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Today's Bible Q&A with John MacArthur

Walking by the Spirit, Part 1

Galatians 5:16-18 June 30, 1974 1668


Galatians 5:16-18 says, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law."

A. The Power of the Holy Spirit

1. Acknowledged

Anyone who knows anything about the basics of the Christian life knows that the key to living the Christian life is the Holy Spirit. At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit takes up residence in the life of a believer and becomes the source of power for his life. The theme of the rest of Galatians 5 is the Spirit-controlled life and what it produces--the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] self control" (vv. 22-23). The basis of a fruitful Christian life lived to the glory of God is the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. Avoided

The more legalism you apply to your Christian life, the more you hinder the work of the Holy Spirit because you are eliminating the necessity of His ministry and creating spiritual hypocrisy. You must allow the Spirit of God to produce works of holiness as you walk in His power. There are some people who equate holiness with how many times you go to church, or how often you pray or read the Bible. I knew a fellow student like that in a Christian college I attended. This college had an optional prayer meeting. I took advantage of the fact that my attendance wasn't required, exercising one of the few prerogatives the school offered. That guy trapped me in a hall one day and said, "You're not spiritual because you don't go to the optional prayer meeting!" His view of spirituality was where you went, not what you were.

On another occasion I had an opportunity to teach a Sunday School class when the teacher was sick. Afterwards, a fellow came up to me and said, "That was a marvelous lesson. I didn't know you were spiritual." His measure of spirituality was whether a person was ministering to others. Unfortunately, some people think that spirituality is only where you go or what you do, rather than what's going on inside. That's legalism-- attempting to equate holiness with performance.

B. The Purpose of Paul

Paul is arguing against legalism. He is saying that freedom in Christ involves allowing the Spirit of God to produce holiness without futilely trying to attain it by yourself. He's saying that we're not under law as Christians. The legalistic Jews were shocked because they believed that without the law, sin would run rampant. The only restrainer for sin they could conceive of was the law, being unaware that the Holy Spirit was now the internal restrainer. They thought freedom from the law would burst the dam and the waters of sin would drown everyone. So Paul very carefully shows in chapters 5--6 that Christian liberty does not mean sin runs wild. Our freedom does not mean we indulge in the flesh, injure others, or ignore the law (vv. 13-15). Rather, it fulfills the law by serving others in love by the power of the Spirit.

How can the Christian--free from law--keep from drowning his life in sin? Galatians 5:16 gives the answer: "This I say then, Walk in [by] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Living in the power of the Spirit is basic to the Christian life. That is the theme verses 16-25. In verses 18 and 25 he repeats that idea: "If ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.... If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

The Key to Holiness

Walking by the Spirit is basic to holiness. We can have holiness in our lives without legalism as we walk by the energy of the Holy Spirit, yielding to Him. That is essentially the same concept as being "strengthened with might by [the] Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16) or being "filled with the Spirit" (Eph. 5:18). The Christian does not set up a list of dos and don'ts to live a holy life. If he concentrates only on external things, he is much like the Pharisees, of whom Jesus said, "You might be careful that you don't do this or that, but your thoughts are foul. You might not murder, but you hate. You might not commit adultery, but you lust after women. The evil intent of your hearts makes you guilty of murder and adultery." I've seen situations where Christians did not do specific things, but their thoughts were so corrupt that God must have been as grieved as if they had actually done them. They knew nothing of walking by the Spirit; they were experts on being circumscribed to an external ethic. They were unaware that faithfully walking by the energy of the Spirit produces the holiness of God.

If I had my choice of being obedient to an external list of rules, or simply walking by the energy of an internal power, I would choose the latter. I am glad I live under the New Covenant, where practical holiness is the product of living by the energy of the indwelling Spirit, who empowers me to do the things that I couldn't force myself to do, no matter what the outside rules were. 

Walking by the Spirit comes in four parts in our text: the command, the conflict, the contrast, and the conquest.


I. THE COMMAND (v. 16)

"This I say then, Walk [by] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."

How do we prevent misusing our liberty in Christ? Paul gives us a present-tense command: Continue to walk by the Spirit. The Christian walk is a daily routine. It isn't something you come to at one point in your life and say, "From now on I commit myself to walking in the Spirit." No. It's not a once-for-all event. You must be walking continuously by the Spirit so that you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Even a new Christian has the wherewithal to completely fulfill God's requirements for holiness. You say, "But he doesn't know anything." He only needs to know one thing: Keep on walking by the Spirit and the Spirit will produce in him the things that God desires. It's very easy for us to excuse a new Christian for being guided by his flesh. But he has the same resource available to him that all Christians do. Sin is not usually a question of having the right information; it's a question of whether you walk in the power of the Spirit. The fulfillment of God's holiness comes by walking by the Spirit. When He comes in and controls our life, He begins to exercise our liberty in a way that never violates ourselves, others, or God. The Holy Spirit becomes our restrainer.

