WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
There is a certain risk in embarking on a topic like this: WALKING IN THE SPIRIT. A staggering amount of human tradition surrounds this subject--tradition that is highly valued, though it has yielded little, if any, spiritual fruit. The jeopardy of a study like this is that it may offend people that entertain contrary views.
The nature of God and His great salvation demands that we not be swayed by such considerations. God is a God of truth and, as such, cannot be served by faulty interpretations of His Word. We must attempt, to the best of our abilities, to convey what He has said, within the context of His revealed purpose. I readily acknowledge that I am not concerned one whit about how the Word of God impinges upon the traditions of men. The things said in this short treatise are straightforward. They are declared with a firm persuasion that the knowledge of the truth brings freedom from the encumbering inventions of men. Acknowledgment of the truth will produce liberty to draw near to God, and to obtain grace to help in the time of need.
WHAT IS GOD DOING IN REDEMPTION?
The consideration of any Scriptural theme requires contemplation of God's objective in redemption. Why did God send Christ into the world? Why did Jesus volunteer to humble Himself and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross? Why did He return to heaven, and what is He doing there? What is the intended consummation of His vicarious work? It is not my purpose to here deal with these matters in detail. An overview of these matters will better serve to introduce our subject.
It must be remembered that the Holy Spirit was sent into the world by Jesus. His ministry was not to speak of Himself. Rather, He came to take the things of Christ, and to give them to us (John 16:13-15). He does not depart from this sacred ministry, although He is often represented as doing so. Any and every work purporting to be "of the Spirit" that is not in complete and obvious harmony with the revealed purpose of Christ is spurious, and is to be rejected. I make no apologies for this requirement. The Holy Spirit will not lead you contrary to divine objective. He has no agenda of His own, but faithfully carries out the agenda of the Father, which has been embraced by both the Son the Holy Spirit.
WORKING OUT HIS ETERNAL PURPOSE
God has an "eternal purpose" (Eph 3:11). He has not and will not depart from His objective. He has determined to bring heaven and earth together in oneness, and to do so in Christ Jesus (Eph 1:10). God made mankind to have "dominion over the works of" His hand (Heb 2:6-8). While that purpose has not yet been realized, it remains His goal. The final work will be complete in the "world to come," not in this world. His objective is not to bring unity among men in this world. That was already achieved to a remarkable degree in the Plain of Shinar, and it did not please the Lord (Gen 11). The Lord's purpose involves the removal of "all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matt 13:41). That is the current obstacle to the desired oneness. The "saved" begin to experience that removal now as they are "delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son" (Col 1:13). The maturity of the purpose, however, will come after the "heavens have passed away with a great noise," the "elements melt with fervent heat," and the "earth also and the works that are therein are burned up" (2 Pet 3:10-12). The Holy Spirit does not operate outside the confines of this agenda.
INSTRUCTING ANGELS IN HIS MAGNIFICENT WISDOM
It may appear from the emphasis of contemporary religion that God is trying to impress the world. That is not, however, the case. God's purpose involves the impression of a much higher order of beings. "Now" He is showing "principalities in heavenly places" His "manifold wisdom through the church" (Eph 3:10). Observe, He is not showing them His power, but His "manifold wisdom." His wisdom is multifaceted, and is therefore called "manifold." The vehicle through which this impression is being made is "the church," the body of Christ Jesus. He is not doing it through a political entity, or through the family structure, but through those that are in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit does not forget this purpose, nor is He diverted to lesser things.
ORIENTING US FOR GLORY
"All things" were made by Christ and "for Him" (Col 1:16). The realm in which this will be realized is "glory"--the presence of the Lord. Jesus prayed that we would see Him in His glory, and that we would participate in it (John 17:24). His current ministry is in order to the realization of that objective. We have been washed from our sins to qualify us for glory. We have been "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places" in order to acquaint us with the world to come (Eph 1:3,20; 2:6). Christ's current intercessory ministry is designed to bring us through the land of contamination to the realm of purity. The Holy Spirit does not ignore "glory" in the leading of God's people.
PREPARING FOR AN ETERNAL REIGN
God made mankind to have "dominion over the works of" His hand (Gen 1:26-27). While that purpose has not yet been realized, it still remains His goal. The "saints will judge the world and "angels" during the initial realization of this purpose. The development of spiritual discretionary powers in this world is to that end. The Holy Spirit never sets a priority on this world. In keeping with the Father's program, He ever works to ready us for the time when we will "inherit the earth" and "reign with Jesus" (Psa 37:9,11,22; Matt 5:5; 2 Tim 2:12).
