About 12-15 years ago we were attending a church clear across town. We had been there for a few years. During a period of time I thought I was living by the spirit, and let the spirit decide whether we would go to church. There would be times when I felt led by the spirit to go to church (I felt so bonded with the church and the people) and I would would excitedly go to church. There were other times when I didn't feel "led by the spirit" to go to church. I felt lost and unconnected with anything about church, so I'd stay home. Staying home would reinforce my feeling isolated and alone, that no one cared. After a period of time of bouncing back and forth (going, not going, going, not going) I finally realized that I wasn't living by the Spirit. I was really living by my emotions. After that I made a decision to go every Sunday and then, after a while, my emotions followed my actions. I nolonger bounced back and forth about whether to go to church.
Too much of what is considered "walking in the Spirit" nowadays is really living by one's emotions, which is a recipe for disaster.
To truly understand what "walking in the spirit" means we have to go back and look again at meaning of the words [implied: holy1 = pure and blameless ] "spirit"2 = rational soul/mental disposition. So, in this sense, living by the [holy] spirit is using one's mind and intellect to discern what is the virtuous and moral thing to do any any given situation. It is putting aside that (emotional) sense of "I want to be done with this, and throw everyone out. This pain is just too much." Instead it is "putting to death" that human desire to want to be right, to want comfort and ease, to want my own happiness above all else. Walking by the spirit is an exercise of using our minds to control our emotions and do what is right in any situation.
When one first decides (yes, it is a decision) to walk in the spirit, he/she mail fail at the first attempts. That is to be expected, but one should get up and go again, and again. In addition the process often feels "mechanical", (i.e. "I'm only doing this because I have to do it because it's the "right thing to do."). One does it only because they feel like they "have to". A large part of succeeding at walking in the spirit is "letting go" of the desire to be in charge, of trying to control everything, of dieing to self, putting aside the desire to want life to be "my way". Sometimes it takes a lot persistence to follow through. At first the whole thing make seem fake, not real. My counselor told me over and over, "fake it till you make it." Keep doing the actions until it finally becomes real to you. Whatever you do over and over again long enough eventually becomes a part of who you are.
"Walking in the spirit" is not just something you can just decide to do one day and have immediate success. (i.e. "Today I will walk in the spirit!) A large part of learning to walk in the spirit is a product of maturing. Immature people too often want immediate results. They just react according to their emotions. When the going gets tough they want to give up. Any can act nice when there are getting what they want, or if they feel good. It takes maturity to keep calm and keep a good attitude when the whole world seems to be falling down around you.
- 1. G40 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G40 ἅγιος hagios (hag'-ee-os) adj. 1. sacred 2. (physically) pure 3. (morally) blameless 4. (religious, ceremonially) consecrated [from hagos "an awful thing"] KJV: (most) holy (one, thing), saint Compare: G53, G2282, G3741 [?]
- 2. G4151 (Mickelson's Enhanced Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries) G4151 πνεῦμα pneuma (pnyoo`-mah) n. 1. a current of air, i.e. breath (blast) or a breeze 2. (by analogy or figuratively) a spirit 3. (humanly) the rational soul 4. (by implication) vital principle, mental disposition, etc. 5. (superhumanly) an angel, demon 6. (divinely) God, Christ's spirit, the Holy Spirit [from G4154] KJV: ghost, life, spirit(-ual, -ually), mind Root(s): G4154 Compare: G5590 [?]