What does it mean to live by the Spirit? To be in step with the Spirit? To follow the Spirit? God is not a God who sets out to confuse us or leave huge things unanswered. Scripture clearly answers these questions.We must take care not to remove this verse from its context. That’s how we can become confused. I can dream up what I think this verse is talking about but reading it in its context brings clarity:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. ” Galatians 5:19-25
Polar opposites! The works of the flesh or the works of the Spirit. I can choose. One brings immediate gratification and the other fruit, Kingdom fruit, that looks like God. I’m at the center or God is at the center. How do you live? For yourself? For God? We Christians wish to say we live for God but the truth is we have a great battle within us. We too give in to our fleshly desires and so did many giants of the Bible. David is just one that comes to mind.
I remember being disturbed as I read through Judges and learned about the character of some of the heroes God chose to lead His people. None were Holy. All failed in one way or another. I too reside in this category and I’m not anywhere close to calling myself a hero, for sure.
God uses broken and messed up people to accomplish amazing things. How? If we serve God and not ourselves, if we stop, listen and obey, if we place God at the center we are on a journey towards accomplishing something great! Not great in and of ourselves, not even for ourselves but for God and mankind. Some people will never become what God desires them to be if we do not live out these fruits of the Spirit. How do I live in step with the Spirit? I bring peace. I have patience. I do good. I am kind. I control myself. I am faithful. I am gentle. I love and God gives me joy. When I’m living these out in my life I know I am in step with the Spirit.
Yes, I do believe the Spirit is our guide, the One who walks alongside us and shows us the way. Sometimes I feel a sickness deep in my belly, a holy prompting where God is asking me to do a certain thing. Sometimes I feel as if I’ll vomit. Those times I obeyed I said yes to a call to ministry, I said yes to being a foster parent, I said yes to starting a new ministry. The first yes was coming to God, confessing my failures and vowing my life to follow God, walk in step with the Spirit I knew was within me simply because I invited Him in.