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.