Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Walking in the Spirit and Living in a Divine Reality


A young man is drafted by the Army in 1967. After his basic training he is sent to South Vietnam and there he sees combat. Some of friends die right in front of him, but he makes it to his final day. But on his final day, while on patrol, his unit runs into a fierce fire fight with the Viet Cong. Many in his unit are killed, and he sees some of his fellow soldiers literally blown to bits. Blood is everywhere, soldiers are screaming, the sound is deafening, and the smell of gunpowder permeates the atmosphere.

Somehow reinforcements arrive and the Viet Cong are forced to retreat. Several hours later this man is transported by helicopter to an air base and he boards a plane to the United States. In a little more than 24 hours he steps down off the plane and he is walking the streets of Los Angeles. Just 24 hours ago he saw inconceivable mayhem and he was filled with mortal terror, but now he is sees stores and cars and smiling people. He has been pulled out of one reality and dropped into another.

Many soldiers cannot cope with such a massive reality transition, and many turn to alcohol, drugs, and even suicide. Many soldiers come home, sit down on their couch, invite their children upon their laps, and visions of Vietnamese children attack their minds. Many of us cannot comprehend such emotions and struggles. But to be transitioned from one reality so violent and confusing and filled with terror, and then asked to calmly become acclimated into a reality without those things is asking a lot. But in order to live in this reality soldiers must leave the other reality which is most difficult for anyone.

Gal.5: 16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Gal.5: 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Rom.8: There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

We are exhorted and commanded to walk in the Spirit. Most believers never explore, much less seek, the meaning and the reality of walking in the Spirit. We all live in the flesh and the reality of this present world. But as Paul says we must not only live in the Spirit, which is the glory of our redemption, but we must also walk in the same Spirit. I am not speaking of some self serving experience that sees angels and hears God audibly and shares it so as to draw attention to yourself. I am speaking of walking in a different reality that dies to self and understands all things through the Spirit.

Our flesh loves this present world and so often we have drudged on and on in the flesh with only a few respites in the Spirit perhaps on Sunday mornings. But to walk in the Spirit takes you from the fallen reality of this present world and ushers you into the reality of Christ and His eternal redemption. Although it is accompanied by emotions of every sort, it goes way beyond emotion…way beyond. In fact, walking in the Spirit can only be understood by believers that have done just that.

Consumption of the Word and supported by a life of prayer are the portals through which you can walk into the reality of the Spirit. It makes the Holy Spirit much more than a doctrine. The Holy Spirit becomes a friend, a guide, a power, and a tangible reservoir whose name is Christ. How can I communicate how a person can know about Christ, and then know Christ intimately, and then walk in Him? It is a special place which ministers an intimacy unknown to most believers. I am not attempting to sound spiritually urbane and accomplished. On the contrary, I only wish I would walk in the Spirit with a greater consistency.

Yes, we are all so prone to walk in the religious flesh and believe we have fulfilled a religious obligation. Millions upon millions of professing believers think that supporting moral causes or defending Biblical doctrines define walking in the Spirit. They are sadly mistaken. There is a realm, a reality, which only can be known through prayer and fasting and an uncommon meditation upon the Word of the Living God. Then and only then can our minds and hearts and eyes and ears be fully disciplined and actually be surrendered prisoners of the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit emanates from an illuminated heart and increases that illumination step by step. Have you ever experienced an entire day or a part of a day where you literally felt like you were floating? Have you ever looked at people with a divine love regardless of what kind of sinner they were? Has the Word of Life ever been so alive in your soul that your mind keeps feeding you verse upon verse all throughout the day? Have you ever felt so close to the Lord that you speak to Him without any thought of it being “prayer”? Have you ever experienced a phenomenon that sees the world as performing on a stage and you were the audience?