REVEALING HEAVENLY THINGS TO US
Spiritual ignorance alienated us from the life of God (Eph 4:18). It certainly will not be tolerated in Christ Jesus. God no longer "winks" at ignorance, but commands "all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30-31). The purpose of this command is not simply to turn us away from sin and its involvements, although that is most assuredly involved. The real intent is to ready us for exposure to the mind of the Lord. God desires to reveal to us things us that have been "kept secret" since the beginning of the world (Matt 13:35; Rom 16:25; 1 Cor 2:9-10). He wants to show us His covenant (Psa 25:14) and bring us into an appreciation of and participation in His "good and acceptable, and perfect will" (Rom 12:1-2).
The Holy Spirit will not ignore this purpose. He will not overpower people, thrusting into a state similar to that of Satanic hypnosis, for purposes of impressing a carnal people. I realize that He often receives credit for working in such a fashion. Such representations are fabrications, and are to be rejected as spurious. For something to be "revealed" it has to be intelligent, contributing to the apprehension of the things of God. If this does not occur, the HOLY Spirit cannot be credited with the work.
CONCLUDING INTRODUCTORY THOUGHTS
Our understanding of "walking in the Spirit" must be in harmony with the revealed purpose of God. We cannot allow ourselves to be unduly influenced by professed experts in the Holy Spirit. Because the Spirit does not speak of Himself, there are no "experts" in His Person. We know very little about the Holy Spirit Himself. The burden of the information we have been given pertains to what He is doing, not Who He is. Remembering that He comes to give us the things of God will deliver us from many hurtful snares.
WHAT IS WALKING IN THE SPIRIT?
The word "walk" is used often in Scripture, and generally denotes the direction and focus of ones life. It also includes the ideas of effort, progress, and willingness--all of which are integral to a manner of life. Etymologically, the word is very broad. peripateo ,per-ee-pat-eh'-o; to tread all around, i.e. walk at large (espec. as proof of ability); fig. to live, deport oneself, follow (as a companion or votary):--go, be occupied with, walk (about).
Observe that the "walk" involves extensive perusal of the environment--"tread all around . . . to be occupied with." The individuals that walk "in the Spirit" are preoccupied with the "things of the Spirit of God" (Rom 8:5; 1 Cor 2:14). These are the things that intrigue them, and which they prefer.
Personal commitment to the environment of the Spirit is also involved. This is seen in the definition, "deport oneself, follow . . . be occupied with". A walk in the Spirit has moral implications. Those engaged in such a walk are not merely inquisitive about spiritual things, they are committed to them. They bring their lives into harmony with the perspectives of the Spirit.
A walk also presumes some ability, or adaptation to the environment in which the "walk" takes place. This is seen in the meaning "walk at large . . . as proof of ability." A very wonderful thing has occurred to those walking in the Spirit. They have been enabled to navigate in otherwise unnegotiable realms. This experience parallels that of the Psalmist, which spoke of being given "hinds feet" to negotiate challenging spiritual climes (Psa 18:33; Hab 3:19).
The doctrine of Scripture takes this word and gives it even greater signification. Removing the generalities of earthly wisdom, the Spirit brings the clarity to "walking" that is required to embrace the will of the Lord. He breathes life into language, which is nothing more than a carcass until given fuller and more precise definition by Deity.
RELATED TO ENLIGHTENMENT
"But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him" (John 11:10). "Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world" (John 11:9). "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
A walk "in the light" is one attended by understanding. It is not a forced walk, but one produced by comprehension and consequent willingness. In this case, illumination enables the individual to avoid stumbling, or living in such a manner as to incur the indignation of God. A walk in the Spirit is attended by spiritual intelligence. Those that presume to walk in the Spirit while remaining fundamentally ignorant of the "mind of Christ" have been deceived. They are not in the Spirit at all!
RELATED TO THE TRUTH OF GOD
"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:6).
A failure to live in harmony with the God of profession reveals that the lie has been embraced. Walking in the Spirit and living in sin cannot be joined together. Those who represent themselves as having accomplished such a feat have only lied. What is more, their life is nothing more than a untruth--they "do not the truth."
