Walking By The Spirit
These notes from Paul Tothill are based a version of his message preached at Gateway Church on 17/2/19.
Over the last two weeks we have spoken about “Leaving our father’s house” and developing a culture of honour that leads to unity. To be able to come into these practical faith realities, and establish these cultures that are expressions of the Holy Spirit we need to be those who know how to walk by the Spirit.
There is no doubt that living by the flesh as the Bible calls it- a pattern of thinking associated with our old sin nature and this world- will hinder us in successfully fulfilling these realities and develop this kind of culture that attracts increased activity of the Kingdom realm in our midst. As the letters to the church tell us the flesh produces a culture of the flesh. What we sow we reproduce. Instead of living by the flesh, our old way living we are invited to live by the Spirit in the very same way that Jesus did and the early apostles did.
Walking by the Spirit produces its own supernatural evidence or fruit in our lives. This is God’s grace working in us and through us. Paul tells us we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, meaning with a genuine reverence before God and a love and adoration towards Him. We are to work out the new life God has placed in us through His grace, the indwelling Holy Spirit, who has the power to keep us free, transform our lives and reveal the power of the Gospel to others.
THE KEYS JESUS TAUGHT US
There is little doubt that Paul the apostle revealed this revelation of Jesus Christ to the church. This is the central theme of his apostolic teaching to the churches. His whole focus was Jesus and His desire to be like Him. As a follower of Jesus Paul wanted to live just as Jesus taught and lived.
Today, I want to be very practical in reminding us that we are to walk in the Spirit and give some keys how we walk in the Spirit. For myself, when I get consumed with thoughts that I should not be giving power and time to I always come back to this teaching. We need to be reminded of it often until we are established in it as the normal culture of how we live.
Then Jesus exclaimed, “Father, thank you, for you are Lord, the Supreme Ruler over heaven and earth! And you have hidden the great revelation of your authority from those who are proud and wise in their own eyes. Instead, you have shared it with these who humble themselves. Yes, Father, your plan delights your heart, as you’ve chosen this way to extend your kingdom- by giving it those who have become like trusting children. You have entrusted me with all that you are and all that you have."
Through our salvation we have been joined as one with the Father in the Son. We have been brought into a deep intimate relationship with the Father. We are each members of God’s family. By faith, we are sons in God’s house. In the same way Abraham had to leave his father’s house we need to do the same. We are no longer outsiders. We are insiders. Living in our heavenly Father’s house, His words and His authority frame our thoughts and create in us new patterns of thinking and new cultures so that we are living free and powerful, self-governing and responsible. Like Jesus, in Christ, we have received the same trust that Jesus spoke of above.
Notice that humility and childlike faith are keys to receiving God’s revelation. Humility in the sense of understanding who you are before God and a desire to learn and trust God at what He says as true as our faith reality. As we will see, practicing relational intimacy with God produces humility of heart and childlike faith.
God’s words are the expression of God himself. His words and His person are one. We cannot separate them out. God’s words are never inconsistent with His character. In fact, they reveal His character. If we love God we will love His words as truth. And the word for truth means reality. God’s word properly revealed to our heart is how things really are from God’s eternal point of view. That is the perspective and world view we are to live from.
We live in a modern world of subjective truth. Truth and reality is determined by what we or I say it is, or what culture says it is. That is what “subjective” means. God’s truth will challenge that subjective self- truth- what you have been conditioned to believe as true from a self-life and worldly point of view. What you learnt in the world will oppose God’s words. So, you will have an internal conflict when the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart when you hear the eternal words of God’s truth as your new reality. God’s word is powerful. It is like a double-edged sword, a hammer and a fire. It pierces, pulls down, heals, establishes, liberates and sets passions on fire!
According to scripture, only one truth, only one reality will prevail when all is said and done. That is why we have been given the Holy Spirit who is Holy and the Spirit of Truth who will teach us and show us God’s truth, His reality of how things really are. Therefore, Jesus says that “loving me empowers you to obey my teaching”. Obeying Jesus means obeying His words and walking with the Holy Spirit that keeps us free and powerful. Only God’s truth can produce genuine freedom and the life we are called to live in this world. We live by God’s words of life as our reality. We let His words frame up every life situation for us and let those words become established in our hearts, by receiving them, meditating on them and acting upon them.
If God says we are loved, then we are. To deny that truth is to agree with a wrong pattern of thinking developed before we came into the Father’s house. In fact, to deny that truth is to deny God and to fall into sin. If God says we are His adopted sons who have inherited the Kingdom, and treated equally in love and value as Jesus His first- born son amongst many brothers and the Holy Spirit bears witness to that, then that is our faith reality. Period.
