Gen. v. 21-24, vi 9; Heb. xi. 5-7.
Walking With God.
IN the Hebrews, the order of the words given us by the Holy Ghost is first dispensational, and then practical. Just as Abel precedes Enoch, and Enoch precedes Noah, so it is dispensationally; first the cross, then the translation of the saints. Abel, of course, was in his life and in his death by the hand of his brother, a type of the Lord Jesus Christ; he brought the same acceptable sacrifice, a witness to the redemption by blood, and God testified of his offering; so Enoch typifies the Church in this dispensation, or the individual believer; and his translation too is remarkable. He lived the shortest time of all the patriarchs; he just walked with God, and God took him, so that he did not see the judgment so soon, to overtake the world. But Noah is a type of the righteous Jew, or rather the righteous remnant, that will be saved, carried through the trouble, what we call the great tribulation, which is to come upon the world after the Church's translation. So you have a little map, as it were, of events past and future: the cross in Abel, the translation in Enoch, and the preservation of the righteous remnant in Noah.
But not only have you a dispensational order, but we have a practical order also, a matter of the highest importance. We have, first, worship in Abel, then walk in Enoch, and then witness in Noah; and we cannot reverse this order. We may not put walk before worship, or witness before walk. Abel was a worshipper; Enoch was a walker; Noah was a witness.
Walking with God. I have felt very much what a very solemn subject this is for anyone to speak upon, a subject wherein one is so liable to go beyond our own experience, to speak of something we do not know in our own souls, in our life and conversation. But the Lord is very gracious, and He will help us even if we have not put into practice all we speak of; He knows our desire is to do so, and He accepts that desire.
Now we find that in Eden, God walked with Adam. But Adam sinned; he disobeyed God, and the result was that God ceased to walk with him. Self-will separated Adam from God; but we know that that intimacy was restored in Enoch, the seventh from Adam, who walked with God. Now what is this walk with God? What is walking with God, and what are the requirements? First of all, I must be on terms with the person I walk with. It means fellowship, interchange of thought, unity of heart, of interest, of affection. You cannot walk with a person with whom you have reserves! If there is anything that you are conscious of that is keeping him at a distance, anything you are not willing to tell him. You cannot in any such case truly walk with a person in the sense in which the Word speaks of walking with God, and therefore it is a difficult thing to walk with God; for we are all so ready to have some reserve in our hearts that hinders us pouring out our hearts' affections before Him; some little corner occupied by our own self-will. How little we cry, "Lord, search me, and see if there be any evil way” (and a reserve, however slight, is an evil way in your heart or mine, beloved); "lead me to walk with Thee, to have true, unbroken fellowship and intercommunion of thought with Thee; to have Thy thoughts about sin, Thy thoughts about the world, Thy thoughts of my calling and standing in Christ, Thy thoughts of the great distinction between the world and thine own child!" When I am walking with God, I can have communion about these things with Him.
There are three great necessities to walking with God. The first is faith. I must believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those that seek Him out. The next is fear; and that is where so many of us come short, from lack of holy, reverential fear. And the third is obedience. Just look at Noah; what simple, obedient faith he had! All around were walking by sight and sense, not knowing or caring anything about God's will; but in the midst of those unbelievers, whose hearts were filled with violence, there was one man who had faith in the Word of God; and so he went quietly on building the ark without any precedent in common-sense, as it is called, or human reason. And as he went on, what sermons he must have preached! He stood alone among them an earnest man; he preached righteousness, and though nobody believed him, it all came to pass; the whole world was destroyed, for they rejected the grace of God. But there was something else that spoke as loud as Noah's sermons, and that was Noah's hammer. It said to those around, "This world is going to be desolated with a deluge and God says I am to build this ark as the way of escape;" and so he remained for a hundred and twenty years building that ark. And, dear brethren, the hammer of your life and mine is speaking today louder than any sermon we can preach. Noah was a separated man, and filled with fear, and he had faith in God. "Moved with fear," as we are told, he must have been an eloquent man, and terribly in earnest. He stood alone with God in that evil generation, and you and I must needs walk with God if we are to stand alone for Him.
He was a man of fear too, and what we want is holy fear. We all believe that God is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him out; but if we have any impression in our hearts as to the holiness of God, we will be obedient as far as He teaches us. And so we read, "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” He was an obedient man; and what was the character of his obedience? What is the character of all true obedience to God? It is a fearful obedience, and an unreasoning and unquestioning obedience; and no other obedience is worth anything. But what insubjection to God we see on every hand now! The obedience that walks with God is characterized by holy fear. "Happy is the man that feareth alway," the psalmist says; but now man steps to reason upon God's truth. "Hath God said?” That was the first attack of the devil in Eden, you remember; and so to-day men argue and reason as to the meaning of God's truth, instead of accepting it as it stands. A little girl once asked her mother, "What does such-and-such a verse mean?" "What does it say, my child?" "Oh, so-and-so." “Then," said the mother, "it means just that" And so Noah knew that God meant what He said, and went on doing what He was told, and doing it too in the way God directed. There was no saying, "Oh, the end is a good one, and God will justify the means I use!" but a simple, fearful obedience to the direction of God; and if it is otherwise with us, it is not the obedience that walks with God. But to-day men say, “If the end is a good one, it does not matter how I accomplish it If I can get souls saved, I’ll use any means I like; I'll take money from the devil, or anyone else." Oh, beloved, what holiness is there there? what fear of God! Holy, fearful obedience makes the means as important as the end. But you may say, "God blesses these means." So He may. God does sometimes bless things He does not approve of and uses agencies that are not according to His will. That is because He is sovereign; but you and I are not sovereign. We are servants, and we cannot infringe one particular of God's Word without ceasing to walk with Him, because the obedience which pleases Him is faithful and fearful.
