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  • Michael Shawn Carbaugh II

Archive: What does it even mean to walk in the Spirit?

to walk 6/18/2015

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." -Galatians 5:16

I was reading in my study of Galatians today, and I found myself burdened down by exactly what Paul describes as "the lust of the flesh". I felt defeated and worthless. To be honest, I still feel like that. I know there are others who feel the same as me. I am very aware that the vast majority of us have felt like this before and probably even feel like that now. Our broken, distorted, tainted lives weigh down on us, and when we sin, when we fulfill the lust of our flesh we reject Christ's advise to cast that weight onto Him. Without "casting our cares onto Him" (1 Peter 5:7), we are left with the crushing weight of our wrongdoings. In Galatians 5, Paul begs people that have become stuck under this weight to embrace the liberty that we have in Christ and walk in the Spirit instead of living by our own power by trying to follow a law. However, he reminds them that freedom from standards does not give us the right to go around sinning and doing whatever we feel like. Instead our liberty gives us the opportunity to love and serve others and avoid the weight that comes from giving into the flesh. "For, Brethren, ye have been called unto liberty, only use not your liberty as an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another." (Galatians 5:13) Paul says in Galatians 5:16 that the way to avoid living by the flesh is to live by the Spirit. Now "live by the Spirit" seems like an obscure phrase. The entirety of the phrase is something that impacts every part of the way we live our lives. It literally means to give God control of our lives. That's a great mindset to have, and a beautiful precept to believe, but it's hard for me to apply it to my life; so let me just talk about one aspect that struck me about this today. A few months ago I attended a leadership conference at my college, Cedarville University. The first meeting was optional, but I skipped a class to attend it (that did not go over well). Anyway, at this meeting those who attended (it was a small crowd) took a test about leadership. The DISC test is essentially a personality test designed to show you how you lead, relate to others, deal with conflict, etc. The thing I found most interesting about the test was the part that talked about how different personality types handle conflict. My top to responses (according to the test) were to shut down and withdraw. It struck me that my first response to issues is definitely to withdraw. Ask any of my close peoples and they will tell you the same thing. I'm an incredibly introspective person (that's why I write music) and the first thing I do when I do something wrong or when I'm conflicted about anything is retreat within myself and try to pick it apart. I like to figure things out (that's why I'm a nerd). I tell you these things because I realized that, ironically, my first response to my sin is to retreat into myself, thereby disconnecting myself with the Spirit. That's exactly what Paul is telling us not to do. See, to walk in the Spirit is to stay connected with God all the time. That means you pray, even when you feel ashamed. That means to read your Bible, even when you can't hear God's voice. That means to remember that God is living right there with you (in you, in fact, if you are a Christian), even when your schedules full and you need more than 24 hours per day. If you're like me, we need to change our response to sin. In fact, even if you're not like me and your first response is something else, you may still need to change your response. Our first response to sin should be to connect with God. In fact, our first response to anything should be to connect with God. It's not like He doesn't tell us that: "Submit yourselves therefore to God (Walk in the Spirit). Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (don't fulfill the lust of the flesh) Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you." -James 4:7-8 Maybe, if we change our response to sin we won't sin as much in the first place. Maybe if we stay connected with God even when it's hard, we will walk in His Spirit like we are called to do. -Michael Shawn

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