Keep in Step with the Spririt
Where the grace of God is missed, bitterness is born.
But where the grace of God is embraced, forgiveness flourishes.
The longer we walk in the garden, the more likely we are to smell like flowers.
The more we immerse ourselves in grace, the more likely we are to give grace.
“In The Grip of Grace” by Max Lucado, from title page of: Part Three: What A Difference!
13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, " You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 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. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. NASB
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
Pastor Tom, isn't living by the Spirit the same thing as walking by the Spirit? What a great question. I am glad you asked that question. You were asking yourself that question were you not?
For those of you who have been looking at the first 3 chapters of Genesis and the first 3 chapters of John with us on Wednesday evenings, where does life come from?
That is correct. God is the source of life. He created all things. When he created man, He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. We had within us the Spirit of God. We were given life by God himself.
We sinned. All of us sinned. We rejected God in some way or other and refused to trust Him and we ignored His commandments which were given to protect us. When we did so, we cut ourselves off from the giver of life. We died spiritually. It's no good blaming Eve and Adam. You have done it. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory God intended for us.
In Christ, God's Only Begotten Son, we can be restored to life. Life comes from our connection with God. We have been given life. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I would encourage you to do so as quickly as you can. Do not wait, do not pass Go. Bow your heart before God and put your trust in Him to forgive you of ignoring Him and going your own way.
Once we have accepted Him, we are restored to life. This was the life that Paul was talking about here. The Spirit of God dwells within you and will lead you to crucify the flesh and walk by the Spirit.
How is this different from walking in the Spirit, you ask? I am glad you asked that question.
The Greek word here for walk carries the idea of marching in step. We might put it this way: If you have connected with God and have been given the gift of life, the gift of a restored relationship with God, then march in step with the Spirit, that is, order your life by the Spirit.
Paul is asking us, beseeching us, begging us, to order our lives as God would have us order our lives.
Walk by the Spirit. Abraham had listened to God. He had put his trust in Him. He believed God and it was credited to his account as righteousness. He was restored to a relationship with God.
One day, God spoke to Abraham. This was after Isaac, the promised son, was born. He was probably about 12 years old. God told Abraham to take Isaac and put him on an altar and kill him. This story may bother you. It bothers me. How could a loving God ask this of his servant who had been, for the most part, faithful to him?
But God did command Abraham to do this. Abraham was devastated, but he trusted and loved God and so he obeyed.
This was a test, but Abraham did not know it was a test at the time. Later, when God gave the law to Moses, He made it clear that sacrificing children was not something He usually asked for. This was not to become an established practice for God's people.
But He asked it of Abraham. God knew what He was doing and provided the substitute offering for Abraham. This is a picture of what God would do through Jesus, but it was also a test of Abraham's faith and commitment to live in obedience to God.
This is the kind of faith that God expects from all of us. We are to be sold out to walking by the Spirit. We are to be led by Him and even when we do not understand, we are to live a life that shows we really do believe that God loves us and we must be commited to obeying Him at any cost. We are to march in step with the Spirit of God who lives within us.
Paul says the flesh and the Spirit are at war. When we live by the flesh we will do those things that we feel benefit us. We will live for ourselves instead of for God and for other people.
The two great commandments are to love God and to love people. When we begin listening to the Spirit instead of the flesh He will lead us in ways that begin to develop loving characteristics in our lives. Paul calls them the fruit of the Spirit. These are the qualities that God will use to draw others to Him. These qualities will contain the seed of the word that the Spirit will use in other people's lives to bring life to them.
When we, led by the Spirit, are kind to others they will see God in us.
This fruit of the Spirit is developed in us when we are patient with people who would normally irritate us, but because we are listening to the Spirit of God in us, we will patiently wait for God to begin to work in their lives as He is working in our lives.
This fruit is developed in us as we forgive others because we know this is God's will for us as the Spirit within us convicts us, and leads us to forgive as God has forgiven us. We were not worthy of that forgiveness and they may not be either, but because we trust God we forgive.
This fruit is developed in us as we put off the desire to please ourselves, as we deny ourselves and walk by the Spirit. We will begin to see the things in us that God wants to change as He patiently waits for us to follow Him and walk by the Spirit.
There will be a new humility about us as we listen to God and refuse to give in to the flesh and we will know that this goodness comes, not from us, but from the Spirit of God living in us. We will have nothing to boast about. This is God's righteousness working in us.
We are no longer trying to earn God's love and grace for we know that apart from Him we are of no more value than the dust from which we were fashioned. Our value, our goodness must be a goodness that flows from God through us to a world who desperately needs the love of God.
If we live in the flesh we will boast about our goodness and how deserving we are of God's love. We will begin, as Paul says, to bite and devour one another. We will live with envy for what others have, coveting the things we feel we deserve.
How do you walk by the Spirt? You listen to God and do what He leads you to do. It will start as you pray and read the Bible and as you offer yourself as a living sacrifice to God.
Little is much when God is in it. Apart from God we die. Connected to Him we live. Put your trust in Him. Walk by the Spirit because He gave you life.
God will lead you to lay down your idols and take up the cross.
If you do not believe you have idols, I would recommend you read a book by Kyle Idleman called Gods at War.
Kyle Idleman, gods at war: DEFEATING THE IDOLS THAT BATTLE FOR YOUR HEART
God called Abraham to sacrifice his son. It was a picture of what God would do through Jesus Christ. It was also a test and a growing point for Abraham. Would he put the gift of a son that God had given him above his worship of the One True God? Abraham passed the test. God will test you as well.
What are you in danger of putting before God. Is there some good thing that God has given you that He is calling you to sacrifice today? Are the gifts of God more important to you than God Himself? What are you praying for today? Healing? A new job? Financial help? Are those things more important to you than your relationship with God?
God loves you and He will call you to give yourself to Him. He will call you to walk by the Spirit.
When properly understood, Christianity is not easy. God calls us to pray as Jesus prayed, “Not my will, Your will be done.” Lord, help me to walk by the Spirit instead of walking in the flesh. Help me to do Your will, not my own.
If you live by the Spirit, if God has given you the gift of Himself, then walk by the Spirit, that is, order your life according to His will, not according to your own. Walk by the Spirit.