Life doesn’t have the last word (when you’re walking in the spirit)
A man, blind from birth, learns of an operation that will give him the gift of sight. Encouraged by his friends and family, he undergoes the procedure. The operation is a success and for the first time in his life he can see.
However, he finds himself disoriented and confused. He recognizes nothing and is unable to process light and distance. Everything appears alien to him so he begins to walk with his eyes shut. Darkness is the world he knows and can navigate. After some time, he begins to act in every way like the blind man he used to be. Although his eyes are perfectly normal, he never uses them.
This is how it is for those of us who are born of the spirit but who have not learned how to walk after the spirit. When we were in the flesh we walked after the flesh. Spiritually dead, the natural world was the only world we knew and we relied on our five senses to live.
But when we were born again we were given a new life with new senses. Like the blind man in the story, we can now live in two worlds: the natural world and the spiritual world; the seen realm and the unseen realm (Heb 11:3).
We use our natural senses to navigate the natural world but in the spiritual world we walk by faith. It is only by faith that we can make sense of things we do not see (Heb 11:1).
The trouble is faith often runs contrary to our natural senses. This is why the Bible challenges us to live by faith rather than by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Lean on your own understanding and you will never live the abundant life that God has promised. It is only by faith that you can receive what he offers.
To walk after the flesh is to be mindful of natural things – what we see, hear, touch, etc. But to walk after the spirit means we are mindful of spiritual things – what God has said and is now saying, what God has done is now doing. I’m not talking about being born again. Your new birth was a one-time work of the Spirit (Jn 3:5). But once you have been born of the Spirit, you need to learn how to walk in the spirit. It’s a completely different way to live.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Gal 5:25)
You have a choice
The person unacquainted with the Holy Spirit cannot walk in the spirit. The natural world is the only world he knows. But when you have been born of the Spirit you have a choice. You can interpret any situation with your natural senses or with faith.
Let me illustrate. Suppose you go to the doctor and he shows you an x-ray of your brain, says you have a tumor, and tells you that you have a week to live. If the natural world is all you know, you’d better start wrapping up your affairs. Everything you have heard and seen is telling you that you’re going to die. You can choose how you’re going to die – bravely or fearfully – but that’s about the only choice you have.
The spirit-conscious person, on the other hand, has options. She will not accept the doctor’s report as the last word. She might say, “I need a second opinion. What does Dr. Jesus say?”
See what she’s doing? She’s switching her attention from the natural realm to the spiritual. She’s looked at the x-ray and now she is fixing her eyes on something unseen and eternal. Her spirit is one with the Lord and through that connection she is being reminded of life-giving promises pertaining to healing (e.g., Is 53:4, Ps 103:3).
Although she may be battling anxiety, she strives to enter that rest which is found only in Jesus. She begins to think about Jesus who carried her infirmities. And as she sets his mind on things above she begins to sense supernatural peace and faith stirring within.
When you walk according to the flesh, life always has the last word. The circumstances of your life will tell you when to be sick, poor, and anxious. Enemies of sickness and poverty will seek to rob you of your appetite, sleep, and joy.
But when you walk according to the spirit you will find yourself talking back to your circumstances. You’ll argue with doctors. You’ll speak to your bank account. You may even shout at sickness.
If you think that’s weird, consider Jesus. He spoke to trees and storms and said we’d speak to mountains! The spirit-conscious believer talks back because she knows that life does not have the last word. She refuses to let her circumstances dictate her actions.
Walk the talk
Learning how to walk is a skill. It takes practice. In my next article I’ll give you some examples of walking in the spirit from the Bible and then I’ll give you three keys from Watchman Nee help you on your way. But I know you can’t wait. You want to know how to walk in the spirit now. Here’s the short version:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Pro 3:5-6, NIV)
The operative word in this passage is “acknowledge.” It does not mean tipping your hat to Jesus whenever you go charging off on a scheme of your own invention. Neither is it saying “I want to thank the Lord Jesus” in all the victory speeches of life. Acknowledging the Lord means knowing him in all your ways. Here’s the same verse in a literal translation:
In all thy ways know thou him, and he doth make straight thy paths. (Pro 3:6, YLT)
When the doctor has just pronounced the sentence of death, you want to know the Lord – what does he say on the matter? It’s his word that counts.
When you’ve been offered a promotion or you’ve just met the perfect man or woman and it all seems good to you, you want to know the Lord – what does he think about this?
The spirit-conscious believer is not the slightest bit interested in what her experience or natural understanding is telling her. Her sole desire is to know and follow Jesus.
