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I have so many questions and so much to learn.

For me, writing is a process of searching and discovering. My posts are your invitation to join me in that process.

The question I wrestle with at the moment is: “What does it mean to walk by or in the Spirit? And how can I do that?” Okay, that’s two questions.

This post explores how we can walk in the Spirit. It flows from the previous post, which examined what it means to walk by the Spirit. Remember the illustration of a dance in which the Spirit leads without coercion, and the Christian responds without reluctance.


God never commands or expects without providing the necessary resources to fulfill His expectation. In more technical terms, every imperative has an indicative.

We discussed this crucial link between God’s imperatives and His indicatives in the post, “Loving Like Jesus and the Indicative-Imperative Principle.” 

Galatians 5:16 states, “walk by the Spirit,” which is an imperative—God intends that we walk by the Spirit. So, within the context of that imperative, what are the resources God provides? Let’s look for God’s indicatives—His resources for how to walk by the Spirit.

I identified four indicatives.

1.         “led by the Spirit”

The first indicative is “[since] you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (5:18). You will notice that I have substituted “if” with “since,” which recognizes the certainty conveyed by the indicative. If you have received Christ, you are being led by the Spirit.

Of course, the Spirit’s leading can be frustrated by the “dance partner.” There are many ways in which we might resist or ignore the leading of the Spirit.

2.         “the fruit of the Spirit is”

We might overlook this indicative: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (5:22-23).

One aspect of this text is the contrast of “works of the flesh” with “fruit of the Spirit.” Ann Jervis comments on the significance of this contrast:[1] 

Life lived in the flesh (“sinful nature”) is a life of work (“acts”), a life that strives and strains for the protection of the self and often consequently for the domination of others. Life in the Spirit, on the other hand, blossoms, and the word “fruit” gives the sense that the characteristics Paul lists in verses 22 and 23 are the result of a healthy rooted state such as comes from living in Christ.

There is something reminiscent of Jesus’ pronouncement in John 15

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.

As the fruit is the product of the life of the vine, the fruit of the Spirit is the product of the life of Christ in and through the Christian.

3.         “have crucified the flesh”

To many modern Western Christians, these words are seldom heard and understood. Here is the text of Galatians 5:24:

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 

Upon receiving Jesus Christ, a person is linked with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That event crucified the flesh. You are under no obligation to respond to the flesh, which is the active agent within us that empowers sinfulness.

Picture the flesh as a crucified entity. From its cross, it seeks to command and control your attitudes and behavior. Recognize that the flesh has been crucified—it no longer has any power to control you.

4.         “we live”

The fourth indicative is (5:25): 

[Since] we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

In the same way that we are linked with the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, we are linked with His resurrection “so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Earlier in Galatians 2:20, Paul pens

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh [the physical body] I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.

This rich text reveals that the life of the Christian is intended to be the life of Christ in and through us.

Some reflections

As I reflected on these four indicatives, it led me to four practical steps for walking by the Spirit—you might have more.

First, I am led by the Spirit. The question is whether I am resisting His leading or cooperating with Him. How can I honestly answer that?

I pray Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT):

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. 

Take time to be quiet before the Lord. Allow Him to point out an attitude or behavior in my life—whether from the past or present. Then, as I become aware of something in my life that displeases Him, I am called to repentance, confession, and acceptance of His forgiveness (1 John 1:9).

Second is the recognition that the fruit of the Spirit is produced as Christ lives in and through me by the Spirit. 

This leads me to pray that I will submit to the Spirit for His “generation of godly characteristics” in me. 

The third is acknowledging the reality that the ‘flesh’ has been crucified, and I live by the Spirit. This draws me out of the world’s narrative where the ‘flesh’ continues its dominance.

Saturating your mind and life in the Scripture presents the alternate reality of God’s Kingdom

Fourth, as I mentioned, I have many questions and lots to learn. How can I walk by the Spirit? So, I pray in child-like dependence:

Father, teach me and lead me by your Spirit in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What do you find helpful about this post, and what can you add? You can contact me by clicking here.

FORWARD TO the next post in this series

BACK TO What is walking by the Spirit?

[1] L. Ann Jervis, Galatians, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson,  1999), 149.

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