August 31, 2012
Holy Spirit Commands:
Walk by the Spirit
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In response to a another question, today we begin a short study on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. You may want to consult First Steps in Christ, Step Four, Life in the Holy Spirit, to get a broader view of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians, Paul showed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands apart from the Law of the Old Testament because Christ has come, and He fulfilled the entire Old Testament Law. As believers, we no longer live under the law of sin and death. Now we live as children of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit. We will study today what it means to walk in the Holy Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
Walk by the Spirit. In Galatians 5:16, Paul commands the believers in Galatia to walk (“περιπατεῖτε”) by the Holy Spirit. Paul used the most common word in the New Testament for walking, and meant that we carry out all of life’s activities in the Holy Spirit and by means of the Holy Spirit. In other words, Paul commands us today to live in the Holy Spirit. We must make sure that the Holy Spirit controls all of our activities–everything we do. Paul wanted every believer to know that the Holy Spirit seeks to control every aspect of your life. Paul used the illustration of us walking about in the Holy Spirit. So many believers ignore the daily ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We must walk by the Holy Spirit every day.
The Desires of the Flesh. In Galatians 5:16, we see one result of walking in the Holy Spirit: we will not carry out the desire of the flesh. Paul explained that the flesh and the Holy Spirit have opposite desires in your life.
For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
The Flesh and The Spirit. In Galatians 5:17, we learn that the flesh (“σὰρξ”) sets its desire (“ἐπιθυμεῖ”) against the Holy Spirit. Within each believer, a new struggle began on the day we received Jesus Christ by faith alone. At that moment of faith, the Holy Spirit came into our lives and took up permanent residence within us and placed His seal upon us for the day of redemption (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 4:30). The Holy Spirit also brought His desires with Him when He moved into our lives permanently. Within the believer, the flesh battles against the Spirit. We know about this internal, spiritual struggle because we experience the spiritual pull within ourselves to do good or to do evil. Sometimes, we try to ignore this struggle, but the more we ignore it, the more we act in the flesh. Before we take action, often we think about our desires and ponder them in our hearts. Our desires in our hearts influence our actions (Matthew 15:18-19). At this point, please remember the absolute promise of the Word of God. When you walk in the Holy Spirit, you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you can triumph over every fleshly temptation. You never will be overpowered by the flesh (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Not Do the Things that You Please. The central battleground remains in your will. You are not, under any possible circumstances (“μὴ ἃ ἐὰν“), to keep doing (“ποιῆτε“) whatever you may desire (“θέλητε“). Instead of mindlessly following your desires, now you must walk by the Holy Spirit. Even when you walk in the Holy Spirit, the flesh will still oppose your decision to walk in the Holy Spirit. In some sense, no matter which choice you make with your will, you find opposition within you to the do the things that you want to do. Paul described this result (“ἵνα“) of the battle as “you may not do the things that you please.” As a believer, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2). While the antagonistic forces of the flesh and the Holy Spirit oppose one another in our lives, we certainly can and must please God with our lives. At times, we give in to fleshly desires. When we do, in the next moment, the Holy Spirit continues to pull us towards Godliness. The battle within us continues constantly. Remember, however, that God controls the battleground and has already achieved all victory over the flesh through the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:24; Galatians 2:20). God never tempts anyone to sin (James 1:13), but He guards you from temptations too strong for you to escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we give our wills to the flesh, even for a moment, we may still turn to God, who will always be faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Only God can deliver us from the power of the flesh, and the flesh used the Old Testament Law to provoke us to more sin (Romans 7:7-12). God intended us to know our sin, so that we would turn to Him for salvation in Christ Jesus, who was the end of the Old Testament Law. Now we live in the permanent power of the Holy Spirit and walk in Him. What a glorious and powerful salvation!
So we learn more about walking in the Holy Spirit today.
● God commands us to walk in the Holy Spirit all day, every day.
● When we walk in the Holy Spirit, we will not carry out the desires of the flesh.
● Within each believer we face the constant prospect of the flesh causing us to sin. We overcome that temptation to sin by walking in the power of the Holy Spirit all day long, all the time.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I pray I will walk all day long in the Holy Spirit and not fulfill the desires of the flesh. I recognize the struggle of the flesh with the Holy Spirit. I know that when I walk in the Holy Spirit, then God will overpower the evil desires within me and I will please Him. Will you walk in the Holy Spirit today?