Back when I first sensed God's presence as an adult, I was taught that the third Person of the Trinity was responsible for sealing believers in Christ, and in opening up, and providing understanding of God's Word. These are very important things for Christians and right from the start I grew in appreciation and love for God, the Holy Spirit. I found it amazing how through repeated reading and studying of the Bible, passages I understood one day a verse as meaning one thing, but then another day was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit to provide a better, clearer and entirely different meaning.
But I came to see the Holy Spirit as having an even a greater role, a more equal role in the Trinity, as I started attending Hosanna Church, and through its use of the Alpha course. Initially, I sensed God's presence as I worshipped God through song. Yet, I wanted more. And as I studied about the Holy Spirit through God's Word, I came to a better understanding of the Holy Spirit's work. I have seen the miraculous answer to prayer. I have seen gifts of the Holy Spirit given out according to God's Will. And the biggest miracle of all is how a skeptical, know-it-all like me came to a saving faith.
Perhaps one day I will discuss whether the Holy Spirit's gifts described in the New Testament (most prominently in 1 Corinthians chapter 12) are still active. But instead today I wanted to discuss the battle between the Holy Spirit in a believer's life and what is described as our "flesh", the "old man", or simply our sinful nature and desires. The lead verse I wanted to use is the following:
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17.)
So this verse in the 5th Chapter of Galatians speaks about a war that is going on in every believer's life - the Holy Spirit in a believer in Christ's life is fighting against the "desires of the flesh". All people have these desires of the flesh, but the last portion of this verse is most interesting: the Holy Spirit is working against our desires of the flesh "to keep you from doing the things you want to do." I hope you are amazed at this – we are all born with different yearnings and desires, and we call this our own personal human nature. How often is this called something that is bad, or something that we should struggle against? Instead, in our culture today, we hear things like Be True to Yourself, or as Frank Sinatra put it, he did it 'My Way', and this is somehow something good. But the Apostle Paul makes clear that doing it our way is a way that is opposed to God's Holy Spirit. The best 'you' is the one that walks by and with the Holy Spirit, and to avoid doing the things of your human nature. Are you struggling with something in your life?
We are commanded in Galatians 5:16 to "walk by the Spirit". And in Ephesians 5:18, we are to continue to be filled with the Holy Spirit. So how does a Christian do this? We are sealed with the Holy Spirit when we repent and are baptized into our life in Christ (Acts 2:38, Ephesians 4:30). Believers have the indwelling Spirit (Romans 8:11), but doubters / rejecters of Christ do not have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). We take in the Holy Spirit through His Word, through prayer, and through obedience to God's commands. And how do we know when we are not walking in the Spirit? Galatians Chapter 5 is very helpful in its description: we know we are living in our sinful nature when there are things like this in our daily walk - sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and things like these (Galatians 5:19-21). Don't look at this list and see the worst actions, and think that you are OK for not doing the worst things. Instead, ask God to reveal if there is anything in this list that He wants you to remove from your life. If you are walking in anything on this list be warned: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21).
And of course, the famous list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in Galatians Chapter 5 stands as a stark contrast of the life of a Christ-follower: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). When these characteristics are seen by others in your life, and Christ is receiving all of the glory for this, then you know you are walking in the Holy Spirit.
My take away for you is this – What are you working on to grow in your obedience as a disciple in Christ. God makes clear that the process of sanctification continues until the day that we go to be with the Lord. So is there something that you are struggling against, or are you writing it off as merely being your 'human nature'? And do you trust that God knows how best to live your life? Here is one more great verse about walking in the Spirit, and not according to our own sinful nature:
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, 14 because those who are led by the Spirit of God
are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14).
So walk by the Holy Spirit this Day, and may God bless you as you do this.