Charles Stanley — Are You Walking With God?
When you come to the end of life, what do you want to be remembered for? Your kindness, your love, your generosity, your knowledge, your wisdom, your abilities and skills, that you knew how to relate to other people, or would they remember you for your stinginess, your pride, your antagonistic attitude, your dishonesty, you didn't love anybody, you were just an angry person? What are people going to say about you when you're gone? Well, you may be the kind of person who says, "Well, I hope they don't remember anything about me". Well, not much maybe, but they will. So, will anybody say, "I don't know a lot of things about him or about her, but this I do know: he walked with God. She walked with God, that much I know about him and about her". How could you have anything more uplifting and Christ-like than that to say, that somebody walked with God?
So, let me ask you this: how does a person walk with God? How do you know when you're walking with God or not? So, what I'd like to do is to give you a brief statement just to define what it means to walk with God. To walk with God means to keep Him at the center of our thinking: in everything we do, everything we say, everything we think in our relationships, in our finances, our plans, and in every area of our life. That's what it means to walk with God. It's the wisest way to walk.
So, I want you to turn for just a moment and look, if you will, in Genesis chapter five. And here is Enoch, about which the Bible says that he walked with God and then he was no longer there, God took him. So, look in the fifth chapter, if you will, verse twenty-one. "Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters". Remember that his son lived the longest of anybody in the Bible, "So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him".
So, if somebody says, "Are you walking with God"? I wonder what you would say. Would you say, "Yes, I am"? And then if they said, "Well, what are you doing in order to walk with God"? Could you even answer that? So, I want to give you an answer. And I want to give you a list of things absolutely essential to walking with God, to walking after God, and to walking in a way that pleases and honors God and brings you the best life that you could possibly have. So, the first thing is this, and that is to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. That's the beginning. In other words, if I want to walk with God, I can't even get to God except through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. "No man comes to the Father," He said, "except by Me". You want to walk with God? Come to Jesus. Face the cross, the resurrection, that's where walking with God begins. Anybody who tells you they're living a good life and everything is fine, and they've rejected Jesus Christ as their Savior, are either ignorant or living in sin and totally blinded by it.
So first of all, you have to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. That's the way we get to God. So, if I'm going to walk with Him, I've got to be with Him. How do I get to be with Him? By receiving His Son, forgives my sin, makes it possible for me to have a personal, intimate relationship with Him, first step. Secondly, that is, I must learn to listen to Him. If I don't listen to God, I'm not going to follow Him. If you don't learn to pray and to listen to God, you are not going to follow Him and you're not going to walk with Him. And prayer is absolutely essential, and this is why I say so often, that is, our prayer and meditation, the time we spend alone with Him, is absolutely essential. Because when you're reading the Word and talking to Him and listening to Him, He's going to be showing you things you, listen, you're not going to find out any other way.
Somebody says, "Well, I don't think I need that". Yes, you do. God gave us His Word because we needed to know how to follow Him, to walk in His ways and to be obedient to Him. So, if I'm going to walk with God, I've got to listen to Him. Thirdly, you've got to trust Him. If you don't trust Him, you're not going to follow Him. And oftentimes I'll be talking to somebody and I'll say, "Well, just trust the Lord". Well, I am trusting Him. Well, show me how you're trusting Him. And when they get through telling me, they're not trusting God at all. They're just hoping and wishing and betting and this, that, and the other, that things are going to turn out right, and most of the time they have, they say. But they're not walking with God. To walk with God, I've got to listen to Him and I have to trust Him. If I don't trust Him, I'm not going to walk with Him. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path". So, He's not going to lead me to walk without following Him, cause that's what that passage is all about. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Don't lean to your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.
And so, if you're going to follow Him, if you're going to walk with Him, if you're going to be the person God wants you to be, then you've got to decide at some point, "I'm going to trust Him". Now, watch this. Why do I put that emphasis on trust? Because sometimes, in fact, many times, God will require something of us that makes no sense: doesn't fit, be the timing's not right, couldn't be him, couldn't be her, couldn't be that, no, no, no, no, no. But God says, "That's what I want you to do". Nowhere does He promise us that we will understand. You remember that old gospel hymn? "We'll understand it better and by and by, when the saints of God are gathered home". Well, there are a lot of things we don't fully understand here. But listen, if I'm going to walk with Him, I'm going to do what He says whether I understand it or not.
And so, you have to decide whether you're going to trust Him or not. And then of course, if you're going to walk with Him, you've got to agree with Him. If you don't agree with Him, you're not going to walk with Him. So, let me ask you this: have you ever disagreed with God? Yes, we all have at some point foolishly, ignorantly... maybe before we really were in touch with God as best we could be. And so, what happens? We think somehow that we can make everything work. Watch this, we're not taught by the Scriptures that God is to agree with us. We're taught by the Scripture that we are to agree with him. He's the one who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent. Then, of course, it's not enough just to agree with Him, you have to obey Him. If you're going to walk with Him, you have to obey Him because He's going to require some things that you're not going to like. Or He's going to require some things that you don't fully understand. Obedience to Him is absolutely essential.
