It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it- 3rd John 1:3 NIV
There has been a debate raging in Christianity for over five-hundred-years.
The debate is all about what Christianity is all about.
There are those who argue passionately that Christianity is all about BEING rather than DOING Galatians 2:17-21, Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 16:31, John 10:28). The be-ers believe Christianity is more about identity than action or activity. They argue that once a person is in Christ (saved by grace through faith) that’s it, they’re done. There’s nothing left to do. This group believes attempts at “doing” are a waste of time and may even create an unhealthy pride in our “Christian achievements”.
Modern-day doers also all agree Christians are saved by faith. To my knowledge there are no mainstream Christians openly promoting an “earn your own salvation” theology.
The doers feel sanctification (becoming holy) is more of a process than an event. Therefore, they believe Christians should do things that mold us into the image of Jesus. The doers believe if a person doesn’t want to “do Christian things” then their salvation probably isn’t the real deal (Philippians 2:12, Hebrews 6:1-11, 2nd Peter 1:5-9, Colossians 3). The doers believe faith without works is a form of fire insurance which may or may not be operative when it’s time to cash in the policy (Matthew 7:22-23, James 2:14-19)
This is one of those rare situations where everyone is sort of right. We are saved by faith. No one earns their way to heaven. Jesus did the work for us. Any attempts on our part to earn our salvation are an offense to God because when we insist on earning our own way we are, in effect, rejecting God, His verdict that we can’t do it without Him and His generous offer of a free gift of salvation all at the same time (Isaiah 64:6, Ephesians 2:1-9)
In that sense salvation is a one and done. However, Christianity is, at its core, a long process of transformation and growth that prepares us for whatever it is God has planned for us in eternity (Ephesians 2:10, John 8:12, Romans 12:2, 2nd Corinthians 3:18). Spiritual growth and transformation will not happen without some effort on our part (Ephesians 4:20-32, Colossians 3, 2nd Peter 1:5-10, 2nd Peter 3:14).
This means there really are things God wants us to do.
These things are “the what’s of the faith”. The “what’s” aren’t about getting saved— they’re about becoming like Jesus, so that we can glorify Jesus, represent God well, be a preserving influence in the culture and bring others to faith in Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20)
One of those “what’s” that is often dismissed as irrelevant in our Christian culture is the what of walking in truth (Psalm 15:2, 1st John 1:5-7, 2nd John 1:1-4, 3rd John 1:2-4).
Walking in truth is critical because God is not only the ultimate decider of truth, He IS truth (Psalm 25:5, Jeremiah 7:28, John 4:24, Romans 2:2). When God’s people don’t walk in truth there is no clear witness of truth in our fallen world. The lack of witness causes Gods presence to be hidden from the world. This makes it difficult for people to find God (Luke 18:27). It also causes believers and unbelievers to be taken captive by all sorts of strange notions regarding gender, what makes people happy, sexuality, parenting and even the nature of reality (Colossians 2:8).
It’s kind of where we’re living right now.
The most basic facet of walking in truth is integrity and honesty (Exodus 20:16). That said, integrity encompasses more than “not lying”. There are at least a million ways to be deceitful, dishonest and/or hypocritical and God hates them all. We can tell out-in-out lies, withhold critical information, make-up stories to feel important and spruce-up a true story to the point it no longer accurately represents reality.
Being honest and truthful is good (Leviticus 19:11, Colossians 3:9). That being said, not lying really just the entry-level version of walking in truth that even the average heathen aspires to.
Fully walking in truth is impossible if we don’t know what’s actually true.
Walking in truth means being firmly rooted in biblical truth. Because God IS truth His word is where we go to get the lowdown on how to live, love and operate successfully in this world (Psalm 119:1-176). Unfortunately, few Christians actually hold a biblical world view. According to some super depressing research done by Barna Research and Summit Ministries only seventeen percent of American Christians and thirty-seven percent of American Pastors hold to a biblical world view (Hosea 4:6).
This sad reality means we can’t get all our information about what the Bible says from anyone, even pastors. Christians must read the Bible for themselves (Acts 17:11). We must research the Bible and think about the Bible and pray the Holy Spirit will enlighten our minds and help us to further understand the Bible. We need to get into groups with other believers and open our Bible’s and find out what other Christians think about the Bible. Then we must apply the truths of the Bible to our lives.
When we do these things we walk in truth and the truth enables us live righteously, we are protected from Satan’s schemes (Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11, 1st Peter 5:8) and empowered to live out what’s real and true in world where truth has lost its voice (Isaiah 59:4, Isaiah 59:14)