Tuesday, January 3, 2023

What it Means to "Walk by the Spirit"

 By: Rebekah Hargraves

Photo Courtesy Of: Genevieve Dallaire

 "I say, then, walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh." 

~Galatians 5:16 

I emphasize all the time the importance of walking by the Spirit, even often referring to walking by the Spirit as being *the* key to living a victorious Christian life. But what does it mean to walk by the Spirit? What does that look like? Well, that’s what we’re going to learn together today!

Many different practices fall under the heading of walking by the Spirit, and we will get into all of them as we go, looking at the most important key ones first.

Read and Study the Word

The number one most important aspect of what it means to be walking by the Spirit is to be in the Word of God and to know it well. We ought to make it our daily aim for the rest of our lives to steadily grow in our understanding of and accurate interpretation of, the Word. 

What is interesting is that if we are not in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit automatically is rendered unable to fully do His work in our lives. What do I mean by that? Well, we need to look at Jesus’ description of the Holy Spirit and His purpose in our lies. In John 14:26, Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.”

Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit will remind us of what Jesus taught. But in order to be reminded of something, we must first, of necessity, have already known that which we are being reminded of. This means then that for in order for the Holy Spirit to fulfill His mission in our lives of reminding us of Jesus’ teachings, we must first be in the Word and know Jesus’ teachings so that the Holy Spirit can remind us of them as needed.

What we have to remember here is that if we want to know the character of God, the ways of God, the will of God, the commands of God, and the call of God on us as the people of God, we must be in the Word of God. The Word is, after all, described as “a lamp for my feet and a light on my path” (Psalm 119:105). If you want to walk by the Spirit then, you must be in the Word. This is the number one key first step of walking by the Spirit. 

Be in Prayer – Consistently 

Next comes prayer! One of my most-quoted verses in anything I do in the online space is James 1:5 – “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” Walking by the Spirit means that you are walking in step with Him, you are obeying Him, you are doing what He calls you to do when He calls you to do it, you are heading in the direction He has for you. 

James makes it clear that in order to do this, in order to know which direction to head in and to know how to walk by the Spirit, you have to first be in prayer, asking the Lord for wisdom and direction. After you have first prayed for that wisdom and direction, walking by the Spirit is you walking in obedience to that direction revealed to you by the Spirit through prayer.

Seek Wise Counsel

Next we come to step three of what it means to walk by the Spirit! Sometimes it is hard to know when a nudging we are feeling in our spirits is just us trying to tell ourselves what to do and when it is the Holy Spirit actually leading us to follow Him and to do a certain thing. We know that the Holy Spirit will never lead us to do something that is contrary to God’s Word, so certainly that is our first litmus test. This is why we have to know the Word!

But sometimes even though a nudging we are feeling does not outright contradict God’s Word in any way, we still aren’t sure if we are actually hearing Him correctly. This is where seeking wise counsel comes in! Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail when there is no counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 11:14 concurs – “Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Christianity was never meant to be a solitary lifestyle, but rather something lived out in the context of community. We need each other – we need others to pick us back up when we fall (see Ecclesiastes 4:9-12), and we need the wisdom of other believers in our endeavors to walk by the Spirit as we ought. 

What then does it mean to walk by the Spirit? It means to be able to discern what the Holy Spirit is directing you to do (through confirmation in His Word, through prayer, and through the wise words of others) and then walking in obedience and actually doing it. Putting this into practice will get you off to a great start in the new year!

Reflection Questions:

1) If I did a personal assessment, how would I say I am currently doing walking by the Spirit? Do changes need to be made? What is working right now and what isn't?

2) In what area of walking by the Spirit am I most consistent? In what area do I need to focus more time and attention?

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