The following post draws its base from the following Scriptures:
Galatians 5:22 – 23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
James 3:8 -- 11
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
Eph 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
Picking up from yesterday’s ending thought, sometimes being out of the spirit is easier to recognize than being in the spirit. Have not a large number of us experienced a thought and wondered if it were God directing us or not? Or, upon acting on a thought we felt sure was of the Lord, the results were less than satisfying. The simple confusion of the matter is that we often can’t tell if we are “in” God or not, especially as a young Christian.
Practically speaking, I had stopped trusting my ability to “hear” God because it seemed my own feelings were always in the way; then I realized something clearly. It was obvious when I was out of the spirit. There were times when my conscience wasn’t sensitive enough to register all my unholy attitudes, of course; but if it was clear I was out of the spirit, there was no doubt.
As yesterday, follow the understanding in reverse: I am out of the spirit when I hate, lack joy, am anxious, impatient, unkind, lack goodness, am unfaithful, harsh, lack self-control, curse, or speak unwholesome words which do not edify or fill another’s hearing with grace.
Learning to walk in the spirit of the Lord can be accomplished if we reduce it from some deep, spiritual meaning that cannot be established either intellectually or emotionally, and set the goal of understanding in very real terms of our actual natural existence. Stopping the flow of our old natures, which is...well the natural thing we are inclined to do, is a good step. We will fail in trying to stop our old natures. That is part of the process. Jesus said to forgive 7 X 70 for a reason.
Failing enables us to confront several things. The way it “feels” or how we “think” before we fail. As dull, natural human beings, we have usually become so accustomed to our rationalizations and/or emotional habits which enable us to live with unholiness, we do not recognize our sinfulness either as sin or as something that can be changed. Identifying a clearly bad habit or thought process, thus alerting us to make a change--if we will--before we blow it is learning to walk in spirit. The most important aspect to learn, I believe anyway, is the confrontation between Truth and our selfish lack of love for God which is evidenced by our failure. Honestly acknowledging before the Lord our lack of love and repenting there is much more effective than praying, "God, please change me." God has beaten death, washed our sins in His blood sacrifice, and determined to take us into His heart for eternity. Taking some personal responsibility in loving Him is up to us.
If we can turn our lack of love for God into love for Him at any level, we are first acting in the spirit and second our obedience in the matter will follow. Why do I call this in the spirit? This process is a work of grace. God accomplished the hard stuff on the cross. He has established the path out of unrighteousness, and His Spirit lights the way. His gentle voice speaking in our conscience is His leading. We make a decision to follow that voice of conscience. Following His leading must be a spiritual or in the spirit act. (This is why legalism fails. It places the responsibility on the believer to accomplish all holy acts, all the time, according to man's interpretations of Scripture. Thus legalism removes the spiritual nature of walking with God, and the believer does not connect with God's heart or intent moment to moment.)
Therefore, learn to work on what your conscience weighs upon you. You cannot leap into the new creation as a completed human. Learning the way of love is not like cooking microwave macaroni.