Walking in the Spirit
As we move further into the purposes of God for our lives and ministry, we must realize that God requires people who are spiritual and not walking according to their flesh referred to as being carnal Christians. Someone who walks according to the spirit walks in a manner that pleases God and this is not an option.
What many Christians do not realize is that walking in the Spirit does not mean they are always seeking revelation from God for every decision they have to make. The greatest revelation we can receive is what we get from the Word of God and once we begin walking out what God has already written, we are able to go from there into greater revelation knowledge.
Many Christians try to “Put the cart before the horse” in a sense and instead of growing in the Word first and allow the Spirit of God to bring greater revelation, they try to walk according to a “voice they have not tuned their ear to.”
Every voice someone hears when they are first born again and I will add for a while after that is not necessarily God speaking to you.
You must therefore become familiar with the Bible first; knowing How God speaks, knowing what God has already said and learn How He operates “His ways” in order to cultivate a heart that that is sensitive to His Voice when He does speak to you.
Does this mean that God cannot speak to us until we learn the Bible first? The answer is “No” as He does speak to us sometimes without knowledge of the Bible. But if we are growing in the things of God, you cannot rely on God speaking to you without growing in the Word that He has already released in the earth.
What we must also be careful of is being people who only want to see the Hand of God move without developing our relationship with Him.
This is the purpose that you were Born Again for and to neglect to grow in relationship with God you will find yourself frustrated as you go after things trying to satisfy this desire when the only thing that satisfies the void in your heart is God Himself.
The children of Israel had this same problem as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years and after seeing God provide for them year after year, they never developed a desire to know the God that became their Jehovah Jireh, the God Who provides.
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ 11 So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”
There are two distinct things that God is conveying here as He describes the attitude of the hearts of the children of Israel.
First the fact that they did their own things while seeing God work in their lives and secondly, the people never applied themselves to come and know how He operates. One is called the works of God and the other is called the ways of God.
The “works” of God are when god performs something on behalf of someone. The word works means they saw God’s “Deeds, acts, actions, or saw what He did.”
The “way” of God or of the Lord is also the way, walk, or life which God approves and requires. This references God’s way of life, conduct, actions and God’s way of thinking, feeling and acting.
To allow God to bless us without stretching ourselves to come to know what He expects of us and then doing it, sets us up for the same trap that the children of Israel fell into.
This is what makes walking in the Spirit so important for us. We must make up our minds to consciously walk in the Spirit and not compromise when faced with decisions that are easy and could cause us to give in to how we respond in the flesh.
The admonition of Paul the apostle in Ephesians 2 serves as an example to us to consider our ways and live each day in obedience to God and his righteous decrees.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
What God is showing you is “How you used to live” before you gave your life over to Him. We did whatever our flesh wanted to do.
Satan or the prince of the power of the air, said jump and we said how high; he said smoke and we said how much; He said snort we said how hard; He said sin and we said we won’t stop.
As verse 3 ends saying “…we were once by nature children of wrath,” we no longer are supposed to walk as if we were.
God expects you to make decisions that will bring Him pleasure and live in ways that demonstrate to those around you that you have a different Master.
Psalm 51 says:
5 “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. 6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.”
Although you were conceived in sin, when you became Born Again you no longer had that same nature.
What many Christians confuse is the difference between the nature of sin we had before we got saved and the character we developed before we got saved with the new nature of God we now have.
Further we must see the importance of changing that old character and living according to the new nature that God placed inside us when we asked Christ to be our savior and Lord.
This is where Romans 8 comes in as we must set our minds on living according to the Spirit, not according to our old nature.
5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
This tells us that walking with God and living to please Him is a decision we make beforehand just as walking to please our flesh is a decision we made.
We cannot live to please our flesh and think that giving God a couple of hours on Sunday will cover all the other decisions we make during the week. With 168 hours in a week, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that sinning for 166 hours will be sufficient to live in the spirit.
Therefore to make the determination to walk in agreement with God will change our priorities; it will change our views and will change our actions.
