June 28: Walk In The Spirit
This is the Sixth part of the series “The Holy Spirit – Who Is He?”
The spirit of man [that factor in human personality which proceeds immediately from God] is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts. Proverbs 20:27 (Amplified)
The key to understanding this proverb is the concept that God, who is a spirit, will lead humans by their spirit; that part of the human being directly created in his image. This becomes all the more important for the believer who has been Born Again, as they have a Brand New completely recreated human spirit. One translation of IICorinthians 5:17 says “a brand new species of being that never existed before.” In other words, not just renewed as much a brand new creation. It is this part of the human being that directly contacts the spiritual world, and in particular, as the believer invites the Holy Spirit to abide within them, it is that part of them where the Holy Spirit resides. It is here that God principally contacts and speaks to the heart of the believer.
As believers we are all called to “Walk in the Spirit.”:
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious:sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-25 (NIV)
There has been much confusion and conjecture regarding this particular instruction from the Apostle Paul. The argument has been regarding whether or not he is talking about the Holy Spirit, or the Human Spirit. However, through a simple deductive process it is possible to determine that the subject of this entire chapter of the New Testament is concerned Not with a battle between the Flesh of a man and the Holy Spirit. But, it concerns itself with the struggle that the New Creation has to overcome the many habits and practices that have been dominant in the life of the believer prior to their New Birth.
Given that the Holy Spirit is God himself, to suggest that the Flesh of a man would be able to overcome the Holy Spirit goes against even basic common sense. It would also suggest that this New Creation had given up their personal “Free Will” and that a Christian is nothing more than an automaton; a puppet waiting for the Holy Sprit to pull the strings.
Furthermore, since there is the suggestion of a struggle between the flesh and the spirit with the possibility of the flesh winning out in certain circumstances (Paul discusses such a struggle in the Seventh chapter of the Book of Romans 7:7-25) if that were the case it would suggest that God wasn’t actually all that powerful; it would also suggest that Satan was running the show and that God was being pushed around by him. Not so.
The fact is that this is about the operation of the human spirit, the struggle between the recreated human spirit and the desires of the flesh, the body through which the spirit interacts with the world around us. The Apostle is encouraging us, as believers, to walk in line with the desires of the new ME; to choose the actions prompted by the Holy Spirit within our spirit which desires to fulfil the will of God the Father, over the fleshly desires of the previous sinful nature that was previously in control.
Now, that does not suggest that the person who has come to Christ has previously desired to commit, or has ever acted on some of the more extreme fleshly desires mentioned in the list. But, the nature of the human that doesn’t know God, personally, has the nature of the fallen man as a result of Adam’s fall.
If we then re-read the passage in Galatians 5:22-23 in this light, the Fruit is in fact the product of the human spirit as a result of its interaction with the Holy Spirit. But, it is still the fruit of the human spirit. The fruit of any tree is found on the branches, rarely on the trunk.
Jesus, while discussing the coming of the Holy Spirit, with his disciples, also talked about the need for his disciples to understand their relationship to him as the Vine and they the Branches would be both expected to produce fruit and that if they did produce fruit they would find they would be pruned and nurtured to produce more fruit and that if they did not then they would find themselves cut off. John 14:15 – 15:17.
So, we are called upon to learn to Walk in the Spirit. In other word we are being required to live our lives dominated by the spirit rather than simply following after the dictates of the carnally natured flesh; relying solely on our feelings and the 5 physical senses to guide and direct us. But the question is: How do we follow the spirit? How do we contact our human spirit and how do we know that it is our spirit?
WE need to remember that our recreated human spirit will only desire to do and live in the perfect will of our Father. Where do we find the will of the Father? In the Word. So, the key thing we need to remember here is that if a desire, or an opportunity to make a choice, or decision comes before us we need to tune in to understand what out heart, our spirit directs us to do. This is not about emotion, which is an element of what makes up the soul. But, the heart of the person is another name for the spirit, the very core of your being.
The first 3 main ways that we are to be led by the spirit are:
1 The Inner Witness
2 The Inner Voice
3 The Voice of the Holy Spirit
The Inner Witness: The Child of God is called to be led principally by the guidance of the inner witness. Some would refer to this as intuition, or as simply a knowing. Not a feeling, or a sense. But a Spiritual knowing, right down deep on the inside of you, you don’t know why you know, but you just do.
