Walking in the Spirit

In one of the comments, someone asked:

If one finds oneself constantly failing in the Christian life (ie a constant Rom 7 experience) what should he do? How (practically) do you obey through the power of the spirit and not your own flesh?

I’m about to show you what my answer was. I wouldn’t mind some input—John C, I’d love it if you’d add to this in the comment section.

Until then, it’s my hope that this will help some. Going forward in Christ is above all a matter of knowing and pursuing him. He that wishes to please God must know that he is, the writer of Hebrews says, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.

So here’s the answer I gave:

This is a difficult question to answer from a distance.

The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. It is good to have brothers (or sisters) speaking into your life. If there’s an ongoing struggle, they can see what you’re lacking.

If you don’t have that kind of fellowship, then the question I would usually ask is what one thing that God is asking you to do.

If you don’t know, then you need to find out. It’s very hard to fix everything in your life at once. It’s much easier to know exactly what God is asking of you, work on that, then move on to the next thing he gives you as soon as he has you moving on.

For example, let’s say that I seek God, and I believe the one thing he’s got for me is to really pay attention to those that I’m with: to listen, to let there be love in my eyes, and to really seek to let Christ reach them through me while I’m with them.

Then, when a person begins to talk to me, it’s a reminder to set my eyes on God. It’s a reminder to ask God for grace, and to focus on doing his will.

That act will carry over into other parts of my life, and the successes will strengthen me and draw me closer to God.

I don’t say this out of some system I’ve developed. I say this out of what I’ve watched God do with people for 27 years. He’s always got something that he wants you to learn or change in. You’re his student, not your own, so you have to focus on what he’s focusing on.

That’s all you’ll have grace for. You won’t have grace for the lessons you’ve assigned yourself. You’ll have grace for what God is asking of you, and God only asks what he knows you can give, no matter how difficult it is.

Focus on that. Make it the goal of your life. If you fail, then repent, get up, and ask him for even more grace. God knows you may be weak and need some time, but if he’s asking something for you, it is within your power–as long as your eyes are on him.

That’s a specific answer. I have one much shorter general answer.

Walking in the Spirit means trying to keep one eye on God all the time. It means checking inside to see if God has dropped anything in your heart in every situation and conversation you find yourself in. Sometimes there will be nothing. Other times, there will be something there, and you must obey.

One obedience leads to another. He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.

We have to give ourselves time to grow. We can’t be crushed by failures. We have to allow ourselves to be forgiven by God (mercy), and we have to rely upon his help (grace).

John, a friend of mine, has a blog on this topic as well.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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6 Responses to Walking in the Spirit

  1. A common problem of ours is to decide what it is that needs to be fixed in us, or how God should be working in us. We don’t understand a lot of the time why He’s asking us to do the thing that’s in front of us, but the fact is that we won’t understand until we obey.

    We need to do what he’s telling us to do, and have faith in him that he “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy…” (Jude 1:24)

    George MacDonald puts it this way:
    “It is a happy thing for us that this is really all we have to concern ourselves about–what to do next. No man can do the second thing. He can do the first.”

  2. John Bob says:

    “Our God us abundant in pardon and always willing to love and help the repentant!”

    That statement is so awesome! My whole life I’d been taught these bogus stories of just how horribly I’ve disappointed God every time that I blow it. So I build a wall with my guilt, and He’s on the other side.

    But knowing that point number 4 is true, that our God is truly abundant in pardon, opens my eyes up to 1-3.

    I really become like a little kid when I think about all of this. It’s the best news I’ve ever heard. ALL I HAVE TO DO IS ACKNOWLEDGE THAT I MESSED UP, AND TURN AROUND AND COME BACK!

    He’s right there waiting with the grace for right now and support from His body in the earth. It’s real. He’s alive and He loves us so much!

  3. Shammah says:

    Oh, and …

    4. Our God us abundant in pardon and always willing to love and help the repentant!

  4. Shammah says:

    It’s my nature to apologize for being long-winded, but my friends here tell me I shouldn’t, so I won’t.

    You must ask good questions. This one certainly was–really important and one we can all relate to–and I made a discussion out of it even at my house to help get answers (as you can see from the post).

    It seemed really important to point out:

    1. There are answers, and grace really is sufficient for to overcome sin.

    2. It isn’t easy, and the answers aren’t simple.

    3. We can’t do it alone.

    What was the other post I responded to you with?

  5. Mark says:

    Wow, I’ve only commented twice on this blog and both times I’ve got an entire post for an answer!

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write that, Shammah, it was very helpful.

    I think I speak for many who often get discouraged in their walk with God, especially when sanctification doesn’t appear to happen over night.

  6. Shammah says:

    I asked a friend for input on this. Here’s what he said:

    “I don’t know how to answer this without discussing our circumstances here. That’s exactly the question I was asking 12 years ago.

    “The answer comes in many forms. It comes from being in gatherings and being taught and encouraged. It comes from talking with brothers and sisters. It comes from praying. It comes from reading the Scriptures. It comes in many ways.”

    I’d like to add this to my friend’s comment. That’s why the church is so important. Sure, there’s wonderful people who grow and get stronger and lead others practically on their own. Most people aren’t like that. If they’re not spoken to every day, then their heart deceives them, and they haven’t a clue what the problem is (Heb. 3:13).

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