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Chapter 15 - Summary
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. - Romans 8:4
The subject of walking by the Spirit of God is one that is difficult because it encompasses more than a simple single action. It is even difficult to describe as a process. However, one might consider the developmental stages of the walk of a Christian and begin to see a pattern that describes how one might follow the path set out for us by the Holy Spirit.
The first step would be to become a born again Christian.
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. - John 3:5
The next step would be to escape the clutches of those who would direct us into paths that quench the Spirit. Both environments of legalism and liberalism cater to the flesh and can halt our spiritual journey.
Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. - Mark 7:7
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. - Galatians 4:9-10
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? - Colossians 2:20-22
We also need to extract ourselves from those 'Christian' associations which are inclined towards the flesh.
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? - 1 Corinthians 5:12
But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. - Titus 3:9
Once a Christian has avoided or extricated himself from the many corruptive and deadening traps he can encounter, the next step is to search for those from whom the spiritual path can be learned (presumably from those older wiser Christians who show such maturity in their lives).
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. - Colossians 3:1
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. - Titus 2:4
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. - Hebrews 5:12
There is the expectation for Christian growth and maturity such that one is able to teach others. However the Christian life and walking by the Spirit is not information or a technique that is learned. Rather it is a reflection of ones entire life. For this reason fellowship with other believers who are also active, seeking, and growing in Christ is essential.
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; - Ephesians 4:1-4
Walking by the Spirit might be summarized as;
1. Trusting in Jesus for salvation.
2. Avoiding pigeonholed or dead-end Christianity.
3. Actively seeking the deeper things of the Lord.
4. Finding an older wiser Christian who can teach.
5. Starving the flesh.
6. Feeding on the things of the Spirit.
7. Growing into the image of Christ.
In addition to the weakness of our own sinful nature in the flesh, modern man also faces the difficulties of having a societal (worldly) imprint from his youngest days. We all have an imprint on our character that cripples us by the media and institutional driven consumerism pervasive throughout our society.
Modern life is also hectic in ways that could not be appreciated by those who lived before the industrial revolution. This frantic pace often keeps us from turning to spiritual matters. In addition, the increasing level of collectivism weaves to even closer association with those who not only live in the flesh, but are hostile to those who would seek after Christ.
Be not deceived: Evil companionships corrupt good morals. - 1 Corinthians 15:33
Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God. - James 4:4
The importance of true Christian fellowship is critical to be able to walk by the Spirit. However, it is very hard to even find anyone who has the time or interest for any kind of relationship, much less someone who has escaped the spiritual traps Satan has built into the world and is being led by the Spirit to maturity themselves.
Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. - Matthew 5:14
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. - John 3:19
Satan sets the course for this world (for now). He has crippled families both in breadth and depth and used his educational and media systems to inculcate generations of increasingly compliant people to be cogs in his social machinery. He uses people to form the collectives he needs to leverage his influence over the world. He has instituted superficial collegiality rather than deeper personal relationships to provide a substitute social 'glue' to connect people to function in the artificial environment he has created.
Considering our own internal fleshly inclinations, the consumptive orientation of the modern world and its pace, and the influence of the people around us who are rapidly becoming hostile to Christianity, it is difficult to see how we can resist such powerful influences. One trick to use is fasting. Our hunger reflex is like an automatic timer calling us to eat. We can use this facility as a reminder to pray. It is like programming our body (ironically the flesh) to remind us to pray regardless of our circumstance or location.
The Christian who seeks to walk after the Spirit faces opposition from an intense social current similar to the power of an ocean tide to sweep away anything attempting to resist its influence.
Walking in the Spirit begins with truth and humility. As truth floods into our lives, it can be depressing to see how sad the world really is once it is stripped of its facade.
And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit. That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered. - Ecclesiastes 1:13-15
If we were to remain focused on the evil in the world, we would become vulnerable to pride, thinking ourselves immune or superior.
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:10-11
Being able to see the truth about ourselves is the key to humility. However, if we were to only stop at this point we would be doubly depressed understanding the scope of the evil both in the world and ourselves.
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
The remedy is to recognize that there is hope. Jesus offered his life to redeem us. We have assurance that no matter how bad the circumstances, the Lord will not abandon us.
When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. - Psalm 27:10
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. - Matthew 28:20
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