What Must I do to Walk in the Spirit: The Supernatural Word of God

Hebrews 4:12 (NKJV) 12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Paul understood better than most people the value of the grace of God. He considered himself the worst sinner of all (1 Timothy 1:15.) Yet he also understood the need to live a life of holiness to God. It is impossible to read Paul’s letters and not come away with the understanding that a godly lifestyle is vital to our Christian witness. We have seen that to do so without being in the bondage of law we must walk with our spirit in control.

The first key to accomplishing this is that to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. To be “minded” means to have how we think dominated by a particular point of view or mindset. In the natural this can be our culture, experiences, education or many other things. When it comes to how we will live Christianity, the question is whether our thinking will be dominated by the natural or by the spirit. One leads to life the other opens the door for death to infiltrate.

From the Amplified Bible, we learned that to be carnally minded is to have our thinking dominated by sense reason without the influence of the Holy Spirit. This also implies reason without the influence of the truth of the Word of God. Again, to quote the Amplified directly, this produces “death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter.”

To be spiritually minded, according to the Amplified, means to have the mind of the Holy Spirit guiding how we think. This produces “life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].” Paul understood that there was a process in the Word that could change how we are “minded.” It is not possible to simply decide to change it. It has taken a lifetime to develop how we think. When we read the Word or hear preaching it must pass through the filter of how we think. We cannot help that.

There is something that God has placed in our hands which was designed by him to change how we think. That powerful tool is the Word of God. Let us look at todays verse. In it, the writer tells us what the Word of God really is.

First of all, the Word of God is alive. The KJV uses the term quick. It comes from a Greek word that means to be alive or to live. This is not a figurative statement. It is a description of the nature of the Bible. It is not a book of words or philosophies. It is not just the thoughts of men nor is it the mythology of Judaism and Christianity. It is a book infused with the life of God in seed form.

This book, written over a period of thousands of years by many different human authors contains a consistency of style and story that can only be described as supernatural. It remains the most printed book in human history. When other great texts have disappeared or waned in popularity the Bible remains. Although there are other “holy books” the bible has a life and character that none of the others possess. That is because it is alive.

John 1:1 (NKJV) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 6:63 (NKJV) 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

The Word was not just with God in creation, it was God. It still is. The words of Jesus, who was the Word made flesh (John 1:14), are both Spirit and life. We see the words of Jesus echoed perfectly in Paul’s words from Romans 8:6. The spirit gives life while the flesh brings no profit.

Not only is the Word of God alive, it is powerful. It contains the power of almighty God, himself. Nothing can stand against the Word of God. The Word of God as written in the Bible can do whatever God himself can do. Yet in its written form the nature of God’s power is very specific.

Hebrews 12:4 goes on to say that the power in God’s living, written word is the power to separate. He describes it as sharper than any two-edged sword. The key to understanding what this means is to see what the Word of God separates or divides. There are three areas God designed his Word to affect.

First it will separate soul and spirit. One of the difficult things about the Christian life is that all of what comes to us from our spirit must pass through our soul. All that comes from the physical world, including what we read in the bible, must go through our soul before it reaches our spirit. This is the very issue from Romans 8:6. However we are minded will determine what we get from either direction.

The Word of God has the power to discern between those two parts of our being. The more our minds are filled with the Word of God, the more we will begin to distinguish the voice of the spirit from the voice of the soul. The more we allow the Word of God to work, the more how we think will change. We will begin to think more like God and less like our experience, culture or training. Although this does require some effort on our part, it is the Word that really does the work.

It also divides joints and marrow. This is interesting. What do our bones have to do with how we think? Let me submit something to you. The marrow of our bones contains the life. It is where our blood is manufactured, and the bible says that life is in the blood (Lev. 17:11.) The joints have a very different role. They are what gives our bones the ability to move. We might say the joints represent motivation.

The Word of God has the ability to separate the life of what we think from the motivation. Often, we are motivated by the things that determine how we think. The Word of God has the power to cut through all that until we begin to see the life of God underneath the motivation. This will gradually change how we think about most things.

Finally, it divides the thoughts and intents of our hearts. I believe the thoughts of our hearts are the things we think; or the thoughts that are formed in our conscious mind. However, the real power is in the intensions of our heart or how we think. Most of the time we do not recognize the difference. The Bible contains the power of God which can differentiate between the two. The more we allow the Word of God to do that, the more we will change how we think.

