Being Led by the Spirit

Galatians 5:16-18 ESV

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”

Our walks have to do with how we live. They are our deeds, our works, the things that we do or don’t do. They are how we conduct our lives day in and day out. They are our habits. And they are the things that we say. But what we do and say comes from what is within our hearts, so they have to also do with our mindset, our thinking, our values, our philosophies, our attitudes.

So, if we conduct our lives by the Spirit, in all that we are and say and do, it means that our minds, hearts, and deeds will be being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ. We will desire what he desires. We will do and say the kinds of things he did and said in the power of God. And we will live lives which are separate (unlike, different) from this sinful world.

If we do this, in the power of God’s Spirit, we will not gratify the desires (sinful cravings) of the flesh. For, the reason that so many professing Christians are living to gratify the desires of the flesh is because they either do not truly know God, because they did not and are not dying with him to sin, and/or they have returned to walking according to the flesh.

Another big reason why so many professing Christians today are not walking by the Spirit, but they are living to gratify the sinful cravings of the flesh, is because they have bought into a cheap grace gospel which is telling them that they don’t have to repent of their sins, nor obey Jesus, nor submit to Christ as Lord (owner-master) of their lives.

But the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other. So, how can anyone believe that Jesus’ plan of salvation for you is only to forgive your sins and to promise you heaven when you die, and that he saved you from your sins so now you don’t have to feel guilty when you do sin?

For, Jesus died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. And he shed his blood on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we would now honor God with our lives and with our bodies (1 Peter 2:24; 2 Co 5:15; 1 Co 6:19-20).

Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

A lot of people are teaching today that once you believe in Jesus that all your sins are forgiven, past, present, and future, so it no longer matters to God if you sin. In fact they claim that God can’t even see when you sin and that all he sees is Jesus when he looks at you, even if you are engaged in all manner of evil against him.

But if that were true, then we could throw out most of the New Testament, in particular Paul’s writings, because Paul could see when they sinned, and he called them out on their sins, and he warned them of the consequences of continued sin, and he let them know that if they made sin their practice that they would not inherit eternal life with God.

Many professing Christians today, including some (or many) pastors, are leading double lives, confessing faith in Jesus Christ on the outside, going through the forms of worship of God, praying out loud so people can hear them, and quoting Scripture so that they sound righteous, but while they are engaged in all sorts of wickedness and immorality.

Sexual immorality, porn addiction, extramarital affairs, adultery, fornication, sex texting, child molestation, child porn, self-gratification, self-pleasure, watching sexually charged movies or videos or listening to music of the same nature have run amuck (in a violently raging, wild, or uncontrolled manner) in today’s church culture and in society, in general.

People living by their feelings, hardened to the truth of God’s word, lying, hardened to God’s moral standards for us to follow, pleasure seeking, following the ways and thinking of this sinful world, living in rebellion against God, disrespectful, disobedient, self-gratifying, and mocking and masquerading righteousness and holiness is prevalent even in the church.

And then if they begin to feel guilty about their sin, they are being taught to just “claim who you are in Christ” to alleviate the guilt. For, they separate what we do from who we are. But what we practice is who we are. If lying, we are liars. If stealing, we are thieves. If adultery, we are adulterers. And who we are in Christ is not just dependent on what Jesus did for us on that cross, but it is dependent on us dying to sin and living to righteousness.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10]

Galatians 5:22-24 ESV

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

The fruit of the Spirit is the result, the outgrowth, the produce of the Holy Spirit, and it is also the result and outgrowth of a life committed to Jesus Christ, dying with him to sin and to self, and walking in obedience to his commands in the power of God’s Spirit. When our lives are under Holy Spirit control and no longer under the control of sin, we should bear this fruit.

Now, this is not saying that we are going to be instantaneously perfect and that we will never sin again (see 1 Jn 2:1-2), but the Scriptures do teach that if we don’t obey the Lord, and if sin is what we practice, and if righteousness is not what we practice, that we will not inherit eternal life (1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10).

But if we are walking according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, then we should be displaying the fruit of the Spirit. We should be loving people with the love of God, and showing God’s grace to people, and be being faithful to God and to his word, and we should be exercising self-control and not be living out-of-control lives.

And this will be the result of lives which truly belong to Christ Jesus, who have, by the Spirit, by God’s grace, through God-given faith in Christ, crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Yet, this is not saying that we will be absolutely perfect in everything that we do, but lack of perfection should never be used as an excuse for deliberate and habitual sin.

Footprints of Jesus

Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett

Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.

Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.

If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.

If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.

Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.

Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.

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