Walking in the Spirit
Over the past few weeks we have been talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christian’s. We have found that it is only by his work within us that true spirituality can be produced. In this message we are going to emphasize continuity. How do we live our faith on a day-to-day basis so we can maintain what we might call quality Christianity? We have to walk in the Spirit.
In the New Testament the word translated walking does not always mean literally taking steps physically. Most of the time it is referring to the daily, consistent, continuing conduct of us as believers in our daily lives. When we talk about walking in the Spirit, we are meaning that we have come to the point of relying on the Spirit and his power completely in our lives. When we do that, the characteristics of a Christian are going to be obvious in our lives to the people around us.
There is a big difference in living God’s way and living the world’s way. I think all of us here this morning will agree with that statement. The rules for living a Christian life are not set by the world, but are set down for us in the gospels and the books of Acts and the Epistles. These rules are different from the world’s standards, but not only that, they are impossible for the world to live. A natural or unsaved person can never hope to live their lives the way that Jesus and the other writers of the New Testament set out these standards for us. These are not earthly standards, but heavenly ones. God never intended, and still doesn’t intend, for the world to live by these standards. Even we as Christians can’t live up to all of these standards, but what we have to realize is that God doesn’t necessarily want us to live up to the standards, but he wants us to allow these standards to be lived through us, as we yield to the Holy Spirit that is in us.
What are some of the heavenly requirements that make quality Christians? Jesus told us that we are to love one another. That is something that I think we take for granted sometimes, or don’t really realize what Jesus intended. One of the main reasons for us not realizing what Jesus intended was the fact that we usually stop with needing to love one another and don’t go the rest of the way with what Jesus said when he said that we are to love others the way he loved us.
To love as Christ has loved us is an infinitely higher kind of love than we can ever have on our own. It is the kind of love that allows us to love an unlovable and undesirable person or somebody that has mistreated us. That’s the kind of love that God loved us with, through Jesus Christ.
We are also always to give thanks. Is it always easy to live a thankful life, being thankful for all things. What happened in your life this week that you find hard to be thankful for? We need to live our lives in a way that no matter what happens in our lives, we need to be thankful. Even when things don’t go the way that we think they should, we should be thankful to God. We just have to remember that no matter how puzzling, how seemingly bad or unexplainable to us, the situation is that we are facing, God knows what is going on and is in control of it.
Paul tells us to rejoice evermore and pray without ceasing. We are to be filled with an inner joy even when circumstances around us seem the worst. Keep an open line of communication with God so that prayer is a constant habit in your life, not just something that you do when you are faced with a problem or a crisis.
As Christians we all have a common foe, Satan. He is God’s, and his people’s, archenemy. Satan doesn’t bother unsaved people, as he already has them. He loves, though, to attack, ridicule, and otherwise make a Christian’s life miserable.
Why doesn’t he bother the lost? They are already a part of his world system. They have never been freed from his powers of darkness and moved over to God’s glorious kingdom of light.
Today, Satan is one of the greatest proponents of “religion.” He encourages people to be religious, as long as they don’t have true religion. Of course the religious experiences that he encourages people to seek are the “feel good” or humanistic religions that really have no meat to them. He promotes maybe the idea of reincarnation, of human excellence, of virtually any religion that teaches that you can get to a better life or heaven by anything other than Jesus. Far too many people today are being drawn away by this type of teaching. We have to resist the devil and his temptations by allowing God to work through us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Satan is inferior to God, but he is stronger than the strongest human and he is inticing people to follow him.
The Christian’s conflict with Satan is a fierce and as unceasing as Satan can make it. We are nothing in comparison to Satan, but with God at our side, living in us and through us, we can and will have victory over him. God gave us all the tools and resources that we need to defeat Satan. But to do that we have to walk in the Spirit daily, being conscience of his power.
Unfortunately, no matter how long we have been saved, the old nature of Adam, the sinful nature, is still a part of our lives. When we receive Christ as Savior, we are redeemed, bought back if you wish, from the kingdom of Satan. This is an eternal and completed transaction. It is sealed in heaven, never to be repeated or repealed. That is our spirit, but our bodies have not yet been redeemed. They will not be redeemed until Jesus comes and we get our glorified bodies.
So today we have to live in our unredeemed bodies that are still subject to sin. Our redeemed souls are constantly battling our unredeemed bodies. Satan is not able to touch our souls, but he can, and does, touch, tempt, and test our bodies.
The only way for us to overcome that nature of Adam is to walk daily in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. When we do that, Paul says that we die daily. That is, the old nature that is still unredeemed, is given a death blow each and every day. No one ever reaches that plateau of spiritual achievement that we are not tested and tempted. Our physical nature is still Satan’s battleground.
One phrase from Paul might summarize all that I have tried to convey to you over the past few sermons, Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I hope that is the same attitude that you have. Quality Christianity will emerge when we surrender to the Holy Spirit that is in us.