As I read this, I can see that the potential for me to change from a carnal mind to a spiritual mind is in the makeup of the Word of God that was written down in the Bible. How do I get that potential from the word into my mind? How do I allow that potential to change my thinking to the degree that my mind becomes a clear channel for my spirit? That is the most important key to walking in the spirit.

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What Must I do to Walk in the Spirit: Carnally vs. Spiritually Minded

Romans 8:5-9 (NKJV) 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

We have been endeavoring to answer a question that seems to me to be causing a great deal of misunderstanding in the church. How is a Christian to live a life according to the standards of behavior set forth in the bible and not succumb to the bondage of law? Some say that grace dismisses any need to think about behavior since Jesus paid for all sin. Others say that grace is the foundation of salvation, but we must still keep the law in order to maintain Godly living. I believe both are right and both are wrong.

Paul understood grace better than any man. He knew the depths of the sin he committed before his salvation (1 Tim. 1:15.) He understood that he could never pay for those sins. He received grace as the total payment for sin. He did not deserve God’s forgiveness, yet he understood that because of the grace of God it was offered anyway, and he fully received it.

However, Paul is very clear in many places in his letters, that grace is no excuse to allow sinful behavior. In Romans 6 he says that we are slaves to sin if we yield our members, our bodies, to sinful activities. Sin is toxic to the human spirit. Grace does not make it less so. Grace gives a way to overcome sin.

In the same chapter, Paul says that we must become slaves to righteousness. He never says that we are to be free in the sense of being able to live any manner of lifestyle we want. We are called to be Holy as God is Holy.

1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV) 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Although there is a truth that we are positionally holy because of grace, this scripture states plainly that our holiness must manifest in our conduct. The bible, especially the New Testament is clear that we are called to live a life as free from sin as possible.

Again, how do we do that without yielding to the bondage of law. Paul is very much against that. However, I would remind you that Paul tells us in Romans 7, that to live in sin is wretchedness to a Christian. What is the solution?

We have already pointed out that the solution is stated in Romans 8:1-4 as well as in Galatians 5:16-18. We must walk in the spirit. We must find a way to bring the inner man, created in the image and likeness of God, to ascendancy. Neither my body nor my soul were designed in creation to be the dominant part of me. Both had their roles, but it is my spirit, which is vitally joined to God, that is supposed to be the controlling factor in my lifestyle and behavior. To the degree that it is, I will be free of both the bondage of law and the wretchedness of sin.

Romans 7 lays out the problem. Romans 8:1-4 states the solution. Romans 8:5-9 gives us the first area we must deal with to apply the solution. Verse six might be the clearest statement of this.

Romans 8:6 (NKJV) 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

The first area I must deal with is my mind. To be carnally minded is death. That is a clear and decisive statement. Romans is written to the church. Paul makes it clear when he is talking about the world in this book. If a Christian is carnally minded, he is allowing death to infiltrate his life.

The converse is also true. When a Christian is spiritually minded, he opens the door to the life of God. Faith, love and peace become the defining characteristics in his life. All the promises of God are yes and amen for this Christian. He will walk in freedom no matter what he may be dealing with and, I believe, he will rise above the circumstances of life as he patiently allows his spirit by the power of the Holy Spirit to guide his steps.

What does it mean to be “minded?” Look at how the Amplified Bible translates this verse.

Romans 8:6 (AMP) 6 Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].

To be “minded” is to have our thinking dominated by something. In the natural we understand this. Take children and Christmas for example. For most of the school year they think about what they have to do in school or their playtime. Their minds are filled with all sorts of things. However, somewhere around the beginning of December, their minds will start to turn to something else. At least I know this is true in the United States.

They will begin to pay special attention to all the toy advertisements on television. They will begin to think about Christmas trees and candy and presents. As the big day approaches their thoughts are more and more dominated by the holiday. In the end they cannot concentrate in school, they become both irritable and excited at the same time. As the final days approach, they cannot sleep without “visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.” What has happened? They have become Christmas minded.

To be carnally minded is to be dominated in our thought life by sense reason without the influence of the Holy Spirit. I would add without any controlling influence by the Word of God. We think according to what we know in the natural as opposed to the truth of God’s Word and the influence of His Spirit. The real power of this is not in what we think but how we think.