Walking in darkness is living in spiritual ignorance--unaware of heavenly realities accessible through faith. Walking in the Spirit is the exact opposite of this condition. It involves alertness to heaven, awareness of divine purpose, and sensitivity to the will of the Lord. In this walk, things in earth and things in heaven are perceived as they really are.
RELATED TO A GOOD CONSCIENCE
"I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit" (Rom 9:1).
It is possible to possess a "good conscience" (1 Tim 1:19; 1 Pet 3:21). In fact, this is the "end," or objective, "of the commandment" (1 Tim 1:15). Such a conscience has been tutored by the Holy Spirit. The Comforter, or Counsellor, brings to the individual an awareness of personal involvement in the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom 3:24). That persuasion buoys up the heart, enabling the one in possession of it to stand firm under difficult circumstances. The absence of a "good conscience" reveals a need for more of the Spirit's work within.
RELATED TO SPIRITUAL LIFE
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom 6:4).
Being "alive to God" (Rom 6:11) entails spiritual reciprocity, or responsiveness to Him "with Whom we have to do" (Heb 4:13). Such a person has been given "ears to hear," and thus hears "what the Spirit says to the churches" (Rev 2:7). Those that "walk in newness of life" are dominated by an alertness to the Lord, His will, and His direction. They seek His favor, and covet His blessing. God does not have to knock them down to get their attention. They have, by the grace of God, been sensitized to His Person and purpose.
THE DOCTRINE OF WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
Be clear about this: walking in the Spirit is not an option for the believer. This is not a high plateau for the super-spiritual. It is not possible to get to heaven if you do not walk in the spirit. There are no other acceptable walks--none at all!
OUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST STARTS IN THE SPIRIT
"Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3).
The Galatians had been deceived into thinking they could satisfy God by living under a system of law. Under such an arrangement, men thought they could gain God's approval by measuring up through human effort alone. It sounded good to the proud, but it was the essence of evil. Such an approach negated Christ's death, and caused one to fall from grace (Gal 2:21; 5:4). It also denoted the presence of a foolish mind, given over to spiritual stupidity.
Paul takes the people back to their translation into the kingdom of Christ. When they were born again, they were "born of the Spirit" (John 3:6,8). They started with a walk "in the Spirit." As with all believers, they were acutely aware of the Father and the Son when they began their new life. They voluntarily abandoned their sin, and engaged in a quest for heaven. They saw Christ as the dominate figure of all time, and refused to allow anything to stand between them and the goal. They started their new life "in the Spirit." It was not a goal to be achieved, but a process that was realized. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a person born again that is not acutely aware of the Lord and His will. They are born "instructable" and "leadable. "
Satan attacked the Galatian brethren through distorted teaching. It was not long until they were convinced that God was to be served through a system of law, or human achievement. Their religion now constrained them to seek justification by law instead of grace, and works instead of faith. Paul assesses their retrogression as "foolish." They had departed from their right minds. It is not possible to begin "in the Spirit" and complete the race in our own strength.
THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion (fellowship, NIV) of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen" (2 Cor 13:14).
It is remarkable to consider that the entire Godhead is involved in our salvation. Notice this marvelous text. Ordinarily, grace is associated with "God," i.e., "the grace of God." Here, however, it is related to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is because He is the Means through which grace is given to us. If it were not for Jesus, grace would not be available to us. Understand that grace is essential to the walk of faith. That is why Paul prayed that we would have it.
The "love of God" is also necessary to spiritual life. This is an active love, in which we are to "keep" ourselves; i.e., "keep yourselves in the love of God" (Jude 21). In a sense, this love is conditional, because it presumes extensive effort on our part. The words of our Lord Jesus Himself clarify this to us; "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father . . . If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him . . . " (John 14:21,23). That is the "love of God" which the Apostle coveted for all believers.
Paul also prays that we will experience the "communion," or "fellowship," "of the Holy Spirit. What a remarkable benefit this is! It is more than casual acquaintance, or even a strictly legal association. Fellowship involves the heart and the mind. The heart involves a proper placement of our affection on "things above:" i.e., a keen interest in and involvement with eternal realities. The mind relates to contemplation and understanding. It also entails the will and preferences. The "communion of the Holy Spirit" is a rational communion. Thought, affection, and delight are mingled together as unanimity is found in the focus of the Spirit and the thrust of our hearts.
