The title of this post may seem like a strange question to ask. I’m assuming, of course, that the majority of you know how to walk physically, unless some disability prevents you from doing so. Those of us seeking to live our lives under the government of God, however, are called to walk a particular walk. Do you know how to walk in that way?
Walk by the Spirit
The apostle Paul outlines this walk in Galatians 5:16.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
When Paul talks about walking by the Spirit, he means living under the government of the Holy Spirit where He is allowed to take the lead in all the affairs of life. The results of walking this way, according to Paul, is that we will not walk according to our natural human nature that is always self-focused and contrary to the nature of God. Instead, our lives will reflect the character of Christ, which Paul calls the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 – 23.
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.
The question is, how do we walk under the government of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis? I believe their are two critical components that are necessary.
The first component is absolute surrender. This means we must be committed to following the King on His terms. Those terms are outlined in Mark 8:34 – 35.
34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.
To deny ourselves is to surrender the title deed of our lives completely to the King, even if that means dying as a result. This is the only kind of commitment that fully satisfies the King and positions us to truly live under His dominion.
The second necessary component is hearing God. If we are going to be governed by the Holy Spirit, we must learn to listen to Him in all of life. This is not an option. He speaks to us in many different ways (which is a subject for another time), and we must develop the skill to discern His voice regardless how He chooses to speak to us.
But What About the Bible?
Right about here some of you will be asking, “But what about the Bible? Aren’t we supposed to read and obey the Word of God?”
Of course we are supposed to read and obey God’s Word. But I have another question for you.
How, exactly, do we do that?
Jesus says to love your enemies (Matthew 5:43 – 45). What would be the best way for you to love your enemy?
The apostle Paul says that wives are supposed to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22). What would that look like in your marriage?
The Word of God tells us to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1- 2). How do you need to pray for the leaders in your country?
The Bible provides us with God’s objective will; that which applies to all of us. It takes the Holy Spirit, however, to provide us with the wisdom to apply it effectively in our individual circumstances. That is why we must be able to hear from the Lord.
Let’s look at a couple of examples of this.
A Biblical Example
First, let’s look at an example right out of the pages of Scripture.
6 Next Paul and Silas traveled through the area of Phrygia and Galatia, because the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time. 7 Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there. 8 So instead, they went on through Mysia to the seaport of Troas.
9 That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there. Acts 16:6 – 10 NLT
This apostolic team was seeking to obey the command of the Lord Jesus to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15). That is the general word to every disciple of the Lord Jesus. The world is a big place, however. Where were they to go? It became clear that the Holy Spirit had prevented them from going into certain areas. How He did this is not stated, but it was clear enough to the apostles that they knew to steer clear of those regions. Finally, the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul in a dream and revealed that they were to go to Macedonia. As they obeyed this revelation, an effective door of ministry was opened to them. The combination of surrender, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God directed them to the right place.
A Personal Example
Allow my to provide an example from my own experience.
Many years ago I worked on the midnight crew for a creamery in the United States. I worked from 11 at night until 7 in the morning and loved it. This company also employed an older gentleman to come in around 3 in the morning and clean the offices and lunch area. He was known for being a little crotchety, but I never had any problems with him, until…
One morning I was in the lunch room having a break. For some reason I was sitting on the stairs (right in plain view) when the old guy came in to mop the lunch room. He left once he was finished. Now my break was over and the lunch room floor was all wet.
I had no choice but to walk across his freshly mopped floor to get back to work.
As things would have it, he walked back in as I was walking out.
He lost it.
He actually yelled and swore at me. I don’t recall how I responded to him in the moment, but now I was angry.
In fact, I wanted to feed him his mop by way of his backside!
(Yes, this was one of my less saintly moments)
I stewed in my juice for a while, feeling totally justified in my “righteous indignation.” I knew this wasn’t right, however. Finally, I looked up and asked, “Lord, what do I do?” The response was immediate.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:18
Okay, but what would that look like in this situation. I once again looked up and asked, “Lord, how do I do that?” Once again, the response was immediate.
“Act like nothing happened.”
The next time I saw the old boy, I responded in the manner I felt the Lord had instructed me. We actually ended up getting along quite well. This was a lot better than me administering some five-fold ministry to him hard, fast, and continuously!
The point I want you to see, however, is that the Word of God was clear. It was my responsibility, as a follower of Jesus, to maintain the peace as much as possible. What I needed was the wisdom to apply the instructions to the particular situation I was in. That came from hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit, and resulted in the fruit of the Spirit being produced in my life.
Learning to Walk
It’ s quite a process for a child to learn to walk. There are lots of stumbles, falls, and frustrations along the way. The process eventually pays off and soon the little one is running around and getting into everything. So it is with learning to walk in the Spirit. There will be some hits and some misses. There will be times when you feel like giving up. It cannot be emphasized enough, however, that learning to hear the voice of the Lord is absolutely critical to walking by the Spirit which is living in the Reign. Do you know how to walk?
“Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”