Knowing the Lord as you walk through life will make a crooked path straight.
When you know the Lord you’ll walk through the valley of shadow without fear. You’ll feast in the presence of your enemies.
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This is probably the best one I have read yet. Thank you.
Very very insigtful. The full meaning of proverbs 3vs 5-6 has just been opened up to me despite reading it for many years. Thank you.
Good post! The difference between spiritual and carnal living is that faith requires God to put blinders on us. That walk is the birth of our faith. Trusting only in what we hear (God’s word) and not by what we see. Through that walk the Lord teaches us obedience.
Blessings to you.
As always, it was an excellent post, Paul. Interestingly, this is what I taught my congregation yesterday before I read this. It’s always cool to get confirmation to what we believe the Lord is teaching us….that we then example and teach.
Excellent Paul! One of the best I ever read yet! Our biggest challenge in the Christian walk is not sin but carnality.
Ever since stumbling upon your site (and not a coincidence, I believe), I find myself using your writings as one of my sources for spiritual feeding, and as an excellent reference for sermon preparations. Your thoughts are a great blessing to my family’s ministry. Indeed, we continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord as we behold Him. Shalom from the Philippines!
This was very helpful! Loved it!
This was very helpful !! Loved it. Knowing Jesus throughout my challenge.
I am sooo glad that I came across your post on “how to walk in the flesh”. I have been getting answers to questions that I have been asking and then some. I am devouring as much information and spiritual food as I can eat. The body of Christ need these truths…very basis…easy to understand…easily grasped…able to apply the lessons learnt.
That blind guy you talked about at the beginning could easily describe my current situation. I was given the truth, taught that only God can have the final say in my life. But when things got too tough I quit believing and went back to walking by sight.
But I thank God for leading me here. Your post has really reaffirmed me, I gotta repent and turn back to Jesus. Thank you Paul.
This is exactly what I was looking for in my daily life to grow deeper in my walk with the almighty Christ Jesus our saviour. My eyes once again have been enlightened in j the most delightful way. And for that I’m grateful.Jil
Wow! This is one of my best encouragement, God Bless you
I came to discover this page when I was given a scripture in my secret place which was Hebrews 4:11. And as I prayed asking God to reveal the meaning of this scripture and how I should apply it to my life, surpringly I came across your teachings Paul, I thank God for the revelations and I bless Him for your life. May He richly bless you. Thank you so much
This is the perfect response for those who say Grace teachers promote (or at least don’t preach against) sin. If I’m angry at someone, or they’ve offended me, I can try (unsuccessfully) to stop feeling that way. If I’m addicted to something, I can try to overcome on my own power. However, by meditating on God’s Word, I suddenly find that the Holy Spirit makes the necessary change in me. The goal is achieved, but not by my own efforts.
I’m always saddened by the “workers of iniquity” who “take God’s name in vain.” So many times I’ve heard people credit God with a change in their life or a decision they’ve made when it actually came from their own efforts. When it proves to be temporary, it makes it look as though God let them down. In that vein, how many church buildings have been built that God was given credit for, but then the church leaders find they can’t make the mortgage payment and go into default. It would be be better if the pastor had been straight up and stated “Thanks be to our bank, we’re going to build our new church!”
No wonder there’s so much confusion among believers…
When baptism of the Holy Spirit happens to a believer? Is it when he gets saved or later after he gets saved?
LT when you were awakened to the truth that there is a loving God, who is convincing you that He is real, and drawing you by His Spirit to Himself. When you know that Jesus is the Saviour of the world, that there’s no other way only Jesus, and you belong to Him, then you have been baptized in the Holy Spirit, (ie you have taken that truth to heart and the Holy Spirit now dwells in you).
If we believe what God says about our salvation, then we have been baptized in His Spirit. If you want to have certain gifts like speaking in tongues etc, then ask your Heavenly Father for them, but please don’t doubt for a minute that you do not have His Spirit dwelling in you.
The followers of John the Baptist were ‘baptized’ to show they were his ‘disciples’, meaning, they believed in and received his teaching of repentance.
These are my thoughts LT, it has saddened me that many believers are so worried that they haven’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit and think they are somehow lesser believers. Not true. God is good and you are looking for something you already have. Let His Spirit guide you and trust your heart. Peace.
Hey Paul. I’m catching up on some of the older posts. You mentioned “ I’m going to give you three keys to help you on your way” but I can’t seem to find that one. Any help? Thank you!
Um, yes. Three keys. No idea. But it could be this.