How do I “walk by the Spirit?”
Good question right? We get asked this question by many early on in their Discipleship Counseling process. Sure seems like a solid “to do” answer must be out there to solve this one! However, there’s a better question we could be asking, and that is:
“Why don’t I walk by the Spirit?”
As we discussed in July’s publication…If God takes us spiritually out of Adam and places us in Christ, gives us a new Life altogether, and we are now new creations with a new identity, then why is it so difficult to be and do what should be natural for me now?
The real question: Why don’t I?”
Yes it’s true, our new “natural” bent as a child of God is total dependence on God, allowing Jesus to be our Life Source for everything (Acts 17:28), through our body! In other words, “Walking by/in the Spirit.” I’m certain there are times when you’ve done this right? When so, there were several things you did well (all by faith!) without even realizing it. It seems easier to allow Jesus to be your Life for routine things, yet in more difficult circumstances or relationships it seems so much harder to give God control and let Jesus do it.
Things we do well (by Faith!) when we “Walk by the Spirit”
Knowing what we are doing well (by Faith!) when we are “Walking by the Spirit” can help us understand when and why we don’t. Even more so…specifically where we may be stuck! They are:
- Proper Perspective: receiving and believing God’s interpretation of life…especially in trials and tribulations.
- Brokenness: believing and having more confidence in God’s resources (Christ in me), than my resources (flesh).
- Surrender: believing God is in control, and responsible for my well-being (soul).
Let’s look at these three areas in more detail:
First: Whose interpretation are we walking in?
As we are living life we have two options for how we interpret what’s going on: our human reasoning (mindset of the flesh) consisting of how we have interpreted circumstances throughout our life, which becomes our “filter” for what’s going on, and what to expect. And, we have God’s reasoning based on Who He is, whose we are, and what He wants to accomplish as we trust Him in the moment. As we “Walk by the Spirit” He gives us His thoughts because we have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16)! Beware though…the Enemy is at work trying to get us to “lean on our own understanding” (Prov. 3: 4), and our emotions seem to confirm that’s what we need to do! Don’t fall for it! We live by faith with God’s understanding, whether it “feels” true or not. Be patient – His thoughts will eventually become your experience!
Second: Who’s better equipped and capable?
So by faith, we’re living with God’s thoughts as we “Walk by the Spirit.” The next thing we do well as we walk by faith is believe and have confidence that God’s resources (Christ in you) are sufficient and much better than yours! Seems simple right? Technically it is…regarding what we have to get good at realizing. Getting good at it is hard though, and for good reason. This is where a widely used term among Christians comes into play—“brokenness.”
Okay, so what’s God trying to break?
We get many well-intentioned answers to this question typically centered on God “destroying us,” or God “dropping the hammer,” all based on our bad behavior. Well, one of the best verses that describes what God is wanting to “break” is in Paul’s letter to the Philippians in chapter 3 and verse 3 — “for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” There we have it! Part of God’s plan in sanctification includes us losing confidence in our flesh. It must not come naturally since Paul describes the process, and what it was like for him in the rest of chapter 3. A basic definition for brokenness might read like this:
“Brokenness is a state of being in which placing confidence in my flesh (my way using my resources) as a way to live life is understood to be futile, or useless. I now live by the truth, which says, in effect, ‘Jesus, I can’t do it. Apart from you I can do nothing.’”
So as mentioned earlier, it’s not complicated, yet it is hard to practice. And for good reason. Remember when we were “in” the flesh, it was up to us to live life. The resources we developed were necessary for us to generate or cope with life, and it seemed like they were working. The result then is that we gained “confidence in them.” “Whether ugly resources or nice looking resources, we use them because we have confidence in them.”
Consider this, as we’re living we cannot have confidence in two resources at the same time, right? So God uses the process of brokenness, hoping our confidence transfers from our resources (flesh) for living life, to His resources (Christ in us).
Generally speaking, surrender is an attitude of the heart that says, “God, you can do with me whatever you want to do.” Now this attitude is the result of having settled two things:
First… a proper concept of God discussed in June’s publication, which allows me to trust Him in all things. Second… the issue of who is best suited, God or me, to plan, provide for, and to live the life I’ve been given.
So what am I actually surrendering?
Most would answer this question,“I’m surrendering my circumstances or my relationships.” Others might answer “the outcome of my circumstances or my relationships.” Both answers are good for sure, yet maybe not specific enough in some cases, because sometimes it seems whatever we’ve surrendered, we keep taking back! Why is that? The answer to this question is something we call “rights” and subsequently “releasing our rights.” What are rights?
“These are things that I demand or expect in my circumstance, from God and others.”
Think of it this way — apart from God we need a “system” for living. That system is a list of demands, expectations, or “rights.” It started in our earlier years, all centered on generating love and acceptance, or avoiding pain and rejection. In general they sound like this:
Circumstances must be a certain way…
People must be a certain way…
I must be a certain way…
in order to be okay!
Why would we want to recognize and then release our rights?
You see, God created us with a free will, the ability to choose, which leads us to the ultimate choice of independence from God, or total dependence on God. A choice of independence is tied to “my rights,” as I perceive them. Demanding my rights prevents me from trusting in and depending on Jesus. Releasing my rights will shut the door to my flesh. In other words…my flesh will have nothing to do! Think of it this way–because God has made us righteous (okay!), loved, acceptable, adequate, and valuable through Christ, and our union with Him in our spirit, do I really need any rights? Of course not! When we release our rights and walk in the Spirit, we will experience true freedom and rest in Christ.
So…aren’t you glad?
As I walk by the Spirit…by faith I’m receiving:
- God’s interpretation of life…especially in trials and tribulations.
- Confidence in God’s resources (Christ in me).
- Knowing God is in control, and responsible for my well-being (soul).
Living from His abundant, unlimited resources is the only way we will experience the “fullness of life” that Jesus came to give!
In our next publication we will be discussing our New Character, centered on the topic of Righteousness.