It must be stated that learning to be led by this important guidance, from the Holy Spirit, to our spirit, involves a process of success and failure and takes time. It doesn’t come overnight. But, as you practice being led by that Inner witness you will see just how effective and how productive your spiritual walk will become.
From personal experience, it has led me at times to change the direction I was driving in the car, or the place I had chosen to have lunch. Or, even, for that matter the direction I was taking walking down the street. It has put me in the place to meet up with people that I had been recently thinking about. Or people I haven’t seen for, in a couple of cases, thirty years. But, by making those changes, by following that direction, which can eventually become an almost unconscious action, people’s lives have changed, or saved (literally, physically).
There have been so many instances that it is too difficult to single on such instance out here, it would take up a lot of time. But, as this is the principle way that we are to be led by our spirit. Then it won’t take long for you to amass your own collection of such testimonies.
The Inner Voice: Once again, it is important to note that this is the voice of your own spirit and is often referred to as “The Still Small Voice of The Spirit.” This is not some great booming voice from the heavens. This manner of being led by your spirit requires you to get quiet. it is that time, when in quiet contemplation, you will hear yourself talking to your own mind, from the depths of your own heart. This is that guidance that you may well be seeking regarding a major decision that you are facing and you have done the principal thing, sought the wisdom of God in prayer.
Fasting provides you with the opportunity to hear this voice more clearly, if the answer seems to be evading you. However, if you are going into the fast with the intention of changing how God will operate, you have set yourself up for failure. Fasting is not about changing God. But, rather, it is about getting yourself quiet enough to be able to hear the voice of your spirit over the voice of your flesh and its desires.
Once you’ve got beyond the point where the body has quietened down, in the fast, then you will be able to hear your spirit’s voice more clearly. Whether, or not, you choose to act on what it says will determine how successful the fast is. Because at the end of the day, you can choose to act on what you’ve heard, or not; your free will is still intact.
Most importantly, remember this point: hearing the spirit and acting on the wisdom of the spirit are two separate events. Spending time to get the mind of God on a situation or regarding a decision you need to make, is NOT going to make you follow that direction. That will still require an act of your will and the follow-through of putting faith into action that you have heard what the will of God is in the situation.
The Holy Spirit will NEVER force you, or MAKE you do anything and the whole purpose of stopping to get to know what the mind of God is on a situation will not change either what God has said in his Word, nor prevent God from doing what he wants you to do; especially if you are seeking for the wisdom of God about what YOU are supposed to do.
Just one example:
If you have gone into a time of prayer and even into a fast when the word is pretty clear and very plain about WHAT you are supposed to do in a situation all you’re doing is trying to weasel your way out of doing what you know to do. Let’s say you’ve gone to the Word about whether or not you are supposed to be Tithing. You’ve read the Word where it says that Jesus is still the High Priest of the Tithe under the New Covenant in the book of Hebrews and you have read Malachi, and Deuteronomy and Genesis regarding the Tithe but, you’re still arguing with yourself as to whether or not you are supposed to pay your tithes; how you are to pay your tithes and you’re not sure you’re supposed to pay tithes.
It doesn’t matter how long you fast and pray for. It won’t matter how long you spend in quiet contemplation waiting to hear the voice of your spirit. The word of God is never going to change regarding tithing. At the end of the day you will have wasted all that time and effort when you could have been preparing your tithes and more importantly your heart and your attitude regarding the tithes. As well as spending time in the word building your faith on the promises that God has made regarding what he will do when you tithe.
Until you stop and change your attitude and your mind regarding this ordinance you will not receive any of the blessing associated with the action of tithing. In point of fact you are NOT Tithing; you may well be plunking ten percent of your income into the bucket. But, tithing involves the heart the soul and the body. The same goes for making offerings, or any time that the inner witness, or the still small voice tells you to give something you hold as precious, to someone. God id NEVER going to MAKE you take part. BUT, you will never reap the reward of WILLING obedience, as opposed to painful sacrifice.
The Third way that we are to walk in the spirit, or to be led by the Spirit is by the voice of the Holy Spirit.
The Voice of the Holy Spirit: Once again, I wan to make it very clear. When I speak about hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit of God, we are NOT and I stress that point WE ARE NOT talking about hearing audible voices. If you go into a situation wanting to hear an audible voice you may well find that there is a spirit out there willing to comply and provide you with an audible voice that you can hear. People talk about hearing voices all the time. But, we generally tend to lock those people away, or at the very least require them to seek serious mental health services; that is the outcome of going into this area seeking to hear audible voices.