How we think determines how we evaluate information and experiences. It will affect how we respond to people. Those who were abused as children, for instance, will respond differently in most areas of life from those who had healthy family lives. Where we grew up also affects how we think. I travel to many countries. Some things that make sense to the people who live there, just do not make sense to me. The reverse is also true.

How we think is not just made up of bad experiences although they seem to have a greater capacity to cause us to think in ways that make it difficult to live healthy lives. Even the good experiences can affect how we see life and respond to things and people. It is very difficult to rise above how we think. How we think is how we are minded.

To be carnally minded is death. However, that is the more natural way for most of us to think. We live in the carnal world. How do I change my way of thinking to be spiritually minded? This is what we must answer first if we are to walk in the spirit.

What Must We do to Walk in the Spirit: The Right Work for the Right Reasons

Hebrews 4:10-11 (NKJV) 10 For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. 11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

As we have studied the role of grace in the life of the believer, there can be no doubt that salvation is a gift of God given by his unmerited favor which is, by definition, grace. We access this grace by faith to receive salvation. If faith were not necessary, everyone would automatically be saved and go to heaven. The Bible is clear that only those who receive the saving grace of Jesus’ sacrifice by faith are redeemed.

The question that seems to be in some confusion today is whether that means grace covers all sins, past, present and future or if we still must walk according to the character of God in this world. I do not think there should be any question. The same Bible that teaches grace as the vehicle for salvation, teaches that we cannot be like the world. We are called to a lifestyle that reflects Jesus’ character and God’s morality as we live before them.

We have wonderful promises concerning forgiveness of sin, eternal life and relationship with God through Christ Jesus. What should be our response to these promises?

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NKJV) 1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

The question is not if we must be different from the world in our behavior, it is how we accomplish that. I have said a number of times, and will probably say many more times, that the problem is we do the right things for the wrong reason. We read in Galatians 5:16-18 that if we walk in the spirit we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Yet most Christians who honestly desire to walk right with God try not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh thinking this means they will be walking in the spirit. That is backwards.

You will fall to the lusts of the flesh unless you walk in the spirit. To try to live right first always produces bondage and failure. I truly believe this is why some today have given up on trying to live according to Biblical standards. They tried to do the right thing but failed.

Let me use another verse to show you what I mean. We spent some time in Hebrews 4. I want to look again at verses 10 and 11. We have defined walking in the spirit using this verse. The word “rest” does not mean the rest of inactivity. It means the rest of harmony. It points to all parts of our being, spirit, soul and body, doing what they were designed to do in the original creation. There are two truths contained in these two verses that will help us accomplish this.

The first is the fact that entering the rest requires we cease from our own works as God ceased from his work in creation. This occurred on the seventh day of creation which is where we get the idea of the sabbath. To cease from our own works can mean that we must occupy ourselves with God’s will, working to build his kingdom. In this case, I think it is more accurate to interpret this to mean that we stop trying to be godly in the flesh. Our work is when we just try really hard to resist sin. It is when we try really hard to be in God’s will.

We certainly must resist sin, flow in the will of God and make building his kingdom a priority. It is “our works” when we try and do those things in our abilities. When we are trying hard to do right by controlling our flesh, that is law. It will not work.

Verse 11 says we should labor to enter the rest. What this means is that we must labor, or work, to accomplish the right job. If I am told to dig a ditch for no good reason I may do the work, but I will have no incentive because I will not understand why I should dig. I will not dig correctly because I do not know what I am supposed to accomplish.

If I am told to dig a ditch to divert flood waters that are going to destroy my home, I will be diligent to dig. I will learn how deep to dig and where to dig. Why? I will do it because I understand that I am doing a job that must be done so my home can be saved. The same is true with walking in the spirit.

If we accept that the rest he is talking about in Hebrews 3 and 4 is walking in the spirit, we must understand that there is a labor we must do to get there. However, we do not just labor. We labor to get to the place where we are walking with our inner man, the part created in the image of God and where God dwells, in control. To do that I must do some work. I must deal with my body. I must renew my mind. I must build up my spirit.

