Pastor of Iglesia Conexiones, a baptist church in Jessup, MD. B.A. in Bible, B.S. English Ed., M.S. in Educational Leadership.
Nevertheless, although we have been baptized with the Spirit, and although the Spirit gives us life—indeed, although we have received the firstfruits of the Spirit (Romans 8:23) —our human nature still remains corrupted by the presence and the effects of our sins. Indeed, our bodies are dead because of sin (Romans 8:10), and we groan as we wait for our adoption process to be completed and our bodies to be redeemed (Romans 8:23)—this will take place in the future (Romans 8:24).
Therefore, there is a conflict within us, believers: the Spirit and the new creation in us desire spiritual things, but our corrupted human nature craves to sin.
For this reason, the Apostle Paul instructed the Galatians not to misuse their Christian freedom to serve the flesh, the human nature corrupted by sin (Galatians 5:13), which craves for the works of the flesh, sin (Galatiasn 5:19). Instead, they must walk in the Spirit.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16, ESV)
The Holy Spirit will one day perfect (complete) His work in us, resurrecting us in glorified bodies whose nautre is completely free from the presence and effects of sin (Romans 8:11, Philippians 1:6), but for now we must confess our sins (1 John 1:9) and learn to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8:4-6).
What Does It Mean to Walk in The Spirit?
To walk in the Spirit means to live in harmony with the character of God's Spirit.
A person who walks in the Spirit is a person who obeys God's statutes and rules (Ezekiel 36:27) because she lives according to God's righteousness (Romans 8:4).
Such person is not living under the Law of Moses (Galatians 5:18), but above the Law of Moses (Galatians 5:23), for she (the person) is like the Spirit (John 3:8). She is not simply obeying the Law of Moses, but she is obeying the word of God written in heaven (Psalm 119:89), which underlies the Law of Moses because the Law of Moses only has the shadow of those things in heaven (Hebrews 10:1).
For this reason (because the Law of Moses has only a shadow of the things in heaven), the Law of Moses was useful for those who lived in the former Old Testament time (1 Timothy 1:9), and it is useful for those who live in the present time (Romans 7:14, 1 Timothy 1:8). We live in a time of transition, between the Holy Spirit coming to dwell in us and the Holy Spirit resurrecting us, between the giving of the New Covenant and the restitution of all things (Luke 22:20, Acts 3:21)—which means that, although we have a new nature in us, we also have a corrupt nature.
However, the Law of Moses will not be useful for those saints who resurrect and who live after the restitution of all things, for such do not sin (Ezekiel 37:23-24, Daniel 12:3, Romans 8:5).
Moreover, to walk in the Spirit implies that those who live in harmony with the character of God's Spirit are able to do so because they receive help from the Spirit (Romans 8:26) since it is through His power that they put to death sinful works (Romans 8:13).
How Can We Walk in The Spirit?
By now, the reader should have understood that what I am saying is that God's Spirit gives the believer real and supernatural help to live according to His character, even though the believer's present human nature has been corrupted by sin. The believer's focus is no on doing what she can do to obey God's commandments, but on seeking and receiving the help of the Spirit (God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit).
To receive the help of the Spirit, the believer (the disciple of Jesus Christ) needs to believe God's word concerning the work of the Holy Spirit.
"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6, ESV)
If we do not believe that the Spirit will help us, we are dishonoring Him, and He will not give us that immediate help we need (James 1:6-7). Instead, He will continue to show us that we need His help and challenge us to believe. Only when we trust Him will we be ready to receive His immediate help.
Everythign related to the Spirit requires faith, therefore we must begin with this basic principle.
2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? (Galatians 3:2, ESV)
Pray for Help
The believer should ask God for forgiveness of sins committed, and for help to overcome temptations and sins. The Bible clearly teaches these two principles.
Ask God for forgiveness:
"and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matthew 6:12, ESV)
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9, ESV)
Ask God for help:
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10, ESV)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16, ESV)
Follow The Spirit
The believer in Christ should also follow the Spirit's direction: she should obey the Spirit. In other words, when the Spirit prompts the believer to pray, she should pray; when th Spirit prompts the believer to read the Bible, she should read the Bible; when ther Spirit prompts the believer to go to church, she should go to church; etc.
Disobeying the Spirit will result in the believer walking in the flesh, for there are only two choices: you either walk in the Spirit or you walk in the flesh. Those who disobey the Spirit, are pitching their tent toward Sodom (Genesis 13:12), vexing their souls (2 Peter 2:8), and possibly commit the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21).
But those who follow the direction fo the Spirit, are walking in the Promised Land (Genesis 13:17), which they will inherit at the resurrection; and they produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is according to the character of God (Galatians 5:22-23).
What Is The Difference?
Perhaps you are wondering what the difference is between obeying the Bible and following he Spirit. After all, isn't following the Spirit the same as obeying the Spirit? And, isn't obeying the Spirit the same as obeying the Bible?
The answer is that obeying the Bible and obeying the Spirit (or, following the Spirit) are not always the same thing. For example, our Lord obeyed the Bible when he refused to worship Satan (Luke 4:8), but he obeyed the Spirit when he went to the desert (Luke 4:1).
Jesus knew that the Bible says we are to worship only God. Based on what he knew the Bible says, he refused to worship Satan. That was obeying the Bible. Jesus was led by the Spirit to the desert. Based on the direction the Spirit gave, Jesus went to the desert. That was obeying the Spirit. Obedience to the Bible is based on knowledge of what is written; obedience to the Spirit is based on what the direction the Spirit gives us.
In many instances in the Bible, the Spirit directed believers apart from what they knew to be written in the Bible (Acts 8:29, Acts 13:2).
When the Bible says that we should walk in the Spirit and that we are led by the Spirit, the Bible is no longer talking about obedience to what we know is written in the Bible, but about obedience to the direction the Spirit gives us.
Look, the Bible tells us to believe in Jesus, does it not? We believe in Jesus because we know that the Bible (God's written word) instructs us to believe in him. However, when we believe in Jesus, we are not merely placing our faith in a Bible character, but in him who lives outside the pages of Scripture (Revelation 1:18).
Years ago, I was tempted to sin. I confessed my temptation to God, and I asked him for a way out. Moments later, a brother in Christ asked me to come to his house for dinner. As this brother in Christ spoke, I thought to myself, I do not feel like spending time with him. Suddenly, as I was thinking this, I realized that God was directing me to spend time with this person so that I could escape my temptation: He was answering my prayer. So, I changed my mind and accepted his invitation.
What happened? I had asked God to help me escape my temptation, and God showed me the way out. At first I didn't understand it, but then the Spirit showed me this was God's answer to my prayer. Realizing this, I had to make a choice: accept the invitation, or not. Because I followed the Spirit's direction, I escaped the temptation and had an edifying interaction with my brother in Christ.
Now, God has worked in many times and in different ways through the Spirit in my life, and God is working in many different ways and through many different situations in the lives of many believers through His Spirit.
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38, ESV).
Once you have turned to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and receive the Holy Spirit, you need to believe God's word, pray for help, and obey the Spirit.
© 2021 Marcelo Carcach