Stage 2

Walking in the Spirit

"For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son...that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" Romans 8:3-4 (KJV).
The Bible refers to two ways a Christian can walk - in the Spirit or in the flesh. These two walks are opposed to each other (Galatians 5:17-18). These two walks cannot be mixed. You are either walking in the Spirit or you are walking in the flesh.

Walking in the Flesh

The word "flesh" has the meaning of "self." To be living "in the flesh" involves three areas:

The Carnal Mind

"Those who live according to the [flesh] have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires...the [flesh] is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so" Rom.8:5,7.
The carnal mind - which is the stronghold of the flesh - is a mind governed by the five senses (what we see, hear, touch, taste and smell). The spiritual mind, however, is governed by what God says about a situation. One example of this is the story of the 12 spies in Numbers 13:17-14:11.

The ten spies were governed by a carnal mind. They believed what they saw. They fed their minds with it, and the result was unbelief. They fed their emotions with it, and the result was fear. They fed their wills with it, and the result was rebellion.

Joshua and Caleb saw exactly the same things as the others, but had different reactions because they had a different kind of mind. They believed in God's word. They fed their minds with it, and the result was faith. They fed their emotions with it, and the result was courage. They fed their wills with it, and the result was obedience. This is why the "renewing of our minds" (Rom.12:2) is such a high priority in God's plan for our lives.

Appetites of the Flesh

God created within the human body certain basic appetites or "hungers" for food, sex (including romance and intimacy), power (rulership and control), leisure (rest, relaxation & entertainment) and excitement (the adrenaline surge). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with these appetites. God created them in us and called them "good" (Gen.1:31). But when these appetites become our masters (2 Peter 2:19), they become "the corrupt desires of the flesh" (2 Peter 2:10,18-22; Gal.5:19-21).

The Arm of Flesh

"This is what the Lord says: 'Cursed is the one who depends on man, who depends on flesh for his strength...'" Jer.17:5 (read verses 6-8).
The walk of the flesh is not just having a carnal mind and giving in to the appetites of the flesh. It is also depending on flesh (your own strength) to change yourself and try to please God. But there are two basic problems with fleshly self-effort:

The Normal Christian Life

What is the normal Christian life? Many Christians think that Romans 7:15-23 describes God's plan for our lives, but this is not so! The context of these verses reveal that, rather than being the normal Christian life, this is a description of the normal fleshly life - the life of someone living under the law, struggling to please God through self-effort.
"For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code" Romans 7:5-6.
The Holy Spirit is the new factor in the Christian life! Romans 8:1-2 calls this new factor "the law of the Spirit of life [which has] set me free from the law of sin and death". The Bible is absolutely clear about this new life we have in Christ. Read the following verses:

Born of the Spirit

"Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again'" John 3:6.
Everything in the Christian life comes through the Holy Spirit. We were "born again," not through our own self-effort, but through the power of the Spirit (Ephesians 2:8-9). The problem is that many Christians, having been born into God's family through the Holy Spirit, think that now they have to live the rest of their Christian lives through self-effort (read Gal.3:1-3).

Walking in the Spirit

"So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the [flesh]" Galatians 5:16.
We are not to try to overcome the desires of the flesh in order to walk in the Spirit. No! We are called to walk in the Spirit so that we will not gratify the desires of the flesh! It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who enables us to walk daily with God (2 Cor.3:17-18). Walking in the Spirit involves three steps: Walking in the Spirit only happens when God changes your focus from yourself (the flesh) to Himself (the Spirit) (read Rom.8:5-9). As you keep your focus on the Lord each and every day, walking in the Spirit becomes a daily experience.


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