November 25, 2001

Walk In Him!

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: Colossians Scripture: Colossians 2:6–7


Walk In Him!

Colossians 2:6-7
Sunday, November 25, 2001
Pastor Randy Smith

Since some of you enjoyed my fishing illustration from last week, I've chosen to carry it over to this morning's sermon. With me this morning is one of my most realistic lures. Webster defined a lure as "anything that temps or entices." Therefore, this cleverly devised artificial instrument is appropriately named. All of you acquainted with fishing know that lures serve as imposters to attract fish to choose them as a substitute for the real thing. In disguising itself as a baitfish, the desired fish is attracted, deceived and captured. Before the fish realizes his deception, he is snagged by a sharp treble hook and eventually taken from the water.

Now if I were a "pastor of fish," what would be the biblical approach to shepherd my flock (or school) of fish regarding the dangers of deceptive lures? What would I say? For starters, I would not retrieve every lure that Joe Kane lost on the rock jetties and show my fellow fish the multitude of varieties, nor would I intentionally ensnare them in a lure so that they may recognize their dangers.

What I would do is explain that imposters are seeking to allure them away from the reality. My concentration would be to focus on the reality. First, I would train them to recognize the proper food that we as fish should choose for our meals. We would examine the color, shape, smell, and swimming tendencies… no painted eyes, string out of the mouth, or hooks on their bottom. Second, I would teach them about the insufficiency of the deceivers. They may look appealing but do not satisfy the hunger. Or worse yet, choosing them could cost the fish their lives. Third, I would teach them to love the reality. They should be so in love with the reality that any imposters would be easy to recognize and easy to refuse being much less desirable. That's how I would shepherd my fish.

Paul, in the letter to the Colossians, expressed his pastoral concerns as he was faced with a similar scenario. The lures were called false teachers, and the false teachers were advertising a new and improved religion that was very attractive. Though it came with charming packaging and persuasive arguments, it was nevertheless deceptive and led to the spiritual ruin of it hearers. Paul saw this teaching as nothing more than a lure that was potentially leading his sheep astray.

Rather than presenting a drawn-out explanation of the heresy, Paul spent the majority of the letter to the Colossians expounding the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ. Paul's intent was to present Jesus Christ as more desirable, more attractive and more satisfying than the false heresies. Paul's goal was to put a hunger for Jesus in their hearts, whereas anything less is distasteful. Then when the lures of false teaching swam their way, the Colossian church would recognize them, renounce them and reject them.

In chapter 2, verses 6 and 7, we find the thematic statement which sheds light on the entire epistle. In these 2 short verses (which plunge us into the body of the letter), Paul expresses the chief remedy to overcome false teaching. It is expressed in the title of this morning's sermon…Walk in Him! Each of the three sub-points likewise reflects that solution.

Beloved this is a crucial message. Possibly never has the church been bombarded with more temptation regarding sin, error and heresy. All of you are personally influenced by hundreds of deceptive messages daily- lures! These are messages that appear so promising, so innocent, so enlightening and so attractive. However, all of them lead to the potential shipwreck of your faith. The objective this morning is how to avoid all the attractive lures that continually swim by our noses while maintaining a vibrant, steadfast love for our Lord, Jesus Christ.


"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord" (Col. 2:6). In the beginning of verse 6, Paul distinguished his readers from the false teachers. The primary difference is the Colossians have " received Christ Jesus the Lord."

Now, the natural reaction to this expression of "receiving Christ" in today's church possibly would sound something like this: receive Jesus into your heart and you will be saved; or raise your hand to receive Jesus as your Savior. There is a problem with these statements in and of themselves. First of all, these statements leave the impression that man comes to God when and where he chooses. But Jesus said, "No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (Jn. 6:44). Elsewhere our Lord said, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit" (Jn. 3:8). John 1 strikes even closer to home, "But as many as received Him , to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn. 1:12). In other words, salvation is not based on when and if we feel like choosing God; rather it's based on when God desires to choose us. Sure we must receive Him (Jn. 1:12), but the only reason we can or desire to receive Him is because in His grace He first enabled us to do so. People "dead in their trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) do not and cannot choose a holy God!

