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"The entrance of thy words giveth light (Psalm 119:130)."

How to Walk in the Spirit

Let's start with Galatians 5:16-23: Here are two translations of this Scripture. The first is literal and the second is a paraphrase.

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:16-23 NASB)."

"So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" (Galatians 5:16-23 NLT)

Peace is, in my mind, the key element. As you become increasingly adept at using Scripture, you will have more and more peace. This is a learning process that takes place over time. You don't suddenly become enlightened and flooded with peace as a result of reading an article.

I should note that it is not realistic to expect a life free of anxiety. Hardships and trials are inevitable and God uses these to develop our character and increase our wisdom.

Here are the basic steps to enable you to Walk in the Spirit.

First: Get saved. This is the obvious first step.

Second: Know and use Scripture. Learn about the Bible. Read the Bible and pray every day. Confess and forsake sin. Take full advantage of the articles published on this website.

Third: In particular, address anger issues. You cannot Walk in the Spirit while you are entertaining thoughts of resentment. Be sure to read my articles on Anger Management, How to Forgive and the series on Getting Rid of Anger.

Fourth: God needs to be the Lord of your life, not just your Savior. You cannot walk in the Spirit unless you allow God to be on the throne. You've probably seen bumper stickers which say: "If God is your co-pilot, switch seats." This is what they are talking about.

The following is an excerpt from a book published by well-known Pastor Tim La Haye.

"Carnal Christians run their own lives and make their own decisions, whereas Christ-controlled Christians turn their lives over to Jesus Christ by prayerfully asking, 'Lord Jesus, how do you want me to handle this situation?' 'Do you want me to take this job opportunity?' 'How do you want me to respond to my wife, or husband, or children, or boss, or neighbors?' . . .

The self-controlled life is miserable. The Christ-controlled life is dynamic! One propagates disarray and confusion, inducing self to stagger from crisis to crisis. The Christ-controlled life guarantees peace and confidence, thus avoiding many crises (because this life is supernaturally directed), yet confidently facing those inescapable crises that do come. This believer is confident that his director will abundantly supply every need."1

Get into the habit of turning your decisions and problems over to God. Trust God. Be willing to do whatever He says to do. Then, wait until it becomes clear what to do. God's direction always comes within the context of relative peace.

Try it. You'll find it's not as scary as it seems. God is a 'good Father.' He does not scare His children. And He will never tell you to do anything that is a clear violation of scripture.

Demons, of course, will try to deceive and/or upset you by pretending to be the voice of God.

Don't do anything that doesn't make sense unless you are 100% sure it is from God. Seek out wise counsel to avoid mistakes.

Fifth: Any habitual sin (e.g. lying) will make it impossible for you to Walk in the Spirit. Make a good-faith effort to be obedient in all areas of your life.

Sixth: Don't ignore the two most important commandments:

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:37-40 NASB).”

Seventh: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Proverbs 4: 23 KJV).” Stay away from pornography. And try to avoid—or limit the frequency of—masturbation (Except, for married people, as a part of sexual intercourse with your spouse).

Eighth: You can't learn to Walk in the Spirit while you are using psychotropic drugs. Walking in the Spirit is a learning process that requires that you be able to experience both pleasant and unpleasant emotions unimpeded. It requires that your mind be alert and that you have the ability to be joyful.

Ninth: In my experience, spiritual warfare and difficult circumstances remain a challenge. It's not realistic to expect that you will come to a place where you never experience any distress. When I'm not sure what to do, praying and waiting for the 'peace of God' to appear and provide guidance is one key coping skill.

Tenth: Walking in the Spirit doesn't mean a lifestyle that requires carrying any heavy or impossible burden. Remember: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30 NASB)."

Finally: If you still often do not experience peace, consider adding this discipline: Try to spend two hours every day praying and reading the Bible. Go back and forth. Ask God questions, listen for responses, meditate on Scripture, pour out your heart to God, praise and give thanks etc.

You can also try this if you are facing any obstacle that you are trying to overcome: One now successful pastor—who was failing at seminary—said that he turned things around by getting up early and praying for two hours, every day, before going to class. God intervened and made it possible for him to succeed, he said, where he otherwise would have failed.

I'd like to end with some Scriptures that further document what I'm saying.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)."

"Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19 NKJV)."

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid (John 14:27 NIV)."

"Above everything else, guard your heart. Everything you do comes from it (Proverbs 4:23 NIRV)."

"You shall be holy, for I am holy (1 peter 1:16 ESV)."

"Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:5-6 NIV)."

1 This was excerpted from How to Win Over Depression Copyright ©1996 by Tim La Haye. Pages 209-210

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