Walking by the Spirit
When we walk out of our problems, our moods, our desires, and walk into the Father's presence and begin to sort things out in a personal trusting relationship with Him, the Spirit of God supplies the fruit of the Spirit called self-control. He supplies the positive, basic virtues of the Christian life: love, joy and peace. He does this as He sees us relating properly to God the Father.
Now we are going to look closely at the Spirit of God's place in this process of Christian living. The process that the Spirit of God introduces is called walking by the Spirit. In Romans 6:4 it says:
. . . that as Christ was raised out from among the corpses through the glory of the Father, thus also we ourselves should walk in a new kind of life.
The phrase "in a new kind of life" refers to a life built on how God sees us, as opposed to a life built on what we feel. Our past was consumed by the negative effects of sin; our present should be based upon how God sees us.
Go over to Romans, chapter 8, and we find that the phrase "we should walk" occurs again. Notice in Romans 8:4-6, we are told that this walking is done by means of the Spirit.
In order that the righteousness of the law should be fulfilled among us, the ones not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the ones walking according to the flesh, the things of the flesh are understanding. But the ones walking according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. - Romans 8:4-5
What are the things of the Spirit? They are our position in Christ and the new relationship with our Father. They are the things described in chapters 3-6 of Romans. Romans 8:6 says:
For the understanding or perspective of the flesh is a state of death, non-relationship, and the understanding or perspective of the Spirit is life and peace.
How do these three things work together? God the Father sees me in Christ. That's the positive picture. That's how He sees me. I turn to Him, and I begin to reckon myself, assume myself, to be alive to Him as Christ is alive to Him. I begin to share my thoughts, my feelings, my fears and my anxieties in a trusting relationship. As I do that, I can then take a positive step into life. As I take that step, the Spirit of God will empower me. Out of a positive relationship with God the Father, I can take that step by the Spirit, and not by the moods and the lusts of the flesh.
Walking by the Spirit is feeling the effects of the Spirit's presence and arranging how I'm living relationally in this world. The act of walking is by the Spirit's power, and it is under girded by my relationship with the Father and my identity in Christ. The steps that I take as I properly relate to the Father will be empowered by the Spirit of God.
How does this work out practically? Philippians 4 has an illustration. Are you ever afflicted by anxiety? Paul gives advice for handling anxiety in verse 6. Literally he writes it this way: Stop being anxious in relationship to anything. Anxiety is a horrible mood. Anxiety feels like somebody is continually stabbing you with a little knife. First Paul says to recognize that anxiety is a spiritual issue.
We have to decide to talk to God about it. Now will God look at me through my anxiety, or will He see me in the Son? My anxiety doesn't interfere with my relationship to Him, because He sees me in the Son. Therefore, I can turn to Him and describe everything bugging me.
I can go to God the Father, tell Him all about it, and make very specific requests for help. I can ask for help; it doesn't matter how irrational it is. He's my Father, and He likes me. With thanksgiving, I can talk this out with Him. As a facetious example, if you are genuinely afraid that an army of red ants is going to invade your home and begin consuming you, if that's a fear in your life, tell God about it! He'll accept your openness as a compliment. Then you thank Him, that even if they chew you alive, He'll see you through the pain, and you have a home in glory. Talk it over with Him, with thanksgiving, because you know that God is with you.
What is the Spirit of God's place in Christian living?
As you let your request be made known to God, (Philippians 4:7), the peace of God comes from the Spirit. The peace surpasses all understanding. The peace protects your heart the way a garrison protects a city.
Analyze the threefold relationship. I'm in Christ, that's the basis of the relationship to the Father, and as I deal with the problems of life, the Spirit of God will empower me as I relate to the Father in my position in Christ. This will be an empowerment in the practical affairs of life. Romans 8:4-6 tells us that this is called walking according to the Spirit. The walking is the end result of practicing Romans chapter 6 and 8.
Isolate several of your favorite anxieties and do the following:
1) List them.
2) Describe them to God.
3) Ask for His help in general.
4) Ask for His help in specifics.
5) Thank Him specifically that He is bigger than each problem, and that He is with you through the difficulties.
6) Pray until you are PEACEFUL! (Phil. 4:6-7)
The critical point is our relationship with the Father. That's why we have to make sure that we are not confusing God the Father with our family of origin. The quality of our spiritual life will be directly related to how we understand the Fatherís view of us. A relational reality exists among the three members of the Trinity. We are in Christ, so we can relate to the Father with the result that the Spirit of God empowers us to handle the affairs of life.
This is good, sound New Testament theology, but it is also good, sound psychology. Psychology says one of the biggest problems in life is dealing with the family of origin. The solution is to be adopted into a new family, and the Trinity provides one.
One of the major problems in many evangelical theologies is they do not have a theology of the Spirit. Many times they will have a theology of the Son, but they will not have a theology that unifies how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit interact in our lives. It's disjointed, so that we're not quite sure how to relate to the Father, how we relate to the Spirit, or what in Christ means.
The New Testament shows how each member of the Trinity relates to one another and to us. A lot of bad theology addresses the Spirit of God but does not say how the Spirit of God relates to the Son or the Father; or they emphasize the Son while excluding the Spirit of God and God the Father. The biblical view is that we are immersed into the Son (Romans 6), and we count ourselves alive to God (Romans 6:11) in a living relationship, assuming we have the same quality of relationship that Christ has with the Father now. We work out of that relationship, and the Spirit of God will empower us to walk with character.
Now this empowerment is positively emotional and mentally enabling. The place of emotions is critical in properly understanding the empowerment of the Spirit of God. God the Spirit does not produce abstract philosophers, but lovers.
How do you view the role of the Spirit of God in your life?
Practice relating to the Father in prayer. Focus on what Christ has done and is doing, and cooperate with any positive healthy impulse the Spirit may provide. Since the devil does not influence by love, joy, and peace, you can be confident that the positive desires and insights are worth following.
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