Walk in the Spirit

Scripture encourages us in many ways. One encouragement Paul provides is as follows.

16  I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)

In our Christian walk the Holy Spirit is our leader. His job is to lead, ours is to follow. At times we will be on a well-established trail with clearly marked directions. At other times the trail will be faint or very difficult to follow. As a general principle we need to always be paying attention to His leading to walk with Him. We need to hear when He tells us to pause, to turn, to press on, to stop and rest.

His leading will not always make logical sense. Years ago a fellow shared a story of how the Holy Spirit trained him to listen. He said he was directed to drive around town and given a sense of when to turn and where. This may seem like it was a pointless exercise but he said he learned to be attentive to the Holy Spirit leading him. The benefit came when one day he was driving and had a sudden sense to stop as he came to a green light. He hit the brakes and someone came tearing through the red light and would have broadsided him had he not stopped.

I’m not suggesting this is the way He will train all of us. Just as good coaches develop individualized plans based on the developmental needs of their players, so He knows what we need to learn and seeks to draw us into His specific training program for our lives. I know in my walk it is more about my thought life and speech. At times I have a sense, ‘say this’ or ‘don’t say that.’ I find when I listen I experience His peace resting in and on me.

While peace is one indicator if we want a broader look at how well we are doing He has provided us with a diagnostic tool in Gal. 5:19-23. Here Paul shows the fruit of walking after the flesh in contrast to walking after the Spirit. While we may be in and out of either way of walking at times, the more we submit to His leading the deeper the habit of waling with Him becomes established in our lives and the more of His fruit we manifest.

Recently I was walking with a younger man on an established trail and I was breaking off some overhanging branches that were in the way. I explained why and he joined me. Whenever I hike, even if I don’t think I will ever be on the trail again, I habitually clear branches and remove small rocks and sticks. I believe it is a basic function of leadership to improve the path for others. In a similar manner the Holy Spirit is always leading us in ways to better clear and establish the path of our lives. He wants us to work with Him to remove branches that will entangle us or rocks and sticks that may trip us up. So, let’s focus on staying in step with Him.

The Law of the Spirit of Life

Paul uses an interesting little phrase in Romans, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

2  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2 (NKJV)

It is one thing to know intellectually that we are free from condemnation and sin and death. It is another to know it experientially. When we were born again the seed of God was planted in our lives. This seed contains our spiritual genetics. We now have Jesus nature within us. If we wonder what the seed looks like as it matures Paul describes it in Galatians 5:22-23. We call it the fruit of the Spirit.

The juxtaposition Paul uses is that there are two laws at work and the power in the law of the Spirit of life frees us from power of the law of sin and death. The law of the Spirit of life is able to overcome sin and death at work in us. Great news if that is our experience.

Let me digress a bit. A law as a general principle is there to create boundaries regarding what it is safe to do. To experience the benefit of the law we need to submit to it. In this case the law of the Spirit of life. This means there are two parts, ours and His. He will work in us, in fact He is always at work in us. The degree of effectiveness comes back to our focus. Paul tells us that if we set our minds on the things of the Spirit we will walk in life and peace and if on the things of the flesh, death (Rom. 8:5-6).

Practically this ‘setting of the mind’ often comes down to the little things. When in conversation if we start to head in a certain direction and the Spirit is saying stop (this is an internal sense, a check in our spirit) and we keep going we are heading toward sin and death. If we stop we experience life and peace. We can apply this in a variety of areas of our life – what we think about, what we watch, how we treat others.

When we set our mind on the things of the Spirit we experience the law of the Spirit of life overpowering the law of sin and death. Let’s fix our minds there and show the world Jesus.