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Hows your walk?
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So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. – Galatians 5:16
Over the years I’ve listened to a zillion messages having to do with walking in the spirit verses walking in the flesh.  Countless of good pastors, leaders and bible teachers have taught from Galatians 5:16-23 to explain the meaning of both types of walks.  

To walk in the flesh means to consistently follow your own desires apart from God’s will.  Doing so, often results in sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, quarreling, jealousy, selfish ambition, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other similar sins.  
To walk in the Spirit, to follow God’s way for our lives on the other hand, produces the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control within us.  Each time I hear this message I do a quick spirit check, making sure my overall life choices keep me on the “Walking in the Spirit” list and no other.  

When hearing the message preached again recently at church an eerie truth surfaced that I had conveniently tucked into the back of my mind.  Pastor Jim discussed the recent headlines of the Arkansas preacher Tony Alamo, who was found guilty for taking under-aged girls across state lines for sex and mentioned his response to the conviction, “I’m just another one of the prophets that went to jail for the Gospel.”

Pastor Jim not only pointed out to the congregation truth that men like Alamo give sincere Christians a bad name but he also added this, “There’s not one person in this room who isn’t capable of doing the things that this guy did.”   He wasn’t necessarily referring to the specific crime Alamo committed but to the fact that every single person has within them the capability to do the unthinkable if they allow their thoughts and mind to run amuck.  It’s only when we choose to set our minds on what is right, good and true can we avoid being led astray by deceitful thoughts that when meditated on lead to ugly and evil sin.    

Pasto Jim’s words shook me because I think of myself as somewhat of a sweetie pie and could never imagine committing such evil deeds that I read about in the papers or hear about on the news.  But Pastor Jim’s comment stuck with me and caused me to re-examine the “flesh list” that I assume I’m not on a little more closely.  

Quarreling, dissension, outbursts of anger…I’ve been there, I do that.  Impure thoughts and self ambition, yeah, I deal with that too.  Fortunately when I recognize where my mind, attitude or actions are headed, I immediately go to God in prayer and ask Him for help.  But what if I didn’t?  What if stopped going to God in prayer?  What if I didn’t spend time reading His word and asking Him how it applies to my life?  What if I just let my mind run amuck?  The more I thought about this, the more I understood Pastor Jim’s words.  Because of the fall recorded in Genesis, wrongdoing in thought and in action is part of every human beings natural bend.

If we don’t keep our mind in check daily examining our hearts and minds, the place where all evil thoughts begin, then even sweetie pies like you and I could become engulfed in deception, believing it as truth and therefore having the ability to put our evil thoughts into action.

I don’t know Alamo’s original history, but somewhere along the lines he either stopped examining his thoughts and heart, or perhaps never actually did causing him to believe that he “walked by the Spirit” list only and was justified in his actions all for the sake of the gospel.

J Vernon McGee says it well.  “The Christian life requires a discipline …. I suppose the reason for all the tragic failures, the frightful casualties, and the total wrecks that line the shore of life is that we have not taken seriously the command: Walk in the Spirit.”

When we choose by faith to walk in the Spirit, it means we allow the Holy Spirit of God who dwells in every believer to guide our steps, thoughts, mind, and heart on moment-by-moment basis.  Sure we will blow it at times but when we consciously choose to confess our short-comings to God, He will faithfully forgive and get us on the right track and keep us from evil. (1 John 1:9)

As Pastor Jim concluded his message he gave a wonderful reminder that we may have to go through this process of falling short, confessing to God, setting our minds on truth following the Holy Spirits leading and standing firm to start fresh again many times in a month, a day or even an hour but each time we do, we will distance ourselves from walking in the flesh and instead walk steady in the Spirit.
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