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017 Walking in the Spirit, Week 1

When I wrote the last RfMemo about how everything that is ours in Christ can be obtained in the Holy Spirit, I intended to initiate a series of memos about how to walk in the Spirit.

Then I faced a problem: I'm no expert in walking in the Spirit. It's as mysterious to me as it is to everybody.

So naturally, I asked God how to proceed. I had been thinking along the lines of spiritual disciplines: fasting, meditative prayer, and so forth. I was thinking about sacrifice. He had a different idea:

"First, write about walking humbly with God."

Micah 6:
6  With what shall I come to the LORD 
  And bow myself before the God on high? 
  Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, 
  With yearling calves?
7  Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, 
  In ten thousand rivers of oil? 
  Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, 
  The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8  He has told you, O man, what is good; 
  And what does the LORD require of you 
  But to do justice, to love kindness, 
  And to walk humbly with your God?


Candidly, I'm no more an expert in humility than I am in walking in the Spirit (and there's a connection between those twin failures, it seems.) But it appears to be the case that if I want to walk in everything God has for me as a Christian, the first order is to walk humbly with God.

Humility before God actually appears to be pretty simple; it's the posture of a man who looks to God and acknowledges, "You're God, and I'm not." 

The humble man:

  1. calls on God, because he recognizes his need; 
  2. then he listens to hear what God has to say; 
  3. and then, he does whatever God told him to do.

It's that simple. (But it may not be easy.)

By contrast, "The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek Him. All his thoughts are, 'There is no God.'" Psalm 10:4. If you read Psalm 10, you'll see that David is not writing about gentiles, he's writing about citizens of Israel who forget God or think that He does not see. There are lots of people who acknowledge God vocally, but who behave as though there is no God who cares about their misbehavior, their arrogance, or their cruelty. They mistake God's patience for apathy or absence. That's a bad mistake. (See Romans 2:4-8.) (The phrase "the haughtiness of his countenance" literally means "the height of his face." We English-speakers might say "He's got his nose in the air.")

People who lack humility do not call on God because they do not recognize that they need Him. Or they may call on God out of religious habit or training, but then they pay no attention to how He responds. That's an error: God frequently has something penetrating to say about our situations. We should listen. Or they hear, but they don't do what God said. The Apostle James says they're like people who check themselves in the mirror but then forget what they saw. (See James 1:22-25.)

James also describes the converse, which is what we need to do:

"Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." James 1:21

Hearing God and doing what He says is always right; but notice that the word, itself, has the power to change you. You don't just hear it, it's "implanted." If you hear God, you'll get a lot more than just instruction. You'll get life.

So this week, let's focus on hearing God. Ask, then listen, and then do what you hear. That's the first job if you want to walk in the Spirit, where all things that are yours in Christ are waiting for you.

 

Phil Weingart

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