Another problem with the modern evangelical gospel when people are asked to "receive Jesus" is it often allows the listener to believe he may accept a Jesus defined by his own imagination. If I simply say you must receive Jesus or invite Jesus into your heart and leave it at that, the sky is the limit as to the parameters of who this Jesus is. For example, is he simply the "get out of jail free" card as so many moderns choose to define Him? These would say that once we receive Jesus into our heart, we are saved regardless of the life we choose to live, even if we choose to deny Him later on in life. Take for example two contemporary evangelical professors. According to Zane Hodges, "Conversion to Christ involves 'no spiritual commitment whatsoever.'" Charles Ryrie would say that salvation in Christ belongs to anyone who simply believes the facts about Christ and claims eternal life. There need be no turning from sin, no change in lifestyle, no commitment, and not even a willingness to yield to Christ's lordship.

Possibly we should accept a Jesus as proposed by the liberal scholars of the 21st century? Take for instance the Jesus explained by John Dominic Crossan, a key player in the Jesus Seminar. According to Crossan, Jesus was a Jewish Cynic and not the Mediator between God and man. He healed by magic, eventually He was crucified and dogs long before any supposed resurrection ate His body. Other scholars on the Seminar would describe Jesus as follows: Leif Vaage- "a party animal, somewhat shiftless and disrespectful of the 5th commandment"; Arthur Dewey- "There is more of David Letterman in the historical Jesus than Pat Robertson;" Hal Tausig- "I think Jesus prayed, but He didn't make a big deal out of it."

I know these are extreme views, but they are being purported by the leading scholars in liberal Christianity. Nevertheless, whether it is liberal scholars or misguided conservative evangelicals, many different Jesus' have been concocted for the public to accept. Are they all viable as a means of salvation? Will Jesus allow Himself to be accepted like a product in the grocery store? Will He allow Himself to be interpreted on the consumer's terms and according to their personal needs?

Unfortunately, the dilemma is not new. Different Jesus' (and different gospels for that matter) plagued the early church as well. Were they, as it is proposed now, all viable options? Listen to Paul's comments, "For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear thisbeautifully. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3-4). We ask people if Jesus is their Savior. Maybe a better question is, "Which Jesus is your Savior?" Elsewhere in Galatians 1 Paul was less gentle, "I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed" (Gal. 1:6-8).

These verses make it clear that there is one Jesus and one gospel. Anything less is error and insufficient to accomplish its intended purposes. But still, how do we know what Jesus to receive?

Back to Colossians 2:6, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord". Paul does not use the word "received" in a "loosy-goosy" sense, meaning I can receive Jesus in any way I deem best. Rather, the word is most often used by Paul elsewhere as a technical term for receiving tradition. We are talking about a specific tradition, with specific information. It started with Jesus, was committed to His inspired apostles and then passed on to the church. The tradition was the body of information that outlined the basic necessary truths of the Christian faith.

The tradition according to 2:6 partly consisted of receiving "Christ Jesus the Lord". Again, like the word tradition in verse 6, there is much meaning in that title for our Savior (Christ, Jesus, Lord). Misunderstanding this title, like misunderstanding the proper tradition, misunderstands the Jesus we choose to follow. The three elements consist of much more than simply a personal name.

Christ : Greek- Christos, Hebrew- Messiah, literally it means the "Anointed One", the One who fulfills the concept of Messiah as set forth in the Old Testament Scriptures. While "Christ" is not the last name of Jesus, it was a title so significant that it became part of the personal name of Jesus in the early church. We must accept Him as Christ.

Jesus : While the salvation stories of popular ancient pagan religions were based on non-historical myths, Christianity is rooted in history, based on the actual life and ministry of an actual person, Jesus Christ. It is imperative for His followers to understand what the historical Jesus actually did and said if they are to emulate Him, believe on Him. The name Jesus itself means "Savior". We must accept Him as Jesus.

The Lord : The primary aspect of the tradition and possibly the most effective summaries of the gospel was the early creedal confession, "Jesus Christ is Lord". There were many lords in the first century whether they were gods or emperors in the Roman Empire. However, Jesus Christ was proclaimed as the Lord and full allegiance had to be directed to Him. This mere truth led many early Christians to be martyred as they refused to bow before Caesar. Jesus is not a lord to them, but the Lord. Furthermore, He is not one we make Lord the moment of salvation, but rather One we accept as Lord in order to receive salvation. We must accept Him as Lord.

We call Him Christ, we call Him Jesus and we call Him Lord. He is known by many other titles as well. May all the titles we ascribe to Him be accurate, may they be understood and may our lives reflect the reality of them.

