Walk in the spirit
“This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (Gal5:16-17).
Paul is addressing Christians here, not unbelievers. For it is only a believer who can live by the teachings of Christ. An unsaved person cannot. And even as Christians we cannot follow biblical instructions by our own strength. Only God’s strength makes it possible. We, from our side, must submit completely to God in humble trust and absolute willingness to obey. Then He, from His side, will work in and through us. The more we submit to Him, the more the Holy Spirit can work in us, work “against the flesh,” as the above verse explains. In fact, this text contains a wonderful promise! The Spirit in us will fight the flesh, if only we will submit. Then, instead of us frantically trying to live by biblical principles on our own strength, these principles are actually lived through us, as we yield to the Spirit of God within us.
But Paul’s words also show that there is opposition. Time and again the flesh will also “lust against the Spirit”. Why is this so? Well, the Bible teaches us that Satan is the enemy of God and therefore of his children. He aims to stop God’s work in us, and attacking us through the desires of the flesh is one way of doing this. For this reason, following in Jesus’ footsteps doesn’t always come easy. There is a battle going on, and we ourselves have a definite task in this battle.
No wonder, then, that these verses are written in the imperative: “you shall not fulfil” the lust of the flesh; in other words, do not give in to these temptations of Satan. And Paul also teaches that we must “die daily” to these sinful desires (Rom 6:2, 1 Cor15:31); we simply should not respond to them anymore. James says, “Resist the devil” (Jam 4:7), and the author of the letter to the Hebrews clarifies that this may have to be done “to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb 12:4). So, it clearly requires something from us. It requires a real decision and true commitment. That is our side of the matter. Then, and only then, can we count on the power of God’s Spirit. Then Satan has no other choice but to “flee from us” (Jas 4:7). For Satan may be stronger than us humans, but he has been conquered by Jesus. With our human strength we are powerless against Satan, but when we are submitted to God and committed to obeying Him no matter what, Satan simply has to flee. The Lord knows how helpless we are. That is why He made victory possible for us by giving us His Spirit–so that we can truly live a life of victory. Submitted to Him, we can daily overcome the attacks of Satan, for the simple reason that “the One who is in us [the Holy Spirit] is greater than the one [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Finally, we must look at what it means to “walk” in the Spirit. In the New Testament this word is often used in the sense of “daily walk through life”, the day-to-day, consistent, continuing conduct of a believer. “Walking in the Spirit”, therefore, is something long-term, a daily practised way of life. In order to live our lives this way, we must come to the point of relying completely on the ability and power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, for all things and at all times. If we want to overcome the most vicious enemy of our soul, we must completely submit to God’s Spirit and walk daily in his strength. Only then can we say that we “walk in the Spirit”.
One Bible verse summarizes all the above: “I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal 2:20).
Thank You, Lord, for your Holy Spirit, your invincible power within me. Today I renew my decision to fully submit to You in total obedience, to walk daily in your Spirit, and so to live a life of victory in Christ. Amen.