How to Walk in the Spirit (Colossians Series #3)
The Christian life is not so high that you can reach it; it’s so low that you get down to it. An ordinary person who surrendered to the Lord can understand how to live the victorious life. You don’t have to have a Ph.D.; you don’t have to learn Greek and Hebrew to learn what we’re going to learn in this chapter. The Bible is such a wonderful book. It is shallow enough that a little child can come and get a drink without fear of drowning, and so deep that scholars can swim in it and never touch bottom.
We read in Colossians chapter 2:1-10: For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not [a]personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and that they would attain to all the wealth [b]that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 For even though I am absent in body, I am nevertheless with you in spirit, rejoicing [c]to see [d]your orderly manner and the stability of your faith in Christ.
6 Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so [e]walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established [f]in [g]your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing [h]with gratitude.
8 See to it that there is no one who takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception in accordance with human tradition, in accordance with the elementary principles of the world, [i]rather than in accordance with Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made [j]complete, and He is the head [k]over every ruler and authority; Paul is saying that there is an incredible treasure for us. He speaks of Jesus, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). In Him you’re complete. You don’t have to look for anything else. All the treasure is in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s hidden in Christ. Why did God hide it? So, you and I could have the joy of discovering it. The treasure is available; it’s all for you. Yet, what we have to do is to discover and appropriate our treasure.
Years ago, there was a ship that was out in the ocean, off of Brazil, and the ship was without water. The people on board the ship, though surrounded by salt water, were dying of thirst. They saw another ship, and they sent a message to the other ship by semaphore, and said, “Do you have any water? We need water.” The other ship sent a message back, and said, “Let down your buckets where you are.” They said, “No, you don’t understand.” They sent another message, “We need drinking water.” They sent back the message again, “Let down your buckets where you are.” They let down their buckets and came up with fresh water because they were at the mouth of the mighty Amazon River. The Amazon River of fresh water was flowing out into the ocean and bringing fresh water to where they were. While they were thinking they were dying of thirst and surrounded by water to drink. They failed to appropriate that which was all around them. I want to encourage you to let down your bucket where you are.
The South African diamond mines were first discovered when somebody noticed little boys playing with beautiful stones. They were using them like marbles. They were diamonds. They had them in their hands—treasure—but they didn’t realize the treasure that they had.
Paul said, “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” In verse 8: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of this world.” The devil wants to keep us from understanding the blessing that you can have in the Lord Jesus Christ. The devil wants you to say, “That’s absurd to say that everything’s in Christ. That’s absurd to say that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ.”
Now, if a person is complete, what else do they need? In verse six is the key and the secret of finding everything in the Lord Jesus Christ, letting everything in the Lord Jesus Christ express itself through your life, and living victoriously. We read, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord…”—do you see that?—“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.”
I. We Have The Circumference of the Walk
Paul doesn’t say, “Walk after the Spirit.” He doesn’t say, “Walk with the Spirit.” He says to “walk in the Spirit” (Colossians 2:6). That is, the Spirit is the sphere—the territory—of your walk.
Let me illustrate: If I said to you, “Walk in this building,” where are you to walk? In this building. The parameters of this building are to contain your walk. This building would be the boundaries—the circumference—of your walk.
We are told to walk in the Spirit. Now, the natural man says, “I don’t like that. I don’t want to be hemmed in. Are you just telling me that this is all there is to it? If you want more, it’s because you don’t understand Colossians 2:2-3. Paul says, “2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and that they would attain to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Now, you are to walk in the Lord Jesus Christ. What I’m trying to say is there is nothing worth having, outside of Jesus. You say, “Well, what about my automobile?” No. You can have a house; you can have a car; you can have your clothes; you can have all of these things. But all of these things simply are things that are a subset of knowing the Lord Jesus. That is, if Jesus allows you to have them if they’re a gift that He gives to you, that’s fine. But, if you have to go outside of Jesus to get any of these things, if you have to transgress the law of God to have something else, then, you don’t need it; you don’t have to have it. Everything that you need He will supply. “He will supply all of your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). He, Jesus, is the circumference of our walk.
How do you know when you get out of bounds? In Colossians 3:15, we read, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Now, the word rule there means “referee”; it’s a word that means “an arbiter, a referee, a judge.”