You call Me Master and obey me not,
You call Me Light and see me not,
You call Me way and follow me not
You call Me Life and desire me not,
You call Me wise and acknowledge me not,
You call Me fair and love me not,
You call Me rich and ask me not,
You call Me eternal and seek me not,
You call Me gracious and trust me not,
You call Me Noble and serve me not,
You call Me mighty and honor me not,
Ye call Me just and fear me not,
If I condemn you, blame me not.

Before I continue, please realize that salvation is not based on simply ascribing mental ascent to a collection of accurate doctrinal beliefs. As important as correct doctrine is, it is insufficient if left by itself, especially when the tradition we discussed earlier is encapsulated in the "Lordship of Christ." Therefore, if we receive Christ as Lord we must likewise (2:6b) "walk in Him".


"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him ," (Col. 2:6). This verse teaches that "receiving Christ" is not the end, but rather the beginning of a joyous life united with our Savior. And we pursue that joy for an eternity by walking in Him.

Earlier in 1:10 the Colossians were commanded to " walk in a manner worthy of the Lord". The verb walking is often used by Paul to figuratively characterize the Christian's life and behavior. Christianity is unlike the pagan religions of Paul's day that were simply concerned with ceremonial activities and not moral behavior. Rather for Christians, the call is to "walk in Christ." To live a life that is consistent with the spiritual beginnings when we first received Christ, to allow the truth to permeate our lives so that it controls all that we think or do, to realize there is no hiatus between believing and behaving, and to understand the obligations we have to submit to the Lordship of Christ with an unconditional readiness to act in obedience to Him.

Interestingly, this verb "walk" is defined grammatically as a present, active, and imperative. Present Tense simply means that it denotes a "continual activity". We are not to "walk in Him" when we feel like it or only at the moment of salvation; rather the life of a Christian should be marked by an ongoing process which continually abides in Christ with appropriate behavior according to the appropriate traditions. Active Voice denotes a responsibility of the hearer. Walking in Christ is not passive. Rather we are to work out our salvation according to His power, which mightily works within us. We have a responsibility to "walk in Christ" and therefore must do all we can to ensure that it is accomplished. Finally, the verb is in the Imperative Mood. I'm sure that you can remember from your early grammar classes that the imperative mood expresses a command. It is not an option; all Christians must walk in Christ. It is a command from God, which expects obedience.

The late Roland Q. Leavell in his book, Evangelism: Christ's Imperative Commission , stated that of all the reported Church members: 5 percent do not exist, 10 percent cannot be found, 20 percent never pray, 25 percent never read the Bible, 30 percent never attend Church services, 40 percent never give any money to the church, 50 percent never go to Sunday School, 60 percent never go to Church Sunday night, 70 percent never give to missions, 80 percent never go to prayer meeting, 90 percent never have family worship, and 95 percent never win a soul to Christ. There is no such thing as a part-time loyalty to Jesus.

We are called the bride of Christ. Men, would you want a bride that is only faithful 85% of the time? Walking in Christ 100% of the time is the only remedy to resist error.


If verse 6 outlined the balance between believing the right tradition and behaving in the right manner, verse 7 further describes what it means to "walk in Christ." Before beginning specific exhortations on dealing with false teachers in verse 8, Paul instructs his readers as to what is involved in true Christian behavior. "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. 2:7).

To begin with, Paul outlines this verse by the use of 4 participles. Look closely at verse 7 with me: "firmly rooted", "built up", "established" (in the faith), "overflowing" (with gratitude). Interestingly, the last of the four participles (overflowing with gratitude) is in the active tense. This means that just as we are commanded to walk in Him, we are commanded to overflow with gratitude. These are expectations on our part. However, the first three participles in verse 7 are in the passive tense , meaning that we receive the action. We are dependent on God to be "firmly rooted." We are dependent on God to be "built up in Him," and we are dependent on God to be "established in our faith." Though the readers were responsible for these activities, Paul was careful to remind them (by using the passive tense) that God was at work in their midst as they depended on a divine activity. This reminds me of Andrew Murray who once said, "God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him."

Each of these metaphors also carries a significant meaning as to how we are to "walk in Christ." Let's briefly examine each one individually.

Having been firmly rooted. Paul first chooses to use a metaphor from the world of horticulture. Much of this imagery is carried over from the Old Testament. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit" (Jer. 17:7-8). "How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers" (Ps. 1:1-3).

