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Walk by the Spirit

by Duane Leach

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. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18, 25).

These are some of the most practical verses that Paul ever wrote. They give the answer to a question with which many believers struggle. How can we mature and live a life that is pleasing to the Savior? It is the goal of every believer to be conformed to the image of Christ.

Living the Christian life is simple. It’s not easy, but God has made it uncomplicated for us. We only have two possible ways we can go. We will either walk by the Spirit or we will carry out the desires of the flesh. Very simple. There is no middle ground; no neutral position we can take.

Every person who places their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation has the Holy Spirit, the Comforter that Jesus promised, indwelling them. We have the power of God Himself available to us and we can yield to His leading. We also still live in this world and our flesh tries to lead us down other paths. Since there are only two possibilities, we need to be certain we’re moving in the right direction.

Paul gives similar instructions in other passages. He says we are to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), “Let the Word of Christ dwell richly within you” (Colossians 3:16), and “put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14). These verses give us a fuller understanding. The Holy Spirit will use the Word to transform us into what He desires—Christlikeness. We learn the truth by reading and meditating on Scripture, by being taught from the pulpit and in other studies and by being encouraged in the Truth by other members of the body. We will grow as we are taught, reproved, corrected, and trained in righteousness. There is no substitute that will take the place of biblical instruction and application.

We are never standing still but are moving in one way or the other; either forward with the Spirit or backward in the flesh. There is a constant conflict and there can never be a truce between the flesh and the Spirit. Each of them can be seen by what they produce in our lives. Paul gives a list of some examples of how the flesh manifests itself and it’s not pretty. He also says the Spirit will produce fruit in our lives. We have a very practical way to see if we are truly walking in the Spirit. We can measure our walk by the growth we see in these areas.

In the coming weeks we will be looking at the various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit individually.