Three Steps forward And Two Steps back: Walking in the Spirit

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Gal 5: 16-17, 22-25

                Wednesday before last; we started to look at these verses in Galatians 5 about the constant struggle between our Flesh and the spirit of God. I don’t know about you; but there have been times in my life where things were just moving along so smoothly, so effortlessly with God and me that I began to think that this Christian life was a cinch. If you have thought that too; you also know that that feeling is very short lived. It was around moments like that; when I thought it was just a sure steady march ahead in the things of God; when the flesh reared up its ugly head; and before I knew I had said something, did something that I thought was died and gone; yet the flesh proved to be alive and well! I had taken three steps forward but because of my flesh striving inside my body; I took two steps back!

          I think you know what I’m talking about don’t you? Sunday comes; God is real, God speaks, you listen and heed, you get right, you think right, you want to be right more than ever before; it just couldn’t get better you think. Do you know why that is? That’s God’s Presence for you.

          This lasts probably up to about Tuesday afternoon; or maybe this sense of God leaves us sooner that Tuesday. Before we know it we are pulled here and there, blown away like a feather in the wind, the world has it’s way with us, the flesh is coming out left and right; all this brings us the place where the majority of Christians live on an daily basis; in frustration! You can ask any Christian that is there at this moment and they will say that they know what is right and wrong, they know what sin is, they know the Lord is real and that they are saved; they know that their sin grieves the Lord; yet they don’t know how to make the Lord’s power real in their lives! They feel like a hostage; even worse a prisoner to themselves!

          That’s where you have been or will be some day. You are going to find out that there’s more to being a Christian than just being forgiven of your sins and having a home in heaven! There’s more to being a Christian than just waiting around for the Lord to come back. God doesn’t want you just too endure life; but to enjoy life! God doesn’t want us just to cope with the problems of life but to conquer them and give Him the glory!

          Thank God I have already been there and done that and I don’t want to go back! I have realized a long time ago that Jesus didn’t shed his precious blood and give his life for a half way deliverance from sin! Jesus didn’t die so you could settle to be a hostage or prisoner for the rest of your life. I have realized that though the flesh is real and strong; yet there is someone else inside of me that more stronger, more mightier, more powerful and more persuasive than the flesh is; that someone is the Holy Spirit of God!

          I know we don’t always know this power in our lives; but it is available to us nonetheless. In fact, as far as God is concerned the only reason why we don’t walk after the Spirit is because we just don’t want too or just don’t know how too. Believe me the problem isn’t with God! The problem is somewhere with us.

           Most Christians think this way; “Well, I have lived in the flesh for so long and it’s just what I’m accustomed too; so though I know its wrong; it’s just easier to live after the flesh no matter if I do destroy my own life the process.”  If you are resigned to live after the flesh as a Christian you will destroy yourself! Living to please the flesh will involve sin and “sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death;” the bible says!  Don’t kid yourself, there are Christians, truly saved; everywhere strung out on this drug and that drug; in alcoholism, pornography, adultery, stealing, murder. In jails, in prisons, in hospitals, in asylums, and in the grave that lived after the flesh because it was just easier than trying to learn to walk after the Spirit.  

And you know what? So be it!

          The fault of the matter doesn’t lay with God! The problem isn’t that Jesus is a fake savior or that salvation is incomplete; the problem is that they have settled for the prison life rather than the free life that salvation brings. They want deliverance alright yet their terms on their conditions rather than on the terms of Christ, and that won’t happen!

          I don’t know about you; but I lived enough after the flesh as a lost person. And I ain’t going back.

          Unless you share these same feelings then your wasting your time here tonight; yea, you are wasting your very life just to maintain pretense or an outward show that everything is alright when it really isn’t. Your heart is still bent towards the flesh!

          Last time we waded through the muck and mire of the flesh in vv. 19-21 so we won’t cover them again. But I will say, that if you have ever wondered if you were living after the flesh; all that is needed is to check this list and the others that the bibles gives.

          I also want to say that the flesh inside of you will always be there! There never is a time when the flesh isn’t there and there will never be a time when you will be separated from it until you shed this body mortality and put on immortality. Just mark it down the flesh isn’t going away; so you must learn to deal with it the way God says so!

          The only way to counteract the pull of the flesh; is by walking after the spirit of God that indwells us. So we have here tonight three things that we need to know about walking after the spirit.

I. The Possibility of Walking after the Spirit.

Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  

A. Personal Responsibility

“Walk in the Spirit”

Boy, that sounds possible to me! On whom does Paul place the burden of active on? i.e. who did Paul tell to do the walking? God? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? No! Paul addresses these Christians, because that’s where the problem lays as well as the solution; humanly speaking. They were expected to do the walking in the spirit! Since Paul even brings this up; then that tells me that there is a possibility for me too to live after the spirit so as not to live after the flesh. Don’t think that you are bound to live after the flesh, you not! You don’t have to give in and just settle for it because it just seems easier. 

It is possible for you to walk (live) after the spirit of God and not be pulled down by the flesh!

          By the way, keep this in mind. You have to do your own walking in the spirit for yourself. No one can do your walking for you. We are here tonight not because I have done the walking for you, No! We are here tonight to reinforce the walking that you should have done for yourself. The reason why you don’t get nothing from the preaching is because you are always in a state remediation. I.e. God is always getting on you for not staying up with Him! God can’t teach you anything new because you have mastered the very simple thing of walking. Why should I expect Madison to drive the car; when she haven’t even mastered ride a bike first?

          Some people think that the preacher does their walking in the spirit for them! “Well I haven’t cracked open my bible since last service; but that’s ok, the preacher has, that’s good enough for me”.

