I chuckled as I wrote my blog title for this thinking about the “for dummies” books series and how great it would be if the Bible was more often taught in that manner. I like things explained simply and clearly and I bet you do too! Albert Einstein once said:
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
I wish to do my best to simply explain how to follow our Biblical instruction to walk in the Holy Spirit. Quite simply receiving the Holy Spirit and learning to walk in Him is the source of our power in living the Christian life (Acts 1:8). Without the Holy Spirit we are like any piece of electrical equipment without an outlet to plug into; useless.There a many verses in Scripture that instruct us to do this:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 1:8
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16
All of Romans 8 and Galatians 5:16-26 are great places to start to learn more about walking in the Spirit, but I know the first time I read these passages I just thought to myself, “What on earth does this stuff mean exactly?“
Here is the simplicity of what we must realize; our flesh is corrupt and before salvation we have spent our entire life making decisions and living our life from a carnal or “fleshy” position. Depending on how old you were when you got saved this could mean you spent 10, 20, 30 or 50+ years totally living from the flesh. In other words you have a TON of bad habits and being saved does not automatically mean you are going to stop making poor, flesh-led decisions. We must begin to UNLEARN our learned behavior. Many Christians never learn to do this, which is why they don’t fully experience the abundant life Christ promised all who believe in Him. (John 10:10)
Do you remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? Oh how I loved those! Every few pages, you were presented with a choice to make, and based on what decision you made you were instructed to flip to one page or another and the story would continue based on your choice. You could read those books over and over and experience a different out come and story line every time because of all the possible scenarios that could play out based on your choices!
This is very much how walking in the Spirit looks in our life. Everyday situations and circumstances arise that warrant a response from us, however most of the time we don’t respond, we instead react. Life presents us with scenarios that often create a reaction or response in our feelings, words, behaviors, emotions, or decisions etc. If we are all honest with ourselves, much of the time we do not respond peacefully and intentionally, we fall into negative reactions and the rest of our day can go downhill and our joy usually goes a long with it!
These two verses tell us about the fruits of the Spirit and what types of qualities go along with allowing the indwelling Holy Spirit of God to be the governing force of our lives:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
When we look at the above verses we see how our words, thoughts, attitudes and emotions should show up when walking in God’s Holy Spirit. When we find ourselves doing/feeling/thinking things that are in opposition to these spiritual fruits, we can know we are now operating in the flesh and need to correct our behavior. When we are in fear for anyone or anything other than fear of God Himself, we should remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear! We can identify that we are either operating in the flesh or believing the temptations, accusations and fiery darts being thrown at us by Satan and rebuke him!
We must humbly acknowledge that we do not have power to respond and deal with many of the hard situations we are presented with in this life on our own in a Godly manner. When we try to do so outside of God’s will and when we react in a way that is contrary to His word, we are in trouble. While we don’t have the power to do it on our own, we do have a choice to react in our flesh or to ask God to empower us to respond in accordance with His Spirit. When we do so, the Holy Spirit is free to take over and provide the power we need to be conquerors through Christ over the situation at hand. It all starts with our choice!
I highly recommend Tony Evans’ series on “Life in the Spirit” for anyone looking to really dive deeper into this subject. But for anyone this is a great place to start and really the bottom line of the matter. God’s truths are quite simple when you really get down to them, it is usually us that complicate things. Walking in the Spirit is kind of like those words of wisdom you probably learned from your Mom, “Take a deep breath, count to 10, and then respond.” Just add to it: “Pray and ask God to allow the Holy Spirit to empower you to choose His truth and instruction over your own bad habit” and you’ve pretty much got it!
In what ways have your knee-jerk reactions caused trouble for you? How else have you learned to walk in the Spirit practically in your life, and how different was the fruit that you experienced when you did so?