In Step with the Spirit
How’s your walk?
God calls his children to walk in the light and not in darkness (Eph 5:8). It is not his will that we wander through this life and get tripped up by our sinful desires. We want to keep in step with God by watching carefully where we put our feet and following the lead of the one who commands us. This truth is seen in the exhortation of Galatians 5:25,
Let us walk in the Spirit.
The Greek word for ‘walking’ is a colourful image. It describes the kind of walking that is done in an ordered line, stepping according to a pattern. It is moving under the control of someone else. Maybe you’ve been to a parade and you’ve seen a marching band moving crisply down the street, walking in perfect time.
As another example, think about a battalion of soldiers marching in formation. The soldiers listen to the lead of the head officer and they march in time—in step—with him. If the head officer says halt, they halt. If he says, ‘On the double,’ they get going. If he tells them to march all day and into the night, then that’s what they have to do.
We are soldiers of the King. Putting on the armour of God, we’re called to fight for God’s kingdom against our sworn enemies: the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh.
And how do we get our orders every day? Our field commander is none other than God the Holy Spirit. So we must keep in step with him! Where the Spirit commands, we have to go. What He directs, we must do: “Keep in step with the Spirit.”
This is similar to what Romans 8:9 says, “You are controlled not by the sinful nature but you are controlled by the Spirit.” The Spirit controls us—or He should control us. It should be the Spirit who is ruling our desires, managing our motivations, and setting the order for our actions.
For instance, say that you are tempted sometime this week: you’re tempted to lash out at someone at work, tempted to stay home from church on Sunday afternoon, tempted to show disrespect to your parents—think of any temptation that typically arises in your life. In that moment of temptation, are you controlled by the sinful nature, and do you surrender with barely a fight?
Or are you controlled by the Spirit, and do you listen to his good direction?
To walk in sync with the Holy Spirit requires that we stay close to him, close enough to hear his voice in the Word. This is what David prays in Psalm 143, “Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” (v. 10). God’s Spirit can help us to walk safely, to walk wisely, to walk in the right direction and on level ground. Christ sends his Spirit to lead us in the ways of truth and to guide us on the level pathways of his Word.
Today, are you in a position where you can listen to the Spirit’s commands and believe his promises? Keep in step! Don’t fall behind, or run ahead, nor take other paths, but keep in step with him. Then you’ll advance.
If you’ve been to a gym, then you’ve probably seen people on treadmills. They pound the rubber for sweaty minutes at a time, but never attain forward progress. Half an hour later, they’re still there. The Christian life shouldn’t be a treadmill where we remain in place, getting more tired by the day. God hasn’t renewed us so that we stand still, but the Spirit has his sights fixed on eternity. This is where our new life is going.
Meanwhile, the Spirit is always encouraging us: ‘Keep going!’ He says, ‘Press on!’ Each day He is broadening our step and increasing our endurance. We hear in Hebrews, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).
These words too, should make us reflect on our walk. Our days are packed full of activities and pursuits and entertainments. Let’s consider: Is this pastime or pleasure or plan really helping me to march in time with the Spirit? Or what about the friendships I have chosen? Does this person help me to keep in step?
With the time that you still have here on earth, be focused on reaching the goal. Let nothing hinder you on the journey. Get rid of everything that weighs you down. Be determined to go where Christ is leading. As the Spirit says in 1 Corinthians 9:24,
Run in such a way as to get the prize!
Let it be clear from the order and the discipline and the joy of your life that you are headed somewhere good. You’ve got your eyes on the prize, and you are determined to reach it.
So stay on the road, run the race, and go with the Spirit—every step of the way!