Let it is be clear that this "communion" is not mystical, hidden from the involvement of our intellect and will. Much of what parades itself as spiritual today is more related to the world of occultism than to the Holy Spirit of God. You will be hard pressed to find a single incident in Scripture where an individual is said to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and was irrational, imperceptive, or incoherent. That is not "communion," but ruthless domination. God is not glorified by such things, and people really are not profited by them.
The "communion of the Holy Spirit" is another view of walking in the Spirit. This involves a lively and dominating awareness of the Person and accomplishments of Jesus Christ. A close and intimate relationship to the Father is realized and enjoyed. The things of heaven become the objects of affection and reflection to all that walk in the Spirit. Earthly things diminish the presence and power of a preference for heavenly things. If we focus upon the temporal order, we "quench" and "grieve" the Spirit of God (1 Thess 5:19; Eph 4:30). He is a Holy Spirit, and He is from heaven. As such, He cannot blend with or focus upon the cursed order.
Suffice it to say, a comprehension of this revolutionizes our approach to and selection of an emphasis. It also explains why so many people are living far short of their privileges in Christ Jesus. Do not take this matter lightly. We are told that death awaits those that "mind the things of the flesh" (Rom 8:5). Paul even states that such are "enemies of the cross of Christ" (Phil 3:17-19). Walking in the Spirit will not allow such things.
GOD SPEAKS ON THE MATTER
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT ASSUMES THE POSSESSION OF THE SPIRIT
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" ( Rom 8:9).
The question to be asked every professed believer is, "Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?" (Acts 19:2). This is the mark of distinction in the people of God. The solemn statement of Scripture is this: "Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." There are no exceptions to this affirmation, no allowances for deviation from it.
The point of consideration in the eighth chapter of Romans is the conflict between the fleshly and spiritual mind. They are antithetical to one another, and cannot be united. Paul delineates the struggle of the fleshly and spiritual mind in the seventh chapter of Romans. Speaking directly to the matter of evidences, Paul states, "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit" (Rom 8:5). Here the importance of focus is seen. Those that are "after the Spirit" center on "the things of the Spirit of God." They are not preeminently occupied with the things of this world--in any form. This world is secondary to them, and they "use it" as "not abusing it," knowing that its "fashion" is passing away (1 Cor 7:31). Their eye is looking toward heaven, where their Savior intercedes and their inheritance resides. These are marks of the individual that possesses the Spirit of God.
There is a significant percentage of the Christian community that associates having the Spirit of God with a unique and epochal experience. Often this is called "the baptism of the Holy Spirit." That such a phenomenon occurred, cannot be denied. Nor, indeed, is there any need to do so. But such an experience is never taught in Scripture to be the evidence that one possesses the Spirit of God. No Apostle ever reasoned in this manner concerning the indwelling Spirit. Thus, we will not be tolerant of those that so reason today. The possession of the Spirit is consistently equated with the mind-set of the possessor, and his orientation to heavenly realities.
The truth is, "they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom 8:8) -- and you can rest assured, no one will get to heaven that "cannot please God." Pleasing God is the issue of the Kingdom! If God is not pleased with you, nothing else really matters. The ultimate possession that brings God's favor is faith, without which "it is impossible to please God" (Heb 11:6). The experiential outworking of that faith is evidenced primarily in thought, and secondarily in deed. The eighth chapter of Roman deals particularly with the area of thought.
At this point, Paul states the text under consideration. "But you are not in the flesh, but "in the Spirit." It is interesting to note that being "in the Spirit" is equated with the Spirit being in you: "if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you." Observe that the evidence is the Spirit DWELLING in you. That indicates at-homeness; the Spirit finding it delightful to be resident in the saved. This postulates a lack of essential variance with the Spirit. A harmony exists between the regenerate and the Spirit that is marvelous. It is evidenced in the way they think. Their affection has been set on things above, and they have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lusts (Gal 5:24).
The implications of this brings great concern to me. I feel like John when he ate the book. It was sweet in his mouth, but bitter in his belly (Rev 10:10). It was "sweet" because it was true and good. It was "bitter" because of the startling implications that necessarily followed. If it is true that the proof of the indwelling Spirit is found in the thinking of the professed believer, we have a serious situation on our hand. Those whose minds are nailed to the earth like Sisera's head (Judges 4:17-21) are on the precipice of disaster. The thrust of their thought has alienated them from God, and they are at war with Him--all the while supposing they have His Holy Spirit.
