How to Walk By the Spirit 2

Life was hard before everything became politicized, before we became a society of fury and unforgiveness. Life was hard before a pandemic, before our leaders shut down the economy, before we were all forced to stay at home together 24/7.

And it isn't working so well for some. Moms doing quadruple duty yet feel they're failing. Kids remote learning. Some of us may wish to scream but we haven't the energy.

Even before all of this, life was hard. But in many ways it is even harder now. Therefore, we are exhorted to "walk by the Spirit," and "be filled with the Spirit."

Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

We saw last week that to be filled with the Spirit means to allow the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer to have a greater influence, a greater role—to bring truth to life; to give you holy desires; to help you follow Jesus.

The command to be filled with the Spirit is an exhortation to walk humbly with the Lord.

With this command to "be filled with the Spirit," God tells you, "Life is hard. I know you want to love better, and you want to live differently. I also know you can't do it; so you don't try to power through it in your own strength! Instead, trust Me, value My Spirit in you, and rely on Him for wisdom and strength because you cannot manufacture the Christ-life that the Holy Spirit alone produces."

Galatians 5:19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: sexual immorality, impurity, indecent behavior, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

These are real responses we need to real kids and real not idealistic husbands and rude customers. The Holy Spirit enables us to love God and others even if our flesh feels hurt, embittered, or afraid, and refuses to budge an inch to love.

God knows we can't subdue our own flesh. So God commands us to be filled with the Spirit and to walk by the Spirit, "So that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:4)

The filling of the Spirit isn't some pie-in-the-sky concept way out there in heaven. This isn't some spiritual theory that is unrelated to real life today. This is great news for the life which we live today. (Galatians 2:20)

The apostle Paul said, "... Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Again our relationship is with Jesus Christ. Our focus is on Christ and the grace of God and the life that He gives the believer. Yet when we trust and love Jesus, we can count on the Spirit's presence and power.

Ephesians 5:18 gives the command to "be filled with the Spirit." But it's important to see the context.

The believers in Paul's day faced similar things that we currently face. No, perhaps not a pandemic but they were living amidst various untreatable diseases and as ungodly and coercive a culture as us.

Ephesians 5:15 So then, be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

We're living in an evil age (which is always true, btw). Our society takes a belligerent stand against pretty much everything God says about Him, His Son, His authority, what is good and evil, marriage, male and female, sin and hell, Jesus' death and resurrection. So be careful.

Our culture hyper-aggressively uses every means to hammer us into its God-forsaking image. So be careful.

The devil deceives us. The world conforms us. Our flesh misguides us. So be careful.

For your sakes but also for the sake of the mission of the church and for those you love and influence. "Be careful how you walk, not as unwise people but as wise for the days are evil."

Ephesians 5:17 Therefore do not be foolish [don't act in ignorance, don't be stupid], but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Don't be foolish, know what the will of God is. This doesn't mean you need to know specific details like what school you have to go to and who you're going to marry, but know what pleases God.

Be in His Word. Know God's heart. Know what Jesus is doing in the world. Know His plan for His church. Value the mature Christian life.

Learn from the Bible rather than culture what is good and evil, truth and error, sin and righteousness.

Read God's Word so that we know when His Spirit leads.

Notice the contrasts: Don't be unwise, be wise. Don't be foolish, but understand the will of God…

Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, in which there is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

Some wine is fine. But too much wine, drunkeness, controls us, we're succumb under its influence rather than the Spirit's. You can say the same about rage, fear, shame, bitterness. Don't let these control you but rather be controlled, influenced, filled with the Spirit.

Be filled with the Spirit. This is a Present Passive Command.

It's in the present tense: do this now.

Yet it's in the passive mood: YOU don't do it, it's done to you. So it's not "fill yourself" but "be filled", in other words, allow yourself be filled with the Spirit.

This is in the imperative voice; it's a command, an exhortation. And it's rather obvious but don't miss the point that it is God who commands us to be filled, we don't command Him to "Fill me up!"

The Greek πληρόω is "to be filled" but also "to be influenced." So let yourself be fully influenced, led, and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Don't look for an emotion, but trust in the Person of God. This is more relational than mystical.

This is more about love for Jesus, trust and humility.

The Holy Spirit never promises to fill those who shout, "Fill me, Holy Spirit." But He will lead those who love Jesus and understand God's will and step out with a humble readiness to follow.

So... be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another [notice we prepare for the Spirit's filling in the context of community, worshiping, and speaking to one another] in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord.

We prepare for the Spirit's filling in the context of community, worshiping, and speaking to one another.

Just as we each don't have every spiritual gift, we don't know all truth. We need to be taught and reminded about Jesus and the riches of God's grace. We need be encouraged to believe, and cheered on to follow Him. And while God speaks in many ways, one sure way is through His people.

As we read these verses, What steps you can take? What are some thing you might do if you wish to be led by the Spirit?  

First, the focus of our relationship is with the Father through Jesus. In a sense, love Jesus and the rest will fall into place.

But from Ephesians 5, one step is to recognize the days are evil. And this requires more than you trying to be a good/strong person. COVID sucks. Culture is aggressively controlling. It's like 5 degrees. Life is hard. Loving is hard. We need the Holy Spirit.

Another step to prepare us to follow the Spirit is to understand God's Will. Know what pleases God. Know what He's doing in the world. Know where He's leading. Know Him and see the beauty in Him. Why would He have you love or forgive or be patient when you want to get even or get away? This is His heart. His character that He's forming you into. Read His Word. Understand God's will so that you recognize and say yes to the Holy Spirit.

Third, participate with a church that worships the LORD, loves His grace, and preaches the Word of Christ. God's Word given voice in a community of believers prepares us to let the Spirit lead us. Stay connected to this church. In person. Online. One on one.

The church gathered. Worship. Teaching God's Word. It's not a coincidence that the very things God says are essential, the world deems nonessential. But notice the common denominator for the Spirit to fill or lead is God's Word.

In a parallel letter, right where Paul tells the Ephesians to be filled with the Spirit, he tells others to be filled with the Word of Christ by the same means,

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Knowing God's Word isn't the same as being filled with God's Spirit, but it is related.

As we meet with Jesus in His Word and we understand His will (what He wants for us), and as the word of Christ richly dwells within us, in part because we participate in a community that is generous with God's truth and grace these are definite steps we can take to be filled with God's Spirit.

In part because these stoke our love for Jesus. And it's as we love Jesus and desire to obey Him that we are filled with His Spirit. And as we trust this and rely on His Spirit that we walk by the Spirit.