Have you ever struggled in your effort to follow God? Have you ever felt like you were blowing it? I remember one time when someone told me, “I am a Christian. I just screw up a lot.” I know that is not the most reverent terminology but I must confess that I actually laughed. The reason I laughed was because I could relate. Many Christ followers know what it feels like to mess up. This is not an excuse but more of a confession. We want to follow Jesus but often fall short. Think about it. We have been called to walk in the footsteps of the only perfect man. He had no sin, hurts, habits, or hangups. When we come to Christ, we are told to stop all of our bad behavior. As imperfect people, we try to live like a perfect man and end up feeling a little discouraged that we tend to fall so short.
So how is an imperfect person supposed to live life like Jesus? The apostle Paul tells us how: “So I say walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Galatians 5:16). The true Gospel of Christ does not just offer us the forgiveness of sins and a home in heaven. These are a part of the package, but the Gospel also offers us the power of the Holy Spirit who enables us and frees us to fully love and obey God.
The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity with God the Father and the Son. Jesus told the disciples he was going to leave them but promised to send the Holy Spirit as our “Helper” (John 14:16,17). The Holy Spirit is the presence of Jesus with us and in us. Jesus called him “the Helper” because we needed his help. The power of the Spirit gives us the help we need to overcome sin and follow Christ. To walk in the Spirit, we must understand that the Spirit is walking around in us if we are Christ followers.
The phrase “walk” in/by the Spirit implies two things: a lifestyle and a relationship. To walk by the Spirit implies that Christ followers should live a lifestyle that is filled and empowered by the Spirit of God. It also implies a relationship. To walk in the Spirit speaks of the personal nature of the Spirit’s role in our lives. We are called to walk with the One who is walking inside of us. One of the great joy and discoveries of my life is that when I received Christ, it was not just a power that came into my heart. It was not a rule that came into my heart. It was a person, the person of the Holy Spirit. I want to learn to let the Holy Spirit become my best friend and guide. To walk in the Spirit means you are growing in an intimate understanding of and relationship with this person who lives within.
I will share more next week about what it means to walk in the Spirit, but listen now to the effect of walking in the Spirit. “Walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Paul gives us the key to overcoming our hurts, habits, and hangups. The key to defeating our sin is not by trying to defeat and overcome our sin. You are not strong enough to overcome your sin.
The key to overcoming sin is to walk in the Spirit. Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, and surrender to the power of His Spirit in your life. As you seek Him and surrender to Him, the Spirit will give you strength to say no to your sinful desires — and yes to Jesus! Are you ready to walk with the One who is walking inside of you? And that’s the Word.
The Rev. David Yarborough is pastor of St. Simons Community Church. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-634-2960.