Sunday Sermon: ‘Letting the Spirit Guide Us’



Currently we are in a series of messages where I am encouraging us to get ‘Spiritually FIT.’ I am using the word F.I.T. as an acronym for: FULLY IN TOUCH. Our goal is to get “fully in touch” with God, the body of Christ, and the world around us.

What does it take in order for us to get fully in touch with God? First there must be salvation. Jesus said that except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (see Jn 3:3) What does it mean to be born again? The new birth Jesus is speaking of is a spiritual birth. The spiritual part of our nature is dead because of sin and therefore it must be brought back to life so that we can know God and communicate with Him. How can we be born again?

  •  First there must be a realization that we are sinful and therefore spiritually dead. (Rom 3:23; 6:23a)
  •  Secondly, we must believe by faith that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins. (Rom 6:23b; 2 Cor 5:21)
  •  Thirdly, the Spirit of God must give us new life. (Jn 3:4-8; Ezek 36:25-27)

One of the most amazing parts of the new birth is that God sends His Spirit to live inside of us. Jesus said: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (John 14:16)

I.   The Presence of the Spirit

Who or what is the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is not a ‘what’. The Holy Spirit is a ‘who.’ He is the third member of the divine Godhead. (God the Father – God the Son – God the Spirit_ He is not simply a force like electricity, but rather a personal being who thinks (Rom 8:27), feels (Rom 15:30), and acts (Acts 13:2). The Spirit is all-knowing (1 Cor 2:10), all-powerful (Lk 1:35) and everywhere present (Ps 139:7).

At the moment of our new spiritual birth, the Holy Spirit of God comes to live inside of us in order to enable us live the Christian life. There is no such thing as being a Christian without the new birth of the Holy Spirit. The Bible tells us that if anyone does not have the Holy Spirit, he or she is not a Christian. (Rom 8:9)

The King James Version calls Him the ‘Comforter’ but perhaps a better translation would be – ‘the Helper.’ The Holy Spirit has been sent to help us live for God and to serve Him.

II.  The Productivity of the Spirit                                                

Jesus said that His disciples would be ‘clothed with power’ once the Spirit came to them. The Spirit has not come to be inactive, but rather to be very active. In all truthfulness, if the Holy Spirit is ‘inactive’ in our lives, there is something terribly wrong. It is only through the activity and ministry of the Holy Spirit that we can live the Christian life. Look with me at the book of Galatians.

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Paul teaches us at least three very important truths in these verses:

A. There is a Battle Inside of the Believer Between the Holy Spirit and Our Old Fleshly Nature

Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Do you sometimes struggle with doing what is right? Do you sometimes struggle with sin? Are you ever like the Apostle Paul who said- “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:19)

Even the great Apostle Paul had to admit: “I don’t always do what I want to do and I often do what I don’t want to do.” Why is that? Why doesn’t becoming a Christian automatically program us to be perfectly holy? It’s because our old nature is still a part of us. As long as we are in these earthly bodies, we’re going to struggle with our old nature. It will not be until we enter into heaven that we are going to find total victory over our flesh. As long as we are still living in these earthly bodies, we are going to fight a spiritual battle with our flesh, the devil and the world in which we live.

 B. This Battle Can Be Won Only by Our Walking in the Spirit

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

1. Trying to Win the Battle Through Rules and Regulations

How can we win this battle? Some try to do so with rules and regulations. They think that living in a very strict and rigid manner will eventually make them holy. Yet anyone who has ever tried to live in this way knows just how difficult it is. The Bible tells us that although the Law of God is good (Rom 7:12), we are incapable of fully obeying it. (Rom 8:3) Our fallen nature is too weak to consistently do what we know we should.

I have often thought that trying to be spiritual through the will of our fallen nature is like telling the fox to guard the hen house. Eventually the fox is going to give in and do what the fox wants to do – regardless of what the farmer says.

 2.  Winning the Battle Only Through the Power of God

Romans 8:3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

First we see that it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we can be made holy.

Secondly we see that it is only by walking in the Spirit that we can find the strength and power to live out this holiness. Paul wrote to the Galatians:

Galatians 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

What does that mean? Paul is saying that the Spirit doesn’t need a set of written rules and regulations in order to enable us to live righteously. It is the Spirit of God that writes the Law of God in our hearts.

“I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33)

“I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27)

Through His abiding presence, the Spirit of God implants God’s holy principles in our heart and then He guides us to live by them.

C. We Must Choose to Walk in the Spirit and Not in the Flesh

There is a third very important principle that Paul teaches in this passage. The Spirit will not force us to obey Him. We must choose to follow His guidance.

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

This verse teaches us three very important truths:

1.  We have to make a personal choice to follow the Spirit

I cannot make you follow the Holy Spirit, not can you make me. It’s a personal choice that each of us must make. Paul stresses this truth by making the Greek verb ‘walk’ to be in the Active Voice. We must choose of ourselves to walk in the Spirit.

Thousands of years ago Joshua said: “…choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

The Holy Spirit will not force Himself upon us. Salvation doesn’t turn us into spiritual robots. We still have a free will and with this free will we must make the choice of whether we obey the voice of the Spirit or disobey Him.

It’s unfortunate but all too often we choose to disobey the Spirit. The Spirit speaks to us and seeks to guide us, but we choose instead to follow our own selfish will. Whenever a Christian does not choose to obey the Holy Spirit, they commit two terrible sins. Paul describes these sins as: ‘grieving the Holy Spirit’ and ‘quenching the Holy Spirit.’

a.  Grieve Not the Holy Spirit

“Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God…” (Eph 4:30)

To grieve means to make sad. Whenever we choose to disobey the Spirit, we make Him sad.