Now, let’s suppose that a rug on the floor represents the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is the referee. I am to play the game of life on this rug. If I get out of bounds, He blows the whistle. He says, “You’re out of bounds, James.” Well, how do I know when I’m out of bounds? What does the whistle sound like? Well, he says, “Let the peace of God referee in your heart” (Colossians 3:15). Now, if you’ve been walking with the Lord very long, you know exactly when you step out of bounds. Do you know how? The whistle goes off. What’s the whistle? You lost your peace—that’s all there is to it. The circumference of my walk is in the Spirit; and, when I get out of bounds, He’ll blow the whistle.
We let the peace of God referee in your heart. The circumference of your walk is the sphere of the Spirit. You are to walk in the Spirit; and, when you step out of the Spirit, He’ll blow the whistle on you, and you will lose your peace. There is nothing worth having outside of Him. I’ll tell you, nothing—absolutely, totally nothing; no possession; no relationship. Anything you can want—if you can’t have it in Jesus, you don’t need it; you have no desire for it. And, when we start getting out bounds, He’ll blow the whistle on us.
II. We Have The Commencement of the Walk
How do we walk? We begin a walk by taking the first step. Paul said, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). How do you start the walk? We begin our walk when we receive Jesus Christ. Walking begins with a step. What is the first step to walking in the Spirit? It is to receive Christ Jesus the Lord. You can’t begin the Christian walk until you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord.
I want to slow down in our thinking because we need to understand the first step.
A. Salvation is Not a Creed
Now, some have received a creed. You’re not saved by a creed. You say, “Well, I know the plan of salvation.” Well, wonderful. You can know the plan of salvation and go to Hell. You’re not saved by the plan of salvation; you’re saved by the Man of salvation.
B. Salvation is Not a Code
People say, “Well, I live right. I obey the rules of the Bible.” Well, you may just be a Pharisee on your road to Hell. “Well,” you say, “I serve the Lord.” Salvation’s not a creed; it’s not a code. It is not about how well we can live by ourselves.
C. Salvation is Not a Cause
You can work yourself to death in the church. Jesus said, “Many will say unto me in that day,”—talking about the Judgment Day—“Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22–23). What you call wonderful works, He called “iniquity”: “Depart from me, ye that work iniquity. I never knew you.” These are not people that had salvation and lost it; they never had it.
D. Salvation is Not a Church
What is salvation? It’s not a creed; it’s not a code; it’s not a cause; it’s not a church. You say, “Well, I’m a member of a church and it is a Bible-believing church” Yet, just because you are a member of a church, does not mean you’re saved. That won’t save you. It’s not a church; it’s not a cause; not a code; not a creed. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord…” (Colossians 2:6).
I’m afraid that our churches are crammed with people who can relate to programs; they can relate to music; they can relate to activities; they can relate to social ability; they can relate to all of these things. But the commencement of the walk—to live victoriously—is to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord.
III. We Have The Character of the Walk
What is walking in the Spirit? We have read, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). When you walk in the Spirit—you walk in the Lord Jesus Christ—that means that Christ is the Lord. He demands—deserves—absolute control of your life. When you walk in the Lord, you’re under new management.
In Colossians 1:10, we read, “so that you will walk in a manner worth of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Now, if I’m walking in the Spirit, my life is to manifest the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. You ought to be able to see Jesus in me. I ought to be able to see Jesus in you. The character of the Lord Jesus Christ is the character of our walk. We walk in the Lord. “As you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.” To walk in the Spirit is to walk in the Lord; it is to be like the Lord Jesus Christ.
This truth is illustrated in water baptism. In Colossians 2:12 we read. “Buried with him”—with whom? With Jesus—“in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” What is baptism all about? When you get saved you are plunged beneath the water. What’s that all about? That’s a funeral. That baptistry is a liquid tomb. The old person you used to be is dead and buried, buried with Christ by baptism. According to verse 12, even as Jesus came out of the grave to a new, abundant life, He took your sins and carried your sins to the grave of His forgetfulness, and your sins are buried with Christ in baptism. And then, you are raised to walk.
Now, I’m not asking you whether you tithe. I’m not asking you if you obey the commandments. I’m asking you: Is the genuine life of the Lord Jesus Christ manifested in you? When God the Holy Spirit comes to the human spirit, the human spirit speaks to your mind, emotion, and will, and motivates your body, you’re going to walk as Jesus Christ walked, and He’s going to be the Lord of your life. In the New Testament, He’s called Savior 24 times; He’s called Lord 434 times. This biblical fact ought to tell us He is to be Lord of our life.
