Are you walking in step with the Holy Spirit?
I was sitting in an airport waiting for my next flight when I saw a man and his little daughter together. She was about two years old and she was just learning to walk. Her father held her arms up and she placed her little feet on top of his feet. Each step that he took his daughter walked in step with him; she was walking on top of his feet as he balanced her. Watching that made me think about walking in step with the Spirit and so I want to talk about that in this week’s blog.
Paul wrote, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:24-25). Life in the Spirit will never be possible until we are willing to crucify the flesh. The flesh is contrary to the Spirit, so we will not do the things that please God when flesh remains (see Gal. 5:17). There will always be an internal civil war between the flesh and the Spirit until something is done to end the conflict. There are those who teach that this internal strife is a lifetime struggle; that we must live with this tug-a-war throughout our lives. But the Bible argues differently, we’re told to “crucify” the flesh rather than strive against it. When our flesh is executed it delivers us from the “passions” and “desires” that accompany the flesh. The word passion (pathema) is the inclination or propensity of sin. In this context the word means that which befalls us or that which influences us. We will never be able to walk in the Spirit until the influence, the propensity (tendency, leaning, or pull), and the inclination of sin is crucified.
Along with crucifying the flesh with its passions, Paul stated we’re to put to death the “desires” of the flesh. Desires (epithumia) refer to the longings, cravings, and yearnings of evil doing. Similar to passions, we will never be able to walk freely in the Spirit if these desires are not crucified. Paul wrote elsewhere, “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Thank God that our flesh can be crucified; praise Him that it is possible to die to sin and live freely in Christ. Have you asked God to crucify your flesh? You don’t have to strive against the passions and desires of the flesh; you don’t have to struggle against the inclinations and longings of sin. You can be free from the duplicity (the battle of two opposing forces) of the Spirit and the flesh (see James 4:8).
But our experience with God doesn’t stop at merely executing the flesh. Crucifying the flesh prepares us for walking in the Spirit. Paul wrote, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25). The word “walk” (stoicheo) means to keep in step with; to walk in agreement with someone. We are to walk step by step in the Spirit. Think about that: we live and move in Him (see Acts 17:28). If every activity that Jesus did was directed by the Father (see John 5:19), then we should expect to walk in the same manner. Everything that we do should be done in the Spirit. Here are just a few examples in the Bible of things that we are to do in the Spirit.
- We are to learn in the Spirit (John 16:13; 1 John 2:27).
- We are to witness in the Spirit (Acts 1:8).
- We are to speak in the Spirit (Acts 2:4; 4:8).
- We are to follow in the Spirit (Acts 16:6; Rom. 8:14).
- We are to prophesy in the Spirit (Luke 1:67; Acts 2:17).
- We are to minister in the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:8).
- We are to sow in the Spirit (Gal. 6:8).
- We are to pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18; Jude 20).
The Bible says that we baptized in the Spirit (Luke 3:16), we are comforted through the Spirit (John 14:16), we are filled with the Spirit (Acts 4:31), and we are cleansed by the Spirit (Acts 15:9). The Holy Spirit empowers (Luke 24:49), teaches (John 14:26), convicts (John 16:8), guides (John 16:13), and reveals (1 Cor. 2:10). When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we will grow nine fruits (Gal. 5:22-23) and manifest nine functions (1 Cor. 12:7-10). When we’re given the Holy Spirit, He will abide with us and He will be in us (John 14:17). The Spirit is something that we can ask more of (Luke 11:13), have an unlimited measure of (John 3:34), and always be filled with again and again (Eph. 5:18, “filled” is a present tense verb). Finally, we were all made to drink of one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), so the Holy Spirit should be the only thing that we quench our thirst with.
Life in the Spirit is a day by day journey, and there is no limit to what God desires to do through each of us. But it’s essential to keep in step with Him every moment of every day. I have discovered that there are three problems to avoid. First: walking ahead of the Spirit because of impetuousness, impatience, and an inability to wait for the Spirit’s timing. Sometimes we believe our ideas are going to improve on God’s methods, so we step beyond His leadership. Second: walking behind of the Spirit because of fear, unbelief, and apathy. Often the problem here is we attempt to reason with the Spirit rather than instantly obey Him; therefore, we’re usually a step behind Him. Third: walking away from the Spirit because of negligence, disappointment, or sin. The writer of Hebrews warned us to pay close attention so that we would not drift away (Heb. 2:1). It is essential to avoid these problems and remain in communion with the Holy Spirit as God designed us to be. There is no greater joy or no greater possibilities than when we’re walking step by step in Him. So allow the Holy Spirit to fill you, cleanse you, consume you, saturate you, deluge you, and lead you; it’s a life of joy unspeakable and full of glory.