The Spirit is mentioned seven times in Galatians 5 by the Apostle Paul. He is emphasizing that the Spirit subdues the flesh by granting the believer power over it. We will check our lusts, stimulate love, and fulfill the law not by circumscribing ourselves to an external code, but by walking by the Spirit. Unfortunately, many Christians who have fallen prey to legalistic teaching have wound up trying to live by a code that someone else set for them; therefore they never do know the meaning of victory in their lives.

A. The Meaning of the Walk

The word walk implies progress. It pictures a day-by-day, step-by- step existence in which a Christian yields each moment of his life to the control of the Holy Spirit. That's the key to holiness. Since every Christian possesses the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9), we need to submit to Him, allowing Him to control our lives. Although that sounds easy to do, it's really not. I remember a chorus I used to sing when I was a young boy that gave me the impression that the Christian life was easy. It was called "Let Go and Let God Have His Wonderful Way." It wrongly implied that all a Christian needs to do is flop on the Holy Spirit and let Him do all the work. That thinking was the emphasis of the quietistic movement.

B. The Misunderstanding About the Walk

The Quietists were mystics of the late seventeenth century who believed that a one-time surrender to God would initiate a passive union with God. The Quakers were influenced by the Quietists. Even the evangelical Bible conferences at Keswick, England were quietistic in emphasis. Hannah Whitall Smith's The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1952) and the sermons of Charles Finney both promote the idea that a Christian needs to do very little but rely on the Spirit. Quietists believe that walking in the Spirit does not require any effort on our part, and when there is effort, we hinder the holiness that God wants to accomplish. The concept of surrender in quietism is vital to living a virtuous holy life. Some believe that when one completely surrenders, he receives a second work of grace so that the sin nature becomes eradicated and the Christian supposedly never sins again.

Although we are indebted to many of the Quietists, their teaching of a passive surrender to the Spirit is beyond Scripture. It raises the irreconcilable problem of who is at fault when you sin. You can say, "It can't be my fault because I was surrendered. And it can't be the Holy Spirit's fault because He wouldn't do something like that. Therefore, I must have taken back my surrender." That would be sin too. Whose fault was that? Walking in the Spirit is not as simple as it sounds, although the command itself is very simple. If holy living was entirely the responsibility of God, we probably wouldn't need the command. Its presence implies our own effort is involved in the process. What makes the command so challenging is the presence of conflict.

II. THE CONFLICT (vv. 17-18)

A. Stated (v. 17)

"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."

Paul first says to walk by the Spirit, and then says it's going to be tough because there's going to be a fight. Our walk is not simple in practice; there is a struggle involved. Even though a Christian is a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), and has been "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20), he still has the capacity to sin. That's the first thing a new Christian usually finds out. Because he still has a physical body, he still bears the sin principle. That is why Christians wait for the redemption (glorification) of the body. When we are glorified, sin won't be a problem any longer. We Christians can recognize God's will, but we still can have problems implementing it. We know God wants us to be holy and to walk by the Spirit, but achieving those ideals is a constant struggle because the flesh restricts their accomplishment. If a person is not a believer, he will not sense that conflict. He will go on sinning and loving it without a conflict between the Spirit and the flesh because of the absence of Holy Spirit in his life. But for the believer, there is a battle going on.

1. Defining the flesh

The word translated "flesh" (Gk. sarx) in this context does not refer to the body (although it's sometimes used like that; cf. Luke 24:39). It is used in the New Testament in a number of different ways.

a) The source of human weakness

Flesh is used in a theological sense to refer to the part of man that is easily attacked by temptation and susceptible to sin.

(1) Romans 4:1--"What shall we say, then, that Abraham, our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?" The use of flesh there refers to Abraham's humanness, which was susceptible to sin. Paul is asking, "Did Abraham make himself righteous? No. What did his flesh produce? It didn't produce a thing." The flesh is that part of man that cannot produce anything but sin. It refers in the previous verse to all of Abraham's efforts apart from God.

(2) Galatians 3:3--"Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Here again flesh refers to the futile effort of trying to accomplish holiness on your own.

(3) Galatians 6:12--The Judaizer's wanted to make a "show in the flesh." Again the flesh is used to speak of the lower nature of man, which is incapable of righteousness apart from God.

