Jump Start # 2140
Galatians 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
Here in Galatians 5, Paul identifies three relationships that the disciple of Christ has with the Holy Spirit. The very subject of the Holy Spirit, for many people, seems mystifying, scary, and unknown. The modern thinkers have so misused and abused principles about the Holy Spirit, that many would just rather avoid the topic all together.
We find three leading principles that we need to appreciate, understand and abide by.
- Walk by the Spirit (16)
- Led by the Spirit (18)
- Live by the Spirit (25)
Two positive things are connected to these three principles. First, these are choices that one must make. The Spirit doesn’t force us to walk or abide with Him. Not against our wishes. Not without our choice. So, I can be led by the Spirit, or I can resist the Spirit and do whatever I want. My choice.
Secondly, there are positive consequences when I choose to follow the Spirit. I will not carry out the desires of the flesh, when I walk by the Spirit. I am not under the Law when I am led by the Spirit. And when I live by the Spirit, I will not be boastful, envious, or challenging others. Being under the influence of the Spirit has positive results that are shown in our character and our behavior.
The English Standard (ESV) translates the end of our verse today as: “Keep in step with the Spirit.” I like that. Keep in step. Many things come to our minds with that expression.
Have you ever seen a family out for a walk together. It’s mom, dad and the kids. Mom and dad are walking together, usually with the little ones. The older kids are out in front. Some look back to make sure mom and dad are still following behind. They are ahead of the others. Then there are times when little legs just get tired. You see this after a full day of Disney. The little ones can’t go on any more. They can’t keep up. Most times you’ll see a dad carrying a child who is just about finished for the day. You see this at the airport. Someone is hurrying through to catch their next flight. Behind them, comes the others who aren’t as fast.
Keep in step—keep in step with the Holy Spirit. This is not only good advice, it’s essential to our faith and our relationship with the Lord.
You’ll find those who are always wanting to be AHEAD of the Holy Spirit. They want the Bible to say things that it doesn’t say. They believe that the Bible must be defined by the culture it was presented in. And, as culture has changed, so should the understanding of the Bible. Outdated, they would say is a male dominated leadership in the church. That’s culture, some declare. The church being financed only by Sunday offerings is thought by some to be cultural. What’s wrong, some declare, with the church selling things, raising money in other avenues, even engaging in business? Some feel that baptism is no longer the defining line between being in Christ and out of Christ. Faith, they would say, determines such things. And, that faith may not necessarily involve baptism. That, some write, is a carry-over from Jewish practices. Being opposed to homosexuality is a cultural thing, some declare, that is outdated and out of touch. If they love the Lord, it doesn’t matter. Running ahead—that’s the problem. Placing your faith and your practice upon culture and not the word of God. Making assumptions that simply may not exist other than in your mind. Those that tire of worship the way it is, want to run ahead of the Holy Spirit. Those that are ready to gut the place and bring in social activities are ready to run ahead of the Holy Spirit. We are reminded, KEEP IN STEP with the Spirit.
But, there are always those who are lagging behind the Spirit as well. This is as wrong, dangerous and counter to the message of the N.T. as running ahead. There are some who simply will not forgive others. They have been hurt and they won’t drop the subject. Decades later, they are still talking about the pain, the insults and the injury. The people involved may be dead, but the topic isn’t. God tells us to forgive. He warns us that if we don’t forgive, He won’t forgive us. Yet, there are those who can’t keep in step with these things. They are lagging behind. Some are lagging behind in service. They like the O.T. model of the priests doing everything in the Temple. Bring your sacrifice and let the priests take care of it. This carries over to letting the preacher, the deacons or a few others do it all for you. Let them take the lead in hospitality. I’ll come to their home and eat their food, but I don’t want to invite others to my home. I want the preacher to invite others to attend. I want others to do all the teaching. I want the elders to shepherd, the deacons to serve and I just want to show up and that’s all. Lagging behind here. Keep in step. God tells us that we are all priests. He wants each of us to be engaged in good deeds. He wants us busy making a difference in the kingdom. Engaged. Involved. Participating. That’s the N.T. idea. We must keep in step with the Spirit.
Thirdly, it is you and I who must walk with the Spirit. We are to keep in step with the Spirit. It’s not the Spirit who keeps in step with us. The Spirit is not walking with us, we are walking with the Spirit. The direction is chosen by the Spirit, not us. The pace is chosen by the Spirit, not us. The destination is chosen by the Spirit, not us.
My wife and I like to take walks in the neighborhood. I walk differently when she’s with me. I have long legs and my stride and my pace is too fast for her. When I walk by myself, I walk fast. When with my wife, I slow it down to her pace. I walk with her. I keep in step. Together, that’s the idea of our passage. Stay with the Spirit. You do this by staying with the Spirit given Scriptures. Don’t go ahead. Don’t lag behind. Don’t blaze your own trail. Together. Mirror in your life what is read on the pages of the Bible.
And, when you keep in step with the Spirit, you’ll become in character, attitude and heart, just what God wants. Problems arise when we are out of step. We are thinking ahead of the Spirit. We are walking behind the Spirit. When that happens, our attitudes, character and heart reflect an imbalance. Things are not right. It’s not the Spirit, it’s us, where the problem lies. We got to get back in step again. I’ve seen band members in a marching band that get out of step. They will do a little hop to get back on the correct foot that everyone else. Maybe it’s time for you and I to do a little hop to get back in step with the Spirit.
Walking with God, it’s a wonderful experience. It’s what God wants. Are you keeping up with the Spirit?