IV. We Have The Continuation of the Walk
Now, look again in verse 6—it says, “So walk” (Colossians 2:6). Now, the Greek tense—literally means “to keep on walking.”
Now, a lot of people are looking back to an experience. Well, we said that a walk— there must be a commencement, but that’s only one step. You must keep on walking. Now, you’re not saved because you keep on walking; you keep on walking because you’re saved. There is a continuation of walking in the Lord.
Now, what is walking? It is but a series of steps. Now, if you take one step and don’t take another, you can’t stand. The only thing you can do is put both feet down at the same time, because when you walk, you’re off-balance. You take another step, and you’re off-balance. You take another one, and you’re off-balance. But, as you continue to walk, the balance is maintained. But, you can’t step and stop, unless you stand. Well, if you stand, you’re stuck. What you’re to do is to walk and not stand. And so, one step has to follow another step.
“What does it mean, therefore, to walk?” Well, we know what it means to walk, because Paul says, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him” (Colossians 2:6). Now, how did you receive Jesus? By repentance and faith. Isn’t that how you received Jesus—by repentance and faith? How do you walk? You walk in repentance and faith. You repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus. Those are your first two steps—repentance and faith. That’s how you receive the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, how do you walk? You walk exactly the way you receive Jesus. The way to live the Christian life is the way you got the Christian life. How did you receive the Christian life? By repentance and faith. How do you walk the Christian life? By repentance and faith. That’s all walking is—just repentance and faith, repentance and faith, repentance and faith, repentance and faith.
You may say, “Well, James, I already repented.” Well, so did I, when I got saved. But, I have done far more repenting after I got saved than I did when I got saved. Also, I have trusted Jesus more after I’ve gotten saved than I did when I got saved. You know why? When I got saved, I gave all I knew of me to all I knew of Jesus—and I knew very little about either one. I didn’t have to have a Ph.D. in Theology to be saved.
Romans 14:1 says, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” The Living Bible paraphrases it this way: “Receive a brother into the Church, even if he scarcely believes Christ can save him.” Now, that paraphrase really squeezes the meaning out of it: “Receive a brother into the Church, even if he scarcely believes that Christ can save him.” God takes weak faith. It is not our strong faith that saves us; it’s our strong Savior that saves us. And, you put your faith, whatever it is, in the Lord Jesus Christ, and trust Him, and He’ll save you.
How did you receive Him? By repentance and faith. When I put my repentance toward the Lord Jesus Christ, and my faith in Him, God saved me, and I began a walk. And then, God convicted me of some particular sin, I repented, put my faith in Christ, and He revealed Himself to me, and I repented. We go through life one step at a time, repenting and trusting, repenting and trusting. I want to give you some news: You’re not going to stop repenting till the Rapture, if you’re walking in the Spirit.
A person who says, “You know, I don’t need any more repenting,” just tells me they’re not walking in the light. You know, they’re in the twilight zone. The closer you get to the Lord, the more imperfections you’ll see in your own life. How do you walk in the Spirit? Repentance and faith. How did you receive Jesus? By repentance and faith. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him” (Colossians 2:6). And, if you’ll do that, you will discover the treasures that are in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance is turning from self; faith is turning to Jesus. The more you turn from yourself and the more you turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, the more real He will seem to you.
Now, that’s the way to live the Christian life—is to walk in the Spirit. There are too many Christians who are looking back to some experience that they’ve had a long time ago, rather than walking in the Lord.
We come to the Lord, and say, “O God, I’m a sinner, but I received Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, and I take the first two steps of repentance and faith.” He begins to walk and work in me. And, as I continue to walk, turning from self—repentance, turning to Him—faith, my life begins to progress, and I become more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, those treasures that are in verse 3, I will discover, and I will say, “You know, it is really true. All the treasures are in Him, and in Him I am complete” (Colossians 2:3). And, once you do that, it’s the cure for self-consciousness; it’s the cure for greed; it’s the cure for competition; it’s the cure for comparison. You’re just complete in Him. You’re like the little guy who misquoted the 23rd Psalm—but I think he got it right, when he said, “The Lord is my shepherd; I’ve got all I want.” You are complete in Him. You can go deeper into Him, but you’ll never go beyond Him.