God connects with us where we are at, however, He deals with us on the basis of His reality, His truth, not ours. Anything that does not line up with that God-truth is not to be relied upon. We will simply rehearse our past and the thinking of the self-life or flesh. This is why the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth sets us free! When our emotions or rehearsed history yell another message that is not the words of God revealed in Jesus Christ, we have an opportunity to renew our mind and establish ourselves in God’s word and perfect will for our lives.
Jesus was the living word of God. Through relational intimacy with the Father, He took hold of and lived by every present word of God to His heart. The words He heard were the words He lived. What He heard He trusted and acted upon because He trusted and submitted Himself in love to their source- God the Father. He was completely intentional about that. He made the words of God, His father, His very life, His very person. It framed up all that He was and all that He did and how He engaged socially with the world around Him. It shaped His identity, His relationships, His purpose in life and His passions.
When Jesus was brought before Pilate and He told Him of His Kingdom, Pilate asked “So you are a king?”. According to Alan Vincent, the answer is translated in a weak sense. Instead of “You say I am” Vincent argues the proper translation should be “You bet I am” God’s eternal words became His faith and life reality that would allow Him to trust God in His suffering.
Led by the Spirit acting upon God’s words, operating in God’s perfect will, angels were constantly moving and assisting Him, in fact, they were ascending and descending upon Him. He became the living expression of God’s word and He lived completely free and powerful in a dark and religious world that was trying to work against Him. Friends, we need to start believing the Scriptures: That is our potential also in this world as we learn to walk by the Spirit.
MATTHEW 11: 27
No one fully and intimately knows the Son except the Father. And no one fully and intimately knows the Father except the Son. But the Son is able to unveil the Father to anyone he chooses.
This is a unique Father-Son operation coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor does the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself. I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.
This becomes the foundation to the next verse that we will take from the Message translation that captures what I would like to drill down on today.
Before we move on, I want you to notice something important. God knows you better than you know yourself. He is absolutely committed to championing you into all of who He created you to be and the destiny He has for you. Psalm 139 tells us that God examines our heart and knows everything about us. It was God who “knitted us together in our mother’s womb.” We are fearfully and wonderfully made to know God and reveal God through our destiny that He has already written concerning us.
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up you are still with me!
King David highly valued God’s words written about Him before He was born! What unlocks our prophetic destiny is our relational intimacy with God, creating a deep heart connection with His words as our present reality and embracing unquestionably His love towards us as we walk by the Spirit. Relational intimacy, the continual desire to live from the presence of God, to be found in the secret place, the place we are to live from into the world, is so crucial. It brings us into God’s rest and a renewed faith confidence that we trust God like a little child.
THE PROTOCOL OF RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD
The next verse that Jesus teaches us is fundamental to our life and underscores the importance of walking by the Spirit. The phrase walking by the Spirit is grounded in the Hebrew word halak.
The Hebrew word halak conveys the idea of intimacy of two people living and walking in a hand in hand relationship. God is not only very near to each of us, He wants to take up residence within us. All of us, not just in our spirit. God moves in phases towards habitation. We are not only sons in God’s house but we are His house on earth. He wants to make it fit for His habitation, a place He can rest upon us. Therefore, we need to learn to allow Him to be free and Himself with us so that we may become who God has destined us to be. His dreams for us are realised by relational intimacy with Him that are always linked to His plans and purposes into the world.
Relational intimacy with God is based on unconditional love, keeping the love connection no matter what even beyond wanting to be right. God is right all the time. But He does not tell you He is right all the time. He could tell you of your sin every day if He wanted, but the wisdom of God is that love covers a multitude of sin. He knows connection is important for our spiritual and emotional development and well-being and us learning how to live from His perfect will. God walks with us at times nurturing us as a mother and at times guiding and teaching us, and when necessary, disciplining us as a Father. He disciplines us for our own good and to cause us to live in the fullness of all His thoughts towards us which are His perfect will for us. He puts His thoughts into our heart as we walk in the Spirit!
He is holy, so we should not misunderstand His love as something weak or soft, or loose and permissive to the point of harm of self or others, but instead as meekness, and long suffering patience, just as Jesus showed us. He is pure in all of His ways. God never turns away from us, it is we who turn away from Him. He is, after all, the author and the perfector of our faith. And as His children if we are willing to walk with Him, to Halak with Him, we will share in all He has and all He has chosen for us to become and do.
