Walk By The Spirit 1
Updated: Jan 13, 2020
Chan Gin Kai
As disciples of Christ, we were given the Holy Spirit when we emerged from the water of baptism. The Christian journey is difficult and fraught with obstacles, but the Spirit will guide and empower us. We need only to walk by the Spirit. But how do we do that?
To walk by the Spirit, there are things we need to walk away from, and things we need to walk with.
Walk Away From The Desires Of The Flesh
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. (Galatians 5:16-17)
What our flesh desires and what the Spirit wants are polar opposites. We cannot gratify both for they are at odds. There is no best of both worlds; we've got to choose one or the other.
The Bible warns, "... you are not to do whatever you want". We cannot simply give in to whatever our heart tells us, but listen to the Spirit instead.
Our flesh yearns for aspirations and ambitions, comfort and conveniences, pleasures and power. Many of these dreams are not wrong per se; for example, making money, aspiring to get promotions, and striving to achieve good results are all okay, and in fact, to be encouraged.
But we know well how easily we can swing over to the dark side when our dreams become desires. We've experienced how weak we are, and how easily we succumb to the allure of the world.
When we give in to our fleshly desires, we begin a downward spiral. In the best-case scenario, our desire may not be wrong in itself but we are still consumed by it and distracted from God. In the worst-case scenario, our desire is sinful and pulls us even further way from the Spirit. What does your flesh desire?
If we don't walk away from the desires of the flesh, we cannot walk by the Spirit.
Walk Away From Wrong Ways Of Getting To God
But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)
The Galatian church consisted of Jewish and Gentile converts. In the early church, there was a point when the Christians were confused. Some of the Jewish converts who were brought up to follow the Mosaic Law thought that it was still necessary for their salvation. Paul addressed it, especially on the point of circumcision earlier in the same chapter:
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:2-4)
The Jewish converts had believed that the Mosaic Law was still necessary for them to get to God. We may not follow Jewish laws, but we try our own ways of getting to God too. We sometimes think we can earn our way to salvation... Church attendances? Tick. Tithing? Tick. Evangelise? Tick. Read the Bible? Tick.
All of these are well and good. In fact, let's do them more. But do we deceive ourselves that doing them makes us worthy to be called Christ's disciples? We are never worthy or deserving. We are called to live righteous lives, but it is only by God's grace and mercy that we are saved.
If we don't walk away from wrong ways of getting to God, we cannot walk by the Spirit.
Walk Away From Sin
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. (Galatians 5:19-20)
Despite its potent poison, we are still easily deceived by sin. The Bible reminds us that sins are obvious. Let's not bluff ourselves they are not wrong, nor convince ourselves there are no consequences.
There are no excuses for sin. It doesn't become right because many others do it. And it does not become justifiable because situations push us to it. We can try our best to assuage our conscience and find people who tell us it is okay, but our sins still remain an affront to God.
Sin is an incredibly destructive power. It breeds consequences that harm ourselves and others, and it hurts our relationship with God too.
When we sin repeatedly, we feel ashamed to face God and find it increasingly harder to pray. Our tears of sorrow dry up, as our conscience turns numb. We don't feel motivated to read the Bible anymore, as we feel hypocritical. Our hearts get hardened and we ignore the Spirit.
If we don't walk away from sin, we cannot walk by the Spirit.
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".