Filled with the Spirit and walk by the Spirit are intertwined. Carnality and spirituality are opposite powers at work within the believer.
I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law (Galatians 5:16-18).
Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-8).
This section could be called “The Spirit and the Flesh” since every Christian experiences this inner struggle between the two, even the apostle Paul (Romans 7:14-23). The world, the flesh and the Devil are foes of the freedom bestowed by Christ and the Spirit. Each wants the believer under its control and influence.
However, the sincere child of God has the desire to do the will of God at all times; the problem is doing it. Beware of instant fixes; there is no sudden leap from carnality to spirituality taught in the Scriptures. Spirituality is a result of walking by the Spirit, which is following the leading of the Spirit.
As we have seen, baptism with the Spirit, indwelling and sealing occur once in every believer, never to be repeated. However, the by-product of being filled with the Spirit is to walk by the Spirit. Both are needed for the Spirit-controlled life. On the flipside, the desire to walk by the Spirit paves the way to being filled with the Spirit.
“Walk” is the Greek verb peripatew (peripateo), which means to make one’s way, to progress; to make due use of opportunities, to regulate one’s life, to conduct one’s self, or to live. Many modern translations translated this verb as “live.” Believers are commanded to:
1. Walk in the Spirit, Galatians 5:16
2. Walk worthy of God or the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Colossians 1:10
3. Walk worthy of their calling, Ephesians 4:1
4. Walk as children of the light, Ephesians 5:8
Those who do not walk as directed by the apostles are to be avoided.
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us (2 Thessalonians 3:6).
To walk by the Spirit is to put an end to walking according to the flesh.
For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh,
but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Romans 8:3-9 KJV).
The Bible never has anything good to say about the flesh—the sinful nature—the carnal nature. In this life, we cannot escape the presence of the flesh, but we can be victorious over it.
For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way, since the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:35).
Walking by the Spirit starts with a knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. True knowledge of God makes the believer humble, desiring to be submissive to His will.
“Taking every thought captive” denotes the intent of the mind or will to obey Christ. The gospel of God as explained by Paul, in the book of Romans, begins and ends with obedience to Christ. The apostle defines the gospel as “the obedience of faith.”
We have received grace and apostleship through Him to bring about the obedience of faith among all the nations, on behalf of His name (Romans 1:5).
Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the sacred secret kept silent for long ages, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God, to advance the obedience of faith among all nations—to the only wise God, through
Jesus Christ—to Him be the glory forever! Amen (Romans 16:25-27).
All the believer’s plans should be controlled by the will of Christ, and formed and executed under the Spirit’s control—as captives are led by a conqueror. All the emotions and feelings of the heart should be controlled by Him, and led by Him as a captive is led by a victor.
At this very point, the adversary will attack, attempting to recapture the intent of the mind and the will. In order to walk by the Spirit, the believer must be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Strength and power come from putting on the whole armor of God and praying in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18).
We receive Christ by faith; we walk by faith. Since everything we receive from God for spiritual life comes by faith, “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).
The Christian is to live by faith, trusting in the trustworthiness of God Himself and His Word. This can be illustrated by a train. Let us call the engine or locomotive fact—the fact of God’s promises found in His Word. The coal car we call faith—our trust in God and His Word.
The caboose we call feelings . . . they come along in the life of faith and obedience, but we should never depend on feelings or look for them (Bright, The Holy Spirit: The Key to Supernatural Living, 69)