He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (1 John 2:6—NKJV)

Years ago I was required to read the book “In His Steps.” It was about believers who decided to seek to live like Jesus would. In today’s culture the thought has been translated into the common question, “What would Jesus do?” The intent is to cause every believer to approach life’s decisions with the mind of Christ and obey Him.

For many Christians the question of what Jesus would do may cause some confusion. According to the Gospels, Jesus performed many miracles, lived in flawless wisdom, taught deep, eternal truths with a stunning simplicity, confronted fierce enemies with undaunted courage, made right decisions instantly, and moved endlessly through vast crowds while fulfilling all the law perfectly. All of which things are true of Jesus Christ, but will never be true of any one of us on this side of eternity. How can you relate what Jesus can do to what you should do?

I believe that there is an answer to this problem found in 1 John. Our text gives quite a clear definition of obedience to God in such a way that it applies to any life situation. Let us examine the words which unfold biblical, day-to-day obedience.

John identifies the speaker. He is the one who constantly is saying that he is abiding in Christ. In other words, he is claiming he is an obedient and authentic Christian. This is his claim and ought to be the public claim of everyone who believes his eternal condition is secured through the blood of Jesus Christ.

The speaker’s position is identified. His profession is that he is “in Christ.” When you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior from sin and enmity, the Holy Spirit baptizes (identity, placement, and immersion) you into the body of Christ, thus placing you into vital union with the Son of God. A speaker making such a claim must have a life which backs-up that claim.

The speaker’s right to the claim of being born again is going to be derived from abiding in Christ. The Greek word means to “remain, sojourn, tarry.” Its common use in John’s day was of persons staying in a home with others. It implies fellowship, communion, dependence, harmony, and friendship.1 The word is used of Jesus and many others in the Gospels as they moved about and stayed with any number of friends and acquaintances. To remain implies relationship. This is the energy behind the action of “what would Jesus do?” A believer must be in current fellowship with Jesus Christ, sin confessed, seeking audience with the Savior, obeying His biblical commands, and growing a heart for the things of God.

The speaker’s manner of life which backs up his claim is illustrated by the Greek word for walk—“to order one’s behavior, to conduct oneself, to walk around.” Being in fellowship (sojourning) in Christ makes your manner of life what it should be. The way you “walk” in life (both publically and privately) is a good measure of what kind of person you are. We are not talking of the “miraculous and super-human,” rather, the mundane and ordinary details of life. Imitate Jesus’ ordinary walk. After washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus states in John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” His example was of self-sacrifice, humility, mutual service, and mutual cleansing.

The speaker’s obligation to follow in Christ’s steps is found in the word “ought.” It is a word of obligation, as in “to owe, be in debt for, bound by duty or necessity to do something, something imposed by law or duty, or by reason, or by the times, or by the nature of the matter under consideration.”1

As one who claims to be born again, how is your innate sense of obligation to obey in every ordinary detail of life? If you make the claim of being a Christian, you must dwell with Christ and obey as Jesus would do. Trust and obey.

1Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament (Hendrickson, 1988)