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How to Walk by the Spirit

Galatians 5:16-26; Titus 2:11-14; Romans 8:1-17

Riverside Community Church – May 22, 2011

I recently turned 37 and for the first time in my life, I was called for jury duty.  For weeks I looked forward to participating in our legal process as a juror.  I looked forward to an examination of evidence to make a good judgment.  In Galatians 5:16-26, Paul presents evidence and allows us to make an accurate judgment about where we stand with God.  He also gives us a promise of absolute victory if we will walk by the Spirit.  Place yourself on the jury and examine the evidence in your life.  Then determine what needs to happen so that you may get right with God.  (To listen to the sermon, click here).

Galatians 5:16-26

[16] But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. [17] For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. [18] But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, [20] idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, [21] envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, [23] gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [24] And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

[25] If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [26] Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.


In this passage, we have an incredible promise if we will obey the command


a. “Walk”

i. Literally, “your conduct or behavior; the way you live your life”

ii. Verb carries the progressive continuous idea (walk and keep on walking daily)

iii. Used 342 times in the Bible – 258 of which have this specific definition.  Predominately used to describe a life lived in love with God and obedience to his word.  It’s a biblical life that passionately and purely loves God and listens to Him carefully.  It is negatively contrasted with those who live according to the culture or their sinful desires

b. “By the Spirit”

i. The Bible describes the Spirit as indwelling or living within a person when they repent and trust in Jesus 

ii. The Holy Spirit seals our salvation and is given to us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14)

iii. You cannot miss the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life – according to Romans 8:16, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”  He changes you deep inside, and those changes make their way out dramatically

iv. The ministry of the Holy Spirit includes:

1.         Confirms that we are actually saved (Romans 8:9)

2.         Brings us into intimacy with God (Romans 8:15)

3.         Illuminates the scripture so that we can understand it (John 14:26, 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10-16)

4.         Glorifies Jesus Christ (John 16:14)

5.         Personally guides us into God’s will (Acts 10:19; 11:12; 13:1-4; 20:28; 15:28; 16:6-7)

6.         Energizes obedience to God’s Word

7.         Ministers to us through other believers

8.         Ministers through us to other believers

9.         Strengthens us (Romans 8:26-27)

10.       Prays with us and for us (Romans 8:26-27)

11.       He guarantees victory (Galatians 5:16)

12.       He gives evidence that He is present in your life (Galatians 5:22-23)

v. He does all this and more as long as we don’t:

1.         Quench the Spirit by turning away (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

2.         Grieve the Spirit by turning away (Ephesians 4:30)

3.         Resist the Spirit (Acts 7:51)

4.         Lie to the Spirit like Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)

5.         Blaspheme the Spirit (verbally rejecting the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit) (Matthew 12, Mark 3, Luke 12)

c. The Promise: You will not gratify the desires of the flesh

i. An emphatic subjunctive clause – literally “you will never fulfill the desire of the flesh”

ii. As long as you continually, daily, hourly yield to the Holy Spirit, listening to Him and obeying Him, you will never gratify the desires of the flesh!!

d. The Conflict: the reason it is so crucial to walk in the Spirit is now explained – a great battle rages in the hearts of believers.

i. We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and yet we live in a body and a world that is ravaged by sin

ii. The desires of the flesh are still present!


The Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other and they produce opposite results!


a. FRUIT DEMONSTRATION: two bags, one filled with apples, the other filled with oranges.  Ask: what kind of tree produced this fruit?  The answer is so obvious it’s embarrassing.  Why?  Because fruit is the obvious natural result of that kind of fruit tree! 

b. In the same way, the fruit of your flesh is so obvious it’s embarrassing!  The qualities that define your life are like fruit.  So let’s look at the two kinds of opposite fruit: the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit:

c. The fruit of the flesh and it’s end result: hell (vs. 19-21)

i. Sexual sins (pornography, lust, lustful looks, sex with someone who you’re not married to, sex scenes on tv or movies, strip clubs, prostitutes, etc.)

ii. Religious sins (sorcery and idolatry – horoscopes, astrology, Ouija boards, palm readers, tarot cards – any means of seeking help or predicting the future other than going to God could be loosely understood as sorcery.  Idolatry is loving, serving, or placing anything above devotion and worship for God)

iii. Relational sins (enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, division, etc.)

