Walking in the Spirit is an important part of your spiritual life as a Christian. To do this, you need to walk in the path set down for your spirit by the Holy Spirit. A successful walk requires you to know your surroundings and to take action accordingly.
Face the battle.
Even though it may not seem like it as you go about your everyday life, walking in the Spirit requires you to take part in the spiritual battle going on all around you. Wickedness and corruption will always try to lead you astray. You must be aware of these dangers before you can hope to avoid them.
Your “spirit self” is in constant battle with your “flesh self.” Whichever side gains control of your beliefs and actions will gain control of your soul and become victorious.
Walking in the Spirit means walking with the Holy Spirit in a manner that allows your own spirit to gain control.
Know your enemy.
In essence, you’ll have to face three different but connected enemies: the devil, the world, and the flesh.
Know that the phrase, “the devil made me do it,” is somewhat inaccurate. Even though the devil has power and influence in the world, he cannot force someone who is saved and walking in the Spirit to do anything. The devil may tempt you, but giving into that temptation is your own responsibility.
The devil’s influence is in the world, and as such, the world will often tempt you away from what is good and right.
Identify the flesh. The flesh is not your body, even though the two components are connected. The flesh is merely the part of you that desires worldly pleasure and rejects spiritual virtue.
Routinely denying your flesh strengthens your spirit. By taming the flesh, you are saying “no” to worldly desire and “yes” to the God.
Familiarize yourself with the battle front.
More accurately, familiarize yourself with both battle fronts. You will need to prepare yourself to confront wickedness both internally and externally.
The internal battlefield of the mind refers to the way you think and feel about the world around you and the people in it. The external battlefield of behavior refers to the way you act and speak in various situations.
These two fronts are connected. If your mind is steeped in wickedness, your actions will eventually follow. If you continually indulge in wicked behavior, your mind will gradually make excuses for that wickedness.
Accept yourself for what you are.
There are two components of your identity. First, you must recognize yourself as a human, which means acknowledging your own weakness and limitations. Second, you must see yourself for who you are in Christ and understand the strength that comes with that new identity.
You are a soul living in a physical body. As such, true well-being refers to the state of your soul more than the state of your body.
On your own, you are not safe against sin, vice, and spiritual death.
Accepting God and embracing your identity in Christ means understanding that God loves you and is on your side.
Identify your own weaknesses honestly.
Every person deals with temptation, but no one deals with temptation in the same way. The temptations you feel weakest against may not be the same temptations that your neighbor feels weakest against. Identify your greatest weaknesses so that you can guard yourself against them more effectively.
You can be certain that the devil knows your weaknesses and will prey on them as often as possible. The good news, however, is that God also knows your weaknesses and knows how to prepare you to work through them.
Lean on your biggest ally, the Holy Spirit.
Once you fully understand the battle you are fighting and the danger of being led astray, you need to recognize that your greatest ally in the conflict is the Holy Spirit. Only by walking in the Spirit can you hope to overcome the flesh.
The Holy Spirit will give you the strength and endurance to fight the battle and live a virtuous life. You may still slip and stumble, but by relying on the Spirit, your overall spiritual journey will have a positive outcome.
Prioritize your spiritual life.
If you really want to walk in the Spirit, you need to make a conscious effort to do so each and every day. Your spiritual walk is the most significant aspect of your life. If you ignore it or place other issues before it, you are likely to lose your footing.
Put “first” things first. Your daily life is made up of various concerns—family, work, school, and so on—and each of these matters have their place. Your spiritual walk comes before all else, though, and you need to recognize that if you want to be sure of your steps.
A good way to set your mind on the Spirit is to offer a prayer of renewed faith and dependence each morning when you wake up, preferably before you do anything else.
When analyzing any given situation or circumstance, think about it in terms of how it fits in with the Kingdom of Heaven before worrying about how it appears from a worldly perspective. Ask yourself if God would be pleased with something before wondering what others will think.
Ask God for guidance and assistance on your walk. More importantly, pray, then listen. You probably won’t hear an actual auditory response, but God often has other ways of telling you what you need to know.