OUR LOVING OBEDIENCE IS KEEPING IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT
Our task is to keep step with Him- not get ahead of Him or lagging behind Him. Not running off like an immature child thinking we know better than our Father, boxing with Him because we have been hurt by someone else, or because we did not get our own way, but with deep affection, and child-like trust walk with Him hand in hand, which I believe is a metaphor for living heart to heart.
Therefore, obedience is crucial to keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Obedience is the reality of walking in the rhythms of God’s grace. Listening to the Spirit is crucial to keeping in step with God and applying present revelation to your life. Finally, spending time and waiting on God and praying in other tongues is crucial to keeping in step with God. I will leave that teaching for another time.
KEYS OF HOW TO WALK WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Taking the people out of duty and religious practices that had little faith, Jesus breaks them out of the heavy yoke of religion and brings them into the reality of intimacy and relationship with God.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me- watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
Many believers have come to Jesus. They have been saved. That is only the beginning of the journey of learning to live free, powerful, self-governing and responsible lives. The next part is rarely practiced these days but is essential. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
Friends we need to spend time engaging God and being with God. Not on the basis that we are doing all the talking and telling God what He should do. Instead, we should be learning how to be still before the Lord and entwine ourselves deeply with Him, listening for every word He is speaking to our heart.
Part of being free is owning the condition of our heart and yielding it to the Holy Spirit to heal us and renew our thinking. This is the place where we come “as we are” and entwine ourselves as one with Jesus. This is where the Holy Spirit works deeply with us and brings us revelation and understanding.
This is where we need to understand the importance of thanking God and being grateful for all His words towards us as our present reality, even if we are not yet walking in them. It is here also that fasting and praying in other tongues becomes so crucial in our emotional and spiritual formation.
The key phrase that Jesus then develops from this place of intimacy is walk or halak with me and work with me- watch how I do it.
As we move from our place of relational intimacy – in the same way that Jesus would go up the mountain every morning to be with the Father, not because He had to, but because He wanted to - God has already set up our day for us to walk with Him. He loves this. This is the picture of Adam and Eve in the Garden. For Jesus, His day started from a place of intentional relational intimacy through prayer and waiting on God.
The presence and awareness He engaged in was carried into the market place, as He literally walked in the Spirit with God the Father into every situation God had prepared for Him to walk in. I repeat what I said last week. Habitually living from our old way of thinking will miss the God invitations and opportunities He presents to us every day. When we get up and rehearse our history in our thoughts, rehearse our worry and our fears from yesterday we miss the opportunity to shape our day with God. “His mercies are new every morning”. This is the day the Lord has made. And I will be happy and joyful in it! Every day God presents His opportunities for us to walk with Him and reveal Him as we walk in the Spirit.
God is not leading us into yesterday. He is leading us into today, the present reality of His grace and opportunities.
Our first response every morning is we give thanks to Him and honour Him with praise. We pray in other tongues, the tongues of angels and allow ourselves to be surrendered to Him. A quiet place allows this. I repeat again. We give Him all our thoughts, all our emotions, and all we are as we submit ourselves to His truths as our present realty. Faith shapes our experiences. We do not allow a single thought or emotion that is not His thought towards us to be rehearsed in our inner dialogue. We rehearse His thoughts and His truths towards us and others.
Paul clearly teaches us by the revelation of Christ Jesus that true freedom is found in the Spirit, when we halak in the Spirit and hear, receive in our heart and act upon God’s words revealed to our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Remember the Holy Spirit is Holy. He is pure. He is the Spirit of truth and He will remind us of what Jesus taught and He will show us what is to come. The Holy Spirit will also teach us and He will lead us into God’s perfect will for our lives assisted by the angelic realm. So, walking with the Holy Spirit fulfils all that Jesus said in Matthew 11.
Let me be clear, the Anointed One has set us free- not partially, but completely and wonderfully free! We must always cherish this truth and stubbornly refuse to go back into the bondage of our past.
Let’s give context to this. Verse 5 tells us:
But the Holy Spirit convinces us that we have received by faith the glorious righteousness of the Anointed One. When you’re placed into the Anointed One and joined to him, circumcision and religious obligations can benefit you nothing. All that matters now is living in the faith that is activated and brought to perfection by love.
Then Paul concludes a discussion by telling us at verse 13:
Beloved ones, God has called us to live a life of freedom in the Holy Spirit. But don’t view this wonderful freedom as an opportunity to set up a base of operations for the natural realm. Freedom means that we become so completely free of self-indulgence (self-focus- worry and fear) that we become servants of one another expressing love (God’s divine love) in all we do.