When we walk in the Spirit our own lives seem insignificant and all that matters is Him. A few days after I was saved in March of 1975 I was walking down one of the most openly sinful places on the planet in New York City and all I could feel was love for each and every sinner. I could not explain it, and I had walked down that street in Manhattan many times before, however this was amazing. I sometimes believe that we have allowed the cares of this world as well as the cares of the church to cloud out the Spirit. We are encumbered by many things and people and events consume our thoughts.

But in the Spirit there is freedom…wonderful freedom. This freedom does not come from any system of government. It does not come from the Constitution. This freedom comes from Christ, and the wind of the Spirit blows into our hearts and suddenly all worry is gone even if by earthly standards we should worry. This is why people would ask us about the hope within us. Do we wonder why people do not ask us that question? Could it be that we do not walk in the Spirit?

And so to return to my first analogy this Vietnam veteran left one reality and began walking into another. And so it must be with believers in Jesus Christ. Leaving this present reality and beginning to walk in an eternal reality of the Spirit is not easy. It requires a relentless desire and an unquenchable thirst. This present reality has so much to offer, but the reality of the Spirit offers that which human hands have not made and human minds cannot conceive. But most professing believers walk in this temporal reality.

They are consumed with the temporal. They complain about money and the price of everything. They rigorously debate politics. They are emotionally attached to their national origin. They are primarily entertained by secular sources. They worry about almost anything. And Sunday morning is usually the only time where their thought processes are altered temporarily. As Dr. R. G. Lee used to say, “A shallow stream of piety that runs a fresher course on Sabbath mornings.”

But to be sure walking in the Spirit does not come with any amount of spiritual laziness or a resignation to a redundant lifestyle where prayer and fasting are historical events and God’s Word is used more for proof of orthodoxy rather than being consumed voraciously. Most of the church has been so assimilated by the culture that it no longer even knows what walking in the Spirit really is, and it no longer pursues that about which it is ignorant. In fact, how can it? We are more concerned with who we are doctrinally than we are walking in the Spirit.

But there is a reality, a realm, where the flesh dies and the fragrance of eternity not only permeates the human heart, but it takes hold of that heart and fills it with Jesus. And in that reality the things you already knew about Jesus become so fresh and so new that they literally affect your mind, body, and soul. It is difficult to fully convey or even define what takes place within a believer when he is walking in the Spirit and not just walking as a saved sinner. We have heard the phrase “crucified with Christ” and yet how many professing believers investigate what that really means to say nothing of relentlessly pursue its reality? Isn’t this why a church which numbers in the tens of millions can practice their religion, live and work within a dark culture, and yet have so little influence? Could this be why the world sees us as a political force rather than luminescent representatives of Jesus? Could this be why the church lives a reactionary existence rather than a spiritual reality that lives, breathes, and speaks of Jesus and His everlasting gospel?

We have left our first love but we have deceived ourselves into believing we still love and follow Jesus. And “walking in the Spirit” is now seen as some charismatic experience rather than a life changing reality that illuminates the inner man in places we could never have known. This isn’t about tongues or praise music or, God forbid, moral and political causes. This is about a self denying sacrifice which surrenders completely to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and translates a believer into an eternal reality which transfixes his heart and soars way beyond his own ability to adequately describe. In fact, there are times in the Spirit where you yourself cannot fully understand what is happening within you.

And the question is this: Are we content with the spiritual life we now have, or do we know there is much more and do we desire to enter into an eternal reality which God’s Word says is “walking in the Spirit”. Remember this: Even if you desire more and know that there must be more, if you can be stopped from walking in the Spirit…you will be.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It has been said by many believers, that financial debt is a hindrance to spiritual growth. Jesus did tell us that we cannot serve both God and money. I personally did find that eliminating financial debt enabled me to experience the bible more fully, to literally 'take God seriously'. I suppose there are many things that hinder our ability to walk in the spirit, especially the unwillingness to die to self. I have mentioned that the church I attend does not preach the cross enough - the response I received from some of my fellow attendees was that it preaches too much of the cross and not enough on personal development / enrichment. Sad to say, it seems not that we are hindered from walking in the spirit, but many believers are actively avoiding that path.