Walking With the Spirit

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

If we are to be Christians, then we are to be Christian soldiers. The common saying is that we are spiritual beings trapped in a physical body. We are in a physical world striving to live a spiritual life in the service of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have been tainted by the drawing of the flesh from the fall in the garden that we cave into the pit of our worldly desires for the flesh. We long to live a righteous life in the example of our Master but it is a walk in which we must constantly battle temptations that are placed in our path. Our adversary prowls about seeking to steal, kill and destroy. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) The Christian is his target, it is the Christian that is his enemy and he will lure the eye to strange flesh, entice us to possessions of no eternal value and build up our pride of life that we would not need God. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

The Christian life is not the easy life, not here in this world, for this world is the battleground. Our battle is not against the flesh nor against man but against the evil spiritual forces in heavenly places and the devastation that we see in the lives of people is but a manifestation of that war. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We need not fear, we need not taste defeat, as we have a power that is greater than any the world can muster and He resides within. We have the Spirit of God ready and wanting to lead us to the victory that He has already won for each of us. We can go forward in confidence that our faith in Him is not futile. “You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Notice that the Apostle John has said, “have overcome them.” For us this is in the future tense meaning it has already happened. We have already won the fight, we can go into battle knowing the outcome is assured, our faith is not a foolish wish but a truth that gives confidence. I want to look at some steps that we can make to walk in the victory that we already have through our Lord and Savior. We must look to what Jesus has done for us. He knowing that we are weak and unable to fulfill the Law of God’s Word paid our sin debt that we might be free from the bondage of our past and present. God sees us in the righteousness of His Son, not as we are but as we will be in the future tense. That we no longer walk in the sin of our flesh but in the righteousness of His Spirit. “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:3-4) Waling in the Spirit of God is not reserved just for the charismatic Pentecostal Christians or the super spiritual but is a discipline for every believer in Jesus Christ.

For me it is a battle of the mind. As I go through my day I am bombarded with the ways of the world. There is evil to be heard on the radio, to be seen on the television, riding down the highway the billboards are filled with evil temptation, and the common language of people is filled with all sorts of perverse words. How then does one keep the mind in pure thoughts? How do you extract the evil from your mind that is constantly flowing in by sight and sound? The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Church that we need to change the way that we think, that we put away the old by putting on the new. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2) If we walk according to our fleshly ways then our minds will be filled with fleshly things. The opposite is true. If we are to walk according to His Spirit that we must fill our mind with the Spiritual Truths of God’s Word. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Romans 8:5)

The best way to extract something is to refill it with something that is better. If I want to get wicked thoughts out of my mind, then the best way is to fill it with righteous thoughts. When my mind is in neutral, which is often, I meditate on the morning devotion and I keep the flow of His Word ever present. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) We live in a world that is ever more lawless and it presses upon us each and every day. To be a light in that darkness it is good to contemplate upon the good fruit we wish to share. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) Filling my mind with righteous thinking drives the darkness out.

We need not be trapped by the sinful nature of our life. We need not surrender to the desires of the flesh. Oh yes, we will live in the constant flow of temptation, as our accuser would have it no other way. After the baptism of Jesus in the wilderness he was in a spiritual battle with Satan. (Matthew 4:1-11) Jesus did not argue with Satan, He did not negotiate with Satan, and He did not say no. Jesus resisted Satan with the power of the universe, the Word of God. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) This is our offensive weapon that even the Devil himself must obey, the Word of God. In that power we can put to death the desires of the flesh, we can overcome the wage of sin, and we will live eternally in the palm of the Master’s hand. “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:12-13)

Once we have surrendered and have been conquered by Christ our gift which seals us for eternity will lead us through. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14) We have the Holy Spirit embedded within for He is the life that we have through Christ. If we would but listen, trust and obey His tender voice, then we will have the good counsel of the truth that He will guide us into. He is the Spirit of Truth and His word will guide us into all truth. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13)

Being led by the Holy Spirit we will know our freedom from the chains of the past and have the security knowing that we have a loving merciful Heavenly Father. In the direction of the Spirit He will take us out of our former state of slavery and give us the peace in our spirit that we have been accepted into the Kingdom of God. In the Confidence of the Spirit we will not be ashamed and can boldly approach the throne of God’s grace and leave our worries and burdens there as a child seeking the comfort of his Father. We will have this peace and joy because the Spirit will testify to our spirit that we are a child of God. “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:15-17)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, August 16,2015

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