That is not to say that God cannot, or will not speak in an audible voice. But, the occasion of such is extremely rare. One such occasion we read of, in the Gospels is at the baptism of Jesus, by John, in the river Jordan. Where, when Jesus came back up out of the water the heavens opened up and we are told that John the Baptist saw the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus in the same manner as a dove would descend and He heard the voice of God, from Heaven say: “This is my beloved Son, In whom I am Well pleased!” Matthew 3:17.
It is interesting to note that those who were spiritually minded heard what the Voice of God actually said. However, it is reported that the rest of those present looked around to wonder where the sound of thunder had come from as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. As I say, however, the occurrence of an external audible voice of God, especially in the life of a believer who has the Holy Spirit himself residing in them is not something that God should need to do, to get his message through.
The voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to the believer, from the depths of their spirit can, for all intents and purposes appear to be almost audible. It is authoritative, and intimate. Someone who has spent the time in prayer and in the spirit developing the gift of prophecy (for edification, exhortation and comfort) will have developed a relationship with the Father and thereby Jesus and will, over time and through study of the Word of God, learn to recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit, in their spirit.
Jesus was very clear that he would lead and guide you into ALL truth and in particular as you practice reading AND studying the Word the Holy Spirit will reveal and guide and encourage and instruct you and through the Word of God you will gain a greater understanding of when the Holy Spirit himself is speaking to you and when your spirit is speaking to you through your renewed mind and when your Inner witness, guided by the Word of God, is leading you and guiding you in the affairs of life.
There are some other ways that you can be led by the spirit. But they are for another time and include Angels and Visions. But, once again, there are some very important points to consider even with the areas we have already covered here. The principle way that ALL believers are to be led of the spirit is by The Inner Witness. Secondly by The Still Small Voice of their own spirit and Thirdly by The Voice of the Holy Spirit in their spirit.
Remember something very important about these leadings and that is that the Holy Spirit will NEVER speak, or ask you to move or do something that is contrary to the Word of God. Alternatively, remember that if you get instruction that is designed to get you to take some particular action or step out in a particular action it is important not to simply jump and do. Sometimes you need to stop, for a moment, or to WAIT.
Remember, your will is involved. The spirit of God will NEVER override your will. He will NEVER force you to do anything; an example of that is the giving of a prophecy. As Paul says: “Everyone should desire to prophesy.” there is the potential for every Christian, in a meeting, or service, to be able to prophesy. But, not everyone will. Additionally, not everyone who can (or operates in this gift) will prophesy; Paul even includes some rules for managing how the gift should be operated to ensure order and effectiveness.
So, if someone blurts out with tongues, or begins to shout out a prophecy, in a meeting and the person later says “I just couldn’t stop it. Or, God made me do it.” I will usually take their immaturity into consideration as to whether or not it was actually from God or not; particularly if it is in the middle of the message being delivered. Mainly because it would be extremely rare for God to interrupt himself. As Paul suggests “things in the Spirit need to be done decently and in Order.”
If you feel compelled to speak, or say something specific to someone, particularly a stranger, God will not mind if you step back for a moment to check your spirit, particularly the inner witness, to ensure you are actually hearing from God. Remember one key; timing is everything.
Jesus had passed the pool of Bethesda many times over the period of his ministry. The man laying on his pallat had been there for many years before that. I’m very sure that God had wanted that man to walk, healed and free from his infirmity from the very beginning. But, it was on one particular Sabbath, at one particular time in his ministry, that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to speak to this man, in particular.
We are not told as to whether it was because this man had finally got to the point where he was ready to receive. Or whether it was simply His time to receive his healing, or whether or not this was the first time Jesus had actually seen him.
But, we are very clear that When someone asked Jesus about the things he did he said: “I only do the things I see my Father do. I only say the things I hear my Father say.” John 5:19 and 12:49 (paraphrased) Jesus said and did these things because he took the time out to find out what the Father wanted to say and what the Father wanted him to do.
We have the privilege of having the Holy Spirit residing IN us. we can choose to walk in the Spirit. Or, we can choose to walk by the dictates of the flesh. Or we can choose to train the flesh to follow the promptings of the Spirit and as we do so we will begin to produce much good fruit for the world to come and receive and thereby get to know God as they are drawn to him, in us.
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Audio Walking In The Spirit
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