Paul writes in Galatians 5:16 (NAS), “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” The flesh is the expression the Bible uses for our sinful human nature with its selfish desires - all those things in us that go against God and His will.
Our ego or “self” is like a command centre that sends out lots of “messages”. The messages and actions that come from our ego are all about ourselves – like just thinking of ourselves, looking down on others, telling lies to get benefits, trying to get praise and approval, getting people to notice us, etc. This is the “desire of the flesh”, or the desires of our sinful human nature - and our human nature has endless demands and expectations.
We can maybe control those sinful desires to some degree, but for the most part, human nature is ruled by those sinful desires. That is why, when people sin, we often hear them say, “We are only human!”
But Paul wrote that if we walk by the Spirit, we no longer need to carry out these desires. When you walk by the Spirit, you think and act differently than other people in the situations of life.
“Walk by the Spirit!”
When you walk, you start somewhere and then you move forward. If you want to walk by the Spirit, you first need to receive the Spirit. The Spirit we are talking about here is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a real power — just as real as when a crane lifts a big load from a ship onto the land. If you get this power in your life, it is the start of a new and very interesting part of your life.
Most people who receive this Spirit would just like to enjoy the power they have received, like a child who just wants to play. But the Holy Spirit is not a plaything. He is a help for people who want to get somewhere in their Christian walk.
The Holy Spirit gives us power to bear the greatest burdens and difficulties. He is also a guide. He knows the way that leads us away from everything that is harmful and negative, towards what is blessed and good for those around us. The Spirit fills us with joy and peace. We become truly happy, and those around us notice this.
The Spirit will remind us and give us power
We all go through difficulties in life. Who has not felt that what is happening now is “tragic and pointless”? You maybe lose your phone or your money, or maybe a good friend. Maybe someone has gossiped about you, or you didn’t get the good job that you applied for. There are many examples, but what happens if we walk by the Spirit?
Jesus says that the Spirit will remind us of all the things He said to us. (John 14:26.) For example what’s written in Matthew 6:34 (NLT), “So don’t worry about tomorrow.” Worrying is different from planning your day; worry weighs you down; it steals your energy and joy.
The Spirit also reminds us about what Peter wrote, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT). When we walk by the Spirit, these words go straight into our hearts and become the power by which we say No to all the thoughts of fear or worry that come up. The Spirit gives us power to do that, in the same way as the crane that lifts many tons of goods from a ship onto the land.
Walking by the Spirit is to be obedient to the Spirit
Walking by the Spirit means being obedient to the Spirit—to the laws and commandments that the Spirit reminds us of when we are tempted. Being tempted is not the same as sinning, but when you are tempted you have a choice, and you yourself have to decide what you are going to do. When someone says something hurtful or rude to you, everyone knows what sorts of things you are tempted to: to repay evil with evil and get back at that person. But if you do that, you break God’s commandments. That is sin.
But what does the Holy Spirit say? "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:21. If you walk by this Spirit, you do what this verse says and you overcome the temptation. Then the result is that you get joy in your heart, instead of causing more evil
To walk by the Spirit produces fruit
If we walk by the Spirit, something wonderful happens. What the Bible calls “fruits of the Spirit” begin to grow in your life—peace, joy, love, faithfulness, and goodness, among other things. (Galatians 5:22.) Where before you were so restless, worried and often unhappy, you now get a more healthy outlook on life. You become firm and stable and learn to create peace around you. You become happy, and it becomes a natural part of your life. You are no longer jealous of others.
When you love others, you get away from the endless demands of your own will, and you start to think about others and what might be good for them instead of just thinking about yourself. Faithfulness becomes a part of your personality, and you become trustworthy in everything you say and do. You become a new person. It is no longer true to say, “We are only human.” Something completely new is born into your life so that you think and act differently than before.
All these fruits of the Spirit grow when you walk by the Spirit. This is the life that Jesus lived on earth and which you can live as His disciple. Walking by the Spirit takes practice. Sometimes you can make a mistake, especially at the start of your Christian walk, but you must not lose courage or think it is useless. The Spirit is also called the “Comforter” in one Bible translation. He comforts us and gives us more boldness and new courage when we need it. The Spirit is with us on our walk and gives us the right nourishment when we need it.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 (MEV) it is written, “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and self-control.” Walk by this Spirit. Then you will have a fulfilling life.
There are many people alive today who have experienced this, and those around them can confirm that it is true. Just being a so-called believer, and being a member of a church, a religion, or religious group will not solve your problems. But walking by the Spirit solves your inner conflicts as well as conflicts with other people. You can’t find a better life!