iv. Out of control sins (drunkenness and orgies.  It's not enough to drink one or two beers - you have to get drunk - that's out of control.  It's not enough to have one partner, you have to have many partners - that's out of control)

d. The fruit of the Spirit and it’s end result: life (vs. 22-23)

i. Love – “may be defined as giving oneself for others so that they are encouraged and strengthened to give themselves more fully to God” (Schreiner).  Some opposites qualities: hatred, angry, rage, unforgiveness, selfishness

ii. Joy – rejoicing in all circumstances – inner happiness not affected by outer circumstances.  Some opposite qualities: fear and frustration

iii. Peace – a clean conscience, a still mind, and good relationships.  Some opposite qualities: guilt, worry, doubt, frayed

iv. Patience – long-suffering, enduring with hope and confidence, waiting well.  Some opposite qualities: impatience, urgency, manipulation

v. Kindness – generosity, benevolence, especially to enemies and the marginalized.  Some opposite qualities: arrogance, stinginess, greed, selfishness, rudeness

vi. Goodness – “living lives of moral beauty, and decency that shines forth in a world blighted by evil” (Schreiner).  Some opposite qualities: immorality, questionable character, indecency, shameful hidden habits

vii. Faithfulness – loyal and dependable and trustworthy.  Some opposite qualities: irresponsible, deceitful, gossip, divisiveness, hypocritical

viii. Gentleness – humility, meekness, softness, warmth.  Some opposite qualities: harsh, proud, forceful, stubborn, willful

ix. Self-control – “able to restrain themselves unlike those who are dominated by the desires of the flesh” (Schreiner) – restraint is most obvious in your words – can you control what you say?  How you spend your money?  What you do with your time?  Some opposite qualities: unrestrained, irresponsible, wild, out of control, purposeless, idle, unfocused

Matthew 12:33-37 - "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

These are the obvious fruits of the way you live your life, and you must recognize what fruit is in your life so that you may know where that fruit is leading!  You may call yourself an “orange tree” even though there are apples all over your tree – you should not deceive yourself any longer!  What should we all do, regardless of the fruit on the tree?


a. Don’t play around with sin – crucify it.  Don’t rearrange the fruit under the tree.  Don’t walk around the apple tree.  Don’t poke the tree with a pocket knife.  CRUCIFY THE FLESH!!!  Like a pet tiger – it’s gonna maul you some day!  Destroy the flesh!!  Don’t give yourself the choice to give in.  FLEE FROM TEMPTATION!

b. 1 Peter 5:6-9 – “6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.”

c. How to walk by the Spirit

i. Analogy: The railroad tracks.  If I told you to walk by the railroad tracks and you will not get lost, you would know the one marker that you need to stay close to.  If the tracks bend, you must not continue walking straight, you must bend with the tracks.  You may stray from those tracks, but you would keep them in sight so that you would arrive at your destination.  The railroad tracks are the one constant reference point to keep you getting lost.  If you can’t see the tracks, you’re lost.  If you walk by the tracks, you’re on your way to your destination.

ii. The Spirit is the one marker that guarantees you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  He leads you and you must listen to His promptings and yield your decisions – bend your will – move your life – so that you may walk by the Spirit and arrive at your desired destination (Heaven)

iii. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit resides within you and He speaks to you all the time!  But if you are not in the habit of listening to Him and obeying Him, His voice is harder to hear.  Just like a radio signal that gains or loses receptivity based on where you drive – the voice of the Holy Spirit can be powerful and influential in your life or His voice can be weak and quiet based on your receptivity.  I heard on a radio show that “God cannot work in an unwilling heart.”  If this is true, then the most important thing we can do is to position our minds so that we are humbly willing to do whatever He says.

How to Walk by the Spirit

1) Present yourself to God many times during the day.  Romans 12:1-2 – “1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

2) Tune in and listen to the Holy Spirit, mainly by knowing the Bible and living it out

3) Alter your path – change your mind – confess and repent when necessary

4) Repeat again tomorrow


Titus 2:11-14 – “11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

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