“…what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” Deuteronomy 10:12.
To walk with God means to walk in His ways – to walk as God would walk. The ways of God are beyond the ways of man (Isaiah 55:8; Romans 11:33). But God has given us His Holy Spirit to reveal His ways to us (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). God wants to teach us not just His acts, but His ways (Psalm 103:7).
“Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob.He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths…’” Isaiah 2:3 (see also Psalm 25:4).
Two Ways of Living
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” Matthew 7:13-14.
The Broad Way
“Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways” Proverbs 2:12-15 (see also 3:31; 14:12; Isaiah 59:8).
From the time of the original temptation, mankind has chosen a way separate from God. This is a broad way because, in all its different forms of philosophy and religion, it is the one that much of mankind chooses. It is an easy route, because it caters to self-interest in all its many forms.
“Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” Isaiah 55:7 (see also 53:6; Luke 1:78-79).
The Narrow Way
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he” Deuteronomy 32:4 (see also Psalm 18:30; 77:13; 145:17).
Jesus called the other way a narrow way because it is the way the Lord walks. In order for us to walk in the ways of the Lord, He must be the total focus of our lives (Hebrews 12:2). By focusing on Jesus, we avoid the distractions of the world which will cause us to wander off the path of God’s righteousness.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” Psalm 86:11.
Running in God’s Paths
“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” Psalm 119:32.
Christian growth is pictured as a race (1 Corinthians 9:24). The prize is the full likeness of Christ. In Luke 15:11-32, Jesus told a parable about two sons. This parable shows the two snares that can disqualify a Christian from the race.
The Snare of Sin
The younger son left his father, fell into sin, but later returned to his father. This is a picture of a person repenting and turning back to the Lord.
“…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1.
The Snare of the Law
The older brother never left his father, but he was never with his father. He was always trying to get his father’s approval by working in the fields like one of the servants. This is a picture of many Christians who have fallen into the trap of the Law.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” Gal.5:1.
A few verses later, Paul asked the Galatian Christians
“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7.
Both these snares will stop a Christian from “running the race” that God has planned for his life. If Satan cannot ensnare a Christian in deliberate sin, he will try to ensnare him in the law. A person who has fallen into law needs to repent just as much as a person who has fallen into sin. Only when our feet have been loosed from everything that hinders are we truly free to run in the path of God’s commands.
“You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn” Psalm 18:36 (see also 23:3; Isaiah 26:7; Hebrews 12:13).
Standing at the Crossroads
“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…’” Jeremiah 6:16.
Time and again, Israel wandered off the ancient paths of God by following after other gods (Jeremiah 18:15). But when Jesus came into the world, He said:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” Matthew 11:29.
The people of Israel had been told to “ask where the good way is.” Jesus declared Himself to be the answer to that question. Jesus told them that He was the Way they had been asking for.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” John 14:6 (read verses 4-5).
The Footsteps of Jesus
“My feet have closely followed his steps; I have kept to his way without turning aside” Job 23:11.
God has simplified the Christian life so that even a child can believe and obey. God’s ways are beyond our comprehension, but we don’t need to try to fathom them with our mind. We learn the ways of God by following Jesus, the Way. As we follow Him, the path we take leads us in one clear direction – the full likeness of the Lord Jesus Himself.
“The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day” Proverbs 4:18.