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Walk by the Spirit

by Nick McElvain

As Christians, we all struggle with the everyday challenges of life. Many of our challenges come as we struggle with the flesh wanting to rule in our lives. We know there is a right thing to do, but we don’t always want to do it. It is for this very purpose that every true believer has been given a gift from God at the moment of faith. That gift is the Holy Spirit. He gives us the spiritual energy to resist the flesh.

This is the same Holy Spirit that on occasion dwelt in Old Testament servants of God. It's the same Holy Spirit that was promised by Jesus to his disciples when he said he would send another “Helper.” And the same Holy Spirit who entered the new believers like a mighty rushing wind as the Church was being formed just days after Jesus’ ascension. This Holy Spirit has resided in true believers from that day until today.

The apostle Paul had much to say about how we live our lives in light of the fact that the Holy Spirit resides in us. In Galatians 5:16-17, Paul says “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Paul is clearly pointing out that there is a battle going on inside us. So how do we get victory over the sin that can entangle us?

In the following verses (5:19-21) Paul points to the “deeds of the flesh.” They all revolve around selfish and self-centered behavior. Our minds can conceive all sorts of evil, and with no constraints our bodies work out those evil deeds. God's gift of the Holy Spirit gives us the power to overcome our flesh in these daily battles. Paul continues on with a list of behaviors and attitudes which are illustrative of a life guided by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-26 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.” We don’t see much room for “self” in any of these fruits.

A simple illustration that was used by a radio Bible teacher years ago went as follows: imagine that your body is a beautifully restored vintage car, and the shiny new engine in that car that produces the power is the Holy Spirit. Crucifying the flesh is junking out the old engine as the car is being restored. However, the car still won’t move until we put in some fuel . . . the fuel is God’s Word that provides energy to do what we were created for.

God has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us permanently. He has given us His Word to give us the energy to do the selfless thing. He is giving us every opportunity to love and serve Him, to serve others, and to do those things in such a way which will honor and glorify Him. What are we waiting for? Let’s do as Paul commands. Let’s “Walk by the Spirit!”