Most Christians know they should not sin. They know they have to resist temptation but sometimes they just resist because they know they are supposed to. We must resist temptation but not just so we will not sin. We resist temptation and control our flesh to help us walk in the spirit. The goal is walking in the spirit, not just staying away from sin.

We know that we must read and study the bible. We know we need to pray and be in the presence of God. We know that we should be in church. The question is why do we do these works. We do them because they are what we must do to walk in the spirit. If we do not understand that this is the goal, we will do them but not really know why. We will do the work but not for the right reasons. We will think doing the work is the point.

In our illustration, digging was not the point. It is only a means to an end. Reading the Bible, praying, going to church and even doing good works is not the point. They are some of the things we do to walk in the spirit. If we walk in the spirit, all of these things will become part of our life naturally.

It often does not start out that way. Most times we must just start doing the work. If we understand what the work is accomplishing, we find over time that the work is not really work anymore. It is just our life. We find that prayer is what it should be. It was meant to be fellowship with God and a process whereby we bring the cares and needs of life to a loving Father.

The Word of God is no longer something we have to read because it is what Christians do. It becomes food to our spirit and the way we begin to learn how God thinks and how we can think like him. It is a book of promises written to us by our covenant God. It is one of the primary ways we learn who he is and how to relate to him by faith.

Christian fellowship and Christian work are no longer tedious things but celebrations of our relationship with God and his people. They become the ways we introduce our wonderful Jesus to the world. When we come to the rest of walking in the spirit, what we should do becomes what we want to do.

This is not automatic. We still live in the world and in physical bodies that are still part of the curse that came upon creation because of the fall. We are under the influence of culture and societies that were born from the same curse and have developed ways and ideas that are contrary to God. Just as an airplane must continue to apply fuel to stay in the air, we must continue to do the things that enable us to walk in the spirit or we will gradually come back to a relationship of labor and law.

If we do continue to do the right work for the right reasons, we can live a life of the harmony of rest. Our spirit will continue to lead us into the right way of life. Our soul will be a place where understanding of God flows from his word into our minds. Our bodies will be the channel in which we will walk in the will of God and experience joy, peace, love and victory. until we find ourselves free of this world and enjoying the next.

What exactly is the labor that leads to the rest of walking in the spirit. That is what we will explore next in this space.

The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus 2

Romans 8:1-4 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

In our last post we began looking at this scripture. God’s desire for us it to walk free from the “wretched” affects of sin in our lives but not by entering into the bondage that the Law can be. The solution is for us to walk in the spirit and not in the flesh. Romans 7 contains the statement of a problem and Romans 8 contains the answer to the problem.

So far, we have seen that there are two laws at work that affect our walk in this world. One is the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus and the other is the Law of sin and death. The latter is at work all the time because of the fall. Salvation gives us the power to overcome the affects of this law as we flow in our relationship with Christ Jesus. We call that walking in the spirit and not in the flesh.

We concluded last time by pointing out that even though we are already spiritually free from the laws of sin and death because of salvation, Christians still experience the effects of the law of sin and death in the world. We must continue to apply the law of life in order to maintain our freedom in the earth.

We have mentioned the natural law of gravity. That law and the force it describes is always at work, but that is not the only natural law in the physical world. There are many of them. The more we understand them, the more we learn to apply them. Gravity keeps us anchored to the earth. Yet today, we know that it is possible to leave the earth and fly all over the world. We do that by using an airplane.

Airplanes are not mystical. They work because we have learned that the law of gravity can be overcome if we apply other laws. Two of them are the laws of lift and thrust. Those laws say that if we run a specific shape through the air at sufficient speed, lift will be created. Lift causes an airplane to rise above the force of gravity. As long as thrust is applied, the wing will stay in the air.

In the same way, the law of sin and death is always at work in the earth. This is true because of the fall of man. If nothing changes, sin and death will dominate all humanity until it eventually causes physical death and separation from God. That is the default condition of man and the default law at work in the earth.

Praise God something did change. Jesus came to the earth. He died for our sins. He defeated Satan, the personification of the law of sin and death, and gave man the ability to break free. For all who receive the salvation of Jesus, this is our spiritual reality. We are free from this law. We will spend eternity in the presence of God. Hallelujah.

