By Michael C. Lewis
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25
The Holy Spirit is received upon the moment of salvation. He is the third Person of the trinity, and the only reason the Christian becomes the “new creature” Paul speaks of in II Corinthians 5:17. This miraculous change from sinner to saint has nothing to do with a Christian’s resolve, and everything to do with the Spirit within him. It is a supernatural transformation orchestrated by the God of creation, Himself. And for this change to take place within a person, all he has to do is reach out and take the gift of newness of life offered him from the Savior’s hand.
It is the relationship of an individual with the Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit that determines his Christianity. Paul made this abundantly clear when he wrote, “. . . Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:9b. And also, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14
These verses should put to bed the heretical teachings of some that the receiving of the Holy Spirit is a separate event from the moment of salvation. Salvation comes “. . . by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” Titus 3:5 This “renewing” of a natural born sinner into a “ born again” (John 3:3) follower of Christ is impossible without the supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit “Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Titus 3:6
The wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15) would have us believe that a person must manifest certain miraculous signs—such as speaking in tongues, healings, etc. — as proof of the Holy Spirit’s presence in his life. The Holy Bible, on the other hand, makes it clear that the proof of the Holy Spirit’s presence is the manifestation of a changed life, which is being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ!
The Spirit walk is all about surrender. It’s not about us getting more of the Holy Spirit, but it is about the Holy Spirit getting more of us! We, as born again followers of Christ, must daily choose our guide in life. Will we walk in our own strength this day, or will we listen closely to the Holy Spirit, and trust Christ as we traverse this fallen world toward home? As free moral agents, that is our daily privilege, and choice to make. The more we surrender to the still, small voice of direction within us, the more we will grow in the Christian life. And the Holy Spirit is most audible within the Word of God. The psalmist assures us, “The entrance of thy words giveth light, it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Psalm 119:130
The Bible plainly teaches that, for the Christian, the “flesh” or our sinful, natural desires are constantly warring with the “Spirit“of God within us. The Apostle Paul said, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16
How have you decided to walk today?
By Michael C. Lewis
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Probably one of the worst pieces of advice given to those looking for direction is the counsel to, “Follow your heart.” I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard this proverb offered as guidance to a young character in a popular movie — indeed, even in real life. But, I submit that the discerning student of Holy Scriptures should consider the implications of this worldly advice.
The Old and New Testaments teach that the heart is the place where the intellect, emotions, will, and moral conscience reside. The word, “heart” (leb in Hebrew, and kardia in Greek) is often interchangeable with the word, “mind” in the Bible, and as such, it is the seat of reason and volition (the will). In other words, the “heart” motivates us to behave in certain ways according to its reasoning.
The problem with “following your heart” is the infection of sin on humanity. The fallen or sinful condition of man guarantees the deceitfulness of his heart’s counsel — and, if you are unconverted (lost in your sins) and you remain that way — your heart will ultimately lead you on a sure path to eternal damnation. The Holy Bible is clear; the unbelieving heart will take you to hell.
Even the person who has embraced the salvation offered freely by God, through His Son, Jesus Christ must choose daily whether to heed to his heart’s natural inclinations, or submit to the guidance of God’s indwelling Spirit. The Christian remains a free moral agent, even though his transformation to Christ-likeness has begun. He will choose every day how he will live. Submision to the Word, will, and way of God, or digressing to the yearnings of the sinful heart remain his choices. His Christian growth is measured by the occasions in which he denies his heart’s natural inclinations, and submits to the supernatural instruction of the the Holy Spirit who resides within him. The Holy Bible teaches that the battle between the “lust of the flesh” (sinful desire of natural man) and the Spirit is a constant issue in the Christian journey. The Apostle Paul instructs us:
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galations 5:16
Total conversion, or change into Christ’s image — the ultimate goal of the believer — is a supernatural process that changes the will of natural man, and conforms his mind to that of his Savior, Jesus Christ. It is a transformation that begins within the believer and works its way outward in Christian behavior. Through salvation, God supernaturally forms a “new creature”, or new creation out of a fallen, or sinful person. The Holy Scriptures say:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” II Corinthians 5:17
A positional change occurs immediately upon salvation. The Christian is immediately justified and in right standing with God, because the righteousness of Jesus Christ — who paid mankind’s sin debt on the cross — is applied to his account. But, the sanctification process only begins at salvation. His transformation, ultimately into the image or likeness of his Savior is a lifetime process. The Christian can rest assured that this change will indeed be brought about. Again Paul assures us:
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
The Christian’s reasoning and will began a marked process of change and conformity into a sanctified (holy) creation of God. As his will is yielded to God, his heart changes. But, until total sanctification is attained (in heaven), the way of the naturally sinful heart or the way of his supernatural God remain the Christian’s daily choice. And, (this is important to understand!) the unsaved, unconverted person has no choice! The selfish and deceptive yearnings of his naturally sinful heart are his only guidance for life!
The standard of guidance through life should never be the human heart alone. Humanity’s guidance must come from outside our sinfilled experiences. The Christian standard comes from God, Himself, in the inspired writings of Holy Scriptures. The writer of the book of Hebrews declares:
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12
The living Word of God pierces the human heart, and reveals its evil inclinations and motivations. Its truth reveals the lies and deceptions of our sinful natures. As it becomes reality to us (through the illumination given by the Holy Spirit — see I Corinthians 2:14), and we accept its precepts and obey its commands, we are transformed, and the light of Christ is revealed in our activities. Salvation creates an inward change that is revealed in outward behavior.
Can an unsaved person live an outwardly moral and benevolent, even religious life? Of course, the short answer is “Yes.” But, the Lord Jesus Christ made this sobering declaration about such people:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” Matthew 23:27, 28
Mankind’s resolutions to behave in certain benevolent ways will eventually give way to his sinful condition. True rehabilitation for the alcoholic, drug addict, or career criminal must begin at the innermost, and darkest part of his being — his heart — to be effective and lasting. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only real hope for transforming deliverance.
The redemption of humanity through the cross of Christ is the only route to eternal change available to man! It is a total transformation the happens from the inside out! Follow Jesus Christ for eternal life, or “follow your heart” to your destruction. The choice seems obvious.