We will close out our look at the 4 benefits Solomon told his son he could expect from following the 7 steps of vss. 1-4, with verse 20: “so you will walk in the way of the good and keep to the paths of the righteous.”
What a wonderful and vast promise that is.
It is vitally important at this point that we realize Solomon’s concern is not that his son simply adopt a certain set of behaviors. Whenever we confuse mere behavior with true sanctification we open the door for legalism, Phariseeism and religiosity. It is a very dangerous place to go spiritually. Once one assumes that walking in righteousness is a matter of mere performance, they set themselves up to be either perpetually discouraged, or, measuring their performance against others – become prideful and trusting in their own performance more than trusting in grace alone.
Without reading too much into the word – Solomon’s use of the word “walk” is wonderfully instructive. For nothing is more natural, nor a better way to conceptualize true sanctification than the image of walking. It is a picture of every day movement. It is not a picture of formalized actions. When one walks, they do not give much thought to how they walk – the mechanics of it, as much as simply moving toward an object or a destination. And this is precisely what we want to get to. We want our walking in righteousness to be the natural way we continue to move toward the final destination of conformity to Christ’s image, and eternity in His presence. It is Bunyan’s Pilgrim on the way to the Celestial City.
Let me try to say it another way. When Jesus called the Disciples to Himself, He did not say “here’s my book of rules, read it, memorize it, and start doing these things. It was far more simple. “Follow me” is the repeated formula. Walk with me. I always do what the Father desires. I always say what He gives me to say. I am on my way to where He is by way of the Cross – so just walk with me. Follow me. And you can’t go wrong.
Why can He say that? Because (as Bunyan remarks in a different place) Jesus didn’t “do” righteousness as if obeying some law structure outside of Himself. He did what came naturally. He was righteous, and so He walked righteously. And this is what He wants to reproduce in us by virtue of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ within us. A people who “walk” – who comport themselves in everyday life, as naturally in righteousness as it is natural for God Himself. Indeed, this is the promise of being conformed to the image of Christ.
One day Believer, you and I will just be able to do what comes naturally – because by virtue of the Spirit’s completed work in glorification, we’ll only WANT to do what is righteous. Not conforming to an external standard, but having been transformed in the inner man. The fullness of what Peter says we already taste now: 2 Peter 1:3–4 (ESV) — “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
This is the process which has been begun in us by grace, and this is what we are to grow in continually – until He comes for us. And this is what He will complete in us. All this, in the searching out of the unsearchable riches of the person and work of Jesus Christ – actualized by His indwelling Spirit.
What a salvation! What a Savior!