Nevertheless, our bodies have not yet been redeemed (Romans 8:23.) They are still part of the cursed creation. Our souls, our intellect, emotions and will, are subject to the law of sin and death as long as we do not renew them by the Word of God (Romans 12:2.) If we do not overcome the law of sin and death it will continue to work in our minds and bodies until the thief, spoken of in John 10:10, is able to kill, steal and/or destroy us. We will go to heaven, but we will have neither the life nor the effectiveness God wants for us here.

What must I do? I must apply the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, which is already at work in my spirit, to my outward life. I must walk in the power of the spirit where this law dwells. When I do that, I have victory, peace, joy and everything else God has provided for me in salvation. When I stop applying the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, the law of sin and death begins to work on my body and my soul.

An airplane must continue to move forward at the correct speed to stay in the air. If the engine stops working the plane flies as long as its speed is sufficient to produce lift. Eventually the plane will slow until it begins to descend. In this kind of a crash, the plane does not just fall into the ground. It flies into the ground. It continues to fly until it is so low that the ground plucks it out of the air. It may land safely, or it may crash and break into a thousand pieces. Either way it is on the ground.

Many of us have been saved. We have experienced the joy of the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus as we know the forgiveness of our sin and the lightness that brings to life. We may have continued to apply thrust to our Christian experience by growing in the Word of God as well as in prayer, praise and worship and our relationship with him. All of us, to one degree or another, have let our “thrust” dwindle until we came back to earth.

Some simply settle into routine Christianity. The joy of our salvation is gone. The power we once knew is no longer there. Life begins to trouble us again. We become more and more vulnerable until we are deceived into accepting that there is no more available for us.

Others experience catastrophic failures. These may be failures in our walk of holiness, our emotional lives or any other area of our physical existence. We have all seen these kinds of Christian “plane crashes.” Maybe we have been one ourselves.

This is what Paul is talking about in Romans 7. In the end of that chapter he gives us hope. He tells us that Jesus Christ can save us from that condition. In Romans 8 he tells us how. We must get back to walking in the spirit! Then there will be no more condemnation and we will soar above the law of sin and death in the power of the Law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

I mentioned two truths we must be aware of from these verses. The second is in verse 3.

Romans 8:3 (NKJV) 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

The Mosaic Law could not do what we have been talking about. It could not set us free from the law of sin and death. The reason is simple. The law of sin and death works in the flesh. The Mosaic Law had a weakness. It also worked in the flesh. Law is flesh trying its best to control flesh. It can help some, but it always leads to bondage and failure. It was never what God intended for his relationship with man. It was simply a means to an end.

What was the end the Law was a means to? The restoration of full relationship with our Father God and creator. That relationship can never be primarily in the flesh. It can and should affect our flesh. It cannot truly function there. The reason is seen in John 4:24. God is a spirit.

The law that set us free from the law of sin and death is the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. We might say it is the Law of God’s work in us through our relationship with him. Law could communicate God’s ways but not really his nature. It described certain things about God, but life is to know him. If I am going to know him I must know him in the spirit.

When I walk in the spirit I am accessing that part of me that was designed to know God. That is what we must do to be what God intended all along.

The Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus 1

Romans 8:1-4 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

We have been spending our time this year looking at how the grace of God works in the life of the believer. The first thing we understand is that salvation is by grace through faith. Simply put, the vehicle by which God provided salvation was his unmerited favor, grace, at work in the ministry of Jesus. The vehicle by which an individual can access that favor is faith. If I want the gift provided by grace I must believe that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess his lordship over my life.

The issue we have been studying currently is what role behavior has in our walk of grace. Does behavior matter at all? Since salvation is by grace and grace is a free gift, is everything I do already paid for making repentance and behavior in general irrelevant. Paul did not think so.

Romans 6:1 (NKJV) 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?

How do we overcome sin under grace? We find from romans 7 that we are not under the bondage of the Law of Moses. However, we also find that if we allow sin to reign in our mortal bodies we end up in a wretched condition (Romans 6:12 & 7:24.) How do I keep sin out of my life if not by the Law? We see the answer in the first 4 verses of Romans 8. I must walk in the spirit not in the flesh.

Paul tells us there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, but he qualifies this statement by saying that this applies to those who walk in the spirit not in the flesh. We might say that Paul is implying that all who are in Christ automatically walk in the spirit. We will learn as we go farther into Romans 8 that this is not the case. Paul makes it clear that not all who have received salvation walk in the spirit. Many still walk in the flesh. Romans 7 describes them and the result of that kind of life.

