The True Gospel Part 7
Walk in the Spirit
By Jim Allen
The True Gospel: The Series
Part 1: Recognizing One's Depravity
Part 2: Acknowledging Sin and Law
Part 3: Continuing in the Word
Part 4: Going to the Cross
Part 5: Believing Unto Salvation
Part 6: Examining Our Faith
Part 7: Walk in the Spirit
Part 8: Reviewing the True Gospel
What does it mean to walk in the Spirit? According to the Amplified Bible it means, "For those who are (living) according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are (living) according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the (Holy) Spirit" (Romans 8:5). As children of God, we have been empowered with faith to live holy and fruitful lives as witnesses of God's Spirit abiding in us (Colossians 1:27). The body of a believer is a temple, a living, breathing tabernacle whose interior is sealed with the righteousness of Christ (Ephesians 4:30; Romans 4:5). Christ's holy work of righteousness ascribed to believers, enables the Father to look upon imperfect believers and see the blood of Christ sprinkled over the doorway of their hearts (Philippians 3:9; Hebrews 9:21-22). By God's decree, born again believers are made righteousness of Christ (Philippians 3:8-9).
Although the truth about our righteousness from Christ is good news, there is a flipside. The apostle Paul reminds us that our relationship with God carries with it both "freedom" and "accountability." The freedom part is to know the "power of sin was broken" when we believed the Gospel (Romans 6:1-23). The accountability part is "to walk worthy" of our high calling in Christ Jesus (Hebrews 3:1). As a case in point, not too long ago a pastor was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and later confessed to drinking liquor excessively. Now, he faces the prospect of dying. His sin (although confessed and forgiven) destroyed his pastoral witness, ministry and family. About this matter of sin the apostle Paul wrote, "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
The pastor who hid his addiction most assuredly knew the words of Paul and must have sensed the inward prompting of the Spirit to crucify his addictive thirst for alcohol. Of this matter Paul said, "Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16; Romans 6:12). Other verses of equal importance on the same theme are: "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life" (Galatians 6:8). "For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God" (Romans 8:13-14).
According to 2 John 9, we are in the Spirit when we abide in Christ and His doctrines of truth abide in us. To be in and then walk in the Spirit means to obey the inward promptings of the Spirit, a quiet but firm voice in the background of our innermost being telling us right from wrong. However, the ability to hear the inward witness of the Spirit resides on a pyramid of revealed truth the believer must come to embrace line-upon-line and precept-upon-precept (Isaiah 28:13; 2 Peter 3:18). To be sure, being in the Spirit is the same as allowing the word of God to richly dwell in us (Colossians 3:16). Therefore, to walk in the Spirit presupposes the believer has a working knowledge of the true Gospel (John 4:24; John 16:13) and inner witness of the Sprit.
So then, to walk in the Spirit is achievable when we know the Gospel, believe it to be true (1 John 4:6), and depend on the inward prompting of the Spirit to guide us in that truth (John 16:13). Surely, the alcoholic pastor knew that consuming alcohol was wrong, that addiction was possible, and that to continue its practice would lead to dependence. The pastor could have had victory over his drug addiction had he chosen to do so (1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 John 5:4-5). Really then, the power to walk in the Spirit and turn away from sin begins with decision points we encounter hundreds of times each day. Making the hard choices up front (unlike the pastor) will strengthen one's resolve to be obedient in every thought, word, and deed (Romans 6:11-14). In closing, walking in the Spirit is how we take up our cross, crucify the flesh, die to self, and allow Christ to rise up in our stead (Matthew 16:24-26).
Image Credit: Arjun v; "footprints"; Creative Commons
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