getting us confused between temptation and sin.) But God's convictions are specific, simple, definite, usually immediate. He simply lays His finger on the immediate lapse of heart or tongue or deed. That thing is sin just now.
Now we walk in God's light—step by step. We do not look within. We look unto Jesus, the Light. Sin is a revelation as much as the blood which cleanses; for it is God who "gives repentance" as certainly as Ho gives faith, and repentance means seeing and acknowledging sin to be what God says it is. To see a thing as sin (as God sees it) is God's gracious revelation. We walk, then, simply, happily, naturally with Jesus along our daily road of life.
Suddenly (indeed, constantly) temptation is present. We are drawn away of our own lusts (our natural desires, whether appetites of the body or powers of the soul) and enticed. We know the pull well enough—through the eyes, in the mind, in the stirrings of the soul. Now, as we become more and more sensitized in the Spirit we know the warning signal. It is not sin as yet. James says sin appears when the lust has conceived (1:15). In other words, our heart or mind has embraced and retained the inflamed desire; there has been an inner marriage, and the offspring is sin. Now if we are people of the Spirit and know the reality of our union with Christ in death and resurrection, we almost automatically take our stand of faith; the inner power of the Spirit is there and we go free; we are enabled to resist the devil and he flees from us. If on the other hand temptation does get lodgment, and the evil thought, hardness, self-pity, irritation take root, then we act on the spot. We walk in the light, not in darkness; we immediately take the next step of brokenness; we acknowledge the sin as sin before God, and we humbly and thankfully recognize the cleansing blood, which is always cleansing confessed sin.
But we do not accept false condemnation. We do not mournfully consider how this tallies with a sanctified experience. We live in the present. We refuse condemnation, and rejoice, yes, rejoice, at Satan's defeat and our own deliverance, and we glory in the power of the cleansing blood.
Then, as God gives the opportunity, we take it farther. We have a testimony to give—not a confession of sin, but a confession of Christ. As the suitable occasion arises, we are glad to testify to what the blood has meant afresh to us. That testimony certainly cannot be real without some reference to what it cleansed, and some specific reference; and the point is not a mournful confession of sin, but a joyful testimony to a daily cleansing Christ. For let us always remember that the proof of genuineness, as well as that which gives full glory to Jesus and brings full blessing to others, is confession with the mouth before men. See the searching comment of John (12:42, 43) which shows that genuine faith is capped with public testimony. But at the same time, it is good to remember that we are not under law, but grace. Such testimony is not a matter of legal compulsion or strict unfailing duty; it is a joyful privilege, and done under the Spirit's leadership, who tells us when to speak and when to keep silent.
One further point. It might appear from this that we are not to expect an experience of full salvation to work permanently, that we must expect weakness, besetting sin, to remain. Indeed may not this step-by-step walk in the light provide an easy way out and be a comfortable substitute for real victory? Are we to sin and confess, sin and confess again and again?
Concerning this I would say two things: First, let us be humbly real. Is there anyone who in fact does not come short of God's glory and so commit sin? I do not mean temptation, but allowing temptation to get some footing in those subtler forms —fears, worry or depression, self-pity or murmuring, impatience, impurity of look or thought, pride, hardness, and so forth. I think most of us do give these things some lodgment, sometimes even without recognizing that we have done so. We, then, need this sensitive walk, this immediacy in recognizing, repenting and receiving renewal in the blood, and this God-guided fellowshipping with one another in the light.
But I would also ask: Are there not those among us who, though having a true experience of sanctification, have yet had a "weak spot" hidden, known only to them and to God? And they have about taken it for granted that they would carry this spot to their graves. Well, the effect to me of a moment by moment walk in the light, a calling sin by its right name, a confession, cleansing, and constant testimony to my brethren of the Lord's dealings, has been the opposite of an increase of sinning, Or a weakening of my sense of sin or of my resistance to it.
No, walking "in the light" has brought me to see why I've not had the deliverance I should have had, and particularly in the one spot in my life. I have come to see that I have not really hated sin; in general, yes, but not in particular—and not particularly in that one thing. That word came to me in Jude 23: "hating even the garment spotted by the flesh," Yes, that was it. Not some blatant, gross sin. Not the sin which is open before all, as Paul says; but just the garment spotted by the flesh. Then I say that one can find a certain sweetness in a thing, not an actual sin in the gross form, but the splashes from it, the appeals which tend in that direction.
It was then I saw that repentance includes hatred, and hatred even of sin's remotest tendencies and tentacles (Heb. 1:9). God did something in me, and with the hatred on my part came the power on His part and the full deliverance. The walk is now a daily walk, but a delivered walk by His grace. So I learned for myself that a walk in the light, step by step, day by day, leads to more holiness, more fullness of deliverance, not less; and leads me on now to take the same by faith for every form of sin which seeks lodgment in me. I see that the walk can be dealing with temptation (that is walking "as he walked"), and not necessarily temptation yielded to. and I expect that more and more; yet above all walking in simple, humble honesty, in the light as Jesus is in the light, broken with His brokenness. broken before men as well as before God, body as well as Head.