WALKING WITH THE SPIRIT
Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara. Henry Winkler as Fonzie. Some actors are so closely tied to certain characters you cannot imagine any other person filling that role. There are actors who perform their roles with such impact they have difficulty finding other roles that vary in personality.
This is called being typecast. The audience has a tough time accepting some performers in any role that is different from what they are accustomed to.
For Christians, we are never called to play a character in our walk with the Lord. We are called to have character. Too often church members play the role of Christian without displaying or producing a genuine, godly life.
What can we do to remedy this dilemma? Fortunately we have help available through the Holy Spirit. Because of His presence and indwelling in our lives, we can exercise our faith in real and tangible ways. It is sad to say, but when was the last time you heard a political candidate promote character, morals and integrity? Those words may be antiquated now, but they still matter to God.
Walking by the Spirit keeps us from fulfilling sinful desires. (16–18)
In this section of Scripture, Paul employs several words indicating a forward direction. Terms such as “walk,” “led by” and “keep in step” paint a picture for the reader of an active relationship with the Lord. As an active believer, Paul reminds us that by walking with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will no longer do what we want.
Rather, we will learn to depend on the Spirit’s leading. This is our greatest and most perpetual struggle in life. Will we follow the leading of the Spirit or our own desires? We each have a choice every day which direction to go and which voice to heed.
Walking in the flesh leads to sinful behavior. (19–21)
You read in these verses a lengthy list of sins. These “acts of the flesh” are shameful, sinful and wicked.
You and I both are guilty of some things on this list. For non-Christians, these acts prohibit them from inheriting the kingdom of God. These willful and disobedient acts are the result of living in the flesh and desiring to fulfill the appetites of the flesh. The only natural end of flesh is death. There is no hope without life in Christ.
Walking by the Spirit produces Christlike character. (22–25)
The first word you see in verse 22 is the word “but.” Often in Scripture when you see this word something bad has just been revealed; however, something better is coming. In this case it is the fruit of the Spirit. For the Christian we will have the Holy Spirit to convict us and to give us resources to combat sin. With the fruit of the Spirit as a reality and daily guide, we will make better choices.
Do you have a problem with anger? The answer is self-control. Wrestling with hate? Joy and love are available. Like gardens bearing their produce, ask yourself, “What am I planting and what is my life producing?” Take a walk in your spiritual garden and see what needs tending.
By Bobby McKay
Bobby McKay is the pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Brookhaven, Mississippi.