Life in the Spirit Part 2

by Mike Ratliff

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:16-18 ESV)

Christians who have stumbled and fallen into sin have done so because they have taken their eyes off of their Saviour as they were running the race the Father has set before them. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Often what distracted them from leaning on Jesus or clinging to Him in utter dependence was a desire to do something that appeared to be a good work. However, as they tried to do that work they had to step away from their abiding in the Lord and, instead, depended on their own abilities. This removed them for the Lord’s protection from deception. Before long, they found themselves entangled or mired in something they never thought would happen to them. However, the fact that they realize this is a very good thing. Unfortunately, there are scores of Christian leaders and their followers who are clueless that they are walking in darkness.

We have it in our minds that sin is something like lying or stealing or killing. For some reason it does not naturally occur to us that it is also sin to try to do good works in order to please God, but it is totally outside of His grace.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

What we must understand is that the only way we can do good works for God’s glory is as we abide in Christ. That means we are yoked up with Him and we are following Him as we carry our crosses. We have died to self and are now living for Him. The only way we can do this is to live in Spirit by walking by the Spirit.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to 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. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:1-8 ESV)

All in Christ are free from the condemnation that is against all who are still in their sins. Christians have been set free Christ Jesus. God, according the righteousness of Jesus Christ, has declared them righteous. He has imputed it to them. Also, they have been regenerated. They are new creations. Adam was able to sin, but he was also able to not sin. However, after the fall, Adam and his descendants fell into a horrible condition where they are able to sin, but also, unable to not sin. This is according to the doctrine of Total Depravity. However, God provided a way for man to be saved from the penalty of their sin. That is because our Lord became our propitiation. He took our guilt upon Himself and paid the penalty. Those who believe on Him, receive Him as Lord and Saviour are reborn. They are still able to sin, but they are now back to Adam’s state of being able to not sin. When we are resurrected to be with our Lord forever, we will be like Him. We will be in a new state. We will be able to not sin as well as unable to sin. What a glorious day that will be!

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:9-11 ESV)

As regenerate Christians, we have the ability to live here and now in the Spirit as a present reality. Yes, we are able to sin, but we are also able to not sin. We can walk according the Spirit and live for our Lord’s glory. We can obey Him by and through His grace. Jesus said that if we abide in Him we can do anything God commands, but without Him we can do nothing. (John 15) What must we do to make this a reality in our lives? It starts with repentance, drawing near unto God, asking Him for wisdom, then clinging to Jesus from that point on. Never believe that you can walk righteously without total dependence upon the joy of the Lord strengthening you. If we do that it will not take very long to stumble. However, if we understand that we are completely inadequate to do this then we must turn to Jesus and rely on Him to pull with us since we are yoked up with Him. We can carry our cross this way. When we are going it alone we will find that our crosses just get in the way.

What will it be then? Let us seek the Lord’s face. Ask Him for wisdom and guidance. Cling to Jesus so that this life in the Spirit will become a present reality. Soli Deo Gloria!

Here is the link to Life in the Spirit Part 1.

11 thoughts on “Life in the Spirit Part 2

  1. The desires of the flesh are based on lies,even very subtle ones.The Spirit is the Spirit of truth and fleshly desires based on lies believed as truth war against the Spirit.Knowing the truth will set us free!I know because when I prayed asking God to reveal all the lies that I was believivg as truth,I found I was not believing the true Jesus.God is still revealing the subtle deceptions of my flesh and for that I praise Him and press on.

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  2. Sherry C.,

    We will be in this fight as long as we are in these bodies. That is why we can never stop being vigilent and determined to simply rely on our Lord to carry us through the battle.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. Amen!But doesn’t our deep love for the Lord so desire to please Him in everything we do,say,and think NOW?Oh,praise to our Lord that He does bear with us and keep us through this pilgrimage!

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  4. Mike, so what does a Christian do who has stumbled? As you put it:
    “Christians who have stumbled and fallen into sin have done so because they have taken their eyes off of their Saviour as they were running the race the Father has set before them. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Often what distracted them from leaning on Jesus or clinging to Him in utter dependence was a desire to do something that appeared to be a good work. However, as they tried to do that work they had to step away from their abiding in the Lord and, instead, depended on their own abilities. This removed them for the Lord’s protection from deception. Before long, they found themselves entangled or mired in something they never thought would happen to them. However, the fact that they realize this is a very good thing.”

    So, now what? And also, what if the stumbling or sin was not so much trying to do good works, per se, but just sort of drifting from the closeness that they had with the Lord prior. Putting their focus on other things first, and then giving “what was left” to the Lord. But yet finding themselves then in the exact position you’ve stated here, “entangled and mired in something they never thought would happen to them.” Now what?

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  5. Julie,

    Have you read The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan? There is also a Part 2 to it along with his autobiography called Grace Abounding. Anyway, in Part 1 and Part 2 of Pilgrim’s Progress there is a place called the Valley of Humiliation. It is the place that God takes each us to deal with our pride. We usually stumble into it and it can be a very perplexing place. It seems as if God is a million miles away and no matter how much we try to “do stuff” to get back into fellowship with him we only end up back in our humiliation. The process is to teach us to humble ourselves before God while trusting in Him through His promises and not seeking anything else but to be obedient to Him. In this we learn that He is really with us. Eventually, He will reveal Himself to our hearts, but it is in His timing. This process heals our consciences and kills our pride while cultivating humility.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  6. Mike, thanks. I have tried to read Pilgrims Progress all the way through a couple of times. I get frustrated because there are parts that I don’t understand and could really use some sort of guide to help with that. I know that it is a bibically sound book and it was a favorite book of Spurgeon. I even got the upgraded language version of it hoping that would help me get all the way through it. So I really would like to read it again all the way through and know what it means.

    Yes, you’ve nailed it again with the Lord letting us wear ourselves out and just ending up in more humiliation. I have had to go back to the basics, and really the most basic of all: Loving Jesus pre-eminently. He is enough and if He is all I have, then I am eternally rich. Being content with the truths of Philippians 3 verses 7-11. And waiting on the Lord. It is all a new lesson for me, (or an old lesson but kicked up a notch).

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  7. Julie,

    Well, the only reason that I know this is that I live in this valley most of time. 🙂 In fact, God has me there right now. If we really think about it, the times when we are humble is when we grow the most spiritually. Those joyful wonderful light times are great, but do we grow much there? I think we need both, but our Lord tells us that clinging to Him in our helplessness is the best place to be.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  8. Julie,

    The answer to your question is:

    Repent, ask for forgiveness and turn back to Him. Sounds like you have already figured it out. Don’t make it too hard. Been there and done that.

    By the way..watch those books. I would not start those until very well grounded in the WORD. That is all you really need…and the Holy Spirit to teach you. Don’t rely on man to teach you….

    Hebrews 8…..

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  9. Ther is a very good book that shows you how to walk in and be filled with the Holy Spirit. “The Only Way To Happiness: The Beattitudes” by John MacArthur.

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