Walking in the Spirit
For the past 6 weeks or so, I have been teaching Galatians in our Thursday evening Bible study. We finished the book tonight. And one of the things that I want to key on this evening is a simple biblical truth that we are commanded to follow. Because the more I mature in my relationship with Christ, the more I realize that in order to honor God, it is important for me to walk with Him – side by side. This does not mean just in the big decisions, but in the small ones as well. The problem is that it is tough for me to do that, because half the time I just don’t think about it. I tend to reserve God for those times when I need big help – when I need to consult the Supreme Authority, because I just don’t know the best way to go. Most of the time, I figure that I can handle the small stuff myself – and why bother God when He has so many people to help and so many things on His mind? And even then, do I ask God, or Christ, or the Holy Spirit?
Frankly, the history of the Scriptures and the majesty of God is at times difficult for me to absorb. First, God as our heavenly Father, leading His people out of Egypt across the desert into the Promised Land. Then, Jesus, God in the flesh, dwelling among us, not above us, as God the Father had done. Finally, the Holy Spirit dwelling in us. So each manifestation of the Godhead is closer in proximity that the part that was revealed before.
And when I speak with new Christians, or people who have converted from Judaism, most of them are intimately familiar with God the Father, and intellectually understand the idea of Jesus, even if they don’t believe in Christ. But the Holy Spirit tends to be a foreign concept, and even most pastors do not preach much on this part of the Trinity. Therefore, the Holy Spirit tends to elude us during our studies. We need to learn more about the Spirit – Galatians 5 is there to help us.
Paul lets us know that before we can produce the fruit of the Spirit, we must be crucified to our old nature. In other words, God must prepare our hearts to bear fruit. Paul then tells us, in Galatians 5:16, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” But, as we have seen the last several days, sometimes the different translations give us an incomplete picture of what the intent of the author was. The above translation was from the NIV.
So let’s try another version, say the KJV, same verse, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” See the difference? The Greeks would have! Because living by the Spirit means that we should pattern our lives based on our relationship with God, but “walking” in the Spirit means that every step we take should be side by side with God. Not just leading our lives, but walking through every decision with us.
The Greek word is “peripateo”, which means to walk beside, or next to. It is also a command, not a suggestion! It is something like, “You, all of you, walk beside the Spirit!” And to drive this point home, Paul gives us another directive. In Galatians 5:25, we are told, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” So not only are we to walk side by side, we are to walk in an orderly fashion, or stay in step with the Holy Spirit. This brings a very clear picture to us of what God wants in a relationship with us. To walk in lock-step with the Holy Spirit throughout the days of our lives – day in and day out. Not ahead of, or behind, but next to, or beside, God Himself. Pretty strong stuff – don’t you think?
And by doing this, we will be moving from the desires of the flesh, as listed in Gal. 5:19-21, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.”
With God’s help, we will then move toward the list we find in Gal. 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” And this desirable outcome is achieved after being crucified from the old nature and then, having accepted Christ, walking with the Spirit.
So my encouragement tonight is to try and walk with the Spirit. After all, we are all familiar with the old ways of the flesh; but we are called to more than that. And in our own power, we just won’t see the results that Christ wants for us. So my prayer is that if you are caught in the old sinful nature, you will have remorse, then renounce your old ways, and finally repent, moving closer to God in the process. Furthermore, that you will delight in walking through your life with God by your side, in the form of the Holy Spirit, as you process the decisions of your life, moment by moment – step by step….