You will learn what God says and instead of…
- Unconsciously agreeing with a culture;
- Unconsciously agreeing with a political party or
- Unconsciously agreeing with a set of rules handed down in your family for generations…
...you will find out what God says about the matter first and then bring your life and actions in agreement with Him.
Someone that’s carnal has the “Nature of man without the influence of God’s Spirit.”
If you take the Spirit of God out of the equation, you have a species that has no values; it has no sense of what’s right or wrong; you have lawlessness and you have a society that gives in the notion of, “If it feels good, do it.”
That is what happened in the sixties during what is referred to as the “Hippie” movement. There were no restraints and instead of God having His way in our nation, many went the way of their flesh while “sex, drugs and rock and roll” became their way of life.
But God has a higher order for us as we have become His children and He expects us to live in accordance to it. This is why verse 9 says, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.”
The question becomes, “Does the Spirit of God dwell in you?” If He does, it will be easier to live the life of an overcomer. You don’t have to struggle with sin without having hope that the God inside you is big enough to help you overcome it.
This is why we have come to the place where we understand that, “Greater is He that’s in me than he that’s in the world.”
God really is greater! And He has the power to bring us through. This is why we know for a certainty that “Sin shall no longer have dominion over us.”
Romans chapter 6 becomes another vital Scripture for us to know and understand going forward.
Our bodies are supposed to be dead to sin and alive to righteousness. This being the case, when confronted with sin, we are to act like a “dead man” as we live to please our God.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
Sin was a by-product of the introduction of the Law and therefore its power is in our living by the Law. But being recipients of the grace of God, we have been empowered to live in the same manner that Christ Jesus did, which is being in the world and yet being without sin!!!!
God, in His desire to have people who will worship Him of their own free will, has given us the choice of how we are going to live each day. He could have made us like robots and we would all go through our lives being perfect.
Doing only what we were programed to do, God would have people like some of the angels that sit around the throne and our only job would be to cry holy, holy, holy throughout eternity.
However we are beings that have a free will and it’s the power of choice that sets us apart and brings us to a place where we are able to walk in authority – first over our own lives and then through the establishment of God’s greater purposes for us.
We’ve identified the flesh as living in this earth without our “recreated, Born again, human spirits being influenced by God’s Holy Spirit.” Therefore apart from submitting to this process of submission, it’s impossible to live in the earth in a manner that pleases God.
Our flesh will always gravitate towards the things of the world and what makes it feel good. Moses serves as an example to us whereas he “Chose to suffer with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.” Hebrews 11
24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.
This is to be our attitude going forward. The world presents many things that are appealing to our flesh; however we must get to the place where we get more pleasure out of doing the things that please God than continuing in the things that used to please us.
To walk in a manner that pleases God begins:
- first with a decision to do so;
- secondly you must learn how God wants you to walk;
- Thirdly you must make the right choice when you are confronted with the decision to walk after the flesh or after the spirit.
This is where you must be aware of the fact that inside you, the Spirit of God is trying to direct your steps and as you make decisions based on His leading and God’s Word, you begin to take on God’s greater character and walk or live in a manner that pleases God “In action, not only having a desire to do it.”
- We shouldn’t get pleasure out of thinking about telling someone off;
- We shouldn’t get pleasure when we allow thoughts of having intimate relationships with someone who is not our mate to linger
- We shouldn’t get pleasure when we think in opposition to the Word of God and act as if we have no control over our actions. We really do have control.
Do we really believe that Greater is He that’s in us than He that’s in the world? I John 4:4. If so, we should live like it.
Do we really believe that we have power over all the power of the devil? Luke 10. If so we should live like it. Luke 10:
18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
The fact is, with all this power that Jesus says we are supposed to be walking in, it is impossible to exercise any authority over the devil and his demonic hoard unless we have made inroads into taking authority over our own flesh.
