Summary: The Apostle Paul encourages the readers to "keep walking in the Spirit." This is good advice for today's Christian.
In last week’s sermon, “Life in the Spirit”, I introduced this passage as Paul’s example of living in the flesh or living in the Spirit. While it may seem like I am doubling up on this text, but I want to focus on the message of the 16th and 25th verses; “walk by the Spirit” and “keep in step with the Spirit.” The opening of this passage and the closing of this chapter focus on the believer “keeping in step with the Spirit.”
“Walking in the Spirit” is a common theme in the Old Testament and for the Apostle Paul:
Isaiah 42:5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
Ezekiel 36:27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
My father was severely handicapped. The results of tuberculosis had ravaged his body and just breathing was a chore for him. But when I got to the age to become a Boy Scout, he became an assistant Scoutmaster. I always loved it when the troop was going on a camp-out. We would pack our belongings, our food and survival gear and head into the Rocky Mountains around Denver. My dad would spend the day with us, then drive back home as he could not sleep on the ground. Then, early in the morning, he would get up and drive back to the camp just so he could spend time with my brother and me. Walking and sleeping in the wild was a problem for him, but his desire was to do as much as he could with the body he had.
One of my favorite times was on Saturday when the troop would “take a hike.” The scoutmaster would say, get your gear, make sure you take your canteen as we are going all the way to the top of that mountain peak. Along the way we were instructed on what to watch out for on our journey as we would walk through the forest. I can still hear our leader’s voices teaching us; “That is poison ivy, stay away from that.” “Those mushrooms will be good for our dinner tonight, but stay away from these as they are poison.” “That is a beaver dam and you can see the beavers have been working in this area. You can see the teeth marks on the tree stumps where they chopped down the sapling to use in the dam or on their den.” All along the way they encouraged us to keep walking, eventually we will achieve our goal of reaching that peak.
As a city boy, I would get caught-up in the experience and exhilaration of the journey, learning all I could about my surroundings. At times the scoutmaster would say to me “Bob, you need to keep up with the rest of us. You need to “keep in step”.
Consider yourself on a “hike” today; the hike of your life. Sometimes the trail is well marked and the way is easy and other times the way is difficult and you have to “hack out” a trail in order to get to your destination. We began this journey the day we were saved by the work of Jesus Christ and our acceptance of Him as our Savior. This hike will take up the rest of our earthly lives as our final destination is heaven. Instead of a scoutmaster teaching and encouraging you along the way, for the Christian that is the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
There were many distractions on my journey through the mountains. Beautiful vistas, wildlife, flora and the other scouts I hung around with. While each of these could be beautiful and satisfying, there were also unseen dangers that could lead me off the path and into danger. Loose rocks, exposed tree roots could easily cause you to stumble and fall. The wildlife is beautiful to look at, but they were not tame and could inflict injuries. And I found out, some of the other scouts were not always the best examples for me to follow either.
As long as I walked close by the scoutmaster, I would be safe and I would be in “ear shot” to learn so much more than wandering off by myself.