Last night we continued our series on Practical Spirituality, looking at how someone can live out the Christian life. Here are the notes:
Last week we saw that the only way to truly be a follower of Jesus in our time is to have and live off of the power of God’s Holy Spirit. This allows you to learn and live out the teaching of the Apostles found in the scriptures. Today we want to ask a related question, which is, how do you actually live this Christian life. If you asked the Apostle Paul this question, it seems his short answer would have been, “Walk in the Spirit.” …so, what if you asked him, “well, how do you walk in the Spirit?”
First, let’s remember what Jesus taught. See John 14:12-18, 25-26; 16:5-7, and Acts 1:4-8. He spoke about the Spirit of God as someone who would come and actually live inside his followers. If we turn to the letters of Paul, we can see how this Apostle taught on this mysterious truth Jesus spoke about.
What the Apostles taught:
First, see Romans 8:3-14, 26-27. Based on this passage, if you asked Paul, “How do you walk in the Spirit?” Here’s what he’d say:
- Have the Spirit. (v.9)
- Set your mind on the things of the Spirit. (v.5) Develop a life-long habit of thinking about the things God says are important. Another way to say it—we learn what “the Spirit” is thinking. We find those things in the scriptures, we learn them with other believers, and we prove them out in our daily lives by acting on them and finding them to be true.
- Use that new way of thinking to unlearn old patterns. (v.5-8) This is what Paul means by “the mind of the flesh” or the “carnal mind”—he means that way people think when they leave out God’s commands, and the way it guides their life. He says, those things cannot please God, since they won’t listen to him at all.
- This leads to lives which are practically shaped (decisions, habits, qualities) by the things of the Spirit. (v.12-13)
- Be led of the Spirit. (v.14) That is, actively follow where the Spirit is leading—based on the things you’re learning and the new way of thinking you now have. Be “led” like following an experienced climber up a mountain. “Rise up and follow.”
- Pray, with the Spirit’s help. (v.26-27) Use prayer to overcome weakness in your thinking (you don’t know what to think) and living (you don’t what to do or how to do it). While you pray, consciously depend on the depend the fact that the Spirit is going to help you pray and pray for you. Pray “in the spirit.”
Next see Galatians 5:13-26. Notice this passage has a lot in common with the Romans 8 passage, but it adds a few important things as well.
- Identify what the “flesh” produces (v.19) and be informed about the difference between flesh and Spirit. Be able to identify them.
- “Walk in the Spirit.” (v.16) Order your daily details based on what you know of the Spirit.
- Now, see 3:1-6 & 13-14.This is active obedience, but not “works”—i.e. not working simply out with your own strength. It happens by “hearing” and “believing” God’s message, and then God “supplies” the Spirit to us moment by moment. Of course, hearing and believing include daily living it out.
Takeaways: How do we live the Christian life? By walking in the Spirit. How do we walk in the Spirit?
- Develop a daily, lifelong habit of examining yourself and your life by what the word of God says. In this way, learn what the Spirit of God is all about.
- This is new knowledge. Those things are the way the Spirit is leading. So daily rise up and be led of the Spirit by putting those things in to practice.
- Through the day—pray for the Spirit’s wisdom and power. Ask God to help you know and have the power to do what God wants done.
- At each juncture of your day, pray “Lord, guide my words here,” or, “Help me resist this temptation,” or, “Give me the power to forgive,”
- Understand and remember that it is the Spirit of God, and not your own efforts, which produces spiritual things.
- Since it is the Spirit who does gives the wisdom and the ability, expect spiritual victory.
And this is key… The scriptures indicate that you cannot live the Christian life without the power of the Holy Spirit. You can not follow Jesus or live out the things he says without first receiving the Holy Spirit, having him come and indwell you, and then learning to live off his moment-by-moment supply of life and power. This is how God designed it all.