I remember it was about 5 in the morning, and I heard a loud crash outside. The earth reverberated. When daylight came, I was able to detect the cause. An 80 foot weeping willow tree had fallen in our neighbor's backyard. When I investigated the accident, I noted that the adjacent river had eaten away at its roots. Even many of the existing roots only penetrated the ground a few feet. Naturally, with little support, the humongous tree fell and was brought to ruin.

God accomplished an eternal planting at the moment of salvation, and He desires that all His children be firmly rooted in the faith. He wants them to be like a tree with widespread and long roots that reach deep into the soil of Jesus Christ. They are to be roots that are locked around the Rock of our faith and draw rich nourishment from its source. Roots that are so grounded that even when the winds of false doctrine howl, faith remains firmly planted and immovable.

It's been said, that the root system below the ground of a healthy tree is comparable to whatever is exposed above the ground. May the same be said of us. May we have roots hidden to the human eye, which are solidified in Christ; firmly rooted so that we as Christian trees can provide shade and fruit and beauty as we reflect our Savior and resist error.

Being built up in Him. The next metaphor is borrowed from the world of architecture. The text says "being built up in Him." Here the Christian is compared to a house, which is in the continual process of becoming more like Christ. We are to be a building with a firm foundation under constant construction. Consider this illustration about the Master Builder by C.S. Lewis:

"I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would leave us alone. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us...Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on. You knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of-throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."

Established in your faith. Next Paul goes to the Law-Court to draw the third metaphor. Verse 7 says, "and established in your faith". Originally the term referred to a legal guarantee required in the transfer of property or goods. Likewise, God is the one who guarantees that His children will be established in their faith at the moment of adoption. He establishes us through the Spirit and the Word. "My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Thy word" (Ps. 119:28). "As for me, Thou dost uphold me in my integrity, And Thou dost set me in Thy presence forever" (Ps. 41:12).

Overflowing with gratitude. Finally, the last participle is the result of the first three. The text says, "Overflowing with gratitude". Because of all that I have in Christ (firmly rooted, built up, established), my natural response is to overflow with gratitude toward God. The gratitude should be overflowing like a full bucket of water receiving even more water from its source. With no place to go, the water is spilling over the sides. I love that word "overflowing" which implies a spontaneous, ongoing thankfulness, which should permeate the life of every believer in Christ.

We naturally give praise to that which we enjoy. A grateful heart to God demonstrates a life that sees Him as our ultimate source of joy. Augustine once said, "Jesus Christ is not valued at all until He is valued above all." John Piper said, "There will be no people in Heaven who want to be around their things more than Jesus." A thankless spirit will always betray a life that is not focusing on the greatness of Christ or one that is simply ignorant to what He has done. Positively stated, profuse thanksgiving is the unfailing mark of a healthy spiritual life. One commentator said to be filled with gratitude is to be filled with the Spirit of Christ.

Remember I said earlier that this participle is the only one in the active voice, meaning it is a responsibility we have to God. And it makes perfect sense, because gratitude is the only thing we can offer back to God. Gratitude on the heart of the believer completes the circle, as the blessings that flow to us from God overflow within us and flow back to the Giver in adoration and praise. This completes the purposes for which we were created and redeemed.

Understanding the Christ-given traditions of the faith, receiving those traditions on God's terms, abiding in constant communion with Christ in submission to His lordship, firmly rooted, built up and established in our faith produces an eternal spirit of gratitude. When we walk in Christ we will keep our eyes off the lures and on the Light, which will enable us to overcome error, sin, and deception.

The captain of the ship looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Immediately he told his signalman to send a message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south." Promptly a return message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north." The captain was angered; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: "Alter your course 10 degrees south, I am the captain!" Soon another message was received: "Alter your course 10 degrees north, I am seaman third class Jones." Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would evoke: "Alter your course 10 degrees south, I am a battleship." Then the reply came: "Alter your course 10 degrees north, I am a lighthouse."

Beloved, in the midst of our dark and foggy times, all sorts of voices are shouting orders into the night, telling us what to do and how to adjust our lives. But out of the darkness, one voice signals something quite opposite to the rest. The voice happens to be the Light of the World, reminding us to walk in Him for complete protection from the dangerous stones of deception.

other sermons in this series

Mar 24


For The Sake of The Name - Part Three

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Colossians 4:15–18 Series: Colossians

Mar 17


For The Sake of The Name - Part Two

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Colossians 4:10–14 Series: Colossians

Mar 10


For The Sake of The Name - Part One

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Colossians 4:7–9 Series: Colossians