Summary: Based on Galatians 5:16, 25, and Romans 8:1, this message compares walking in the flesh to walking in the Spirit. The fuel, focus, and finish line of each way of walking is examined.
Walk after the Spirit (Our Spiritual Walk #6)
Galatians 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
When we talk about our Spiritual Walk, we’re talking about more than taking a step or two. We’re talking about something that takes energy, that has a purpose, and that gets us somewhere. In a physical walk energy can be measured in calories. I know all about that. In my case, if I take a 30 minute walk, at about 3.5 mph, I’ll expend about 155 calories. When I do that kind of walking, my purpose is to burn those calories and I hope my destination will be better health and maybe even weight loss!
Romans 8:1 tell us There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. As Christians, we have a choice between two ways of walking. We can walk after the flesh or we can walk after the Spirit.
The first option – to walk after the flesh – is the default walk. This is the only option we have as unredeemed human beings. The second option – to walk after the Spirit – is available only through Jesus Christ – who came to earth so that we would have an entirely NEW life – and an entirely NEW Walk.
For a long time, I thought of walking in the Spirit as kind of a vague idea --- something that sounded good, but I had no real idea what it meant. I now realize this is something that’s not only important, it’s essential. This is the real secret of living the life God wants me to live. This is a very real choice we make every day … maybe even every hour of the day. We’ll talk first about how it looks to walk after the Flesh.
1. Walking after the FLESH
Fleshly walking uses a lot of FUEL --- it causes us to constantly run out of FUEL it depends entirely on human energy. The result of running on human energy is always the same: exhaustion and frustration. None of us … not even the best of us … have the inner strength to meet all the demands of life … not to mention the standards we set for ourselves and the behaviors other people expect from us.
The Apostle Paul talked about this kind of frustration in Romans 7:18-19: For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. And a few verses later, he cried out “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” Romans 7:24
I’ve experienced this kind of frustration many times. It’s how you feel when you try to break a bad habit, but you fall right back into it. It’s how you feel when you vow to be patient with someone, but you end up losing your temper. It’s how you feel when you determine to get up early every morning and spend quality time with God, but after a day or two you find yourself hitting snooze on the alarm.
The frustration that has really plagued me over the years has been weight control. I’ve tried just about every diet known to man --- I’ve tried out fad diets, bought into expensive commercial diets, I’ve done five day diets, two week diets, you name it, and I’ve done it. I even came up with my own diet which I called “the simpleton diet.” The one rule was: eat only one thing per meal. That worked until I started cheating. For example, I called a Chinese buffet one thing because, after all, it was all Chinese food. I definitely violated the spirit of my own law, and it all went downhill from there, or perhaps uphill if you look at the scales. In the end, I think my most successful effort was probably the “if it tastes good, spit it out” diet!
We all know the frustration of giving all we have to do what we want to do, but falling short time and time again. Whatever area of life we look at, all of us can identify with the Apostle Paul’s cry of the wretched man. The FUEL of human effort is just not enough to get us through the WALK of life.
What do we do when we get frustrated with repeated failures? We FOCUS on what WE can do better. We rev up all our own will-power. We line our bookshelves with self-help books; we may rest up and rev up and try again. And maybe we succeed for a while. Maybe we even break one of our bad habits. But then what happens? More bad habits keep cropping up. In the end, we always come crashing back to the limits of our own ability.