If we keep this verse in its original context we can see some of the ways we can sadden the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

First of all we see that dishonesty brings sadness to the Spirit. Jesus called Him the Spirit of truth and therefore whenever we are dishonest, whether in word or in deed, we bring sadness to the Holy Spirit.

Lust is another sin that brings sadness to the Spirit.

Ephesians 4:3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; 4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Anger is also another way that we can grieve God’s Spirit.

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

There is another important warning we should learn from this passage.

Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil.

Scripture teaches us that the Spirit will not leave us, nor can Satan possess us; yet for all practical purposes the Spirit can be pushed aside and rendered inactive, and Satan can become the one who is guiding us.

b. Quench Not the Holy Spirit

In addition to grieving the Spirit, the Bible also says that we can ‘quench’ Him. “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) To quench means to suppress. Jesus described the ministry of the Spirit to the movement of the wind. Jesus said that we can’t tell where the wind comes from or where it is going. Neither can we control the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Rather than resisting the Spirit or trying to suppress Him, we should open our lives to His guidance and care. We should as Paul says – “Be filled with the Spirit.”

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

It is because of the incorrect teaching of some that many Christians have come to shy away from being filled with the Spirit. They believe that being filled with the Spirit will cause us to do something strange and bizarre. Yet learning what it means to be filled with the Spirit is crucial to living the victorious Christian life. So what exactly does this important verse mean?

The secret to understanding this important verse of scripture is to see the clear distinction Paul is making between what it means to be “in control” vs. being “out of control.” Paul says: ‘Be not drunk with wine…’ To be drunk means to be intoxicated. One resource I studied defined the word intoxicated to mean: {to lose control of our faculties or behavior.} A person who is intoxicated is out of control.

In contrast to the person who is out of control is the person who is control.

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Please note that Paul did not say – ‘Be intoxicated with the Spirit.’ He used an entirely different word to explain the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is interesting to note that the primary way this particular word is used in scripture means to be fulfilled or complete. Peter writes:

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness…

The filling of the Holy Spirit doesn’t cause us to act strange or bizarre. Rather it causes us to be more Christ-like. The Bible says that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 10:38) Jesus ministered through the power of His Father’s Spirit. (Lk 4:18) Surely if anyone was ever under the complete control of the Spirit, it must have been Jesus. How do you suppose Jesus acting when He was filled with the Spirit? Do you envision Him acting in some strange or bizarre way? Or do you envision Him acting with wisdom?

It is only when our heart and mind is filled with God’s Spirit that we will be complete as a believer and thus live a Christ-honoring life that is fulfilling both to us and to our Savior.

2.  We have to make consistent choice to follow the Spirit

“Walk in the Spirit…” Paul tells us. Walking was one of Paul’s favorite ways of describing the Christian life. Walking implies at least three things:

a.  Something that is done persistently

It is estimated that for the average person, it takes at least 1,500 steps in order to walk a mile. Walking a mile isn’t done with one big step. It’s done by persistently taking a lot of little steps.

Living the victorious Christian life isn’t done with one big step. It’s the culmination of all the little steps that we take throughout each day. To walk in the Spirit is to take each and every step under His control and guidance.

b.  Something that is done practically

One of the great truths that many overlook is the practical side of what it means to be a Christian. Consider what else Paul teaches us in this important passage.

First we see how that walking in the Spirit gives us wisdom and discernment.

Ephesians 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Secondly we see how that walking in the Spirit brings us joy.

Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Thirdly we see how it affects our home-life.

Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord… 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right… 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

In addition we see how it affects our work-life.

Ephesians 6:5 Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service , as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth , the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

 c.  Something that is done patiently

Children must learn to walk before they can run. We’re a lot like little children when it comes to living out the Christian life. Like little children we often stumble and fall. Yet we shouldn’t stay down. Instead we should get back up and start walking again. With Paul’s command to “Walk in the Spirit…” I see a great deal of encouragement to take the Christian life one step at a time. ‘Persevere’ is the word that we often associate with this kind of encouragement. To persevere in the faith is to take life one step at a time and to do so with the Holy Spirit holding our hand.

3.  We must make the choice or we will fail

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

Paul wrote this in such a way so as to stress the importance of us making the choice to follow the Spirit. It’s the Greek Imperative which means that it is something that we do.

Many interpret Greek Imperatives to be commands. In other words, Paul is commanding us to do this. It is true, Paul is giving us a command, but in order to understand the full meaning of his command, we must seek to understand his reasoning behind it.

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Why must we walk in the Spirit? It is because there is a great battle going on between our old nature and our new nature. Our old nature is too strong for us to overcome it on our own. We must have the power of God to help us. We must rely upon the strength and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. Or in other words, we must consistently make the choice every step along the way to say no to the ways of our old nature and to say yes to the ways of the Holy Spirit.


There is much more we need to learn about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, but for today allow me to ask you some very important questions.

1)  Have you ever been born-again by God’s Holy Spirit? Is the Spirit of God living within you, or are you still trying to be good on your own? This past week Tammy and I were a part of the physical birth of our little granddaughter. There was a place, a moment and a time when she was born physically and became a part of this world. So it is with the child of God. There is a place, a moment and a time when each of us must turn from our sins and trust Jesus as our Savior. There is a moment and time when we become a part of God’s kingdom.

2)  Are you walking through life under the control and guidance of the Spirit, or are you walking according to your old ways and self-will? Scripture teaches us that if we are not being controlled by the Spirit, most likely we are being influenced by the devil. (see Eph 4:27)

3) Are there areas in your life where you know that you are grieving God’s Spirit and therefore suppressing His ministry and activity? There will be no spiritual victory until we learn to say no to our old nature and yes to the new nature empowered by the Holy Spirit.

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