Living by the Spirit, Part 4
July 16, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
“Walk by the Spirit.”
So far, we have analyzed this command by asking why, what, and how.
Why should we obey? Because this command is essential for holy and fruitful living for God.
What is the work of the Spirit? All of the work of the Spirit revolves around the truth of Christ.
How do we walk by the Spirit? By being in the Word of God, the truth-realm of the Spirit, on a regular basis (i.e. be filled with the Word of Christ).
I have one more question related to this command from Galatians 5:16. What is the fruit of obedience to this command?
You might be thinking that should be a no-brainer. If you are familiar with Galatians 5, you know that Paul continues the discussion about the flesh and the Spirit by highlighting the “works of the flesh” and the “fruit of the Spirit.” The fruit of obeying the command “walk by the Spirit” is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22-23).
The logic of the passage is simple: be obedient to walk by the Spirit and you will see the fruit of the Spirit in your life.
I guess the real question I want to ask is whether we really believe that logic, live like it’s true.
Inherent in the logic of this passage is the truth that without the Spirit, we cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit. That means, just to be clear, that we cannot love, have joy or peace, be patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, or self-controlled without the help and work of the Holy Spirit. Do you believe that?
I suspect that most of us, if not all of us, operate as if love, joy, peace, patience, etc. are all our responsibility to produce. I must be loving. I must be patient. I must be at peace. But that’s not what this passage suggests. They are the fruit of the Spirit. If we were convinced that we are utterly dependent on the Spirit to produce love in our lives (and joy, peace, patience…etc.), we would be much be conscience of and desperate to “walk by the Spirit” each and every day.
Let me demonstrate from Scripture why we should be desperate for and dependent on the Spirit for these qualities to be manifest in our lives.
- All of our efforts for true, biblical love, joy, peace, etc. fall short of the true quality. Yes, humans demonstrate a semblance of love and find a semblance of joy in life. Isaiah 64:6, however, explains that all our efforts fall short. “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” Without the Spirit, our love is like a polluted garment. Without the Spirit, our patience is like a polluted garment. Without the Spirit, our self-control is like a polluted garment. They are not commendable. Something greater, and more pure, is offered by the Spirit.
- Faith, which is a key aspect of walking by the Spirit, is essential to please God. The writer of Hebrews plainly states this, “Without faith it is impossible to please him” (11:6) and Paul affirms that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). If we have faith, trusting and resting in all God has for us in Jesus, we would be walking by the Spirit. To ignore the command is to deny faith in Christ.
- Jesus plainly states that without him we can do nothing. There is a parallel between Jesus’ words in John 15 and the commands of walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18), and let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Col. 3:16). Consider Jesus’ words in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” The Spirit exalts Christ and draws us deeply into fellowship with Christ by the Word. Walking by the Spirit is the fulfillment of abiding in Christ.
May we be people who walk by the Spirit and so see the fruit of the Spirit growing in our lives.