Typically, the Spirit will whisper some warning to your heart when you have encountered something wrong or dangerous to your spiritual well-being. Learning to interpret these whisperings can take practice, but with experience, you will likely come to understand them for what they are.
Consider what it is like to have a conversation with someone in which the other person does all the talking and never lets you speak. When you pray “at” God by merely reciting a wish list of requests, you do not give God the opportunity to speak to you in return. Instead of doing this, you should spend time in contemplation and meditation when you pray.
God might talk to you by putting a thought in your mind you would not usually have or by arranging circumstances in a way that stands out. Keep your eyes, mind, and heart open as you go about your daily routine.
Examine your conscience.
While feeling constant guilt over your sins can drag you down, you do need to examine your conscience on a regular basis and be honest with yourself about your missteps and stumbles. Only by acknowledging these flaws can you hope to overcome and avoid them in the future.
Consider the image of a garden. By examining the garden of your spiritual life, you can identify weeds and remove them before they start killing healthy plants and fruits. If you mow everything down carelessly, you will end up destroying good along with the bad. If you do not remove anything, though, the bad can eventually strangle the good.
Listen, trust, and obey.
Allow God to communicate to you and trust that His will is best. Once you learn to trust God’s will, you will naturally find it easier to obey it. In the meantime, you will need to obey God’s will and commandments even if doing so goes against your gut instinct or human desires.
You need to obey God’s law—general rules that apply to all mankind—as well as God’s instructions for your own life as an individual. God’s law is described in the Bible, but you will need to be attentive to how God speaks to you in your own life to decipher personal instructions.
Sometimes, the direction the Spirit leads you in will be obvious, but oftentimes, the purpose behind that guidance does not appear to make sense. It is during those moments that trust in the Holy Spirit becomes important. If you believe that God loves you and wants the best for you, it follows that God—who is all-knowing and all-powerful—will guide you toward your best possible future.
Understand that obeying God means obeying immediately. Delaying your obedience is actually a form of disobedience.
Watch your life for fruits of the Spirit.
When your life begins to exhibit these “fruits of the Spirit,” you can reassure yourself that you are walking in the Spirit as you should. These fruits are not responsible for your salvation, but they are typically the natural result of your salvation and of a healthy, consistent walk in the Spirit.
The fruits of the Spirit, according to Galatians 5:22-23, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Understand that the walk comes first and the fruits follow. Simply mimicking the fruits of the Spirit in your own life will not set you on the right path, mainly because it will be impossible to truly display those fruits in your long-term thinking and actions. First you must follow the Spirit. After that, the fruit will develop naturally.
Do not be discouraged if you do not display all of these fruits. Spiritual struggles will likely follow you all your life. The important thing is to let God develop these traits in you in His time.
Avoid sources of strife and conflict.
When unavoidable conflict comes, you will need to stand firm. That being said, you should maintain a spirit of peace and love as far as your own actions are concerned. Avoid strife for the sake of nurturing your own spiritual walk. You should also avoid spreading conflict for the sake of others.
Another way to put it would be, “don’t go looking for trouble.” When trouble finds you, let God guide you through it. Knowing that God will guide you through difficulties is no reason to create them yourself, though.
Words have a greater power than people often realize. The words you choose, how you speak them, and when you speak them can help maintain your walk or quickly throw you off balance.
Listen to others before and consider what you hear before you speak.
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your words and the motives behind your speech.
Avoid saying anything rash. Do not speak evil of anyone or use your words to harm another. Remember that there is no “taking back” what you said. Once you speak, the words continue to hang in the air no matter how you try to make amends later.
Control your anger.
There are times when you will be righteously angry, and that is fine. Blind fury and rage should be avoided, however, because that sort of anger has a tendency to destroy rather than nurture. Destructive anger will only make your walk more difficult to manage.
Be slow to wrath. Do not allow your anger to control you and control the way you deal with others.
When you get angry, ask yourself what the cause of your anger is. Righteous anger has spiritual roots and is directed toward sin and injustice. Destructive anger has worldly roots and often turns into grudges held against specific people.