Sunday Worship at 11AM | 4967 Fincher Rd., Canton, GA 30114

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17 ESV)

Once I read a story that goes like this: One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Today I wonder, if you were being honest and transparent, which one of those two wolves are you feeding? In our focal Scripture, the Apostle Paul talks about two polar opposites on how people live their lives: by the Spirit or by the flesh. Even if you aren’t a Christian, you can probably tell by context clues that one of these ways is God’s way, and one is desperately wrong. I’d like to talk about both today.

First, living a life where you “walk by the Spirit” indicates that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life. At the moment we surrender our lives to Jesus something miraculous happens… the Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell within our hearts. In this moment we are sealed by God, and we become His child. Empowered by the Holy Spirit and His presence in our lives, we are able to walk by the Spirit. This means living a life in surrender to Jesus, motivated by His love, mercy, and grace and undergirded by His truth.

I’d like to dispel a wrong way of spiritual thinking. It isn’t you but Christ in you who enables you to walk by the Spirit. Often people think if they just try harder that they can begin to live a life that honors God. “I’m going to pull myself up by my own spiritual bootstraps” is the battle cry of those trying to live a life that honors Christ in their own strength. The truth is, without the Holy Spirit you can’t live a life of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

So, if it isn’t simply human effort to “walk by the Spirit”, what does it mean? The Enduring Word commentary puts it this way: “To walk in the Spirit first means that the Holy Spirit lives in you. Second, it means to be open and sensitive to the influence of the Holy Spirit. Third, it means to pattern your life after the influence of the Holy Spirit.” Taking this explanation, I believe there are a few practical ways in which we walk by the Spirit:

1. We surrender our lives to Jesus as Lord (salvation)
2. We practice spiritual disciplines that help us grow in our knowledge of God and our intimacy with Him (prayer, Bible study, devotion)
3. We submit to the Holy Spirit’s teaching, correcting, guidance and prompting in our lives (sanctification)

Paul helps us understand what it looks like practically to walk by the Spirit compared to living your life according to the flesh. Let’s compare the two:

Living life according to the flesh:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV)

Walking by the Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)

Take a good, honest, hard, long look at the two ways people live their lives. Which of these two ways of living most closely identifies where you are in your life? I can look at the works of the flesh and clearly see there are some things I struggle with. I can see others in the list that Christ has freed me from. I can sense the areas He is working in my life. I can also look at the fruit of the Spirit and clearly see these present and growing in my own life.
If you are certain that you surrendered your life to Jesus, but the works of the flesh are still overwhelming in your life, I’d ask you this: which wolf are you feeding?

Father, thank You for giving me the Holy Spirit who not only sealed me but also fills me with the fruit of Your presence in my life. Jesus, I confess there are areas in my life which I have struggled to submit to You, please forgive me. Lord, I ask that you help me to honestly see myself and give me the grace to submit to what You are doing in my life. Holy Spirit, please continue to fill my life with the goodness of God. Grow the fruit of Your presence in my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Categories: Devotion