Galatians 5:16-18 KJV
16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.
What exactly does it mean to walk in the spirit? That’s a question I have heard asked and answered many times in the 40 years that I’ve been a Christian. I’ve studied it long and hard and have come away with some thoughts that I will share with you today. This is such a key part of us fulfilling what God wants us to do. We must take heed to study it out for ourselves and allow God to speak to us one on one. God longs to speak to us and teach us the will of God (Is 33:18, 65:1-2). He wants to talk to us and he longs for us to get intimate with him (Matt 23:37). What is our reluctance to do that?
The truth is that for most of us the flesh takes priority. We want to do those things that please us on this earth. Our ears are open to what are flushes asking us for. So many times, that is food, clothing and shelter – the basic necessities of life. I know that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about these three things.
When it comes to food, I like to get out so I make a grocery list almost every day. It’s usually a short list just so I can have an excuse to be out with people. I make sure that we always have the essentials and I usually pick up something fresh for supper. This may be a fixation on the food part of life, fulfilling the lust of the flesh with this necessity.
When it comes to clothing I don’t believe I spend too much time on this one. I dress in the morning and pretty much stay in the same clothes all day. Typically, I am just running around town if I’m doing errands so I don’t need to be dressed to the hilt. So, this is an easy one and takes very little time.
Then when I think about shelter, it not only includes the house. It includes everything that goes with that house. This means time spent thinking about the rent or the mortgage, the insurance, the water and sewer bills, the electric bills. There’s a lot more to thinking about our shelter than just our house. I don’t know that I spend an inordinate amount of time on this. God has given us good provision in our household to take care of the things that need to be taken care of.
The reason I mention these three things is because God says we shouldn’t worry about them. He says He knows that we have need of these things and He will take care of them (Matt 6:8, 31-32. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have to pay the bills but it does mean we shouldn’t worry about where that money is going to come from. God will provide it in due time. After telling us not to worry about those things He tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness because then all these things will be added (Matthew 6:33)
Seeking first the kingdom is walking in the spirit. It is setting our mind on things above and allowing God to speak to us about His Kingdom. It is studying the word and looking for those verses that will speak to us today. I believe God has new things to tell us every day but they are all contained within His word. If we are not in the word then we will miss out many times on what He wants to say today. Walking in the spirit is always being open to His voice and being quiet enough to hear it. Uncluttered and unfettered by all the cares of this world. It is putting aside the lust of the Flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life and instead having on mind set on Him.
Walking in the spirit does not neglect our daily tasks. It allows God to direct us while we’re doing those daily tasks. It is stopping to pray for someone when God says to pray. It is going out of our way to do something when God says to do that thing. I can’t tell you how many times God has directed me to one place or another and I have been able to minister in someone when I went out of my way and listened to Him. Listening to that still small voice inside us, the Holy Spirit who will guide us into all truth (John 16:12). It’s truly amazing how God will direct us if we are walking in the spirit. We will think on the right things (Phil 4:8). We will not be anxious about anything (Phil 4:6-7). We will know that things will turn out for our good (Rom 8:28)
But one of the most beautiful things about walking in the spirit is that when we do we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. We will not fulfill the sinful desires that so often come into our mind throughout the day. I’m sure that you have them just like I do. Putting these thoughts aside is difficult if we try to do it in our own strength. When we’re walking in the spirit we have his strength behind us and it’s much easier to put aside the lust of the flesh. We are with Him in our mind. We are listening to His voice. We are still and we know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). As Paul says, we cannot do both because they are contrary to one another.
A second benefit of walking in the spirit is that we will not be walking under the law. We will be walking in grace, because the spirit ministers’ mercy and grace. The spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgement (John 16:8-10). This is all mercy and grace, because when these convictions come into our lives, it is God giving us the opportunity to repent. God does not leave us under the law. He brings us out from under that bondage because Jesus fulfilled the law (Matt 5:17-20). He paid the penalties that were due under the law be becoming our sacrifice (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 10:10, 1 John 2:2). We are no longer indebted to the law. Now we are to minister that same mercy and grace to others. How? By loving our neighbor as ourselves. Be loving our neighbor with the same mercy and grace that God showed to us. This is walking in the spirit!