(4) Romans 6:19--Paul speaks of "the infirmity of [the] flesh."

(5) Romans 7:18--Paul summed things up this way: "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing." The flesh is the part of man that functions apart from God, attempting to attain righteous on its own.

(6) Romans 7:5--Paul speaks of "when we were in the flesh," referring to a hypothetical time before the point of salvation.

b) The source of Christian struggle

The Christian also struggles with the flesh. Even though we are new creations in Christ, we still have operating within us the propensity to function apart from God to accomplish our own ends. Romans 7 gives us good insight into the struggle that the flesh can put up against the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian. Paul acknowledges the problem he has with the flesh. Just because a Christian is saved doesn't mean he is rid of that problem. That doesn't happen until he goes to heaven and gets rid of his earthly flesh, which is the beachhead of sin. In Romans 7:14 Paul says, "I am carnal (Gk. sarx = `fleshly'), sold under sin." Sure, I am a believer, but I've got within me a beachhead on which the forces of Satan always land; temptation always gets me there. The flesh creates a terrible tension in a Christian as it wars against the Holy Spirit--and sometimes gains victory. In verses 15-16, Paul says, "That which I do I understand not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If, then, I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good." In other words, "There's nothing wrong with God's law. It's not His fault that I've got a problem." Then Paul says, "It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me" (v. 17).

There is a sin principle operating in the flesh. Paul continues, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would, I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do" (vv. 18- 19). Paul is saying, "I have the desire; I just can't put it into practice." If that isn't the testimony of the Christian life at times, I don't know what is! Some people identify Romans 7 as Paul's struggle before he became a Christian. But no unsaved man in the world has the problem of struggling against the law of God in his heart. Verses 21-24 say, "I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Paul states that the answer to this dilemma is in Christ, and expounds on that in chapter 8. Paul sums up the struggle in verse 25: "So, then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh, the law of sin." He defines the flesh as that part of a Christian that serves sin.

The flesh refers to the spiritual part of me that offers ineffective natural effort, independent of God, and is the place where sin lands and does its work. Galatians 5:17 tells us that the flesh lusts against the Spirit. Although we often think of the lust as connected with sin, the verb actually means "to desire strongly." It conveys the idea of contesting or struggling to accomplish something. So the flesh is struggling against the Spirit to dominate the believer.

2. Dealing with the flesh

a) The source of victory acknowledged

It is not nearly as important to be concerned with what the devil is doing as to be concerned with your own flesh. Rather than worrying about the strategy of Satan, you ought to positively entertain yourself with the concept of putting on Jesus Christ and walking by the Spirit. Then everything will take care of itself. Fortunately, the Spirit wants to operate in our lives. Every time the flesh starts doing its thing, the Spirit begins to combat the flesh. It's good to know that our flesh is being countered by the Spirit. Therefore, as Christians, we should recognize that victory is available.

(1) Romans 8:3--Paul said God has done for us "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh." The flesh is weak, but the Spirit of God is powerful. It's good to know that you have residing in you the absolute power of God fighting against the weakness of the flesh. So if you sin, it's because you gave up. You can't say, "The fight was on and the flesh won. I was rooting for the Spirit all the way. I don't know what happened." No, both sides don't have the same degree of strength. The Spirit is all powerful.

(2) Romans 8:26--Paul tells us that "the Spirit also helps our weakness" (NASB). If we ally ourselves with the Spirit, there will always be victory.

b) The source of victory applied

(1) Putting on Christ

The Christian has to deal with the flesh, which carries on work that is counterproductive to spiritual growth. Therefore, Paul provides a positive instruction for productive Christian living: "Walk [by] the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." You may ask how one walks by the Spirit. Romans 13:13-14 is a parallel passage that deals with living by legalism as opposed to living by the Spirit and fulfilling the whole law by love. It offers good insight into the meaning of the Christian walk: "Let us walk honestly, as in the day [where our life can be exposed]; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in immorality and wantonness [shamelessness], not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." The fact that putting on the Lord Jesus Christ and walking in the Spirit both result in not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh implies that they are essentially the same thing. The Spirit- filled life of walking by the Spirit is the equivalent to living a Christlike life. Walking by the Spirit involves saturating my life with the person of Christ. He should dominate my thought patterns as I live in the consciousness of His presence. Since the Spirit's work is to point to Christ, walking by the Spirit means that my life is patterned after the Lord Jesus Christ. The more I studied the Gospels and came to know Jesus Christ, the more fulfilling the Christian life became to me. Paul had the same goal. He said, "That I may know him" (Phil. 3:10).

