This image of “walking with Christ” provides us with a helpful way of surveying the whole Bible’s teaching about maturity in Christ. After the fall of Adam, sin and death entered the human race (Rom. 5:12). By the recurrent phrase “and he died,” the genealogy of Genesis 5 shows the reign of death that ensued among Adam’s descendants. But one man stands out from that pattern. Enoch “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). The book of Hebrews makes clear that Enoch did not see death, for he was commended as having pleased God (Heb. 11:5). This phrase “walked with God” receives further elaboration in the life of Noah. He “was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (Gen. 6:9). Here we see that “walking with God” includes not only enjoying favor with God and being admitted to fellowship with Him, but also obedience to God, of walking in His ways.
Abraham was called to such faith and obedience: “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly” (Gen. 17:1b–2). God’s covenant with Abraham required not only that he walk in obedience to God, but that he teach such obedience to his descendants: “For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him” (18:19).
God’s covenant with Abraham came to fuller expression in the days of Moses. He likewise called the people to walk with God: “You shall walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you, and that you may live long in the land that you shall possess” (Deut. 5:33). When Joshua renewed this covenant with Israel, he also called them to walk with God:
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Josh. 22:5)
From Joshua’s words it is plain that the kind of “walking with God” in view is not mere rule keeping and outward conformity. It is a matter of the heart also—“to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” But if it is more than just rule keeping, we must also remember that it is not without rule keeping. Following the words of the great Shema in Deuteronomy 6, which call us to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and might (v. 4–5), we find these forceful words:
And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (vv. 6–9)
In harmony with the teaching of the law, the prophets who came after Moses called Israel to walk with God in such obedience. So we find in Jeremiah: “But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you’” (Jer. 7:23). We find it also in the oft-quoted words of Micah: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8). Further examples could be cited (for example, Ezek. 11:19–20; Hos. 14:9; Zech. 3:7).