How to Walk by the Spirit, or How to Really, Actually, Live by the Indwelling Life of Christ February 12, 2013 – Posted in: Uncategorized
There are many entry points into the subject of learning to walk by the Spirit. A few of the more common ones are as follows :
Some arrive out of sheer curiosity or upbringing. The subject is presented to them in writing or teaching, and they respond accordingly. Others, “burn out” of the Christian life, they try very hard to do and please God in various ways with little results, and eventually they hear an idea like “God doesn’t want you to live by your own strength, He wants you to live by His strength.” This idea leads them to learn how to walk by the Spirit. There is also a healthy handful between these two. Some are mildly curious and others are mildly burned out, maybe in a particular ministry, or ceasing a particular sin, for further example.
There is no shortage of books or talks on the subject of learning to live by the Spirit either.
Again, popular approaches present themselves as somewhat polarized. On the one hand, you have those people who just assume you can hear God’s inner voice. It’s basically as simple and complex as that, to them. Whatever the inner voice tells you to do, you should do. One may object “What if it’s my voice and not the Spirit?” The common response to this is “You have to hear by faith, and it takes practice.” Another response which is quite common is “The Spirit will never lead you to do anything that goes against the scriptures.” There are several minor issues with this response, in that it implies you would need to know and rightly interpret all of scripture and even then, scripture appears to allow for some pretty extreme actions, at times. Scripture also leads us to the other major response, which is kind of an over-reaction to the inner voice idea. The other, main idea concerning walking by the Spirit, is that it probably happens as you are being obedient to scripture, but isn’t really to be noticed or focused upon. It can’t really be known in terms of how it is described “Be led by the Spirit” so it ends up meaning “apply the Scriptures to life in action and don’t worry yourself with all this Holy Spirit stuff.” This can cause some people to run in circles in the Christian life, resulting in someone trying hard for God, with not much result, seeking to hear an inner voice, getting unstable in trusting that, and then deciding scriptures applied to life is the safest route, but it’s a bit tricky to know what scriptures are needed for every situation – especially since the Bible is story and poetry, by and large, not really an instruction book, despite our best efforts to make it as such. So the Christian just washes it all over with lukewarm hypocrisy and compromise, sounding like a compulsive gambler to themselves. “I should minister more, I should evangelize more, I should read more scripture, I need to stop that habitual sin, if I could trust God more, if only I could know what to do! Then I’d make progress on these things.” Many stay this way for years, for some unknown yet holy reason. Suffice it to say, I’m not writing from second hand knowledge myself, so without making my response too personal, this is what I’ve found to be objectively true.
Christ lived by an indwelling life. He stated clearly that He does nothing of His own accord but that it is the Father within Him who does the works, as Christ hears His voice. He sees the works before, or as they happen. (John 5) Towards the end of His earthly life, Jesus turned to the disciples and claimed the same for them and Him. We too, can do nothing on our own, apart from Christ. (Jn15) In terms of applying scripture to life, Christ has died for us, that in His rising from the dead, we too, receive a new impartation of life, by the Spirit, so that the scriptures can be accomplished by us. (Rom 8:4) The key to all this, in my experience, hinges on the word Love. God is love, those who live in Love, live in God and God lives in them. (1 Jn 4) The whole summation of the law (instructional scriptures) is Love. (Gal. 5:14 & 2 Jn 1:6).
So, if Love is both God’s law and His nature, then this is our major answer and orientation on how to walk by His Spirit, and live by Christ’s indwelling life.
What is Love? As to not over-think things, and in keeping the length of this blog post in check, I’ll define love as “meeting the need of the other, as you sense, or perceive it in the moment.” Start with other people, to get a feel for this. It involves letting go, to a certain degree. Tend to the need of the moment in conversation, or in action, or response to whoever is the next person in your path, and then the next, and then the next after that. You too, will see the needed works before, or as they happen. You’ll get a feel for this, after a while, you’ll realize that when you are all alone, God is the ‘other’ and sensing His ‘need,’ i.e. loving Him, should begin to make sense. Technically, God has no real needs, but words fall short of describing the experience, I suppose.
One last parting word. Many bring different reasons to the table, in learning to walk by the Spirit. Some want to be appear successful, others want to please God, maybe even try to make God love or accept them more. The point is, some motives are better than others. Christ is the One who frees us to Love. Every bad, or sub par motive meets its end in Christ. Every good reason and motive is also found in Christ. So, I point you towards crying out to see more of Christ, that you may be freed to meet needs – and in doing so, walk by the Spirit and really actually live by the indwelling life of Christ.