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Living by the Spirit or Loafing in my spirit?

Speaking in tongues! Hearing the inward voice of God! Giving a word of prophecy! Experiencing spectacular guidance! Doing wonders! Emotional ecstasy! This is what Spirit-led life is to many Christians. But is this what all walking in the Spirit is? While I am not against all these manifestations, however, I have to honestly admit of witnessing sheer carnality among many who emphasize on being led by the Spirit according to the description given above.

In our era of ignorance about the right understanding of Spirit-led life we need God’s word to remind us about what it is to walk in the Spirit. Allow me to share just few thoughts I have learned from the word of God.

In Galatians 5:16, Paul exhorts, “So I say live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” Why do you think Paul wrote these words? He mentioned in the preceding verse, “But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another” (v15). The reason Paul exhorted the people of God to live by the Spirit is crystal clear. To live a Spirit-led life is to live a peaceful life with others.

It confuses me when I see people claim of being led by the Spirit, yet manifest no visible signs of conviction and repentance when they gossip, lie, outburst in anger, walk in bitterness, greed, pride and envy. I think it is loafing in our spirit in the name of living by the Holy Spirit.[1] I strongly believe, the Holy Spirit is “Holy” and the very first thing He does is to convict us of our sins against God and people.

Paul wrote to the Romans, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, BECAUSE those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:13-14). It is sad that many take only the last few words, missing the word ‘because’, which actually gives the reason for being led by the Spirit of God.

The Spirit-led men and women are those who live a life by crucifying the misdeeds of the body, the desires of the sinful nature, namely— hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, disputes, eagerness for lustful pleasure, impure thoughts, etc. (Gal. 5:19-21)

Make a note that these are the destructible sins which often hinder our healthy relationship with God and people. So, we are commanded to be led by the Spirit to overcome these evil desires. May we examine ourselves: Am I truly led by the Spirit of God? Do I pray to God to constantly fill me with His Holy Spirit with right Scriptural understanding? What is my ultimate purpose in seeking to live a Spirit-filled life?

Paul counseled the Ephesians, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit” (5:18). In other words, “Be under the full control of the Holy Spirit.” In what context did Paul write these words? Reading the Scripture from 5:1-21 teaches us about the necessity of our holy conduct before God and people by living under the control of the Holy Spirit. Do you know, when we forgive the one who offended us, encourage the weak, correct the wrong person in love, help the needy, make every effort to live at peace with others, we display the signs of Spirit-led life?

I have learned that one may speak in tongues, emphasize on hearing God and on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, yet may not be a genuine Spirit-led person. Remember, living a Spirit-filled life isn’t just about walking in the supernatural but also how we get along with others in our normal, everyday life. Being “led by the Spirit” primarily means ‘living a holy and loving life by not yielding to the desires of the sinful nature which wrecks our relationship with God and people.’

Let us reflect on what Paul wrote, “But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23 NLT). May the Lord mercifully help us to have the right understanding and practice of a Spirit-led life!

[1] I don’t mean living a Spirit-led life is a life of perfection. To live by the Spirit is to live a life of ongoing repentance and progressive transformation into the likeness of Christ.


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