But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). (Galatians 5:16 AMP)
Lord, this is quite a promise! Do You really mean if I can learn to walk in the Spirit, I will not succumb to any of my flesh’s desires? I ask because my flesh seems to desire many ungodly things. I sure do hate to admit it, but it’s true.
Well, I know the Lord’s heart well enough to understand that He means what He says and He says what He means. Okay, it seems simple enough. I must learn to walk in the Spirit… until I ask myself the question, “How do I walk in the Spirit?” I cannot see the Spirit or even feel the Spirit, so how do I know if I am walking in the Spirit?
One of the great things I love about the Lord is that He says if we lack understanding, all we need to do is ask. So, I asked. This is what I learned…
Paul states in Romans 8:5 that where a person sets his mind will determine whether he walks “after the flesh” or “after the Spirit.” “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5 [NRSV]). Our thoughts set our course.
Other Scriptures that speak of setting the mind upon spiritual things are: Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2; 4:4; 19:14; 57:7; 63:6; 77:12; 104:34; 119:15, 99, 148; 143:5; Prov. 4:23; 23:7; Lk. 6:45; Rom. 8:6; 1 Cor. 2:16; Phil. 2:5; 1 Tim. 4:15; 1 Pet. 4:1
God’s Word, many times, is like a scavenger hunt. Once you discover the answer to one question, another question arises. We know now that to walk in the Spirit, we must set our minds on the things of the Spirit. So, how do we keep our minds from wandering? There are so many distractions!
I like this quote by Michael Cotright. “Just as you train a dog to sit and stay, you can train your mind to stay upon God and His Word. Sometimes you have to physically push the dog’s hind end to the ground at first and say: “sit.” Then you take a couple of steps back and point to the dog and say: “stay.” You do this over and over, day after day, until the dog learns to sit and stay at your command. A dog can learn to sit and stay for very long periods of time with proper training. A trained dog will sit and wait outside a store as his master shops. You can command your mind to stay in the same way. At first it will be quite a task. Your mind is used to wandering. When you train your mind to stay upon God and think His Word you must keep commanding it back to the Word when it wanders. Just like the dog, who at first will get back up and start to follow you, you take your mind back to the Word and tell it to stay put. The key is you must have something to focus on. You must put God’s Word in your mind when it wanders to other things. That means learning some scripture. Memorizing. Retaining. And that means learning to pray and stay focused on God.”
It’s no wonder why the Lord uses so many things we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel every day to remind us of His Word. The Lord likens Himself to seemingly ordinary things we encounter on a daily basis: water, food, light, animals, wind, shelter, etc. Perhaps He is trying to make a way for us to keep our mind stayed upon Him.
One other clue I was given was this particular scripture:
The Lord will keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him, because he trusts in Him. Isaiah 26:3
I never noticed this, but did you read that second part? It says, “Because he trusts in Him, he keeps his mind stayed on God.” That sounds like a person who has walked with God enough to knows he must look at the Lord every moment of every day if he is going to triumph. This is a person who the Lord has proven Himself strong to, and he naturally relies upon and trusts the Lord as he lives everyday life. See 2 Chronicles 16:9
Oh, my God, that I would be such a person.
I seek the Holy Spirit’s help in this. What lesson in life could possibly be more important than to learn how to keep our heart and mind focused on Him?