“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
Walk in the Spirit!
The Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ!
The Spirit of Pentecost!
Pentecost, as you most probably know, has reference to that marvelous experience of the early, new dispensational church when the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Christ, was poured out in the church which is in heaven and on earth. It refers to the little understood and now almost wholly forgotten fact which Christ promised would be fulfilled in His church as she waited in the upper room, when, according to the prayer of Christ, the Father would send the Comforter, “that He may abide with you forever.”
The idea of Pentecost, however, is not peculiar only to the new day. Already in the old dispensation Pentecost constituted one of the three major feast days. Along with the feasts of the Passover and Tabernacles the church of the Old Testament also celebrated the feast of Pentecost. Always Pentecost was observed seven complete weeks or fifty days after the feast of Passover. It was sometimes called also the feast of harvest, and the day of first fruits.
In the new dispensation Pentecost falls on the fiftieth day after the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. On that day the Spirit, as the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Promise, the Blessed Comforter, Who would lead the church into all the truth, and abide with her forever, was poured out. Poured out on the church not that which was assembled in the temple, where the rent veil had been repaired and the sacrifices according to the law were being offered-but that which was assembled in the upper room, where a hundred and twenty were gathered with the disciples according to the commandment of Christ, where, said He, they were to wait for the promise of the Father.
Pentecost—when the Holy Spirit made His strange but wonderful appearance as with a sound from heaven as of a rushing, mighty wind; and as with cloven tongues like as of fire, resting upon each of them gathered there. With the result, that they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. The Spirit which now dwells in the church, and whose work it is to apply to the church all the graces of salvation merited by the perfect obedience of Christ. The Spirit which is given to the Mediator in His exaltation without measure, so that as the Head of the body He is filled. Thus He is equipped and qualified to function as Head to give to the church all His benefits. Given in turn by Christ to the church, not only on earth, but also in heaven, according to which He blesses her with all spiritual blessings of true knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and Who works in the believers the fruits of grace—regenerating them, and shedding abroad in them the love of Christ, and filling their hearts with joy and peace, and all other Christian virtues, mentioned by the apostle, in the context, such as, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
It is by and according to that Spirit we are exhorted to walk!
Such is the meaning of the text! The Revised Standard Version is much more correct than the King James. The former has: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” The latter, as stated above, has “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
We are not to understand the Holy Spirit as being the sphere wherein the church is to walk, as the expression “walk in the Spirit” would seem to imply. Nor is the Holland translation which has: “zoo laat ons ook door den Geest wandelen” i.e., “so let us also walk through the Spirit,” the idea of the text, which suggests that the Spirit is the means through which we are to walk. Rather, we could paraphrase thus to see the meaning of the text: “Let us also walk the line which the Spirit has laid.” Accordingly the Spirit is first. He maps out for us the way we should walk. He lays down the standard or norm for our whole life and walk.
It is the calling of the church to heed this standard. She is to fashion her walk according to it. Thus to be orderly, not confused, not mixed, not double, in all her conversation. And this standard of the Spirit can be nothing more or less than the mind and will of Christ. We must not forget that the Spirit here is the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit therefore will have us do nothing but the will and mind of Christ.
Walking by the Spirit!
Already in verse 16 the apostle had given exhortation as to our walk, when he wrote: “This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Also here the original has: not, “walk in the Spirit,” but, “walk by the Spirit.” However, the word “walk” has a different connotation than the word in our text. In verse 16 the term means literally: to walk about, and refers to one’s outward conversation and manifestation in general, without any specific direction. It simply looks at the matter of one’s walk without any special specifications. The word in our text, on the other hand, means literally: to proceed in a row, go in order; hence, to direct one’s life. It implies negatively that our walk is not to be careless, without direction; and positively, that it is to be regulated by a certain standard or norm. A good illustration of this we have in the military, where soldiers under the direction of a sergeant are drilled to walk, not aimlessly and helter-skelter, but according to command.
Such is indeed the meaning of the exhortation in our text!
The church is to fashion her walk after the Spirit!
But why is this necessary? Why must this needs be done?
The apostle answers to this in the first part of our text.
If we live by the Spirit!
Not, you must understand, does the apostle here introduce the element of doubt, as the translation might imply. It is not his intention to leave the matter open, so that accordingly we may or we may not live by the Spirit. This is not a question at all in the mind of the apostle. Fact of the matter is the very opposite is true. Again, we could paraphrase the first part of our text thus to get the proper meaning: “Since we are living by the Spirit,” or, “Seeing that we do live by the Spirit, let, us also walk by the Spirit.” The apostle is emphasizing the truth that the Spirit of Christ is the very principle of our life. O, it is true, as the words “live in the Spirit” would imply, that the Spirit is the living sphere of our life; the sphere in which we live. But this is not particularly what the apostle has in mind. Rather, the Word of God here underlines the principle of our new life. Christ is the source of our life. By the Spirit Christ lives in us. Thus we live by the Spirit of Christ. By the Spirit we are constantly adapted to the conditions of the spiritual life of Christ. Life in this sense of the word is the constant adaptation to and appropriating of the Christ and all His benefits. This is life!
Hence, our walk must conform to this principle!
Not to conform; constitutes a contradiction!
If our walk is contrary to the Spirit, it is dishonest!
It is against this dishonesty that the apostle Peter warns (I Peter 2:12), when he says: “Having your conversation honest among the gentiles.” Practice what you profess, or you prove to be dishonest.
Surely the life of the Spirit is to do the things of Christ. So also the church and the individual believer must do the things of the Spirit, as the Spirit of Christ.
And conformation in walk proves the Spirit is indwelling!
They who walk in darkness show plainly they are possessed of another spirit, the spirit of the lie and of darkness. They walk according to the principle that is in them. But they who are born of the Spirit will live out of and according to the Spirit.
And what the Spirit works in, He also works out! Not so, that we become mere stocks and blocks. Such is the charge often raised against those who believe and profess that all of our salvation is of God. They say that when we maintain that all is of God and nothing of man, that we make man an automaton, a robot, or a puppet in the hands of God, and we deny thereby the responsibility of man. But how wrong is this charge. The elect and regenerated sinner is not a mere puppet, but he is a new creation in whom Christ’s Spirit has established His throne, and so governs him that he lives subjectively and consciously according to His will and word. If we may revert once more to that illustration of the military: who would ever conceive of a company of men being drilled by a sergeant as a mere puppet show? Anyone who has ever served in the military knows that those men on the field are not mere robots, but living, in-the-flesh men, who willingly or unwillingly, but nevertheless most consciously are marching according to orders. So it is also with the Christian who lives by the Spirit, by the Spirit he also walks. The trouble with those who come with the ‘stock and block’ accusation is that they want to deny the sovereignty of God in the matter of our salvation. And frankly they do not understand either what true responsibility is. As the word literally implies, it refers to the ability to respond. Applied to the subject at hand, it implies that those who live by the Spirit have also the ability to respond subjectively to the working of the Spirit in such a way that they walk by the Spirit.
And how blessed it is so to live and so to walk!
Then what the apostle writes in the preceding context is also true.
Then they that are Christ’s will have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts (verse 24). Then the works of the flesh will not be performed (verses 19-21); such as, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: for they that do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Being led by the Spirit we shall experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: such as, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Against such there is no law.
Blessed fruit we experience now in principle, and presently in heavenly perfection in glory! That is, this is our experience when we live out of the principle of the Spirit of life, and practice the walking by the Spirit in our daily life.