          I can not get saved for you more than I can walk after the spirit for you! No, you had to get saved for yourself and if there’s any walking to be done for you, it must be done you! Because that is so, guess whose to blame if you don’t walk after the spirit? 

          If you haven’t figured me out by now; let tell you that I have a “take-no-prisoners” philosophy about the things of the ministry. That means if you want to serve God with me, then you’re going to serve God because you want to serve God not because I make you serve God. That means you going to be what you should be for God; because you want it for yourself! I don’t have time to tend to prisoners; but I do have time for fellow soldiers.

          Paul is saying that it is possible for you to walk in the spirit; if you want it then it starts with you!

B. Promise 

“and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

Did you hear that “shall not” there? That sounds like a promise to me; if you walk after the spirit. That’s like “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

That means if you walk after the spirit you will not accomplish or carry out the desires and dictates of the flesh. The flesh will still be there, but it will be overridden by a higher law; which is the spirit of God.      

          The way to make sure that I’m not living after the flesh, is to make sure that I’m walking in the spirit! The only safe guard you have against the flesh is to make sure that you are under the control of the spirit of God!

Watch it!

          Some want to stop living after the flesh, because they know it will ruin their lives; waste their money, but they don’t care to live after the spirit with all the things that it includes.

          You can’t stop living after the flesh and yet not live after the spirit. Such thinking leads us to pretend like the Pharisees were doing when Jesus showed up. They paraded around the fact that they from the surface didn’t let the flesh run wild like others did; yet they refused to live after the spirit also! Thereby; still being in the flesh, yet more religious. Listen don’t play the hypocrisy game! Which is basically the flesh trying to hold back flesh; while you don’t walk after the spirit!

That’s the first thing we see the Possibility of walking after the spirit.

Second Notice verse 17.

II. The Protest of walking in the Spirit.


          What we have a ‘bitter sweet’ experience described here. The spirit inside of the person is in struggle with the flesh. These are warring, battling for control of the person. The reason why I call this a bitter sweet experience is because the battle, struggle is only true in the truly saved! That’s the sweet part! The lost folks don’t have a problem walking after their flesh, because the spirit of God isn’t indwelling them to protest it! So it just smooth sailing when lost people live after the flesh! They have no problems doing what the flesh wants!

          But that isn’t true of those who are truly saved. Because those who are saved have the HS in side of them and he will not let sin go without a struggle. The person belongs to God now, and the HS will not let sin go without a fight. Only those who feel this struggle inside of them are truly saved. Those Christians that can live in sin without any conviction at all either means that they weren’t saved to start with, they are fooling themselves or they are so backslidden that God has given them over to do those things for their own destruction.

          But the bitter part here is that this describes the Christian who is in frustration, who is defeated and if allowed to go on will become disenchanted with God and probably walk away from God altogether.


          They can’t seem to make any head way in either direction! “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

If they try to live for God the become defeated and if they move into sin God chastens them! They can’t enjoy God or enjoy sin! Frustration!

          I think the major cause of this protest which leads to frustration comes because we are ignorantly feeding the flesh and feeding the spirit at the same time.

          A story goes that an old Indian chief had two dogs before him, one white the other black. Some one asked which dog is stronger and would wipe the other dog in the fight?

          The old chief replied “That’s simple; the dog that I feed the most would win the most!”

That’s the same way it is for us! If we are feeding the flesh and our spirit at the same time no wonder that we frustrated at times because these great forces are just fighting it out. This describes carnal Christians. They love God but the love their few things in the world. And while they are feeding both natures inside of them, they are just making the battle more intense because both sides are strong and well supplied!

          This is a terrible place to be; because you don’t feel at home in Church because of the sins that you allow to continue in your life and you don’t feel at home in the world because you know that it’s unsatisfying. What a fix to be in! 

          This is frustration at its worse! To feel like you don’t belong to either the devil or God!

          Let me give you some ideas how to avoid this frustration!

1. Don’t feed your flesh.

Rom 13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

That means you strive the flesh! Don’t give what it wants! The problem with us is that we get right with sin and then we turn right around and feed the flesh which will cause us to stumble yet again!

You must strive your flesh, if you are to weaken it!

Turn off the Tv! Stop listening to music that strengths your flesh! Stop making provision for the flesh and it will weaken!

2. Form some standards in your life.

Standards are like fences. Imagine if you grew up living on a cliff. Your parents didn’t want you to wander and fall off the cliff so the put up a fence! That fence keeps you from ever getting close enough to the edge so that there isn’t any chance for you falling over the cliff!

If I had a problem with smoking, I would make a standard for myself that I would not get around those who would encourage me to smoke. And if I had to work around those who did smoke, I would complain to the boss until he did something about it.

          If I had a problem drinking; I sure wouldn’t go to the bar even just to get a sandwich! Why? Because the closer you are to the sin the easier it is to pull you! Have a standard saying I would rather go there because this certain temptation is there. 

          We haven’t had to preach about it but; I believe in a dress standard for church. Church should be the last place your husband should have to worry about lusting after another woman. What you wear where outside is between you and God.

Believe it or not; I have a standard for music, for leadership, for follow ship, for just about everything where sin is a problem.

          Ask yourself, if you were the parent living on a cliff; where would you place the fence? As close to the edge as possible? Or as far away as possible for the safety of your child?

          A lot of your sin problems can be managed by just putting up a standard here and there and you come shed a lot of frustration you have over sin.


That’s all for tonight. We will cover the three point next time because it is a big one.

Walking after the spirit is possible for you! But it must start with you and you alone! Tried of feeling that you don’t belong to neither the world of God?

Starve the flesh, and feed the spirit that is inside of you! Right your bible, listen to those preaching tapes on there on the table!

Learn to how to take three steps forward with God and maintain them through walking after the spirit of God that is inside of you!

Once you do, you will never regret it!

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