And people oftentimes wonder, "Well, why doesn't God bless me"? Well, then I say, "Well, are you obeying Him"? "Well, I think so". "Well, like what, for example? Do you have a private communion? Do you talk to Him every day"? "Well, I'm pretty busy, you know". And they start off with all the examples, reasons why they don't obey the Living God. Obey Him.
Disobedience implies that I know better than He does. Now, watch that. If I don't obey God and I'm a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, God is my Savior, my Father, if I don't obey Him, I am saying, "I know better than God who is omniscient. And so, I'm going this way. Oh, I know what He says, but this is not too far off". Listen, one step off is disastrous. If we are to follow Him, we're to walk with Almighty God. Obedience is necessary. Well, you say, "Well, how much obedience"? Well, partial obedience is what? Disobedience. So, if I'm going to obey Him, I'm going to do what He says do, when He says do it, and the way He says do it, period.
So, are you walking with God? In other words, is obedience, watch this, is obedience a lifestyle for you? When you wake up in the morning, your intention is to obey God today. Almighty God is our leader, our guide, our God to guide us every single day. We're to walk with Him. And walking with Him means I surrendered my will and I'm willing to obey Him because I trust Him. And because I trust Him, I will obey Him. Because I don't trust Him is the reason I disobey Him. So, ask yourself the question, and I hope you'll ask it all the way through this message. Am I walking with God or am I not? It's easy to say I am, but there are some criteria, and all we're doing is saying let's give it a test and see if you are or if you're not. Dangerous to walk in disobedience to God. But likewise, if I'm walking with Him, I'm going to walk in the same direction He walks. If I'm really and truly walking in His will and His way, I'm obeying Him and I am walking in the same direction.
Now, it doesn't mean that you are like somebody else. God hasn't got the same will for two different people. He has a way for you to walk. And what you and I have to do is to know in our heart, as best I know my heart, Lord, I'm walking in obedience to You. I'll go wherever You want me to go, do whatever You want me to do. And watch this, somebody says, "Well, I was saved forty years ago". What's that got to do with today? In other words, listen, every day we have to make a decision. Am I going to follow Him or am I not? Am I going to walk with God or am I not? You say, "Well, now you mean to tell me I'm to get up every day and say, 'Am I going to follow God?'" No, you should get up every day and say, "Thank You, Lord, I'm going to follow You by the power of the Holy Spirit, walk in Your way, whatever You want today".
We should wake up committed to Him. We walk with God because that's who we are. We're indwelt by the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit always leads us to make wise, godly decisions because we're His children. And we're walking in His Spirit and we're walking in His path. And so, obedience is absolutely necessary. Now, some ways may seem to be shorter and faster and cheaper. Notice I said, "Seem to be," because the ways that seem to be that way are not God's ways. If I'm going to walk in His way and in the direction with Him, I'll have to part ways with a lot of people, probably. You can't have the world's friendship, close friendship and walk in the ways of God. I didn't say just anybody in the world, because there are people who want you to follow them. If you have to follow the ways of the world, you'll have lay down everything we're talking about. You will not walk with God, you'll not listen to Him, you won't obey Him, you find yourself going in an opposite direction.
So ask yourself the question: am I really and truly walking with God or am I just fooling myself? Well, you're certainly going to have to stay in step with Him if you walk with Him. Think about it. It's one thing to go in the same direction, but what about keeping in step? And this is where many people get in trouble. They may be walking in the right direction, but not in step with Him. Oftentimes, we get ahead of Him. You say, "Well, how am I to know that I'm walking in step"? Compass, never fails. Never fails. You, listen, you read the Word of God and you're going to know whether you're walking in the right path or not, and if you're in step with God. What does in step mean? In step means that He and I are together. Living a godly life, which is the requirement of God, the blessing of God, the promise of the help of God, is to do exactly what we're talking about. Walking in step with Him, walking in the same direction, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
And so, many people wonder why? They say, "I'm a Christian, been a Christian for years, why is God letting all this happen to me"? And I talk to people all the time who are going through difficult problems. Sometime they're on the telephone usually, or maybe I meet them and they'll bring up something and they can't figure out why this has happened to them. "Well, have you been listening to God"? "Oh yes". People are quick to say, "I listen to God," because, watch this, you listening? Say amen. Listening to Him and thinking about Him are not the same. I can think about Him, doesn't mean I'm listening to Him. If I'm listening to Him, I'm going to think about Him and I am going to be receptive and sensitive to what is God saying. Is He saying slow down? Is He saying speed it up? Is He saying this direction, that direction?
