What Does It Really Mean to Walk in the Spirit?
By James Holland, Sr.
Walking in the spirit, “to quicken to make alive”. The truth is we will either live in the spirit or in the flesh. We must be careful not to hide from the truth that God is trying to bring to fruition in our lives. We are commanded by the Word to “rightly divide the word of God”. Yet, this can only happen when we have been rightly divided by the word first. To be lead of the Spirit means to be spiritually influenced by God’s Spirit in every area of our lives.
Many times in Christian circles we will hear the phrase “back slide”. This simply means that one, who had been allowing the Spirit to influence them, now has diverted back to allowing their flesh or carnal nature to influence their actions. Jesus said “the Spirit of truth will lead you into all truth”. The word of God is always personal first. That is, the word is to be applied to me first! Truth is not just knowledge, but it is also a relationship with God. Many people understand truth from the intellectual perspective, yet that doesn’t mean that they obey it or love it. If I am to be lead and guided by truth, I must be a partaker of truth. If we refuse to be changed, we will not go very far in our spiritual growth with God. John writes the word was “made flesh and dwelt among us”. The Word is not just a printed book; it is Jesus Christ in us. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The Word will transform us; in fact, it must transform us. So what does it mean to walk in the spirit?
I turn your attention to l Thessalonians 5:23. “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
We must realize these three dimensions of our life. They are spirit, soul, and body. The Word must touch all of these areas. Notice the progression. God puts spirit first, soul second, and body last. Yet most people today put body first, then the spirit, then the soul. Spirit (pneuma) had the same meaning in both the old and new testaments. Hebrew “rah”, and Greek “pneuma”, both mean “wind” or “spirit”. This explains what Jesus was talking about in John 3 in His discussion on being born from above by the spirit and wind, blowing where it wills. The spiritual aspect of human beings is the most important. Our spiritual growth and knowledge will last for all eternity.
What about the soul? The Greek word is “psyche”, which has spawned many English derivatives, beginning with psycho. The main usage of psyche in the Bible is for “soul” and “personal life”. If we are not believers, we cannot serve God acceptably. However, since psyche also refers to our personality and our life on earth, we must also make the most of our lives so that we can have some rewards for our labors in the Day of the Lord.
Body (soma) is our flesh. The human body is a masterpiece of divine engineering and should be properly maintained to serve God. Make no mistake; if we are going to walk in the spirit, we will be impacted by it in our spirit, soul, and body.
In 2 Peter 1:4, Peter declares that we are “partakers of His divine nature”. When we receive His divine nature we receive His power. When we are spirit filled and born again, it is our spirit that is first changed, then our thinking is changed, and then we begin to let our body adjust to our new life. It is up to us to allow the spirit of God’s truth to work in us. It is not up to someone else. In fact, the church cannot make us spiritual, the pastor cannot make us spiritual, the Sunday school teacher cannot make us spiritual, and God can’t make us spiritual unless we want to be spiritual. The call is ours!
Let’s take a closer look. The soul is our logic, emotions, and will. Our spirit and soul are the eternal parts of us that are going to live forever. It is true that our soul and spirit are more closely connected than our flesh. This is the area the enemy attacks. The order of our life is very important. Our life must flow out of the spirit.
Who is in charge of our life? You see, even if a person has not been born again, he still has a soul and spirit; it just isn’t operating properly. Man is not a sinner because of what he does or doesn’t do. He is a sinner because of his nature. The new nature of Christ that we receive when we are born again will cause us to desire to walk in agreement with His truth. It changes our thought life and our outlook on life. It all starts in the kind of spirit that is controlling or leading us. When the word quickens our spirit, we become alive to the Spirit. Then we have no problem doing what the word says. Remember, Satan feeds on the earth. Our fleshly body is made from the dust of the earth. So when we act earthly (carnal), we give our adversary something to feed on. Yet, when we get born again, God’s Spirit gives life to our spirit, to lead us into His truth. We begin to live in a restored position.
It is important that the child of God walk in the spirit. That is, to listen to your spirit as it is influenced by the Holy Spirit of God. Develop an ear for the spirit of the Lord. Seven times in Revelations chapter 2, the Master said let him that has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying! In 2 Corinthians 3:17, Paul writes, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”. Paul’s subject in the chapter is spiritual revelation, and how before we are born again, we see through a veil of darkness. We do not understand spiritual things. Yet Paul declares once we are born again, the veil is removed. That is, spiritual understanding comes to us. When we recognize that it is the Spirit of the Lord that gives us this revelation, we begin to walk in agreement with the leading of the Spirit. So liberty comes to us.
The word liberty here means release. Let’s read it this way. Where the Spirit of the Lord is in control or allowed to work, there is release! Release from what? Release from sin, from habits, from wrong thinking, from wrong living. Why? The Spirit of the Lord is directing our spirit. Proverbs 20:27 says, “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord searching all the inner depths of his heart”. The lamp here is our spirit, yet before we are born again, there is no light in our spirit as far as understanding spiritual things. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2: 38-39), our spirit becomes energized by the Spirit of the Lord that filled us. Then Jesus says we are the light of the world. God takes the darkness out of our spirit and replaces it with clear understanding. Then the spirit of a man becomes the lamp of the Lord. The Lord is able to direct him, lead him, and influence him.
Before we are spirit filled, our consciences operate from a cultural standpoint, then from a family background. This is why certain attitudes are prevalent in some families. Yet, when we are spirit filled, our spirit functions as God intended it to from the beginning. Because our spirit has had the veil removed from it (2 Corinthians 3:18), our soul, which is our emotions, intellect, and will, begins to be changed. Then this spiritual awakening begins to affect our lifestyle, our conduct, and our body. We become victorious and our whole life changes.
So allow the spirit of the Lord to give release in your life. Allow Him to shine His light in every area of your life. This is truly walking in the Spirit. It is not just being in a church service nor is it a feeling. It is a lifestyle, which all are called to walk in.
This article “What Does It Really Mean to Walk in the Spirit?” was excerpted from the book The Battle for Spiritual Maturity written by James Holland, Sr. It may be uses for study & research purposes only.