Living by the Spirit, Part 2
July 2, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
“Walk by the Spirit.”
So commands Paul in Galatians 5:16. Last week, we saw from Paul’s teaching that obedience to this command is the gateway to holy and fruitful living for God. In Paul’s theology, our lives (our hearts, minds, wills) are under the influence of either the flesh or the Spirit. There is no third or neutral influence. Therefore, obedience to the command, “walk by the Spirit,” is essential to live as a Christian, to be a Christian.
Before we talk about what this looks like, the practical “how-to” for walking by the Spirit, we need to understand how the Spirit works. Then, next week, we can understand how we get in line with his working.
Jesus gives clear teaching about the work of the Spirit in his Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). In particular, in John 15 Jesus tells his disciples it is to their advantage that he goes away and sends “the Helper” (v. 7). He then describes what the Spirit will do:
- He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (v. 8).
- He will guide you into all truth (v. 13).
- He will not speak on his own authority (v. 13),
- But He will speak whatever he hears (v. 13).
- He will glorify Christ (v. 14).
- He will take what is Christ’s and declare it to his disciples (v. 15).
This list demonstrates why Jesus calls him the “Spirit of Truth.” The work of the Spirit centers on truth. He convicts with truth as the measurement. He declares and makes known the truth. And, with Jesus at the center of truth, the Spirit celebrates and exalts Jesus. The Spirit of Truth works with Truth.
The apostle Paul builds on this concept when he explains that the Spirit helps us “understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Cor. 2:12). Theologians have called this the illuminating work of the Spirit. This work is still truth centered, with the Spirit helping us understand God’s gracious work through Jesus.
Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul states “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (12:7). The manifestations of the Spirit are spiritual gifts. The common good, the purpose of spiritual gifts, is the building up of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). Paul explains that the goal of this building up is that “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13). So, even spiritual gifts are given by the Spirit to assist in our understanding of the truth of Jesus.
Then, in a passing statement, when Paul commands believers to take up the sword of the Spirit, he ties the Spirit to Scripture. He says the sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Eph. 5:17). The weapon of the Spirit is Scripture. This should not surprise us when we see that everything focuses on truth in the Spirit’s work. Everything he does is truth-centered.
Does this begin to give you a glimpse of what it may look like to “walk by the Spirit”? Whatever obedience to this command means, it must be truth-centered. There is no work of the Spirit apart from the truth of Jesus Christ.