Walking in the Spirit assumes a frame of mind that is godly. Things are seen from God's point of view. A basic affinity with Scripture exists that produces joy when confronted with divine utterance. God's words are the "joy and rejoicing" of the heart (Jer 15:16). The law of the Lord is hidden in the heart to enable a renunciation of sin (Psa 119:11). Heaven becomes the primary place. Jesus Christ is now the chief Person, bringing us to the true and living God. Treasure in heaven is considered the foremost investment, and faith the chief possession. Where these things do not exist, there is no walk in the Spirit. All such claims, in this senario, are only pretense.
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT PROHIBITS THE FULFILLMENT OF FLESHLY LUSTS
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" (Gal 5:16).
The fulfillment of the lusts of the flesh is the prelude to condemnation. God's people cannot afford to be wrong on this point. Those that dabble in desires that anchor men to this "present evil world" are in a backward posture. They are "drawing back," and doing so "to perdition"' (Heb 10:38-39). Those that take the faith-life seriously want to know how to avoid obeying the desires of the Adamic nature.
The answer is found in walking in the Spirit. Do not miss the gravity of this statement. It helps clear away the theological rubbish that has been thrown upon issues related to God's Holy Spirit. Having the facts before us, the affirmation of this text should not surprise us. Remember that the Spirit is a "HOLY Spirit." He is the antithesis of fleshly indulgence. He will never lead a person to indulge the sinful nature, and those that do so have not been led by Him.
There is no compromise on this point. The paramount issue with humanity was sin. That is why Jesus came (Matt 1:21). That is why He died (1 Cor 15:1-3; Heb 9:16). That is why He was raised from the dead (Rom 4:25). It is why He ascended into heaven (Heb 9:12). It is why He is presently interceding for us (Heb 7:25). His soon return will be "without sin" to those that are eagerly awaiting His appearance (Heb 9:28). If the sin problem remained unresolved, there was no hope of recovering the fallen race--none at all. Any effort representing itself as of God that leaves the sin problem unresolved, is an affront to God, and destined for judgement.
Why is this true; "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh" ? A walk in the Spirit develops a distaste for sin within the heart. Iniquity is seen as an attempt to dethrone the God that saved us through Christ. It is perceived as allegiance to Satan, who is the author of all inclinations to sin. Fulfilling the lust of the flesh is the result of forming an alliance with the "rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph 6:12). The person "in the Spirit" clearly sees this, and that understanding enables him to "abstain from fleshly lusts that war against he soul" (1 Per 2:11).
Note, the Spirit does NOT say that walking in the Spirit makes fulfilling the lusts of the flesh less probable. Nor, indeed, does He approach it from the perspective of Law; i.e., "you had better not fulfill the lusts of the flesh." This is a law of the kingdom of God, and there is no way to successfully contradict it. If you walk in the Spirit you WILL NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh. The conclusion is obvious; if the lusts of the flesh are indulged, the individual so doing is not walking in the Spirit. If, on the other hand, we walk in the Spirit, the strength of the fleshly nature is diminished to the point where it cannot dominate us. Praise be unto our God for this great benefit!
THE BELIEVER'S MANDATE AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father" (Rom 8:12-15).
If heaven is to be gained, it is imperative that we subdue our lower natures. Believers have within "another law" that "wars against" the law of their renewed "mind" (Rom 7:23ff). Unchecked, this law, or tendency, will bring the individual into a state of condemnation. In order to assist in this indispensable work, God has given us His own Holy Spirit. He leads in the effort to crucify self.
Jesus solemnly informed all who follow Him of the necessity of cross-bearing; i.e., the crucifixion of the flesh (Matt 16:24). This mandate has not been taken seriously by masses of professed believers. However, those that bask in the light of Gospel glory see its necessity, and engage in hearty efforts to accomplish the task. The Spirit informs us that "they that are Christ's HAVE crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal 5:24). Note, He does not say they SHOULD do this, but that they HAVE done this! The Holy Spirit is integral to the accomplishment of this mission--the crucifixion of the flesh.