YIELDING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT- BEING FREE AND POWERFUL
As you yield freely and fully to the dynamic life and power of the Holy Spirit, you will abandon the cravings of your self-life. For your self-life craves the things that offend the Holy Spirit and hinder him from living free inside you! And the Holy Spirit’s intense cravings hinder your old self-life from dominating you! So then, two incompatible and conflicting forces within you are your self-life (your old way of thinking as the pattern you learnt in the world and your father’s house) of the flesh and the new creation life of the Spirit.
So how do we recognise the cravings of the self-life or the flesh? Paul gives us some social behaviour that flows from the heart or our subconscious mind that are no longer a part of who we are or how we choose to live.
If we choose in our freedom to see ourselves how God sees us, and we see ourselves as perfectly loved and accepted, of great value and worth to God, in fact the same value that He attributes to Himself, and we see ourselves as sons of God, as royalty, as the Holy Spirit convinces us of our righteousness we will soon see these manifestations are completely inconsistent with who we really are before God and that they are not an expression of our freedom in Christ. We are not being free and powerful when we act in this way.
So, for example when we gossip we are not being free and powerful. When we slander others, we are not being free and powerful. When we don’t forgive others or we resent others, or being divisive, or compete with others and so on we are not being free and powerful from God’s eternal perspective. These things actually grieve and hinder the Holy Spirit. This means no moving with the common practices of the world and being virtuous or self controlled.
The cravings of the self-life are obvious: Sexual immorality, lustful thoughts, pornography, chasing after things instead of God, manipulating others, hatred of those who get in your way, senseless arguments, resentment when others are favoured, temper tantrums, angry quarrels, only thinking of yourself, being in love with your own opinions, being envious of the blessings of others, murder, uncontrolled addictions, wild parties and all other similar behaviour.
When we exhibit these behaviours, we are not walking by the Spirit. The good news is, there is no need to succumb to this old way of living from our old nature or the flesh or self-life that was crucified with Jesus. As we will see, one of the most powerful fruit of the Spirit is the spirit of self-control.
In our freedom in the Spirit we have the present grace empowerment to govern our own heart empowered by the Holy Spirit- God himself working with each of us. That is the Spirit of self-control. That means I can be free powerful and responsible and govern my contrary thoughts, govern my desires, govern my emotions and govern my heart that wants me to live something other than what God declares to me to be true and my faith reality: If I choose to.
By submitting all these things to the Spirit and yielding to the Spirit’s authority and power in my freedom, I can govern what comes in and what goes out of my heart if I am willing to live intentionally and self- aware. I must choose to walk hand in hand with the Spirit and choose by an act of my will who I want to be and what I want to live. The grace empowerment leads me to make a positive choice that keeps me free and living in the Spirit as the Holy Spirit builds a place He can be completely himself.
Paul teaches us very clearly that if believers use their freedom to engage in these things, anything that is not an expression of God’s love and His truth, they will not inherit the Kingdom realm of God. In other words, that when we walk in the flesh and not the Spirit we can limit the flow of the Kingdom realm of God towards our life.
THE HOLY SPIRIT PRODUCES GOD’S LOVE IN OUR LIVES
God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit. His Spirit. We need to choose every moment of every day to walk by the Spirit and develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit so that we can recognise His leading, prompting and revelation. Then we will see not only the transforming power of God in our own lives but it will create an atmosphere of love, honour and unity that God will not be able to resist. God has called us to be a people who attract heaven, where He can move freely and powerfully not limit it or how He moves both within us and through us.
But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love and all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, (self- control) faith that prevails, gentleness of heart and strength of spirit.
Never set the law above these qualities for they are meant to be limitless…We must live in the Holy Spirit and follow after Him. So, may we never be arrogant or look down on another, for each of us is an original. We must forsake all jealousy that diminishes the value of others.
We want to develop a culture of walking by the Spirit, a culture of honour leading to genuine unity, and a culture of leaving our father’s house, being those who are free, powerful, self-governing and responsible, who reveal the power of the Gospel in and through their lives. Choosing each day to be powerful and free by serving others, being generous, considering others not just themselves, praying together, worshiping together, reaching others together and bringing forward the Kingdom together both in our lives and through our lives. That forms an important part of our vision we will be working towards this year.
The culture we build in our hearts will be the culture we will build in the church in all our expressions. We want to be attractive to Heaven so that we may reveal Jesus to the world.
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