The Most Neglected Doctrine – Walking in the Spirit

You haven’t heard of it? That’s because it is more than a doctrine,* it is an experience! That is, it is TOTALLY not understandable intellectually. And there is a HUGE difference between intellectual and experiential. The intellect cannot perceive it, because it is not something that can be known. Therefore, science would reject it, because it is not earthly.

Spirit-walking is not something discoverable, as if it is visible to the naked eye. Do you remember Paul stating, “Eye has not seen,” “spiritual things are spiritually discerned,” and, “we walk by faith, not by sight”? Thus, walking in the Spirit comes by revelation from the Spirit. It requires a very particular FAITH FOCUS. Spirit-walking follows the New Birth. The only way to be reborn is to die. Now, am I stating something you did not already know? It is humanly impossible to die and be reborn!!!

I can assure you from personal experience, I attempted to seek a different, out-of-this-world, experience through certain religious strategies; such as, more spiritual solitude, memorizing Scripture, praying all night, fasting, dying to self. I could list the practice of every spiritual discipline, yet it does not lead to walking in the Spirit. In Colossians 2:20, 21, Paul asks, “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? After asking this question, Paul states, “These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2:22, 23). Dying to self is a wonderful spiritual discipline, but it does not lead to Spirit-walking–it follows it. As Watchman Nee said, “Dying to our sinful nature takes but a moment. Dying to self takes a lifetime.”

Paul said, “I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” This is ALL that matters!!! Consider all of the so-called great religions of the world. All of them have common ground; that is, rules to abide by if you wish to belong to their particular religious brand. Such rules, or as they choose to refer to them as beliefs, only make one more committed to that particular denomination, but they do not help at all to escape the shackles of sin. Seventh-day Adventist’s believe their unique identity, the Sabbath, sets them apart from the rest of society, and makes them more special to God. However, a day doesn’t make anyone holier or contribute to a more consistent walking in the Spirit! I can tell you from personal experience, rules, such as the Sabbath, only guarantees that Spirit-walking will not happen! Jesus put it this way, “You hypocrites, teachers of the law and religious practitioners! You travel far and wide to recruit a single follower, and when you do, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.” Jesus is talking to you and me, because many of us have gone to foreign lands on mission trips to convince the natives that we have the right brand of religion.

Paul, having been raised in Judaism, speaks of his people as having a veil that prevents them from seeing the truth. “But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only IN Christ is it taken away. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:14, 16). Unfortunately, religion generally functions as a veil—or we may prefer the term, filter—but it prevents us from understanding the spiritual reality that is in Christ. Notice how ONLY the veil can be removed: “in Christ.” This term is pregnant with meaning, as it is far more than just a preposition and noun. The negro spiritual, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”, encapsulates what it means to be in Christ. In Christ means to be crucified with Him (see Galatians 2:20)! Christians often speak of Jesus as our Substitute. He was more than our Substitute, since His sacrifice was inclusive—we died with Him! Until we realize, by faith, the inclusive fact of the Cross, our religion will remain a very frustrated, up-and-down, experience. That is because our religion, our striving to be good, can only come to an end at Calvary. As Andrew Murray once said, “If we are doing something, then God cannot do everything.”

*Doctrine – The word doctrine is not a biblical word. It came into being through the Catholic Church in the 13th Century. It’s root word comes from the Latin for doctor or teaching. I tend to think of doctrine as static, dead, and lifeless.