When we allow sin to reign in our “mortal bodies” we are vulnerable to condemnation. It is not God who will condemn us. However, when we allow sin to remain we become vulnerable to condemnation from the devil and our own heart (1 John 4:20-21.) God has made provision for this in 1 John 1:8-10. When we repent he forgives and cleanses us from the condemnation and restores our sense of being right with God.

There are two truths here that we must understand as we begin to learn how to walk in the spirit. First, Paul mentions two laws. Although Paul is using the word to contrast the freedom of the spirit and the bondage of legalism, the word law in this context is not really speaking of legalities. It is a law in the same way that natural principles can be described as laws.

A natural law is a statement that describes a natural truth. We know the law of gravity. Very simply stated it says, “What goes up must come down.” It is a law because everywhere and for all time “what goes up will come down” at least here on planet earth. The statement is true because there is a natural force at work that causes things that go up to come down. You do not go to jail for breaking that kind of law. There is no legal penalty.

In the same way “the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus” and the “law of sin and death” are truths that describe spiritual forces that are at work in both the natural world and the world of the spirit. When we walk in the spirit, the power of God produces life in us and around us. Sin is overcome as is the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13.) This is a law. It always works.

However, the law of sin and death is also true. A more complete statement of this law might be that wherever sin reigns death is produced. If it rules in the spirit of a human being the effect is spiritual. If a person dies in that state he will live subject to death in physical life and will experience eternal death, separation from God who is life, when he leaves the physical world.

If a person is a Christian, he is not subject to this law when he dies physically. The life in his spirit will bring him to the presence of God. Nevertheless, as long as he is in the world, he will be subject to it in the flesh. When sin reigns in our “mortal body” we are exposed to the affects of “sin and death” in the flesh. All of the negatives of the human condition flow from this law.

Sickness, poverty and depression are some of the things this law produces. More important, a Christian who allows this law to work in his physical life will grow farther from God. He will become more and more comfortable with sin until he no longer recognizes that he is not living the life that God wants for him. Jesus gives us another statement of the truth of both these laws in John 10:10.

John 10:10 (NKJV) 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

The thief is Satan who is the personification of the law of sin and death. Jesus is the personification of the Law of the spirit of life. The thief only comes to kill, steal and destroy. This may apply to our “stuff” but it is really talking about us. He wants to kill us if he can, so we are out of the world and no longer a threat. If he cannot do that he wants to steal us from active relationship with Jesus and the body of Christ. If he can do that, he will destroy us. He may destroy our marriage, our health or our finances, for example. His real goal is to destroy our testimony and effectiveness in building the Kingdom of God.

Jesus came initially to make the law of the spirit of life available to all people. Salvation brings that life to our spirit and ensures that we will spend eternity with God. However, we all know believers who have fallen in sin or been overcome by the battles of life. They may not be able to overcome sin even though they want to. They may live in perpetual defeat in body, soul or both.

This does not mean they will not go to heaven. They are saved. The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus is at work in their spirit. In Romans 7:23 Paul says that in the state he calls wretched, there is another law at work in the flesh. What law? He is speaking of the law of sin and death.

The powerful truth we must understand from Romans 8:2 is that I am already free from the law of sin and death since I have access to the law of the Spirit of Life through my salvation in Christ Jesus. Why does the law of sin and death still seem to sometimes work in my flesh?

We will continue tomorrow.

If We Are to Walk in the Spirit It Must be in the Light of Faith

Hebrews 4:1-2 (NKJV) 1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.

In our last post we discussed how a Christian is supposed to stay right with God. If I live trying to keep the Law as they did in the Old Testament, I will find myself in bondage. If I allow myself to be dominated by the flesh and open my life to sin, I will be in a wretched condition (Romans 7:24.) I do not want to be either of those things.

The answer is clearly stated in Galatians 5:16-18. If I walk in the spirit I will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Verse 17 is a summary of exactly what Paul describes in Romans 7. There he said, “I do not do what I want to do, but I continue to do what I do not want to do.” Here he says that the flesh and the spirit are contrary to one another which keeps me from doing what I want to do.