We are debtors
Salvation makes us debtors; debtors to God. We owe Him our lives, our affections, and our wills. No one can be saved that does not agree to live for Him. They are debtors to Him! We are not our own, we have been bought with a price. Therefore, we are to glorify God in both our body and spirit (1 Cor 6:19-20). There are no exceptions to this rule.
We are NOT, however, debtors to the flesh! We owe nothing to our sinful nature. We are not obligated to obey it. Nor, indeed, are we powerless to deny its demands. No one sins because they HAVE to. Those outside of Christ can believe the Gospel and be released from the domination of the sin. Those in Christ can refuse to let the sinful nature express itself. That refusal is possible only when we "walk in the Spirit."
The Spirit's role in this denial is that of empowerment. We cannot overcome sin by an act of our will alone. We are as impotent in ourselves as the lame man that was commanded to take up his bed and walk (John 5:7-8). However, when we walk in the Spirit, He empowers us to fulfill the will to "deny ungodliness and worldly lusts," and to live "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Tit 2:12). Those that refuse the "communion of the Holy Spirit" fall under the dominion of the flesh, and thus enter into the "broad way that leads to destruction" (Matt 7:13).
If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die
Living after the flesh is being earth-centered. It is living for self instead of the glory of God. It involves being dominated by nature instead of grace. Those living after the flesh are not necessarily overcome by gross immorality. They simply think and act as men. They do not have "the mind of Christ." Instead, they "mind earthly things" (Phil 3:18-19). The Spirit does not leave us to guess in this matter. Living like this leads to death--separation from God. The earthly point of view is the condemned point of view.
Through the Spirit we mortify the deeds of the body
The Holy Spirit enables us to subdue inclinations away from God. Although the propensity to sin is strong, often bringing us into "captivity" to grievous thoughts (Rom 7:23), it can be defeated! Overcoming sinful inclinations requires considerable effort on our part--but it requires more than that. The "deeds of the body," or the outworking of the sinful nature, can only be crucified through the Holy Spirit.
The subjugation of the flesh is accomplished indirectly. The Spirit opens the things of God to us, personalizing them to our spirits. His leading results in our contemplation of the "exceeding great and precious promises," through which we become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4).
Led by the Spirit
Among those emphasizing the Spirit, His leading is not often associated with this noble work. In fact, there is far too much fleshly indulgence in those circles. Fleshly domination is evidenced by desires for preeminence, covetousness, and involvement in immorality. Although efforts are made to explain the existence of these things, the reason for their presence is clear: these people have not been "led by the Spirit." They boast of His presence, His power, and His dominance, but they are not telling the truth. The prevalence of earthmindedness in their circles contradicts their claims.
The Holy Spirit will lead in the crusade against flesh. He does so because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 15:50). If the flesh, together with the "carnal mind," is not subdued, heaven will not be gained!
Walking in the Spirit is being heavenly minded. It is being dominated by the heavenly perspective. Earth, together with all of its appurtenances, will be "burned up." As such, it is unworthy of our emphasis! The health and wealth advocates have only betrayed their carnality by their emphasis!
IT IS REASONABLE TO WALK IN THE SPIRIT
"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal 5:25).
Walking in the Spirit can be approached as a matter of law: i.e., you must do this. This view is better than no view, but it is not the best. Nor, indeed, does it provide the greatest incentive. The truth of the matter is that it is reasonable to walk in the Spirit. Given all of the facts in the case, it makes perfect sense to do so.
If our spiritual life has come from the Holly Spirit, it makes perfect sense to maintain fellowship with Him. If we were quickened (made alive) by the Spirit, is it not reasonable to say that life is maintained by the Spirit? Sensitivity to God is both produced and maintained by the Holy Spirit of God. This text exhorts us to reason on the matter. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit". It is spiritually insane to ignore this exhortation.
The only question that remains is, Have we been made alive by the Spirit? Are we sensitive to Him? Have we lost a preference for sin? Do we delight in the good Word of God? Have we experienced the remission of our sins, and have we obtained a "good conscience?" If so, then let us "walk in the Spirit." Let us live out our lives in an environment of heavenly contemplation? Let our focus be harmonious with that of heaven! Look at the world as God does! Consider the great rewards that await those that fight the good fight of faith.
