Here’s our memory passage for this week: Galatians 5:22-24
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Will you work on that with me this week? I will be writing up a devotional each day from Galatians 5, so you’ll get the background as you memorize the text.
Today I want to explore with you what it means to “walk by the Spirit,” and why that is far superior to the works of the flesh.
Galatians 5:16–18 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (ESV)
Getting to the Heart
Yesterday I wrote that every Christian is in a daily battle: the fight between the Spirit and the flesh. The more I study out that fight the more I see it is a battle of motivations – motivations to exalt the desires of our old fallen nature that seeks to exalt self and the motivations of the Holy Spirit within us Who desires Jesus Christ to be exalted and for us to know, love and be like Him in all we do.
The focus today is in the command “walk by the Spirit” (16) and the related condition “led by the Spirit” (18). How can we really change in daily life to bring honor and glory to Jesus and show love to those around us? We must walk by the Spirit and be led by the Spirit.
“Walk” implies direction and progress, and it’s the command that we are given. Christians are to put themselves in the direction that the Holy Spirit is going. We may do that by reading God’s Word, meditating on it, memorizing it, singing it, praying it, along with fellowshipping with other believers. The Holy Spirit then takes what we are internalizing about the life and message of Jesus Christ, the very things He has given to us, and leads us along in the circumstances of life where we have a choice: to obey the commands of our flesh or to obey the commands of the Holy Spirit.
We walk as the Spirit leads.
Let me share a personal perspective on this process. I continue to be confronted with the reality that I am not a very patient person. At times I can actually get irritated (read: mad) when someone is taking too long or wasting my time (and isn’t that what is most important: me and my time?!) to get to what they are trying to say. My flesh has on occasion responded with “What’s your point?” which is not a kind thing to respond with when you know the tone in my head that accompanies it! I’ve noticed that when I submit my heart to the Lord Jesus through Bible reading and prayer, humble recognition of Him or of how God has worked in the events of the Old Testament, I enter those occasions of listening in a different way entirely.
As I listen, the Spirit brings to mind: “Why are you tempted to be impatient? Do you recall how the Lord Jesus received all who came to Him, how He journeyed 3 years with hard-headed disciples? How He rebuked those who forbad children to come Him? Listen with His power, and put on His patience.” There’s a change that happens, and I’m being led by the Spirit. My heart is softened again, and I’m blown away by the Lord Jesus and His patience with me! That He would listen to me. That He, the most important One in the whole universe makes time for me and treats me as valuable. How can I not treat others with that same patience and love, for Jesus counts them valuable too! I repent of my impatient anger, seek to listen and love.
My friends, that’s just one recent example of how the Spirit is leading me in the day to day. His ministry as I meditate on Jesus my Lord is changing me in my home and in the way I love my family. Where sometimes things seem like they won’t change, simply turning to Jesus and trusting Him for continued change and grace makes all the difference in the world.
Let’s talk it over:
- Can you describe in your own words how to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit?
- How have you experienced the lead of the Holy Spirit as you’ve sought to walk in the Spirit?
Lord, the Holy Spirit, thank You for Your presence in our lives. We are no longer lost thanks to You and how You have applied the finished salvation of Jesus to our lives. We are also no longer lost in the day to day battle with sin thanks to You. It’s a mystery to us how You choose to live in us, seeing still all the desires of the flesh that afflict us and that we sometimes give in to. Oh, forgive us, Lord! But we remain confident that in You we are no longer slaves to sin. Help us in the fight today to honor Jesus and love one another. Amen.
Worship in Song:
I love this song and its focus on our Lord Jesus. I also really appreciate the life and ministry of Joni Eareckson Tada. I hope you benefit from both in the video above.