For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:3-4 ESV).
In our group reading, we have read (or should have read!) 2 and 3 John ten times. Those who have read it will be aware that the ideas of “walk” and “truth” are important in the letters of John. Here, he takes these two important concepts and joins them together to form a lively picture of what the Christian way of life looks like. What is walking in the truth?
“Truth” is the message of Jesus the Anointed (Messiah or Christ). He was sent by God the Father to make known who God is and to provide the only way that sinful people like us can have our sins forgiven and be right with God. In Christ, God is known, and we can have koinonia (“fellowship” or sharing of life) with God. Truth is essential to John. True Christianity is not formed from our opinions and preferences but from God’s revelation of himself and the way to God in Jesus the Messiah. This is the reason that correct teaching (“doctrine”) matters. Our views must develop out from the Scriptures, instead of trying to find a text that can be stretched in bizarre ways to lend supposed support to human inventions. Therefore, we stress reading and rereading books of the Scripture. As we read and listen carefully, we will hear God’s ideas of reality, and by the Spirit, we will see those ideas and values become ours.
“To walk” means our way of life; it means the attitudes, words and actions that we have and do. In many places in the Scriptures, the Spirit teaches that these can be transformed and conformed to God’s word. Our present practice can be far different and godlier than how we used to live. We are not victims of our circumstances. In Christ, we have power to change. This requires personal choices that are consistent with what the Spirit of God has revealed in the Bible. Yes, I understand fully that you might think that sinful patterns of attitudes, words, and actions are native or natural to you. It feels that way because sin comes from inside you (Mark 7:21-23), as well as being presented to you by others. But in Christ you can make godly choices with the help of the Holy Spirit.
“To walk in the truth” is the practice of seeking to experience the way we live transformed by the truth. God’s message forms new, godly ways in us. An example of this is Paul’s statement in Galatians 2:20. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (ESV). The apostle said that the reality of his union with Christ in his crucifixion produced a radical change in the way he lived. The bigoted persecutor had become the servant of Christ and so followed him in his way of life. John rejoiced when he saw people walking in the truth. There was no gap between the message of the gospel and how they lived. Dear friends, are we walking in the truth? Do we walk in the truth so that others notice our new way of life?
Grace and peace, David