I'm not talking about some kind of passive knowledge. You can't be a Quietist, saying, "I'm just going to wait until the spiritual battle is all over." At some point in the battle, you've got to get in it, as Scripture indicates.

(2) Yielding to God

Romans 6:12 says, "Let not sin, therefore, reign in your mortal body." That is not a command to the Holy Spirit; it's a command to us. God is telling Christians not to let sin control their lives. The presence of the command indicates that we can do something about it. Paul continues by saying that we're not to "obey it in its lusts. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (vv. 12-13). We must determine to yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit rather than our fleshly desires. However, as we rest in the Spirit's power, we must also get into the action.

(3) Starving the flesh

(a) Romans 8:12-13--"Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh" (v. 12). Do you owe the flesh anything? Did the flesh ever do anything for you? No one ever gives a testimony on how the flesh has blessed their life. There is no reason to pay any kind of attention to the flesh. We have been liberated at the cross from being controlled by our fleshly desires. Verse 13 says, "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Paul says, "Get in there and kill the flesh!" The best way to do that is to starve it to death. If you refuse to feed it anything, it shrivels up. If you feed the flesh, you put yourself in a position to be tempted. But don't give it anything that appeals to it. Walking by the Spirit is not a state of passive surrender; we must be actively involved in controlling our flesh.

(b) Colossians 3:5--"Put to death, therefore, whatever be longs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry" (NIV). We must be actively engaged rendering inoperative every ungodly desire.

(4) Being involved

The Christian life is not a spectator sport. Many verses in the New Testament make that clear.

(a) Hebrews 12:1--"Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses ... let us run with patience the race that is set before us."

(b) 1 Corinthians 9:27--The apostle Paul pictures himself in a boxing match in the Christian life: "I beat my body and make it my slave" (NIV). He wasn't passive in his Christian walk. The Christian must be actively involved.

(c) 2 Timothy 2:3-6--"Thou, therefore, endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries [as an athlete], yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The farmer that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits." The Christian is to be like a dedicated soldier, a runner who wants to win, and a hard-working farmer. That kind of commitment demands involvement. The Christian life is not something I watch; it is something I am totally absorbed in.

The Paradox of Spiritual Life

An apparent contradiction of Christian living is that while my life is not mine but Christ's, at the same time I am living it (Gal. 2:20). Then who lives your Christian life: you or the Holy Spirit? It is all the Spirit's power, but it demands all our yieldedness and commitment. I am responsible to put to death my fleshly desires. I don't know how the combination works, but I do know that when I sin, I never blame the Holy Spirit. If anyone does, there's something grossly wrong with their theology because God has no part in sin. The opposite extreme of Quietism is Pietism, the religion of self effort. There must be a balance found in walking by the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit involves yielding to the Holy Spirit and killing sin. 

B. Solved (v. 18)

"But if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law."

1. The role of the law

a) Stated

Why does Paul say we are not under the law? Because under the law we couldn't conquer the flesh. But if we walk by the Spirit (v. 16) we will have no problem with the flesh, and if we're led by the Spirit, we will have no problem with the law. To be under the law is to be unable to stop the lusts of the flesh. The law cannot stop sin; it stirs it up and reveals it. Paul makes that clear in Romans 7:8-10: "But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of coveting.... For I was alive apart from the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death." In other words, "God showed me His beautiful law and it killed me because I couldn't keep it."

b) Supported

If you are being led by the Spirit, you are no longer under the terrible curse of the law because the Spirit fulfills the law and conquers the flesh. Trying to obey the law on your own doesn't do anything but make a mess. In the classic book, The Pilgrim's Progress, we find the Interpreter's House, where there is a large room full of dust. When a man in the room starts sweeping the dust with a broom, Christian, the main character of the allegory, begins coughing. The Interpreter explains, "This parlour is the heart of a man that was never sanctified ... the dust is his original sin .... He that began to sweep at first, is the Law; but she that brought water, and did sprinkle it, is the Gospel" (John Bunyan, [Springdale, Penn.: Whitaker House, 1981], p. 31).

First Corinthians 15:56 says, "The strength of sin is the law." The law reveals sin to be what it is. If there is no law, sin cannot be identified. So when the law comes, you automatically sin. There is no capacity to obey the law. An illustration of how the law provokes sin is given by Pete Gillquist in his book Love Is Now (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970, p. 131). Suppose there are two houses built across town from each other with big plate glass windows. If one owner puts a sign on his lawn that reads, "Do not break the window," whose window do you think will get broken first? The law has a certain provocative quality.

