Walking in the Spirit
The Battle Surrounding Obedience
This teaching on walking in the Spirit with spiritual guidance is just one lesson of our free eCourse for personal transformation,'Matters of the Heart.' All 24 lessons will be helpful to the person seeking restoration and freedom.
All scripture citations are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
The Warfare Around Following Jesus
It would hardly be fair or right, having given so much attention to the enemy's ways of distracting us, mis-leading us, and hindering us with strongholds, to finish this series without giving time to the Lord and His ways of leading us in new life. After all, the point is not to pull the emotional strongholds down (either of the past or of the present) just so that we can be free of them - as good as that is. Rather, our quest is to become free so that we can follow Jesus in everything!
The truly healed and restored life is one that is continually given over to the Lord, seeking to walk with Him as He leads the way. For that we will need to learn what it means to be 'walking in the Spirit' that He supplies.
Let us begin by acknowledging that as great as His Word is - He even set it above His Name - God speaks to us in many more ways than scripture alone. We are guided by His example (Jesus' life is a visible word - a word shown to us), His voice (a word spoken to us, however we may receive it), and His Spirit (a word living in us, however He may inspire us).
It is easy to see from this that there is a progression of increasing intimacy from following the written Word of scripture to imitating Jesus' example to listening for His voice to yielding the whole flow of our daily life to His Spirit. Jesus gave us - His Bride on earth - more than a book when He pledged Himself to us as our Husband. He gave Himself to us!
Our new life in Christ comes through the forgiveness of our sins and through the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Just as Jesus died our death for us, so now He desires to live His life in us and through us. This happens beautifully whenever we yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit and walk in the steps He shows us. Whenever we are released to trust and obey, Jesus 'comes to life' in us!
I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 AMP
Walking in the Spirit has two distinct dimensions: conscious and unconscious. Though this may be a strange way of phrasing it, the truth is that we have been 'sleep walking' with the Lord all of our lives. That is, He has been guiding us in countless ways all along, but we may not have been consciously aware of the many specific ways by which He has done so.
Our first task, therefore, is to identify and understand these hidden ways of un-self-conscious guidance. The Holy Spirit is like the perfect waiter who doesn't intrude upon our privacy by making His ways of serving us obvious. It is up to us to learn how to acknowledge Him so that He can more intimately and overtly direct our paths.
Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP
The Introductory Dimension of Being Led
Walking in the Spirit is like breathing which is hardly surprising since He is called the 'breath of the Almighty' and He is the 'breath' of life imparted to us both in creation and in the new birth. This Spirit-empowered walk, therefore, is easy and natural - literally child's play!
In fact it was the Spirit, the great Teacher and Giver of life, who 'secretly' taught us how to suckle, to eat, to speak, to walk, even to play. Every good thing about us including childhood is His gift to us, or will we have some 'work' of our own apart from God to boast about? Not according to scripture, which says that we are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, not of our works, 'lest anyone should boast.'
So let us acknowledge then that this Spirit-empowered walk has been going on since birth as His gift to us. God said that even the 'infancy' of Israel, the forty years of their wilderness journey, was a time when He 'carried Israel' as a child: He led them through it all and then explained it to them later, so that they could understand and acknowledge what He had done.
And in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place. Deuteronomy 1:31
To this day the greatest exemplars of what walking in the Spirit is like are little children. They do it wholly by'unself-conscious guidance.' Their sparkling qualities are His gift of grace to them and through them to us! Children are simply more open and trusting than we are, which makes them such splendid receivers of grace that they are masters at living in the Kingdom, showing us the way to go.
But Jesus called them to him, saying,'Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.' Luke 18:16-17
The Holy Spirit has been with us all along. He is always teaching us and leading us into life. He is the Giver and Sustainer of life. Jesus told His disciples before the events of Easter and Pentecost that they already 'knew' the Holy Spirit He would be sending because the Spirit had been dwelling 'with' them and would soon be 'in' them. This same Spirit has been unceasingly with you in your journey, helping you, guiding you, teaching you and comforting you, even before you became a Christian, even from before birth!
Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.' Jeremiah 1:4-5
St. Augustine put it this way: 'Love God and do as you please.' He means of course that once we 'love God' by surrendering to Him everything about our lives and loved ones and are willing to do His will above our own, then He begins to draw us by desires that please Him as well as ourselves.
Only fully yielded Christians can live the way Augustine recommends. However, even before we knew Him, God was already drawing us into doing many things that pleased us as well as Him. Examples of this are eating, sleeping, befriending, parenting, working, loving and laughing. No one needs conscious guidance from the Lord to do good things which come to us with such natural grace attached.
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. Philippians 2:13 AMP
Trusting is, therefore, essential to these everyday ways of Spirit-empowered guidance, since any interference by negative emotions disturbs the childlike manner of our walk. Proverbs calls us to acknowledge Him and trust Him, that He may 'direct our paths.' Guidance happens naturally for trusting hearts as Hannah Whitall Smith explains in The Christian's Secret of a Happy Life.
Above everything else trust Him... God cannot guide those souls who never trust Him enough to believe that He is doing it.
This Dimension Takes Diligence to'Master'
The Spirit-empowered walk described above is childlike and free. Not even being aware that it is happening is almost one of its requirements! On the other hand, the Spirit-led walk actually does require conscious and conscientious diligence and care in seeking it. It is harder work at first, but it is the way of the wise.
The first principle of seeking this kind of 'awake and aware' guidance is: 'Don't ask, if you don't really want to know.' The Lord is not out to satisfy our intellectual curiosity about His will! He is interested in leading us through our obedience to His will. The likelihood exists that He may not tell you what you want to hear, so be prepared to yield to His will and avoid the pitfall of poor King Ahab who didn't want his plans disturbed by a contrary word from the Lord. As Hannah Whitall Smith advises, 'An immediate obedience is the safest and easiest course.'
There are five 'voices' that should harmonize: scripture, conscience, inward impressions, wise counsel and providential circumstances. Tread softly in this arena - guidance is an art, not a science.
1. Scripture: the 'First Voice' of Guidance
In His Word, God provides boundaries and guidelines so that we can know right and wrong with clarity on many issues and see the general outline of a right path for our lives. We, therefore, need to take the scriptures to heart so that the Holy Spirit may use them to direct us and keep us from error, just as we would study a map to navigate our way through dangerous and unfamiliar terrain...
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead - jump in with both feet!
Father, forgive me wherever I have thought or said that I have not heard Your voice or experienced Your guidance. I utterly renounce that false belief. The truth is that I am someone who knows how to be guided by You and who has been given ears to hear and eyes to see what You are speaking to me or showing me. I am learning how to listen for Your voice of wisdom through Your Word, through my inner life, and through other people. I am learning to recognize Your Hand - prompting, checking and guiding me. Thank You that You have been speaking to me and guiding me all of my life. Help me to recognize and acknowledge You in all of these ways, so that my eyes can open wider to give You credit and to more readily perceive Your ways of leading me.
Next Healing Lesson
We can learn to live as sovereigns over our emotional state.
Interested in Going Deeper?
Don't just give these truths a'head bob' - take our free eCourse for Healing. For further study and for help working these truths into your heart and life, see Walking in the Spirit Part 2 (Head to Heart Guide 1). In all there are 24 Main Healing Lessons and 24 Head to Heart Guides to help you bring your heart to God and receive His Great Heart for you in return!