Summary: This is a sermon on the Spirit-Filled walk from The Exchanged Life perspective that exhorts the believer in such a way that consistency will be your experience in the believer’s walk.
I shared with you this morning about the Spirit-Filled life in that it’s an abundant and fruitful life. The last principle had to do with the process of being filled. However, I must hasten to add that trying to reduce life in the Spirit to a formula is like trying to capture the wind. It’s a little hard to do. There’s a sense of mystery here that we’ll never fully understand. The truth is the moment you think you have reduced the Spirit-Filled walk to a formula it probably isn’t Spirit-Filled anymore.
My desire is to give you some different perspectives on the Spirit-Filled walk so that consistency will be your experience. So tonight I want to share with you 2 things: (1) What the Spirit-filled Walk is not and (2) What the Spirit filled walk is. So first of all let’s talk about 2 things the Spirit-filled walk isn’t.
I. What the Spirit-filled Walk Isn’t
1. The Spirit-filled Walk Isn’t license verse 17a
Paul said that walking according to the Spirit is not license. That is an excessive or undisciplined freedom constituting an abuse of privilege. As a Christian, you may see the phrase “You are not under the Law” and exclaim, “Wow, I’m free! Walking in the Spirit means I can do anything I want!” Not so. In the previous verse Paul said, “You may not do the things that you please.” Being led by the Spirit doesn’t mean you’re free to do anything you want to do. It means you’re finally free to live a responsible, moral life – something you were incapable of doing when you were the prisoner of your flesh.
A lecturer was once invited to speak to a religion class at a Catholic high school on the topic of Protestant Christianity. At the end of his talk, an athletic-looking, street-wise student raised his hand and asked, “Do you have a lot of don’t in your church?” Sensing that the student had a deeper motive, he answered, “What you really want to ask me is if we have any freedom, right?” Yes, he nodded. “Sure, I’m free to do whatever I want to do,” he answered. The student’s face reflected his disbelief at what the man said. “I’m free to rob a bank. But I’m mature enough to realize that I would be in bondage to that act for the rest of my life. I’d have to cover up my crime, go into hiding or eventually pay for what I did. I’m also free to tell a lie. But if I do, I have to keep telling it and I have to remember who I told it to and how I told it or I will get caught. I’m free to do drugs, abuse alcohol and live a sexually immoral life-style. All of those “freedoms” lead to bondage. I’m free to make those choices, but considering the consequences, would you really be free?”
What appears to be freedom to some people isn’t really freedom, but a return to bondage as Galatians 5:1 talks about. God’s laws, from which we seek to be free, are not restrictive, but protective. Your real freedom is your ability to choose to live responsibly within the context of the protective guidelines God has established for our lives. So, the Spirit-filled Walk Isn’t License. Secondly,
2. The Spirit-filled walk isn’t legalism verse 18b
Walking by the Spirit is also not legalism, the opposite extreme of license. Paul said, “If you’re led by the Spirit, you’re not under the Law.” Stringently striving to obey Christian rules and regulations doesn’t enable the Spirit-filled walk either; it often kills it (2 Corinthians 3:6). We’re told in Galatinas 3:13 that the law is really a curse, and in 3:21 that it’s impotent, powerless to give us real life.
So, laying down the law – telling someone that it’s wrong to do this or that doesn’t give them the power to stop doing it. Christians have been notorious at trying to legislate spirituality with don’ts: Christians don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t go to the movies, don’t play cards, don’t wear make-up, etc. But legalism can’t curb immorality. In fact, laying down the law merely serves to heighten the temptation. Paul said that the law actually stimulates the desires to do what it forbids (Romans 7:5)! When you tell your child not to cross a certain line, where does he immediately go? Forbidden fruit is always the most desirable.
Likewise, a Spirit-filled heart won’t be produced by demanding that someone conform to a religious code of behavior. We often equate Christian disciplines such as Bible study, prayer, regular church attendance and witnessing with spiritual maturity. All these activities are good and helpful for spiritual growth, but merely performing these admirable Christian exercises doesn’t guarantee a Spirit-filled walk. Does this mean that rules for behavior in the Bible are bad? Of course not. God’s law is a necessary protective moral standard and guideline. Within the confines of God’s law we’re free to nurture a spirit-to-Spirit relationship with God, which is the essence of walking in the Spirit. So, the Spirit-filled Walk Isn’t License or Legalism. Now, let’s look at: