According to Romans 7-8 and Galatians 5, within the Christian, there is a struggle of the flesh against the Spirit. What does it mean to walk in the Spirit?
Everyone has a carnal (sinful) nature. This nature leads us to do things that we don’t want to do. These are sinful acts. Although we don’t want to do them, when enjoy doing them. When we are done doing them, we are regretful and (hopefully) repentant. This epitomizes the internal struggle of the Christian.
We want to do good; we want to be spiritual. We want to please God and be loving and kind, but many times, our flesh wins out and we grieve the Holy Spirit. As Paul wrote in Romans 7:19, “…the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.” Oh, how this struggle is so rampant in my life! I say with brother Paul, “O wretched man that I am!” We serve sin through our flesh, even though we serve Jesus through our mind. The answer is to walk in the Spirit.
These two natures, the flesh and the Spirit, are contrary to each other. One moment, we seem driven by our flesh; the next, we desire to honor the Spirit. Paul clearly explains this struggle in Galatians 5:17, “…the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”
The way to have victory over the flesh, Paul writes, is to “live in the Spirit,” that is, to live a spiritual life. We must give attention to the things of the Spirit. We must “walk in the Spirit.”
To walk in the Spirit, is to be led by the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit is to submit to the Spirit. In order to submit to the Spirit, we must open ourselves up to the Spirit through prayer and Bible reading and spending time with God. We must desire to have God work in our lives.
Paul identifies the “inward man,” which delights in the law of God, with the mind. (Compare Romans 7:22 with 7:25). This is where the battle between the flesh and the Spirit takes place: in the mind. We must renew our mind daily and make a choice, daily, minute by minute, to walk with God, to live in surrender to Him, to listen to Him, to die to ourselves, and trust in Him always. This is walking in the Spirit.
And while none of us do this perfectly, 24/7, we make it our aim, our goal, to please Christ, to grow in grace, and to submit to Him. When we fall, we ask forgiveness, and we keep moving, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.