By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. – Galatians 5:16 (NKJV)
I remember when I was in college and I was thinking about this verse. It was very appealing and encouraging but I couldn’t quite figure it out. I mean what does it really mean to walk in the Spirit anyway? On the surface it sounds great but how do you live this out in your day-to-day life. I am happy to say that the years have given me some wisdom and I want to share with you what it means to walk in the Spirit and how you can do it every day.
What Does it Really Mean to Walk in the Spirit?
That same phrase 'walk in the Spirit' can also mean to live by the Spirit or to be guided by the Spirit. This means that you live a life that is connected to the Holy Spirit on a regular basis. The Holy Spirit becomes the one you depend on as you go through life. For many, that sounds very simple, almost too simple so let me explain why it is not. When you were saved Jesus made a promise to you, he would give you the Holy Spirit.
And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. – Ephesians 1:13 (NLT)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. – John 14:16-17
One of the first things you must recognize is that you have the Holy Spirit living inside you. This is what Jesus said. What you should also notice is one of the main purposes of the Holy Spirit is to help you. He is the one who helps you understand. He is the one who helps you pray. He is the one who helps you overcome the lusts of your flesh or sinful nature. Therefore what it means to walk in the Spirit is to tap into the help that God has already provided for you. The more you are able to do this the stronger you will become. The less you do this the weaker you become.
You Must Stay Plugged In
One of the keys to walking in the Spirit is you must stay plugged in. We all walk around with cellphones which indeed are powerful devices that can do lots of things. However as powerful or useful as a cellphone may be it has no ability unless it is plugged in and charged up. You and I are very much the same way. There are many things that you will not be able to do unless you are connected to and charged with the Holy Spirit. I want to be clear that as Christians you don’t have to worry about losing the Holy Spirit. However, what can increase or decrease in your life is the impact the Holy Spirit has on your day-to-day life. The more you yield the more impact. The less you yield the less impact.
3 Ways to Make Sure You’re Walking with the Holy Spirit
Getting to this place of maximum impact is where you are living out what it means to walk in the Spirit. How then do you get there?
1. You must commit to prayer.
You cannot walk in the Spirit if you never pray. Prayer is more than just a spiritual exercise or discipline. Prayer is really your lifeline. The way we connect our spirit with the Holy Spirit is through prayer. For simplicity's sake, I will include worship as a part of prayer. There has to be a place in your life where you get into God’s presence. You cannot grow or function without this. I was having a conversation with a friend and he was sharing with me a struggle he was having. My question to him was are you spending time with God? His answer was no. I cannot tell you or stress that there is a direct correlation between time spent with God and struggles that are overcome. The reason is when you make room for the Holy Spirit, he empowers you to overcome the struggles of the flesh. This is walking in the Spirit. In my personal life anytime I was wrestling with some sin, I could almost guarantee prayer was absent. I was not plugged in. Is there any wonder that I had no power or resistance? There was no other outcome because if you don’t have the influence of the Holy Spirit you are left to your own devices and that is no match for your sinful nature.
2 . You must commit to the Word.
Many people don’t connect reading the Bible with walking in the Spirit and I get it. How then can you connect these two? Here is how this works. The Word of God gives you instruction on how to live and the Spirit of God gives you the power to do it. The Spirit of God and the Word of God work in cooperation with each other. They are not competitors but teammates who help move you toward becoming the person God wants you to be. Remember what David said in the Psalms,
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11
That sounds a lot like agreement to me. We hide God’s Word in our hearts and it’s his Word that teaches us how to live. Then God gives us his Holy Spirit and when we walk in cooperation he gives us the strength and ability to live out the word. When you commit to the Word the Holy Spirit will help you do what God wants.
3. You must commit to obedience.
Quite honestly without obedience, it does not matter how much you pray or how much you read the Bible. Without obedience, those things are just nice things to do and you are actually deceived. Consider what James says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." – James 1:22
Here is the good part. When you walk in the Spirit he gives you the desire to obey. The desire grows not out of obligation but because he forms in you a heart that grows to love God more. The more you love him the more you want to obey him. When you are walking in the Spirit you will not only read the Bible he will help you do what it says. This is why walking in the Spirit is so wonderful.
Let’s Connect All the Dots
God has given you the Holy Spirit. One of the purposes is to help you. He will help you to pray which will give you the strength you need. He will move you to read the word which will give you the wisdom you need and show you how to live. Finally, he will help you to obey what God desires you to do. In other words, walking in the Spirit impacts every aspect of your life. From this point forward when you think of what it means to walk in the Spirit, you don’t have to treat it as if it is some mystical thing. It is far more practical than that. It should be a very normal part of your Christian life for one simple reason. The Holy Spirit lives inside you. Because he does he will give you what you need to live the life he wants. Your job is to stay plugged in and when you do you will truly walk in the Spirit.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Zbynek Pospisil
Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.