We should be living as someone who is more than a conqueror over our own lives first. Romans 8:37
Like Paul the apostle, we are to be in control of our spiritual lives in the earth and we are to live to please God. He knew that because of the power of his flesh that he had to treat it as if he was in a fight and “…buffet his body.”
First Corinthians 9 "Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
He is saying here that he was confident in this walk and didn’t proceed with any level of uncertainty. He was positive about the road he chose to walk on. Therefore he fought with a determined end result in mind and that intended end result was that “His body would be his servant and not the other way around.” This is how we are to view our own flesh.
He says, “I buffet or discipline my body and bring it into subjection.” In essence, our bodies are to be our slaves or servants and it’s not supposed to be the other way around. Just because our flesh wants to do something, it does not mean that we have to give in to it and let it run rampant.
First John 3:4 "Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him." 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
Remember, our character is what those who do not have a relationship with God is looking at. When we are acting like a godly person, when pressured by circumstance those who are looking are taking notice.
Like the Christians spoken of in Acts 2, we must be on guard and continue steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine as it will keep you safe.
What helped them stay focused and balanced in their walk with Christ is they never let up but always had a hunger for “the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
God reveals these four things because He knows they will help you walk strong with Him and persevere through every attack that the devil may throw at you.
Everyone needs a support system in order to reach their greatest potential and the same holds true in the Kingdom of God.
Knowledge and understanding of the Word of God is foundational in our pressing forward and walking the way God wants us to walk, which we know is according to His Word and therefore in the Spirit.
It’s vital for us to learn “Sound” doctrine if we are going to withstand satan’s onslaughts against us. And to know what sound doctrine is, you must go to the Source for the doctrine that we know is sound, which is God’s Word.
All other books, tapes, television documentaries, seminars and conferences we attend [if these are supposed to give us a greater quality of life, or reveal to us the way of eternal life] must be filtered through the Word of God.
This is why in Acts chapter 17 the people “…searched the Scriptures to see if what the apostles said was true.”
Speaking of the Christians in Berea…
11 “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
These people were eager to see what the Word said and kept an excitement about the things of God. They were open to what was preached, this is why it says they “…received the Word with all readiness.” They trusted the apostles that were bringing the Word and did not have this guard up about what they were saying.
But, when the message was over, they didn’t just take what the apostles said at face value, but looked at the Scriptures for an affirmation of what they said.
In searching the Scriptures, what were they looking for? Besides ensuring they were not receiving an erroneous teaching, they looked for the same thing we are to be looking for and that is Jesus Himself.
In John 5:39 Jesus reveals that the purpose for the Scriptures is to “…testify about Him.”
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. NIV
Are we looking at the Word for more knowledge and information and stopping there or is it our desire to see more of Jesus so what we learn can reinforce the life that He said we are to have?
Yet, the Bible is clear saying in the “Last Days” men would reject sound doctrine, following false teachers and having itching ears, actually wanting to hear things that make them comfortable and often will not challenge them to bring their lives to the place God designated them to live. II Timothy 4
“3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
This period of time has already infiltrated the earth and even the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. To endure something means that you are supposed to “continue in it; you are to receive or listen to” something and in our case this is in reference to sound doctrine.
This is why some people follow Christ for a season, are excited about what they are hearing and when it comes to the place where the various principles of Scripture are read and taught, instead of “enduring it and enduring it and enduring it,” they feel that they have to go somewhere else or look for something that will satisfy the desire they have to “grow” in the things of God.
This is dangerous, as there’s nothing new and we are admonished to do two things, endure [bear, tolerate, sustain] what we know to be sound doctrine and then find others you can share this Good News with as the Lord said, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” The Gospel must have an outlet if it is going to be effective.
If there is no outlet, the tendency is to accumulate teachers that will appeal to our fleshly desire. This fleshly desire is to accumulate more knowledge without any real application of what we are learning. In essence we fall into the very trap that James warned us against, “Being doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourself.”
Further we begin to compare the reality of our home church with what we might see on television or what we may have experienced at some conference or with even another church that may have a different strength in their ministry.
