We’re told that the secret to living a godly life is to walk by the Spirit. ‘Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh’, writes the Apostle Paul. But what does that mean? How can I walk by the Spirit?
One aspect of this must have something to do with learning how to obey the Spirit moment by moment. Jesus said that he would send the Spirit as our Counsellor, which is only meaningful if the Spirit does in fact communicate with us, nudge us, move us along, and speak to us.
I came across this powerful quote from John Gibbon, a Puritan pastor, and I think it sheds light on the matter.
“The best expedient in the world to avoid fulfilling the lust of the flesh is to walk in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit is to fulfil the counsel and advice of the Spirit… Follow his leading. Be prompt and ready to follow his promptings… Open all your sails to every breath and gail of God’s good Spirit. Welcome every suggestion. Reverence every command. Cherish every gentle persuasion of this blessed exhorter. Let every inspiration find you as the seal does the wax, or as the spark does the tinder. Step into the pool when the angel stirs the water. Keep in touch with the moving of the Spirit, and all will be well.”
(John Gibbon, in a sermon on Galatians 5.16)
In practice, this means developing such a sensitivity to the leadings of God’s Spirit in you that you will readily respond to his gentle promptings to pray, to read the Bible, to do some good. It also means that we can, through repeatedly ignoring the Spirit, learn to silence his voice in our hearts and grow spiritually dull.
But how amazing that God would give us the Spirit, to make us strong and give us power to change and be more like Jesus.