2. The release from the law

a) Stated

However, if you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer left under the law to be provoked to sin. Being led by the Spirit means basically the same thing as walking by the Spirit, but it does emphasize something else: that the Spirit is actively leading.

b) Supported

(1) Romans 8:14--"As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Every Christian is being led by the Spirit. You don't need to pray, "Holy Spirit, lead me." He is doing that. Rather, you ought to ask Him to teach you how to follow. If you have the Holy Spirit living in you, you are not under the penalty law because God only gives his Spirit to people who have accepted Him by grace. Everyone else is under the law. Those who would like to be out from under the law and the wrath of God need to accept Jesus Christ, who will then give them His Spirit. That you are led by the Spirit means you are no longer under the system of law. Everyone in the world is under one of two systems: They are either under the Spirit or under the law.

(2) John 16:13--The Holy Spirit guides us into truth. He leads every Christian. We are not under the law; we are under the Spirit's leading--not external, but internal direction.

If the Holy Spirit is leading us, our responsibility is to walk where He leads (Gal. 5:16). The blind man of Jericho was led to Jesus in Luke 18. If you just pointed the way to a blind man, it wouldn't do him much good. You would have to take him by the hand and lead him. When the Holy Spirit comes into the life of a believer He will lead that new Christian. As a Christian follows the Spirit, he will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

Where does the Holy Spirit lead me?

There are eight places the Holy Spirit leads you:

1. To freedom (Gal. 5:1)

2. To holiness (2 Thess. 2:13)

3. To the Word of Truth (John 16:14)

4. To fruitfulness (Gal. 5:22-23)

5. To prayer (Eph. 2:18)

6. To assurance (Rom. 8:16)

7. To evangelism (Acts 1:8)

8. To submission (Eph. 5:18-21). Those who are filled with the Spirit speak in "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (v. 19) and submit "one to another" (v. 21).

If you are walking by the Spirit, you don't need a set of rules because the Spirit is doing the leading. The Galatians had stopped following the Spirit and started following the flesh. Don't do that. Romans 8:3-4 says, "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." God wants to accomplish the law in our lives as we walk in the Spirit.

Focusing on the Facts

1. When does the Holy Spirit take up residence in the life of a believer?

2. What happens when a Christian applies legalism to his life? Why?

3. What did legalistic Jews think would happen if the law was set aside?

4. What does the present-tense command Paul gives us in Galatians 5:16 tell us about the nature of walking in the Spirit?

5. What idea does the word walk imply? What is the key to holiness in the Christian walk?

6. How have some people misunderstood the nature of the Christian walk? What theological problems result from that misunderstanding?

7. Is walking by the Spirit a simple practice? Explain.

8. When will Christians no longer have a problem with sin?

9. Why is an unbeliever not aware of the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit?

10. Even though Christians are new creations in Christ, what do they still have operating within them?

11. What part of a person does the flesh refer to?

12. Is it more important to be concerned with your flesh or with what the devil is doing? Explain.

13. Why must the Christian deal with the flesh?

14. What, in addition to walking by the Spirit, results in not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh (Rom. 13:14)?

15. How can a Christian "mortify the deeds of the body" (Rom. 8:13)?

16. Cite some Scripture that shows that the Christian life is not a spectator sport.

17. Identify the paradox of spiritual life.

18. Rather that stopping sin, what does the law do to it (Rom. 7:8-10)?

19. If you are being led by the Spirit, why are you no longer under "the curse of the law" (Gal. 3:13)?

20. If the Holy Spirit is leading, what is our responsibility as Christians?

21. Where does the Spirit lead believers to?

Pondering the Principles

1. Are you really walking by the Spirit? The word walk implies step-by- step progress. Are you accepting your responsibility to follow His leading one step at a time, or are you waiting for the Spirit to hurl you into a quantum leap? Many people want others to solve their problems for them because of their lack of discipline and determination. That philosophy is not uncommon in Christian circles. Don't expect the Spirit to miraculously make you holy. Holiness is a joint effort: The Spirit leads, but you must follow. Scripture teaches that we are involved in the growth process. We must discipline ourselves to work toward greater holiness on a daily basis. Make prayer and meditation of Scripture a regular part of your Christian walk as you let the Spirit lead you to the throne of grace and through the Word of God. As you are led, remember to follow.

2. Read Colossians 3:5. What earthly desires do you need to put to death? Have you been feeding those desires with pornography, lustful fantasies, or materialistic attitudes? Paul says, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of your sinful nature" (Rom. 13:14; NIV). With temptation so readily available in our materialistic and self-indulgent society, be prepared to run from things that will hinder your spiritual development, defraud others, and grieve the God who calls you to be holy (1 Thess. 4:1-8).