Walking in the Spirit: What the Heck is That?
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
Have you ever studied “walking by the Spirit” and thought to yourself, “What the heck is that?” If so, fret not, you’re in a large company of people who are of the same mind. However, we can’t just do away with this commandment because we don’t fully understand it. Instead, we must attempt to remove the confusion that surrounds this scripture, while replacing it with biblical clarity. Saddle up.
In Galatians, we’re told by the Apostle Paul to “walk by the Spirit”, and if we do, we won’t “gratify the desires of the flesh.” This sounds encouraging and discouraging at the same time, does it not? It seems as if we can’t obtain the “spiritual insight” we need to grasp this formula for “Christian success”. We think this way because the wizards and witches of today have us believing that walking in the Spirit is a mystical process the apostle Paul achieved through pious works. They teach us as if we need a touch of their garments. (If only we touched it their insight might flow into us.) The problem with this thinking is that the wizards (and witches) never tell us how walking in the Spirit actually works; they only boast that they alone are the one’s with the ingredients…that we should try harder to follow their examples, and not be so spiritually weak. Well, Thank God that the truth is available to the lowly and simple. It is the garment of the Word which we must touch for truth, not the staff of the wizard.
Walking in the Spirit is available to all believers, and God is not so wicked as to only “bless” some of us with the insight to accomplish it. All believers have the Holy Spirit in them. (Rom. 8:9) The Holy Spirit is the source of our power in following Christ, and keeping His commandments. Since the Spirit of God works through the Word; and the Word is available for all believers, we know that walking in the Spirit can’t be a mystical force that only super Christians achieve.
The reason why we fall into these false teaching rabbit holes is because those lessons operate through emotions. Walking in the Spirit is not an emotion, it’s a choice. Walking in the Spirit involves walking, and not feeling. The Word doesn’t say we feel by the Spirit, it says we walk. Walking is a continual action, it’s a lifestyle of practicing obedience. When I’m walking I’m constantly moving forward to my destination. I may walk slower than others, but nonetheless, I’m making progress in my movement. So, when Paul tells us to walk by the Spirit, he’s telling us to submit to the Spirit’s control, (Through the Word) and walk in the direction of daily obedience. I must walk by the Spirit by staying in His Word, and I must seek His help if I want to be obedient to that Word. Now that’s walking by the Spirit.
In conclusion, walking by the Spirit isn’t walking in perfection. There’s no second blessing we must achieve to get the Lord to help us become obedient…it’s a commitment…if we have the Holy Spirit in us. Stay in the Word, apply the Word, and lean on the Spirit for the strength to follow the Word. Walk by the Spirit……and never quit striving. Press on.
Application: The next time we feel the desires of the flesh stirring up within us we need to lean on the Word, and ask the Spirit for the strength to die to our desires. Walking in the Spirit is walking in Christ’s Word…it’s just that simple.
Martin Luther, Commentary On Galatians pg. 358
“but this I mean, that there are two contrary captains in you, the Spirit and the flesh. God has stirred up in your body a strife and a battle: for the Spirit wrestles against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit. Here I require nothing else of you but that you follow the Spirit as your captain and guide, and that you resist that captain the flesh; for that is all that you are able to do. Obey the Spirit and fight against the flesh.”