"But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God).”
- Galatians 5:16 AMP
The Lord has used this verse to help me gain the victory over some of my most persistent bad habits. I confess it and meditate on it on a daily basis, because it reminds me of powerful biblical truths that can lead to true freedom in Christ. It tells me what walking in the Spirit is, and also what it is not. Let’s take a closer look at this verse, so that we can gain some life-changing insights from it.
Responsive. The apostle Paul says that living the Spirit-filled life requires our being “responsive” to God’s Spirit. Responsive means, “Readily reacting to suggestions, influences, appeals, or efforts.” The Holy Spirit, in an effort to aid us in living godly lives that represent Christ well, will try to guide our conduct through “promptings,” or little impressions in our spirit, and it’s up to us to be receptive to them. While we have the power to ignore these promptings and to follow our fleshly impulses instead, it’s always wiser for us to heed these divine nudges, and it always benefits us in the end. Suppose you are in the grocery store and you spy a delectable and fattening dessert. If you pause a moment, it’s likely you will sense the Holy Spirit saying, “Stop! Pass it by. This is not My best for you.” As you readily obey the warning and keep walking past the temptation, your flesh may complain, but your spirit and God’s Spirit will rejoice. The more responsive you are to the Holy Spirit, and the less responsive you are to your flesh, the more freedom you will gain, even in those areas in which you had accepted defeat in the past.
Controlled. Walking in the Spirit also involves being controlled by the Spirit. That means that we let God be God in every area of our lives. We submit to His lordship and His leadership. We give Him the right to tell us what to do, and we don’t keep Him out of anything that concerns us. Living the Spirit-filled life is living a surrendered life. In every situation, we don’t ask ourselves what WE want to do—we find out what the Lord’s will is, and we make the decision to obey Him. Paul wrote, “Find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:10 NIV) Studying Scripture will arm us with the knowledge we need to recognize and follow God’s will in conjunction with the power and the promptings of His Spirit. Colossians 1:13 (AMP) says: “[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Christ’s sacrifice on the cross freed us from Satan’s power, and forever broke his control over us. The devil can tempt, accuse, and deceive us, but only if we allow him to. In every situation, we can resist Satan’s efforts to influence us, and we can yield to the control and direction of God’s Spirit.
Guided. When Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd, and described His relationship with His followers, He said: “He walks ahead of them, and they follow Him because they know His voice.” (John 10:4 NLT) Through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the Savior instructs us and shows us how to choose the best in every situation we face. His is the voice Isaiah speaks of when he says: “And if you leave God's paths and go astray, you will hear a Voice behind you say, ‘No, this is the way; walk here.’” (Isaiah 30:21 TLB) How do we sharpen our spiritual ears so that we can hear the Lord’s voice clearly? We saturate ourselves in Scripture by reading it and meditating on it regularly. If we’re unsure if it’s the voice of God speaking to us, we can go to the Bible and see what His Word says about the subject, because the Word and the Spirit always agree. If we’re wondering if a certain relationship is God’s will for us, we can consult the Scriptures and find out if it meets the Lord’s criteria for relationships that are suitable for a follower of Christ. God has equipped you with His Spirit so you can conquer every fleshly desire and habit that is hindering you from becoming all that He created you to be. Will you be sensitive and obedient to His Spirit’s leading in all things, so that you can walk in the victory that belongs to you in Christ?
Prayer: Lord, help me to continually walk in the Spirit by being “responsive to and controlled and guided by” Him in every situation and circumstance. Strengthen me so that I will never yield to the cravings or desires of the flesh. Thank You for the victory and freedom that will be mine as I follow Your lead in all things!
- J. M. Farro