If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. – Vs 25
The Spirit-filled life. We talk a lot about it, but how much do any of us ever really experience it? Sure, I believe in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit as much as the next guy, but when Paul says things like, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry the desire of the flesh" (Vs 16), I have to ask myself the question, "Am I really experiencing that on a daily and regular basis?" Am I seeing the fruit of the Spirit listed in verses 22-23 manifest itself in my life on an ever-increasing basis? Am I being "led by the Spirit" (Vs 18)?
These are all legitimate questions that each of us as Christians need to ask ourselves. Because the role of the Spirit in our lives is critical to our ongoing sanctification or growth in holiness. Having Christ formed in me is impossible without the Holy Spirit. So Paul tells us to "walk by the Spirit" and to "live by the Spirit." In verse 16 Paul uses a Greek word that literally means to live your life or conduct your life. The Message paraphrases verse 16 this way: "Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit." We are to "take each step of the Christian life in dependence on the Spirit to have victory over the flesh and its works" (Ryrie Study Bible notes). So when Paul says, "walk by the Spirit," he seems to be talking about our conduct or actions being motivated and directed by the indwelling Spirit of God.
In verse 25, Paul uses a different Greek word when he says, "live by the Spirit." It has to do with life and less with conduct. Paul seems to be saying that we have our new life in Christ because of the Spirit, so we should conduct or live out that life in the power of the Spirit and not our human flesh. It all goes back to the issue of salvation by faith and sanctification by faith. I can't save myself and I can't perfect myself. Both are a work of the Holy Spirit. So all those fruits Paul mentions are only available through, by, and from the Holy Spirit. As I live or conduct my life in dependence upon Him, I will see His fruit produced in my life. In verse 18 Paul says we are to be "led by the Spirit." The picture is of an owner leading its livestock in order to get it to go where he wants it to go. It means "to lead by laying hold of, and this way to bring to the point of destination." The Holy Spirit is literally taking me by the hand and guiding and encouraging me to reach the final destination He has for me: Christ-likeness.
If you look at the list in verses 22-23, they are all other-oriented. This fruit is not for me, but for others. The presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and my submission to Him will reveal itself in the way I live with and treat others. In verse 14, Paul reminds his readers of the fact that the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." And as we live out our lives in the power and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, we will show our neighbors love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fruitfulness, gentleness and self-control. They will not only see these things in our lives, but experience and enjoy them in their own lives.
We wouldn't be here if it weren't for the Holy Spirit. And we won't ever reach our final destination (Christ-likeness) without the Holy Spirit. No amount of human effort or energy will accomplish what only He can do in us. So let's let Him live out of us, not just in us. Let's rely on His power, not ours. Let's follow His leadership, not our own. Let's follow His path to our final destination instead of our own.
Father, Thank You for placing Your Holy Spirit within me. Forgive me for not allowing Him to lead me. I tend to lean on my own strength to make it through life and handle the challenges that come my way. I know where you want me to go in terms of spiritual maturity. But I try to get their own my own strength and according to my own directions. But it never works. Help me to lean on Your Holy Spirit and follow His plan, not mine. Only You can make me increasingly more like Your Son, and that is my desire. I want the fruit of the Holy Spirit's presence in my life to become evident in my life, so that I might love those around me as Christ did. Amen