Living by the Spirit, Part 3

July 9, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

 “Walk by the Spirit.” 

So commands Paul in Galatians 5:16. Two weeks ago we saw that obedience to this command is essential for holy and fruitful living for God. Last week, we sought to understand how the Spirit works. All of the work of the Spirit revolves around the truth of Christ. The Spirit seeks to glorify the Son so that our hearts and minds may apprehend the beauty and goodness of our Savior in faith. 

Now, let’s talk about the actual command, “Walk.” 

This word is one of Paul’s favorites to describe “living.” In response to the riches of God’s grace in salvation, he calls the Ephesians to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (4:1; cf. Rom. 6:4, 8:4, 13:13, 2 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 5:8; Col. 2:6). It can be translated “live,” but the literal meaning of the word is “walk.” Why “walk”? 

Walking implies activity, movement, intention, direction. It is a daily, ordinary task. Paul knows we live each day filled with activity, movement, intention, and direction. This is what living is. His repeated command to walk in line with the Gospel (or Christ or the Spirit) emphasizes that our daily activities, movement, intentions, and directions should all be shaped and influenced by the Gospel. 

The command to “walk” is a command to allow daily activity, movement, intentions, and directions to be shaped by…. the Spirit, according to Galatians 5:16. 

What does this look like practically? The Spirit operates in the realm of Truth. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit. In order to “walk by the Spirit” one must be influenced and shaped by the truth of Scripture. That is the realm of the Spirit. 

Consider another, similar command from Paul. In Ephesians 5:18 he writes, “be filled with the Spirit.” Before we start imagining some sort of mystical experience with the Spirit, we should compare this command with the parallel passage in Colossians 3. Paul wrote Ephesians and Colossians at the same time. They have very similar outlines and Paul addresses many of the same matters. So, in a similar moment in Colossians 3 Paul does not command “be filled with the Spirit,” but he commands, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” In Paul’s mind the Spirit and the word of Christ have one and the same purpose and function, the exaltation of Jesus for the deepening of our faith. The outflow from both of these commands is the “singing of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (compare Eph. 5:19 with Col. 3:16). 

To obey the command “walk by the Spirit” one must let the word of Christ dwell in him richly (i.e. be filled with the Spirit). The truth of Christ then shapes the ordinary, daily activity, intentions, movements, and direction. As the word dwells richly in one’s mind and heart, the Spirit works to exalt the goodness of Christ so to feed faith and influence one’s life to live by faith. 

To put it simply, to walk by the Spirit, one must be in the Word of God. Are you in the Word on a regular basis so the Spirit can shape and influence your daily activities through the Word? We do not… we cannot walk by the Spirit if God’s Word is absent from our lives.


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