‘walk by the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:16 NIV)
The Nicene Creed states, that
‘We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life’, affirming what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:17,
‘the Lord is the Spirit’.
Commenting on this Tom Torrance writes,
‘…God himself …immediately present in our midst, miraculously and savingly at work, and through him God reveals himself as Lord…The Spirit is not just something divine or something akin to God emanating from him, not some sort of action at a distance or some kind of gift detachable from himself, for in the Holy Spirit God acts directly upon us himself, and in giving us his Holy Spirit God gives us nothing less than himself.’ (The Trinitarian Faith p.191)
The distinctive mark of being a Christian is that the Holy Spirit, the Lord, God himself, dwells within us
(Romans 8:9) and if that is the case it is imperative that he reigns in our life as we walk by the Spirit. As Paul went on to say,
‘Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.’ (Galatians 5:25)
Practically, how can we do this?
Again Paul points us in the right direction,
‘the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh’. (V.17 ESV) The Holy Spirit desires, and prompts us to go in a direction opposite to our fleshly desires.
The Christian life is a series of responses to this prompting, which we either follow or do not. We either allow the Spirit to reign in us or we do not. We either walk by the Spirit, keeping in step with him, or we do not.
In his book, Evangelical Truth (p.117) John Stott summarises our response with five ‘D’s.
The Spirit enables us to:
- Discern God’s will (Philippians 1:9-10)
- Distinguish right from wrong (Hebrews 5:14)
- Desire God’s way (Psalm 42:1-2)
- Determine to follow it (Romans 12:11)
- Do it (Philippians 4:13)
How we respond has consequences for now and eternity:
‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ (Galatians 6:7–9)
Thankfully the Holy Spirit gives us God’s own life-giving power to respond positively to his promptings. So let’s not grieve the Spirit
(Ephesians 4:30) by resisting his inner leading, by failing to respond to him.
As Brenton Brown expresses in his song, Over All the Earth,
‘My one request, Lord my only aim
Is that You’d reign in me again’
Almighty God, thank you for giving yourself to me through the Holy Spirit. You are Lord of all I am and mean more to me than any earthly thing, so reign in me again.
Have a good week allowing the Spirit to reign in you.