DOMINATED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT
Walking in the Spirit involves being dominated by Him. This is not ruthless or forceful domination. There is no place for that in "the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Tim 2:10). God is bringing "many SONS to glory" (Heb 2:10), not "many slaves!" Salvation constrains us to submit to this tender control. This is domination like that of a mother over a child. It involves care, protection, leading, and instruction. There is nothing unpleasant about it.
There is a strain of religious emphasis that views the Spirit as knocking people down, captivating them by force. Many apparently sincere souls have embraced this view, and give testimony to experiences that seem to support their account. But their appraisal of the situation is not right. The Word of God does not support their persuasion, and we have no example of such an occurrence in "the record God has given of His Son." Under such delusion, people actually think they are drawn closer to God by getting out of their mind rather than having a fruitful mind. Even though God requires that we love Him with all of our mind (Matt 22:37), this doctrine convinces people that they are ushered into rich fellowship with God without the involvement of their mind. Such a situation would belie the very salvation that is purported to have been embraced. Salvation is an economy of light, or understanding, not of darkness, or ignorance. It makes little difference how real contrary experiences may be, or how marvelous they may "feel." They simply are in conflict with salvation and sanctification, and every aspect of them.
FULFILLING THE PURPOSE OF JUSTIFICATION
What is the purpose of justification, or complete acquittal before God? Is it to merely liquidate our debt to God. Perhaps the primary motive is to ensure that we do not go to hell. That these are involved cannot be denied; that they are primary is emphatically denied. The forgiveness of sin is in order to fellowship with God. Deliverance from wrath is in order to the realization of eternal life. A cognizant and fruitful relationship with the living God is the purpose of our salvation. If our ignorance of God once alienated us from His life (Eph 4:18), you may rest assured that an ignorance of Him will not now further our relationship with Him. In spite of this rather obvious conclusion, many still boast of being drawn close to God while in a state of mental sterility.
Walking in the Spirit describes the practical aspect of eternal life. This is how the life is lived! Without this walk, justification has yielded no benefit. We have been cleansed for fellowship, washed for participation, and raised to be "laborers together with God." The ultimate goal of redemption is for us to "reign with Christ," to be "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Rom 8:17). Walking in the Spirit orients us for that objective now. In that "walk" God works "in us, both to will and to do of His own good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). He does not work in us like He did in Balaam's "donkey--a beast without speech" (2 Pet 2:16, NIV). Nor, indeed, does He work in us as He did in Joseph's brothers who fulfilled the will of the Lord inadvertently.
The "day of salvation" provides a different spiritual environment that brings the people into intimacy and involvement with their God. Rather than working "on" them, God works "in them." He does not dwell in furniture and fixtures, as He did between the Cherubims on the mercy seat (Ex 25:22). Instead, He dwells within His people--walking (progress toward an objective) and dwelling (harmony and affinity) in His people. Walking in the Spirit is a term denoting the experience of these things.
LIVING IN DIVINE TUTELAGE
One of the glorious promises of the new covenant is, "They shall all be taught by God" (Isa 54:13). Jesus related the day of salvation with this promise (John 6:45). Teaching, in this case, involves the effective communication of the mind and objectives of the Lord. Walking in the Spirit is related to that instruction, as well as the ability to put it into practice. This is the experience referenced in Titus 2:11-13: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." No wonder the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of grace" (Heb 10:29). Those in whom these objectives are not being realized, are simply not walking in the Spirit--regardless of their profession., Those that are experiencing their fulfillment are walking in the Spirit, regardless of contrary perceptions.
PRAYING IN THE SPIRIT
Prayer plays a vital role in our spiritual walk. "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints" (Eph 6:18). "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 1:20).
At this point, there is a lot of confusion among professed believers. Some are persuaded that "praying in the Holy Spirit" is praying in a special prayer language. The Scriptures never mention a "prayer language" -- that is humanly devised term, not an expression of the Spirit of God. If the Spirit had intended to say "prayer language," that is what He would have said. But He did not say that, therefore we can permit no would-be teacher to convince us that is what the Spirit meant.
Praying "in the Spirit" is praying with the mind of the Lord. This is when prayer flows from spiritual understanding that is granted by the Holy Spirit. The individual so praying has heaven's perspective on the matter under consideration. The expressions of the heart and mouth are the result of walking with God. Such prayers are evidence of divine fellowship.
