October 14, 2015
""But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh."" (Galatians 5:16)
One of the most remarkable things about true Christianity is its simplicity. ""Follow Me,"" Jesus said to some fishermen and they ""left their nets and followed Him."" These two words indicated simple trust and movement. And those disciples were led by Christ into amazing effectiveness and power.
Here, the apostle Paul under the Spirit's inspiration tells us for all time the simple reality again. “Walk by the Spirit,"" he says, “and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.""
THE SPIRIT'S PRESENCE
The greatest reality of New Testament Christianity is that when, by faith, you are born again into God's kingdom He gives you His Spirit to indwell you. ""Because you are sons, God has SENT FORTH the Spirit of His Son into our hearts,"" Paul says earlier in Galatians 4:6. Christ's Spirit comes to live in us, never to leave. Because of that blessed gift, we can listen to the Spirit and be guided by Him continually, if we so desire. We have the Divine capacity that we once did not possess.
THE SPIRIT'S PROMPTING
If we will pay attention to God's Spirit and the Word, He will tell us which way to go, what to do, what we should say, what we should refrain from saying. In short, He will LEAD US. If He is God, then it makes sense that He is capable of doing this, even overcoming our human frailties.
What is our one responsibility? Follow Him. Walk in the direction He prompts. By the power that this same Spirit provides, simply obey.
THE SPIRIT'S PROTECTION
Try this experiment. Stand up right now, right where you are and try to walk to your right and to your left at the exact same time. You will discover that this is impossible.
In the same way, Paul says, there are only two possible directions for a man, and they cannot happen simultaneously. He can either follow the Spirit (in which case he will not be following the ""flesh"" i.e. his mere humanity apart from God) or he can follow the Spirit. To do both is spiritually impossible. If you are following one you are, of necessity, not following the other.
Either of these directions, of course, produces something. The deeds of the flesh are everything we don’t want in life: ""immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these"" (Galatians 5:19-21).
Conversely, if you follow God's Spirit you will produce the ""fruit of the Spirit"" which is ""love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control"" (Galatians 5:22-23). In fact, you will find yourself fulfilling the whole law because you are letting God lead you.
This may be hard on an hourly basis, because our flesh is weak and forgetful. We are tempted by ""the world, the flesh, and the devil"" that try to pull us away from ""simple, pure devotion to Jesus Christ."" Our vision gets clouded and we turn around and follow the flesh. And the results of this direction are always disastrous.
It may be hard, but it is not COMPLICATED.
Here is the simple evaluative question: Am I walking by the Spirit right now? If not, I am headed in the wrong direction. I should repent, reconnect with the Spirit who indwells me, and humbly follow Him.
As time goes by, we progressively see the value of such a choice and the walk becomes easier and clearer and more consistent. And one day, the Spirit will lead us right into an eternity where we will never be faced with the other possibility again.
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The rapid spread of the church in the New Testament can only be attributed to two things: the gracious, miraculous activity of the Holy Spirit and the bold witness of His followers. If God had not moved, nothing would have happened. If believers had not shared the gospel, the movement would have stalled.
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