God is so willing. And what do you do, your children come along and one of the first things you do is you teach them to listen to you. They learn to listen because the goal of their listening is to be obedient to you. And that's all for their good. But when I think about the whole idea of walking and following our Lord, think about this, you can't improve on His timing. Now, here's the reason why. Because He's omniscient. Think about this, He knows all about your future. He knows all about your opportunities. He knows every weakness you have. He knows the things that are most susceptible to you to disobey Him. And so, God has your whole life before Him. He knows what's best. He doesn't want you to get ahead of Him or to lag behind. And so, you can trust Him about everything. And if you're going to walk with God, you have to trust Him, follow Him as we've said about all these other things, and you can't improve on His timing. And so, if you're going to live a godly life, following Him, trusting Him, listening to Him, obeying Him, every single step is important.
And then I think, one other thing that's very important here, and that is I have to love Him. If I don't love God, I'm not going to follow Him, not really. If you love Him, what will you do? You'll want to obey Him. If you love Him, you'll wait for His timing. If you love Him, you'll keep your ear open to His heart. All the things we've said before are involved in expressing your love for God. Walking in His ways, in His step, trusting Him, listening to Him, all of those things are a part of loving Him. And if I love Him, I will obey Him.
So ask yourself the question: am I really and truly walking with God, or am I not? And nobody knows the answer to that but you. Then I think about if I'm going to walk with God, I'm going to forsake sin. Now, what does that mean? That means I'm going to keep my heart clean all the time. And if something comes up that causes me to stumble in my thinking or action, I'm going to deal with it right then. Doesn't mean you're going to be perfect. Forsaking sin, turning away from it, doesn't fit who we are, doesn't fit what God has in plan for us. And so, if you'll think about this: sin always causes us to stumble in some fashion or the other.
Are you walking with God? Ask Him. Is there something in your life that you know shouldn't be there? Is there some sin that just, it's just attached to you? You just think, "Well, one little, listen, I can't be perfect". Doesn't mean that we are perfect, everybody stumbles along the way. You can walk most anywhere and there'll be a rock here or a little hole there, and you may stumble, but you keep going. You don't just lie down and say anything. You make changes in your life when you need to make changes. But if you're not willing to lay that down, then you're not going to walk in obedience to God. You're not going to enjoy life's best. You're going to miss out on God's best blessing for your life. You can't have sin and holiness at the same time. It just doesn't work.
So, if I'm going to walk with God, I'm going to pursue a life of holiness. Now, what does that mean? A holy life is not a perfect life, but it is a life committed to, surrendered to, the perfect will of Almighty God. Does it mean we will always, without exception — no, there are times — that's why He says if we confess our sins, "He's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness". John was writing that for believers. So that's what we do with sin. We confess it. We walk away from it.
So you have to ask yourself the question: in light of all of this, how many of these are true in your life? If you're going to walk with God, all of them, all of them are necessary. So, let's go back to the first question. When God calls you, what will people know you for? You may be very gifted in some areas. And you may be very famous. You may be very wealthy. You may be one of many things, but will they be able to say you walked with God? Only if you do walk with Him. And if you do follow these simple steps of accepting Christ as your savior, listening to Him, trusting Him, obeying Him, abiding by His will for your life, all of these issues are part of living in obedience to Him and being a part of the kingdom of God and make a difference where you are.
So, ask yourself the question: am I walking with God? And you might conclude at night time before you... if I should ask you, do you pray right before you go to sleep? Do you? Well, some of you do. The rest of you are in trouble. Listen, the truth is why not go to bed every night talking to God? Listen, if it only takes you a few moments to look back during the day and say, "Lord, did I walk with You today"? And when you wake up in the morning, begin the day saying, "Lord, enable me to follow You today, and to walk with You today, and to become what You want me to be".
If you've never trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, which is the first step, you're not walking with Him. And I want to encourage you to look at your life. Ask God to show you what He sees. And then you're going to be confessing and repenting of your sin, asking God to forgive you, which He promised to do. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, He has the right to forgive us because of the cross. And get your life straightened up, not by what you do, but by what He's going to do in you and through you. And then start your walk with God. Look how long you've walked without Him. You may be one of those persons that says, "Well, I've done pretty good without Him. No, it's His grace, love, and mercy that's allowed you to come this far. He could take you off the scene in a split second. The issue is: are you willing to walk with God? And that's my prayer for you.
Father, how grateful we are for that simple verse that says, "Enoch walked with God, and he was not because You took him". May it be said of each of us, and every one of us: we walked with God. Do whatever is necessary, change whatever is necessary to get us back in step with You, not ahead of You, not behind You, just in step with You. In Jesus' name, amen.