When the Scripture refers to the Spirit making intercession for us "in groanings which cannot be uttered," He does not say the intercession is expressed through our lips. Referring to our longings for deliverance from the bondage of corruption, the Spirit says, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And He Who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with the will of God" (Rom 8:26-27, NIV).
The intercession in reference is "with groans that words cannot express." He does not say with "words that cannot be understood," but with words that "cannot be expressed." This is not a communication of words, but one of "groans," or sighs. These are more instinctive than cognitive, or rational. They are produced by a sense of misfit in this world. There is no human speech, known or unknown, capable of articulating these sighs. The Spirit, however, can interpret them to our God with intercessions. The purpose of that intercession is the obtainment of resources appropriate for the situation. We know this is the case, because the divine commentary on this intercession is, "the Spirit helps us in our weakness." The Spirit does not interpret our speech to God, but the travail of our spirit. Note also, that God does not search our speech, but our hearts. The point of this text is not God's response to utterance, but His response to something that cannot be uttered--in ANY language. Those that teach this is a "prayer language" are guilty of eisigesis; i.e., imposing their own misconceptions upon the Word of God. That is, they have read their thoughts INTO the Bible, rather than extracting God's thoughts from it.
Walking in the Spirit describes a life that is chaffed by the course of this world; a life that longs for glory, and is discontent with the downward pulls of the fleshly nature. Help is to be found, even though an element of frustration attends such a walk (Rom 7:14ff). There comes a time when our strength depends upon the communication of the Spirit, not our own. At that time, we are shut up to inarticulate groanings and sighs--but we are not helpless. In that condition, we have no appetite for the indulgence of the flesh. Rather, we are longing for the homeland, a better country. We are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, desiring to drink the water of life without any inhibitions. Blessed are the persons that experience such things--they are walking in the Spirit.
A word of caution
It is not necessary for us to deny the existence of utterances called a "prayer language." It is in order for us to deny their superiority, for they are assigned no such position by the God of heaven. Throughout the history of the church, unexplainable phenomenon has taken place. No man of God or Apostle, however, ever erected a theology upon such occurrences. Nor, indeed, was anyone ever instructed to trust in them, or claim them as a sign of special blessing. All such claims have proceeded from the tradition of men, and men must take the total responsibility for their origin and propagation. Suffice it to say, those that choose to disseminate such views will give a strict account to God for their actions. If God did not choose to teach these things, woe be to the mortal that chooses to do so.
Anyone that teaches the people of God to identify irrational experiences as superior, has opened the door of delusion. We do well to beware of views that plunge us into mystical realms. Everything about salvation leads to clarity and spiritual understanding. Walking in the Spirit relates directly to that growth process; one that will culminate in being "like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."
Remember, walking in the Spirit is not an option; it is not an extra dimension of spiritual experience. It is the ONLY way to live above sin. It is the ONLY way to have fellowship with God. From the Spirit's perspective, we are "LED" by Him. From our perspective, we "WALK" in Him. This is a walk that effectively separates you from the world, and orients you for heaven. It enables you to refuse expression to the flesh, and give expression to the "new man." God be praised that we can "walk in the Spirit!"
PLEASE VIEW OTHER ARTICLES
MOST RECENT: PRETERIST PRATTLE
THE GOOD WORD OF GOD
ONLY TWO MEN
JESUS, THE GREAT SHEPHERD
THE POSITION OF THE WORD OF GOD IN THE DIVINE ECONOMY
THE DIVINE DESIRE FOR SELF-EXTENSION
INNER CONFLICT CONFIRMS JUSTIFICATION
LAW AND GRACE
THE WORD BECAME FLESH!
SODOMY BEFORE AND UNDER THE LAW
THE PASSING OF THE NATURAL ORDER
WALKING IN THE SPIRIT
NEGLECTING SO GREAT SALVATION
WHAT ABOUT THE ETYMOLOGICAL VIEW?
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
PRESSING TOWARD THE MARK
HOW SHALL WE ESCAPE??
THE ROLE OF ISRAEL IN THE LATTER DAYS
WHAT ABOUT MIRACLES?
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
RAISED TO SIT IN HEAVENLY PLACES
THE SPIRIT POURED OUT ON US ABUNDANTLY
WHAT ABOUT ABORTION
WHAT ABOUT CREMATION?
406 S, Sergeant St
Joplin, MO 64801
E-mail your comments to: GivenB@aol.com Web Page by: Solid Web Page Creations