For those of you who have been following my articles for a while, you know that my explanations can sometimes become fairly involved, and require several weeks to unfold. Such is the case with the explanation of what it means to walk by the Spirit. In the past, you have had to wade through several articles to get the complete explanation. In this case though, I think it is better to synthesize the information into a single article. Unfortunately, this is taking longer than I had hoped, but I believe that it will result in a clearer, more concise explanation.
So, I just wanted to check in and let you know that I am still working on the article, and will get it out as soon as it is ready.
5 Steps to Walking By The Spirit
Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
Many of us have been believers for more years that we care to count, and yet “walking by the Spirit” remains an nebulous concept. You would think by now, someone would have laid it out for us, step by step.
The fact that the concept remains so mysterious to so many of us leads me to a couple of conclusions. Either everyone else is just as clueless, or it cannot be explained as a step-by-step process.
Let’s begin to examine this by considering what we know about walking by the Spirit.
Start with Galatians 5, where the exhortation to “walk by the Spirit” is found. Read through the chapter. You might find it helpful to read the entire book of Galatians, to put it in context. It really does not take all that long, provided you don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with the various questions that spring to mind. Save them for later.
Ok, first question from Galatians 5 – If we are not being led by the Spirit, what other option(s) exist? How else could we be walking, if not by the Spirit?
Why is it so important to walk by the Spirit?
How were the Galatians trying to deal with this issue?
Would that work? Why or why not?
Now let’s go back to the passage we’ve already looked at – 1 Corinthians 2. According to that passage, what exactly does the Spirit does for us?
What about these other passages:
- Romans 5:5
- Romans 8
- Romans 15:13
- 1 Corinthians 12
- Galatians 4:6
- Ephesians 3:16
- Titus 3:5
How can we undermine the Spirit?
- Ephesians 4:30
- 1 Thessalonians 5:19
So, if we’re a believer, we have the Spirit. And this Spirit was given to us so that we could know the mind of God — a level of communication even deeper than direct conversation. Yet we find ourselves asking how God communicates with us, fearful that the most we can hope for is guidance from documents recorded at least 2000 years ago. How is it possible for us to have the Spirit, yet be so oblivious to His communication with us?
Let’s take another look at 1 Corinthians 2.
Remember that in 2:6-16, Paul did not start out talking about the Spirit. Rather, he was talking about wisdom. Specifically, the kind of wisdom the Greeks sought — a pursuit which he had no intention of satisfying. Instead, his message — the message of the cross — seemed foolish to them.
Not that the message of the cross is foolish. But it’s wisdom is only comprehended by those who he calls mature (2:6).
And this is where the Spirit comes in. This wisdom is revealed through Him to these mature individuals. Although all believers have the Spirit, Paul is not speaking of all believers here. He is speaking of the mature. This is a critical distinction. Read more
How would you define a “spiritual” person?
For as long as I can remember, the pinnacle of the Christian journey has been to achieve ”spiritual” status. But what does that mean?
Let’s start with our assumptions. Take a couple of minutes and write down the first things that come to mind about “being spiritual.” How would you describe a “spiritual person”?
What scriptures can you think of that speak to the issue of being “spiritual”?
In the passage we looked at last (1 Corinthians 2:6-16), Paul mentions “he who is spiritual” (2:15). In context, we know that this person has the Holy Spirit indwelling them. Is that all there is?
What about Galatians 5:22-23, which lists the fruit of the Spirit? Is having the fruit of the Spirit the same as being spiritual? Can a person be “spiritual” without matching this list? Why or why not?
Are there other passages that come to mind?
If a person is not “spiritual”, then what other category/categories do they belong in?
I have a number of coins my grandfather gave me through the years. For the most part, they were either recently minted silver dollars or reproductions of older coins; all of them encased in a special plastic holder. Each time he gave me one, I sensed he saw a value in them that eluded me. To me, they seemed to be worth about a dollar a piece.
