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As long as you live here on planet Earth you’re going to battle with your sinful flesh. There’s just no way to get around it. The great news is that although you will always struggle against the sinful desires of the flesh, you do not have to be defeated by them! God promises in Galatians 5:16-17 that when you “live by the Spirit, you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Welcome to The Point of Purity Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. This is episode #66, and in this episode, we are going to take a look at what it means to “Live by the Spirit” and discover from Scripture how to no longer gratify the sinful desires of the flesh!
In Galatians 5:16-17 God tells us that to gain spiritual victory over the sinful desires of the flesh, we need to “live by the Spirit.” OK. That sounds great, but what does that mean? How exactly does a Christian LIVE by the Spirit?
Before we can discover the how, we need to understand the what first. So, let’s make sure we understand what it means to “live by the Spirit.” To do that, we need to focus our attention for a few minutes on the word Paul uses for “living” (“live by the Spirit”). It’s a word that refers to regulating or conducting your life according to a specific purpose and guide. In other words, you’re not just going throughout each day willy nilly, living on a whim, constantly pursuing your own selfish desires. It must never be about what I want, I need, I desire, I deserve, I have to have, I can’t live without. As you’ve heard me say many times – it’s not about King Me! Living by the Spirit is a term that refers to taking charge of your life in such a way that you are constantly making decisions and adjustments throughout the day to make sure you are thinking and behaving according to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So, that begs the question: How does the Holy Spirit lead me? How do I know what the Spirit wants me to do? The answer is actually quite simple. He uses God’s truth – the Scripture – to guide you. In John 16:13 Jesus promised His disciples that “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” As you read God’s Word, studying it, memorizing it, and meditating on it, the Holy Spirit will then bring to your rembrance what God says you should do every time you are faced with a decision. He speaks God’s Word, God’s truth, God’s standards and principles into your heart – leading you, guiding you in how to react, how to respond, how to live in a way that totally honors and glorifies God.
Now we probably should take a brief moment here to unpack this a bit further. How does one “hear” the Holy Spirit? How do I know if and when the Holy Spirit is leading me? Just as God promised the Children of Israel in Isaiah 30:21, so His promise stands for you and me today. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Listen, my friend. The Holy Spirit is that voice, guiding you through the promises and principles of God’s Word.
But hear me out right now. Listen to me. Watch this. If you’re not in God’s Word daily, if you’re not consistently hiding God’s Word in your heart – you will not “hear” the Spirit’s voice. Here’s why I say that. In John 14 Jesus has some precious alone time with His disciples. In that moment Jesus shared with them what was about to transpire. He was going to Jerusalem, he would be captured, tortured, crucified and buried. But three days later He would rise again and finally be able to go back home to Heaven to be with the Father. But all the disciples could hear was that He was leaving them. So, they threw a hissy fit. Jesus calmed them down and explained to them that it was necessary for Him to leave – otherwise He couldn’t send the Comforter / The Holy Spirit.
Then, in John 14:26 Jesus tells the disciples (and us today) what the primary ministry of the Holy Spirit was going to be in the life of the believer. He said that the Holy Spirit “will remind you of everything I have said to you.” Did you catch that? The Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life is to remind you of what God has said in His word – The Bible. Now I have a question for you. Can you remember something you never knew? The answer? No. Of course not. Tried that in High School and college. Didn’t work then, and it certainly won’t work now. Here’s my point: To “live by the Spirit” is to conduct my daily thinking, speaking, and behaving in a way that is consistent with Scripture. However, I cannot live by the Spirit if I am not hearing the Spirit direct me. I cannot hear the Spirit if I am not actively in God’s Word – the very words the Holy Spirit uses to lead me.
