“Walk by the Spirit” Galatians 5:16
“Walk by the Spirit.” I daresay that you’ve heard of it by the hearing of the ear, but I wonder, have you seen it? Does it look like shaking with a seizure or losing all control? Does it sound like shouting in worship? No, walking by the Spirit is none of those things. It is a much more, shall we say, spiritual thing than those very bodily and visible activities I have just listed.
Moving onto what it is, we know that it is first of all a very necessary thing. It is the key to holiness (v. 16-24). It is most desirable, for in it is found the key to real spiritual power and joy and all sanctification. In other words, you need this today.
As to how it is done, thankfully Paul gives us a clue in verse 25. “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” Do we live by the Spirit? If we are believers we do. How, then, did we receive this Spirit that we live by? Paul told us just a bit ago in this same letter: “Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” (Gal. 3:2). The implied answer is obvious. We live by the Spirit by hearing with faith.
How then do we attain the Spirit’s ongoing power on our little lives, a.k.a. walk by him? In the same way that we received his majestic presence in the first place: “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” (Gal. 3:5). This is how we walk by the Spirit, by hearing with faith.
Work it out and you will see that sanctification is by faith alone. Indeed, the faith that sanctifies is never alone, and so we work out our salvation with fear and trembling through the obedience of faith. But we do so by the ongoing power of the Spirit of God attained by means of hearing with faith.
Very well. But, hearing what with faith? Well, that is the favorite theme of all God’s preachers and of all God’s inspired penmen and of the Spirit who himself inspired them and of the mature old widow upon whom his power rests: “Jesus Christ…crucified” (Gal. 3:1). Or, as Paul has it for himself, “The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20).
Now you try it. Commune with the One who died and rose in your place to give you eternal life as a most free gift of God’s amazing love for you, a hell-deserving wretch. See if beholding him in all his free mercy does not supply you with great spiritual power to overcome the sin in your life today. And then you will know what it really means to live a Spirit-empowered life.