Today, I keep them in a safe deposit box, but I’m not sure why. My google-fu tells me they are worth, at best, a few dollars. But maybe I’m missing something. So, I treat them as if they have a lot of value, although I’m not sure what it is.
We’ve been tracing God’s communication with man through the Scriptures. We began with His seemingly infrequent, though direct conversation with saints of old, and watched that communication evolve through the Old Testament and into the Gospels. There we found Jesus regularly communicating with God through prayer. When the disciples ask Him to teach them how hear from God in the same way, He not only obliged them, He promised them the Spirit of God as well.
As the story moves into Acts that promise becomes a reality as all believers begin to be indwelt with the Holy Spirit. And, so it continues today.
But while we may acknowledge this as a “fact” we have been taught, I’m not sure we appreciate the value of this gift – kind of like these coins I have.
“Yeah, I know I have the Spirit in me. I mean, I guess. That’s what I been taught. But… ”
While we know it’s supposed to be something really special we’re not sure what difference it makes — why it is beneficial.
While I’m still clueless as to the value of the coins, the New Testament does give us clarity on the Spirit’s value.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9
How do your thoughts align with God’s? Do you think like God? Do you ever try?
In light of passages like the one above, is that a silly question?
Clearly, although we can know of God, His ways are often beyond human comprehension, and passages like Isaiah 55:8-9 seem to describe the timeless gap that exits between God and man. But what if it doesn’t? What if it is not a timeless truth, but a specific message delivered to a people characterized by a particular attitude (see v. 7)?
And what if there are other passages speaking to the issue of God’s mind and us? Passages like 1Corinthians 1-2?
In our next article, we’ll go there. Toward that end, see if you can identify the major points of Paul’s arguments in those two chapters.
In the process, some questions to answer — Read more
“But wait — there’s more. If you act now, we’ll also include…”
You probably heard enough infomercials to finish that line a hundred different ways. And although the announcer wants you to believe he’s offering an unbelievable deal, you’re not convinced there’s really anything of value in His offer.
I suspect we sometimes treat promises like the one Jesus made the disciples in Luke 11 with a similar dose of skepticism.
We saw the disciples come to Jesus after one of His times of prayer, asking Him to teach them to pray. Not in the sense of a religious ritual, but to get the kind of guidance they saw Him get from the Father. Not only does He oblige their request, He promises even more. In addition to teaching them to pray, He promises that God will give them the Spirit if they will ask.
Ok, fine and good. But what does that mean for us today? Is there really anything of value there? Read more
Let’s try a word-association exercise. I’ll mention a concept, you make note of the first thing that comes to mind.
Dependence on God.
What came to mind?
OK, one more … Read more
In high school, one of my brother’s friends owned three dogs whose names were logically connected… sort of. They were:
I don’t know about you, but I can appreciate the wit of this. While a certain logic is evident, the third name is unexpected. And it is this surprise which makes it interesting — gives it impact.
I want to return to our exploration of dependence and Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray like Him (Luke 11:1-13). We have already considered His instruction regarding the form the prayer should take (vv. 2-4), and a hypothetical situation assuring them that the Father will always answer prayer like this (vv. 5-10).
This brings us to the final piece of His instruction (vv. 11-13) — another hypothetical situation. For the most part, this illustration is pretty clear — If we, as earthly fathers know how to give good, not harmful, gifts to our children, then, clearly, we can expect our heavenly Father to excel in giving us good gifts.
But, like the dog named “3″, there is something unexpected in Jesus’ application, because He doesn’t make the general promise that the Father will give us “good gifts.” He promises a specific gift – the Holy Spirit, to those who ask. At first, this seems rather random, but I believe that Jesus is using this twist to make a point to the disciples. Read more
This week’s deadline falls right in the middle of six days of travel. TrueQuest hosted a Marriage Getaway at T Bar M this past weekend, and now I am in the Fort Worth area for a meeting.
I had thought I would get this week’s article done in spite of all of this, but it is simply not ready. So, I pray you have a good week, and we’ll talk again next week.