Back in May, I wrote a post about the Holy Spirit. Lately, I have been thinking about what it means to live by the Spirit. Scripture tells us we must live by the spirit – so what does it mean to do so? Is being filled with the Spirit a one-time event? Is it a continual “filling up”?
Let’s get an answer to some of these questions by examining some scripture. First off, to live in the spirit means we will produce fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” If we are living by the Spirit, there will be evidence in our lives reflected by how we conduct ourselves and live our lives.
The Holy Spirit comes to us once we have placed our faith in Christ. After coming to faith, the Spirit takes up residence in us, causing our bodies to become the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the filling with the Spirit is a one-time event.
Once we are filled with the Spirit, we are then enabled to live by the Spirit. Compare it to wind in a sail that propels a boat. Once the wind enters the sail, it keeps the sail puffed up and moves the boat through the water. Another way to look at it would be as the Spirit permeating us in much the same way as a marinade for meat. We soak meat in the marinade and over time the liquid is absorbed into the meat and becomes a part of it giving it flavor. That is what the Spirit does, it becomes part of us. Living by the Spirit is continual, moment by moment.
How do we live by the Spirit? We are empowered to do so by God’s grace. One way we strengthen ourselves to live it out is to be diligently in the scriptures and prayer.
Our flesh, our old self, is how we lived prior to being gifted with the Holy Spirit. That old self goes totally contrary to the Spirit. Just as Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what it means to live in the Spirit, right before that, Paul shows us what the works of the flesh look like. Galatians 5:19-21 says, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Galatians 2:20 sums up how we are able to live by the Spirit rather than the flesh. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”