The only way a Christian can walk right before God without living under the bondage of the law is to be led by the spirit. To be led by the spirit is to walk in the spirit. Walk in the Bible always refers to lifestyle. When my lifestyle is dominated by my spirit I will naturally keep the law. Living according to God’s principles will not be bondage. I will do what I want to do because I am controlled by my spirit not by my soul or my body.

I believe this is speaking about our recreated, born again human spirit. However, I also must understand that my spirit is in perfect union and harmony with God. Therefore, it is not just my spirit that is in control. It is my spirit by the Holy Spirit. Literally, to walk in the spirit is to walk under the control and direction of the Holy Spirit of God himself. It is also to walk with a clear access to the power of the Holy Spirit to help me in my walk. Additionally, it allows me to become a channel of that power to the world around me.

Acts 1:8 (NKJV) 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

How can I become a Christian who walks in the Spirit? If it was not possible, the Bible would not tell us it was necessary. I believe that is really the message of the New Testament. If we read the Gospels, we see a life dominated by the Spirit. When we read the book of Acts we see people who, though not perfect, walked under the control and influence of the Spirit. As we read through the New Testament, there are many important things to learn. The outcome of all these wonderful things is a Christian who walks in the spirit not in the soul or the body.

In the next number of weeks, I want to look at some specific things we must do to cultivate the walk of the spirit. I believe the Bible teaches us what we must do something with our bodies, our souls and our spirits. Before I get into that, I want to revisit Hebrews 4. Before we even begin dealing with what we must do, we must understand that everything we do is by faith. If we do not understand that, everything I say will just become another expression of Law; of do’s and don’ts that you must keep.

Hebrews 4:1-4 tells us why people before us, especially Israel, failed to walk in the rest of the spirit. He says that the “gospel” was preached to them as well. It has always been God’s will that people live in harmony with him. It has always been God’s will that man live in harmony with himself as he was created by God. The people who fail to receive the rest are those who do not mix what they hear with faith.

If I am going to be successful, I must be established in certain things by faith. By faith I must believe that God wants me to succeed. I must believe that I can succeed because God will be with me in the process. I am not just keeping a different set of laws. I am flowing in my relationship to God. I am cultivating my connection with him and this will produce a life lived in his will, his power and his ways.

Many people understand Galatians 5 in exactly the wrong way. Instead of seeing that if I walk in the spirit I will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh, they think if they stop walking in the lusts of the flesh they will be walking in the spirit. The problem is you can never overcome the lusts of the flesh if you do not first walk in the spirit. To do that, you must mix what you hear with faith that God is in me working the process out in my life.

The remainder of Galatians 5 talks about the “works of the flesh” and the fruit of the spirit. Works are done. Fruit grows. The process we are going to talk about is designed by God to cultivate the ground of our lives, so it will produce the fruit of the spirit. Once that fruit is active and growing, the works of the flesh will be replaced by the fruit of the spirit. This is not to say that we do not have to resist temptation along the way. We do, but our ultimate success will come when the fruit grows to fullness. At that point we will be walking in the spirit.

One more thing we must accept by faith before we start, is the reality of our right standing with God according to his grace when he gave Jesus for our sin. Hebrews is a book written to Jewish believers to help them see that the purpose of the Law of Moses was to bring all humanity to something else. One of the key words to Hebrews is “better.” We have a better high priest, a better sacrifice and a better covenant. Look at Hebrews 9.

Hebrews 9:11-14 (NKJV) 11 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

The Old Covenant sacrifices covered the sins of the people. Jesus’ sacrifice took away the sin completely. The blood of Jesus can cleanse your conscience from the guilt of the dead works of your past. They are gone. When I receive Jesus, I am as clean before God as the day I was born. The biblical term for this condition is “righteous.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

In the new birth we have become new creatures. We have been made the righteousness of God in Christ. He did not commit one sin in his life. I did not commit righteousness in my life before Christ. I was made his righteousness when I received him as my Lord and Savior. That is a spiritual reality.

What about my sins since salvation.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

When I confess any sin committed since my salvation, he hears and forgives me and cleanses me of any unrighteousness which that sin produced. All of this is possible because Jesus is the perfect sacrifice offered once and for all (Hebrews 10:11-12.)

