“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:4).
John 3:16 is the most famous verse in the Bible, because in 25 words, it captures the entire message of Scripture; there is a loving God who will freely give eternal life to all who believe in His Son Jesus Christ. Deuteronomy 13:4 is similar in that it’s 28 words capture so much of what it means to walk with with God.
Moses gives six steps that will lead any believer to success in following Christ:
1. “You shall walk after The Lord your God”
The first step in following Christ is following.
In other words, if we are going to follow Jesus, we need to go where He is going. Too many believers fail, because they continue to go where God is not going. We often hear of college students who attend fraternity parties, where drinking and other activities are rampant. They convince themselves that they will attend and not participate, but not too long after, the pressures of the crowd become too great to resist.
We hear of married men who spend too much time with a co-worker, establishing an unhealthy relationship that leads to a weak moment and devastates a marriage and a family. Remember these things and others like them can be avoided if we walk where He is walking. Solomon reminds us that there are certain roads the believer should not travel.
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on” (Proverbs 4:14-15).
2. “Fear Him”
Fear is often viewed as a negative emotion. We learn early in life that, if we are going to succeed at anything, we must overcome our fears. The Bible itself exhorts the Christian not to fear, because God is with us and will protect us. There is, however, a healthy side to fear. Being afraid of falling will cause us to be more cautious when climbing. Being afraid of illness will help us to avoid certain foods when traveling, and having a healthy fear of God will cause us not to want to practice things that He has forbidden.
Proverbs 8:13 explains that the fear of the Lord is to hate evil and depart from it.
A practical way to define the fear of God is to be more concerned with what God thinks than anything else. This will help us avoid ungodly activities and pursue righteousness. Instead of viewing things as whether or not they will bring us pleasure, we should view them as whether or not they please God.
3. “Keep His commandments”
The surest way to succeed in our walk with Christ is to read the Bible and do what it says. The Bible is designed not only to guide our lives but also to redirect us, when we get off course. The surest way to stumble is to either ignore the Bible completely or to begin to read without action.
We should daily consult the Word, allowing it to cast light unto our thinking, our behaviors and our way of life. During Israel’s journey in the wilderness, they were led by a cloud and a pillar of fire. It would seem that with that kind of clear guidance, they would always make the best decisions and do the right thing. Sadly, we find that they struggled daily to obey the Lord. We do not have a cloud to follow through life, but we do have the clear teachings of Scripture. If we want to succeed in following Christ, we must obey them at every turn.
4. “Obey His voice”
One of the great benefits of being in a relationship with God is that He will speak to us. When Elijah fled to the caves of Mount Horeb, he heard God speak to him in a quiet voice. When Paul and his party were traveling through ancient Turkey, they heard God direct them away from Asia and Bythinia and ultimately to Macedonia. It seems that God is still in the practice of speaking to His children in a quiet voice. I have found that He will prompt me to send a random text to someone only to find that it was an opportune moment for ministry. I have learned that He will often warn me in advance, so I am prepared to face the temptation that is coming.
On one occasion, I was invited to lunch by a new member of our church. As I pulled up to the restaurant, I suddenly thought of James’ exhortation not to elevate the well dressed above the poor in the local church. Not sure why that thought came to mind, I quickly read through the passage, prayed and made my way in the restaurant. It did not take long for me to realize that this man was attempting to use his success to buy his way into leadership in the church. I was so glad that I had heeded the quiet voice of God.
5. “You shall serve Him”
Just recently, a woman from our church approached me and said, “I have become so confident in who I am in Christ, since I began to serve Him.” Serving Jesus has a way of making us depend upon Him, and dependence leads to getting to know Him at a deeper level.
One of the surest ways to get in a spiritual rut is to fail to have an outlet of ministry. No matter what your comfort level might be, get involved in your local church. Listen to the needs that are presented and commit your time, efforts and energy to serve. You will find that your relationship with Christ will explode.
Think about what great things have been accomplished for the Lord because people stepped away from what was easy and comfortable and into what made them rely on God for every step. Personally, I am not very comfortable in front of people, which is pretty awkward for a pastor. I realized long ago that, if I was going to continue to experience the power and provision of God, I had to be willing to go where He was leading, even if it was difficult.
6. “Hold fast to Him”
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride?” Well, following Christ can be like that. We must cling to the Lord in times of darkness or difficulty. Instead of allowing hard times to cause us to accuse God of wrong, we should use those times to cling to Him and find His strength and learn His ways. Some of the greatest stories in Scripture happened with the darkest of backdrops. In fact, summing up the behavior of a generation of individuals who faithfully followed the Lord, the writer of Hebrews declared:
“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13).
Their success was linked to the fact that they embraced the promises of God. There are times in life where we must cling to a promise like it was our lifeline.
Thankfully, there is nothing in heaven or on earth strong enough to break the Word of God.