In the Word, we see what a practical and personal thing this is. Adam failed in fear, and he failed to walk with God; but Noah feared, and Enoch feared, and the Holy Spirit tells as that Enoch walked with God for three hundred years. What a testimony! It is one thing to begin well, but, oh, it is another thing to go on well, and it is another thing to end well, and that is what the devil hates! Nothing will be hindered by Satan so much as walking with God. You know how he tempted Eve. She saw the tree, and she thought to herself; "Food is a good thing, and wisdom is a good thing," and so she took of the fruit. Wisdom is a good thing, and food is a good thing, but it was not God's food nor God's wisdom; it was out of God's path, and it was disobedience to Him. You know it says in Proverbs that ''wisdom is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her." Christ, or wisdom, is God's tree of life, and God's wisdom. And just contrast the life of the first Adam with the walk of the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam. How He feared Jehovah! how quick of understanding He was in the fear of the Lord! How we wonder when we read that He made His supplications to God "with strong crying and tears and was heard in that He feared!" The Jews, you remember, wanted to make Him King, but He would not take it at their hands; it is from the Father’s hand, He will take it. They could not understand it; they thought it will be a great thing when Christ has the kingdom. So it will; but Christ would not anticipate the Father’s hour; so instead of the kingdom, He took the cup, and drank it, and was heard because He feared.
Here is a contrast. Look at Satan, that terrible arch-fiend of hell! He was once perfect in wisdom and beauty, but iniquity was found in him; and what knowledge has Satan now? And unless knowledge is real, vital knowledge which reaches our souls, and is practiced in our lives, it is only an injury to our souls and a hindrance to our walk with God; it puffs up instead of building up. As we look at the Lord Jesus, we see He had no wisdom but that which came from God. He renounced it, that He might live in dependence. He did not open blind eyes, or speak, or cast out demons, but by God. He never thought a thought that was not a conception of the Father's mind. He was the instructed Servant; He had no knowledge of His own, and now see what glory the Father has given Him. But don't let us think that walking with God is mere success. Who was so unsuccessful in this world as Christ, judging by a mere human standard? Why, He said He had laboured in vain, and spent His strength for nought. Satan does not labour in vain. If we look upon the world, he seems to be filled with glory and success; but what will the end be? We look on to the end, and we see Christ on the throne and Satan in the lake of fire. Where is success then? Oh, it is only by fearful obedience we can walk with the Lord Jesus Christ!
There is one great result of thus walking with God, and that is testimony for God. You must be a witness if you are walking with God. Walk comes first, but witness is sure to follow. Paul could say that his great desire was that Christ might be magnified in him; therefore by manifestation of the truth of Christ he commended himself to every man's conscience, though that was a small thing. It is no matter whether we commend ourselves in man's approval or not, but the great thing was, he was walking with God, he was living Christ, and that was true testimony for God. And if you and I are not able to do much in the Lord's work, we may walk with God and live Christ in the world, and that will be the truest testimony.
But now, what are the hindrances? Brethren, I may summarize them all in one word, one monosyllable—SELF. I don't say sin merely, that which we recognize as evil, but even the gratification of—it may be---an amiable, generous disposition is sin in the sight of a holy God. It is the acting of that self which is come to an end at the Cross of Christ. And this is what makes walking with God hard, but it is the life of the Spirit, and every motion and desire of self-will is just a hindrance to our walking with God. Two things which characterize this century are self-will and man-worship. We see on every hand, large meetings, and large choirs, and gigantic societies; every thing is done on a great scale to attract human notice. You see man vaunting himself—man filled with sin and pride—but for you and me, there is the lying still in the green pastures, the continuing with Christ in His trials and temptations. The multitude will follow Him for the loaves and fishes, but they won’t stand in the shadow of His Cross; but what we want is to walk with Christ, not to seek, greatness for ourselves, from our service, but to walk so as to please God, and then we shall have the companionship of the rejected Christ. May we be content to follow Him now, to be unknown and unnoticed as He was, and then by-and-by, we will sit on His throne, we shall sway the sceptre, we shall lead the worship, and He will confess our names before the Father and the holy angels. Oh, that we were willing it should be now the day of, small things with us, and so rising, above all that fellowship with Jesus entails—the slander and persecution of our fellows, the loss and cross of every kind—we can take our stand with the few who have separated themselves, and are walking in faith and fear, praying in the Holy Ghost.
Just one word as to the provision for this and I have done. We have it in the Word; it is the blood and advocacy of Christ. We fail, and wander and stray; but though Satan may find many flaws in us, he will find none in the blood of Christ or the advocacy of Christ, and that is what keeps us in the presence of God, and so while we walk in holy fear, we have no slavish terrors. We may walk with God one hour and fail to walk with Him the next, and walk again the third; and so if we are conscious of failure, let us not do despite to the Spirit by supposing we have failed forever, but let us fix our eyes upon the Advocate and the blood in the presence of God as the object for our hearts. Our portion is so different to that of the Jew under the law; for every offence, he had to provide a fresh victim, and the blood had to be sprinkled seven times, and then he was not clean until the evening; but we want no fresh sprinkling of the blood, that has been done once forever, and it stands now before God for us. Let us remember this: we have a gracious God to deal with, and need no fresh sacrifice, no fresh application of the blood, but upon confession, restoration is immediate. That restoration is what Satan tries to rob us of, but let us not be ignorant of devices. The Lord can restore, and delights to do so. The Lord give us, beloved, to know more of the faithful, fearful, and obedient walk with God, prizing His Word, walking in the light of His Own holy presence, and seeking for the little while He leaves us here to please Him, for his name’s sake.
“The Gospel Watchman” 1882