Those who are doing the Word and not just hearing it, are more content to have their faith reinforced with something they may have heard before. The reason is they are glad to hear they are on the right track and doing what is necessary to please God.
Going back to our foundational Scripture for this chapter in Acts 2:42, these initial Christians continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine - and then “fellowship…”
The fellowship portion of this Scripture reflects the spiritual need we have for others that believe like we do, think like we do and have the same hope that we have.
Many people go from church to church looking for people who will open their hearts and lives up, accepting them and allowing relationships to be built. We often refer to our church as family and sooner or later it will be reflected as such.
One of the Scriptures that always come to mind when we affirm our need for others is Hebrews 10 as it speaks of our responsibility of being certain that we are in place when the “Trumpet is sounded.” This is the time for the people of God to gather together in assembly to worship the God of the Universe and unify around the One Who shed His blood for them.
It’s during the times when we gather together that we can all hear the same thing and be on one accord with what the Spirit is saying to the Church. It’s impossible for all of us to move together when we’re not all hearing the same thing.
It’s the Word of God that brings the people of God into unity and allows us to have a common vision that will advance the purposes of God in the earth.
The majority of Christians do not know the real reason they are supposed to attend church services and because of this lack of understanding they live unfulfilled lives.
The only real life that is fulfilled is the one that has tapped into God’s purpose and is being lived from a Biblical perspective.
We often think just the opposite, whereas we try to move forward by fulfilling our own desires first, but God’s will must always precede our own ideas of satisfaction.
“23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
The principle of fellowship is something that God established in the Book of Genesis when He said, “It is not good for a man to be alone…”
We know this was in reference to God making a mate for the man and this still holds true, however the principle is that every person needs someone else, not only in marriage but in life. God’s intent is that those who are of the same household would be instructed in the Word of God and find commonality [unity or camaraderie] of purpose.
He has designed the local Church assembly to provide “opportunity” for this, not necessarily meet the need.
Certainly we have fellowship each week and we break bread periodically, but the fact is you must extend your life so you can have opportunity to develop relationships that will meet the need and allow your faith to be strengthened.
It’s through the teaching you receive each service that’s based on the Word of God that you are to govern your life and it becomes the rallying point for your mutual fellowship.
There are times when you will get together with someone and may not mention the Bible class, teaching or topic; however your fellowship should reflect the fact that you are a Christian.
You must also allow others to be different than you are without judging them and pulling away because they think differently than you do.
Because someone has a different slant on life or Scripture, we are not to pull away from them, but be there to help them and steer their lives in the direction God desires.
Remember, this is fellowship and breaking of bread, not “parent / child relationships. This means you are not in this relationship to tell the other person how they are supposed to live their life – unless they are endangering their life or slipping into a life of immorality and sin.
Sometimes we cannot get away from always telling others off or getting our own way and therefore we run people away. Let God develop the relationship and we will be all the more better
Many great men and women of God have fallen into deep depression and loneliness because of their inability to bring others into their lives that will meet this basic human need.
Others have tried to bring someone else into their lives by force or try to keep them through manipulation only to find that as the people realize they are being held against their will, they rebel and seek their own freedom.
However, if we are able to open ourselves up to the greater purposes of God and let people into our lives a little at a time, this basic human need will be met. Yet we must be certain that we are doing it with proper motives and not selfish reasons.
Often people try to find someone that can meet a need in their life or fulfill a desire they have. As if they are searching for prey, they narrow their “search” for relationship down to a select few only to find themselves frustrated for years wondering why there’s no one in their life that they can share their life with.
The person may have been there all the time, they just don’t look the way we think they should look, or have what we feel they should have.
You must be inviting and slowly bring another person into your life. It may begin with a cup of coffee at a diner. No commitment, just coffee and from there you determine whether you will do it again. It very well may be the best three dollars you will ever spend on a relationship.
Please contact the church at 518-462-2638 if you would like a complete copy of this teaching