Once we accept this truth by faith we are free to learn how to walk in the spirit. We understand that we do not walk in the spirit to become right with God. We walk in the spirit because we are already right with God. As a result, our outward life will become a true reflection of our inward reality.

How do we Stay Right With God

Galatians 5:14-18 (NKJV) 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

(Once again, my wife and I have been traveling so I have not been posting in this space. We are still in Kenya but our schedule has slowed down and I am going to try and “get back on the horse” so to speak.)

There is so much confusion today about the difference between grace and Law, that I wanted to take some time to look at what the bible says. I see more and more churches trying to make people feel accepted by simply overlooking sinful behavior. They call this grace and say we are not under law. All we need is to be “good people” and know that Jesus loves us. That is enough.

The problem with this thinking is that it is not what the bible teaches. If the first church lived and thought that way, there would be no modern church. They understood that to live as a Christian was to live a sacrificial life. They could not practice their faith and be a part of their society. It was in this age that Paul wrote words like those found in 1 Corinthians 6.

2 Corinthians 6:17 (NKJV) 17 Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”

The thinking today seems to be, “Get out there among them and try not to be affected too much by the unclean things.” Some would try to convince us that there are no unclean things at all. Jesus paid for all the unclean things, so they are no longer unclean. This is simply not true.

Since the fall of man, the world has been a war zone. The combatants are light and darkness, life and death. We must be on one side or another. If we are born again we are on the side of light. However, if we do not live according to light and life, we become captives of darkness and death. That is what the bible teaches.

2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV) 14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?

In this space we have looked at some things that we must understand if we are going to be a force for the kingdom of God in our day. Paul was clear in Romans 7 that we are not obligated to keep the Mosaic law to be considered righteous or right with God. However, we also learned that a Christian who allows himself to be dominated by the flesh is in a “wretched” condition. When we allow what the Bible calls sin in our living, we are dominated by the flesh.

What is the solution. Romans 8:1-3.

Romans 8:1-3 (NKJV) 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh,

To live under the letter of the law is bondage. To live under the dominion of sin is “wretched.” What is the solution. In Romans 6, Paul tells us that whatever we allow to dominate us we become a slave to. He does not give us the option of not being a slave at all.

Romans 6:16-17 (NKJV) 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.

We are going to be slaves to one or the other. I choose to be slave to God in obedience which will lead me to righteousness. Righteousness unlocks all the power of God in my life. Slavery to sin always leads to death. If not physical death, it leads to the open door that allows the devil to bring bad things into our lives and family. The book of Deuteronomy makes it very clear.

Deuteronomy 30:19 (NKJV) 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;

How do we choose life?

Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NKJV) 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.

Once more we ask, “How do we walk in his ways, keep his commandments, statutes and judgements if not by the Law? I want life, but I do not want bondage. What is the solution? If we walk in the spirit, we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. If we are led by the Spirit, we are not under law. This is the same thing Paul is trying to tell us in Romans 8:1-4.

What does it mean to walk in the spirit? We have already looked at this but permit me to define it once more. Hebrews 4 speaks of a “rest” that is available to the people of God. Verse 11 tells us to be diligent to enter this “rest”, so we will not fall into disobedience. The word translated “rest” in this scripture is not the rest of inactivity. It is the rest of harmony; man’s spirit, soul, and body filling the role God intended for them to have.

My soul is my intellect, my emotions and my will. My body is the flesh part of me. My spirit is that part of me created in the image and likeness of God. It is the part that God always intended to be in control. It is the part with which we communicate with God and the world of the spirit. That communication is processed through our soul and finally to our body so that we walk according to God’s will, ways and nature.

If I walk in the spirit I will naturally walk as a new creature, keeping all of the above. If I am dominated by the soul, I will be an intellectual being. I may be a good one or a bad one, but I will be controlled by my intellect. If I am dominated by my body, I will do what my body wants. Right and wrong, good and bad are not factors. What pleases my body will be all that matters.

How do I access the new life that grace provides? I walk in the spirit with that part dominating my soul and body. I make choices based on what my spirit wants not what my flesh wants. I feed my spirit with the Word of God until my spirit is the strongest part of me. I renew my mind, my soul, by reading, studying and meditating on the Word of God until I think “spiritually.” My body will follow my spirit and soul. Then I have no need for the letter of the law. I walk in the spirit of the law. I enter the wonderful rest of harmony.