OK, now watch this: The Apostle Paul wrote (in Galatians 5:16) the phrase “live by the Spirit” in what’s called the present tense, active voice, and imperative mood. Let me explain. You see, the Present Tense refers to a continuous, ongoing, regular action that is happening in real time. It is something that you need to do every moment of every day. By using the present tense here, Paul is telling us that every moment of every day you need to regulate your life; conducting yourself according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. As the Spirit reveals God’s truth to you – showing you things you need to either do or stop doing – things you need to fix or change – you immediately yield your life to Him and put that truth into action in your life. This is living by the Spirit in the present tense.
If you recall, I shared with you that Paul wrote this phrase “live by the Spirit” in the present tense, active voice. The active voice simply means that this is something that YOU have to do. No one else can do it for you. It is personal. If YOU don’t to it, it won’t get done. So, living every moment of every day under the direction of the Holy Spirit is something that only you can do. I can’t do it for you, and you can’t do it for me. Only YOU can hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit as He speaks truth into your heart and guides you along the way. Only YOU can make the decision to yield to His will and apply God’s truth immediately to your life.
So, not only did Paul write this phrase (live by the Spirit) in the present tense, active voice. He also wrote it in the imperative mood. That means this isn’t an option – it’s a command. We are commanded by God to conduct our everyday living according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because God knows this is what’s best for you!
So, we are to “live by the Spirit.” Now I want you to also notice that in Galatians 5:16 the verb “live by” indicates forward movement. The King James Version renders it as “walk by the Spirit.” In other words, you are in the process of going from where you are right now to where you ought to be. We often call this “spiritual growth.” Only as you submit your life to the Spirit’s control will you move forward – growing spiritually. You see, step-by-step the Holy Spirit moves you from where you are to where God is leading you – where He wants you to be. The Holy Spirit is your guide. Are you faithfully following Him? This is exactly why Paul said that when you live by the Spirit you will not gratify the sinful desires of the flesh.
The fact is, you cannot live the Christian life by your own strength and resources any more than you could ever save yourself for eternity. The victorious Christian life is a life lived under the direction of, and through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is not some force or power for you to use. He is a Person of the Godhead to whom you and I are to yield, and let Him use us! I submit that holy living, godly living, purity and integrity doesn’t come from the things you DO FOR God, but from what HE DOES THROUGH you as you choose daily to live by the Holy Spirit.
Never forget the integral role your mind plays in living a life that glorifies God. Paul commands in Romans 13:14, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not THINK about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Let me reiterate the point that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, you must first glorify Him in your every moment thinking. Why? Because what you think will become what you do.
You are to put on godly behavior, but the only way that is going to be consistently characteristic of your life is if you radically change your thinking to godly thinking. You are to no longer think about how to gratify and satisfy the sinful desires of your flesh. Why? Because what you think will become what you do. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).Instead, you and I are to purposefully, intentionally focus our thoughts on how to live for God. How to glorify God. How to live in a way that brings Him all the attention, the honor, and the praise. We are to daily live by the Spirit – regulating our live every moment of every day.
If you would like to learn more about this topic, let me encourage you to do two things.
First, go to Amazon.com and purchase my book called “Overcoming Temptation: 4 Steps to Spiritual Victory.” You see, saying “No” to temptation and choosing to live an upright and godly life is a daily decision you must make. Every time you are faced with a temptation, you are also faced with a decision: Do I give in, or do I stand firm in my faith and fight it? Do I yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit and live to glorify God, or do I focus on King Me and give in to my fleshly desires?
This book “Overcoming Temptation: 4 Steps to Spiritual Victory” presents, in a very clear and practical way, how to live a life that is holy and pure, how to say no to sin and live by the Spirit in a way that glorifies your creator, your Savior, your Heavenly Father. Again, the title of this book is “Overcoming Temptation: 4 Steps to Spiritual Victory.” You can find it on Amazon.com or on my website (ThePurityCoach.com) in our Resources section.
The second thing I would encourage you to do is download my free App. Just go to your App store and search for “My Purity Coach.” The app is free and is chocked full of all kinds of helps and resources to guide you as you walk by the Spirit. Again, that free app is called “My Purity Coach.”
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So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.