Which Way Are You Walking?
Galatians 5:16-18, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.”
The Hip Hop artist Kanye West has been in the news a lot lately and not for the usual reasons that he has been in the news in the past. Kanye has been professing to anyone who will listen that God has saved him. Last week I saw a clip of him on the Jimmy Kimmel Show in which Kimmel asked him, somewhat incredulously, “Do you now consider yourself a Christian musician?” His reply was simple and profound, “I consider myself a Christian everything.”
The question in many Christian social media circles has been, “Is this the real thing? Is Kanye West really a Christian? Is his repentance really sincere?” In my mind this begs the broader question of: “How do we know someone is genuinely saved, most especially ourselves?” To be even more personal: “How do I know I am saved?” The answer is found in Galatians 5:16-24.
First, a person who is really saved walks “by the Spirit” it says in verse 16. You see when God saves us, He gives us a new life, a new identity if you will. We are no longer what we were before He redeemed us. That means, as it says here in verse 16, “you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” In other words you are not going to live a life that is in general marked by sin and the desire of the flesh.
When we are saved, God then gives us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:9 says, “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” What this means is that every believer now has the personal power to live to please God. Without the Holy Spirit it is impossible to please God, we cannot do it in our own power.
The Greek word that is used here for “walk” is translated to indicate continuous motion, or continuous action, a habitual lifestyle. Walking also indicates progress; as the believer submits to the Spirit’s control in their life. This means that in ever increasing ways you respond in obedience to the simple commands of Scripture which in turn leads to you growing closer to God.
So, Paul is saying, if you are really saved then you have the Holy Spirit indwelling in you and because of that you “will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Paul is not just referring to the physical body here, but he is referring to our minds, our will, and our emotions which are all subject to the scourge of sin in our lives. What Paul is then saying is that because of the Spirit we will not sin in our unredeemed humanness.
Verses 17 and 18 make clear that we cannot have our feet in both worlds. You are either one or the other. You are either walking by the Spirit because you are saved, or you are walking by the flesh because you are lost. The flesh opposes the work of the Holy Spirit and then leads one into sinful behavior. If you are “led by the Spirit” the result will be a life of righteous behavior and righteous attitudes. If you are carried away by the “desire of the flesh” then the result will be unrighteous behavior and attitudes.
What are you walking in? Are you walking in the Holy Spirit, or are you walking in the desire of the flesh? One walk leads to eternal life, the other walk leads to eternal destruction.