The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:6
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Col.2:6-7
Many Christians assume that when they profess their faith in Jesus Christ they will be saved and can then continue living their lives as they please. They treat the mercy and compassion of God like an insurance policy of Christianity and they can rest in the promise of that insurance policy. They believe that God will come to their rescue regardless of their sins, for God is faithful and righteous and will forgive and cleanse them from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
All this is true but it is not quite as simple as it may seem!
When I look at my life, I wonder at times, if I am truly in Christ. I am blessed by the grace of Scripture at the top of this post, which maps out a path for how I can get to that overflowing joy which comes from life in Christ.
Those who truly receive Christ into their lives may indeed be “firmly rooted” in Him but they still have to be “built up” in Him, and let their faith take root and become deeply “established.” If a person truly trusts in the redemptive work of Christ, they long to repent of their past sins, and allow the work of sanctification and the transformation of their soul to begin by the power of the Holy Spirit. For faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin. One cannot exist without the other (Mark 1:15). A person who has trusted in the work and the person of Christ as the Savior of their soul cannot go on living as if nothing has changed in their lives. True discipleship is costly (Matt.10:38), and transformational change does not happen without pain (Mark 8:35).
Faith in Christ is more than an insurance policy for life after death. True faith in Christ will turn one’s life upside down and inside out. It brings out all that has been hidden for years under the cover of the flesh and makes it visible so that it can be cleansed (Eph.5:13). It opens up the deep wounds of the soul so that the skillful hands of the Great Physician can treat them and heal them by the touch of His grace.
The person who is “firmly rooted” in Christ, will be slowly “built up in Him” and clinging to God through the ups and downs of life they will be “established in [their] faith.” That is what today’s text is about. This process of building up continues until we all attain “to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:13).
Although as Christians we know that Scripture has given many instructions about what a faithful Christian walk ought to entail, all of us fail to adhere to those instructions most of the time. I believe today’s text is promising that as we are built up in Christ and as the Spirit of Christ rules in our hearts more prominently, our faith becomes stronger and better established. The result of this is the fruit of Spirit, and that in turn leads to godly behavior. As the change happens, as the old self dies little by little and as the new self is being built up in Christ rather than in the flesh, we are awakened to the amazing work of God’s grace that can turn a wretched soul into one who loves holiness and righteousness instead of self-centeredness and fleshly lusts. This is not about trying to do good work in our own power. This is about allowing God to work in our lives—at whatever cost—to conform us to the beauty and holiness of Christ. Are we willing to pay the cost of discipleship and go through what it takes to be conformed to the image of Christ?
As one is built up in Christ, one will grow in spiritual wisdom and understanding so that one may “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col.1:10-11). This usually happens after numerous failures and attempts at solving our problems in our own ways and seeking righteousness in our own power. The failures are necessary to open our eyes to our own impotence that we may turn to God and long for His grace to save us. And when we experience the true change, our hearts overflow “with gratitude” (v.2:7).
As a person is “built up” in Christ, he or she will rejoice in the presence of God’s holiness and longs to be with Him. Christian life is meant to be a love-affair, not a burden. It is meant to awaken the soul to true beauty and glory and ecstasy. And yet it is also true that the trip to the Promised Land passes through a “great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground” (Deut.8:15). The Promised Land is in reach as we hold on to Christ to carry us through the parched lands and the dry deserts of our soul. The demanding journey is essential to destroy the old self-reliant being and to nurture a being that clings to Christ and walks with Him and in Him. At some point in the journey we will be amazed at the transformation in our lives when we witness that the old self has died and the new self has been truly “built up” in Christ. Then we know the gift of grace in all its miraculous power! That is when the soul, “overflowing with gratitude” (Col.2:7) gives thanks “to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col.1:12).
Let us marvel at His masterful transforming hand that changes a crawling caterpillar into a soaring butterfly!