Peninsula Community Church
Keep In Step With The Spirit
July 9, 2017
Galatians 5:16; 25, 26 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
We closed the message last week with the thought that we are to receive the freedom that is ours. We must personalize it and make it a part of who we are. This works for us as a nation but it also works for us as individuals who follow after Christ. We must receive and accept the work of the Holy Spirit into our lives. As we read last week, The Lord is a spirit and where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17). We walk in the Spirit and He gives us freedom. Through Him, we are liberated from the bondage of sin and the bondage of misplaced emotions. Rather than freedom, too often we are constrained by fear, regret, worry, and unconfessed sin. That was never God’s plan for us. With that in mind, I would like to explore this idea of freedom some more.
I will begin with a personal illustration. When my children were younger we loved to go hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains and in the Catskill Mountains. While hiking, I would instruct our kids to follow directly behind me. My job as a father and the leader of our little band of hikers was to make sure that I was choosing a safe path and a good experience for them. When we encountered tough terrain I would make sure that we navigated the terrain as safely as possible.
On the journey through the mountains there were many distractions. There were beautiful vistas, wildlife, flora, and other people on the trail. All of these served to distract and cause us to veer off course at times. With the amazing beauty all around us, there were unseen dangers that could cause us to lose focus and could possibly cause us harm. Loose rocks, exposed tree roots could easily cause us to stumble and fall. Many times we would get off the trail to explore. Sometimes we would take detours in order to explore things not seen on the regular trail. Even when we were off of the trail, I would always be in the lead. I knew that I had a role to play and that was to get my family safely to the end of the journey but I also needed them to enjoy the journey.
As we look at the passage before us, we find a truth that will save us from many of the pitfalls and difficulties we face in life. Paul encouraged the believers in Galatia not to wander aimlessly through life but to “keep in step with the Spirit.” Keeping in step with the Spirit, helps us to avoid many of the dangers lurking around every corner in this journey called life. When we recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we can feel much like the experience I had with my kids. The Holy Spirit helps us navigate the path of life and if we will follow Him, we will navigate life more successfully.
As we review this passage, we also find a couple of issues that prevent us from keeping in step with the Spirit. Paul understood that becoming conceited is one way we can get out of step with the Spirit. Conceit has been defined as vanity, narcissism, conceitedness, egotism, self-admiration, self-regard, pride, arrogance, hubris, smugness, and big-headedness. Pride has been and continues to be one of the biggest problem we have on our journey. Pride certainly effects how we stay in step with the Holy Spirit and it prevents us from accomplishing much that God has for us. Solomon, one of the writers of the books of wisdom, had much to say about pride. Just two of these remind us of the power of pride. When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2). Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).
You see when we walk in pride we tend to depend on God’s spirit to save us but fail to depend on Him to sustain us. Max Lucado shares the following story that illustrates this. A Welsh woman who lived many years ago in a remote valley felt it was worth the cost and trouble to have electricity installed in her home. Several weeks after the installation, the power company noticed she had barely used any electricity. A meter reader went to see her. “Is there a problem?” he asked. “Oh no,” she responded. “We’re quite satisfied. Every night we turn on the electric lights so we can light our oil lamps.” She had the power but continued live in the old ways.
We can do the same! We have the power of God in us but only turn to Him when we need Him. We turn to Him to help us get started on the journey as a believer but after that we try to continue in our own strength. It is for that reason Paul urges us to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). We can not coast in pride but must stay in step and stay connected to the Holy Spirit who wants to not just save us but wants to sustain us in everything we do.
Pride also leads us to believe we do not need God. What a sad commentary but it is the commentary of so many today. Society as a whole has rejected their need for God. They are self sufficient and so smart they no longer need God’s help. This same pride has entered the church as well because too many live disconnected from God. Many claim to be believers but live without God. Many believe they do not need faith because they have been blessed in so many ways. Many believe they do not need His word because they are busy reading Facebook and Twitter. They are so busy, they do not have time to read His Word which is His instruction manual for our lives. They would rather read about man’s opinion about God than read His words directly. In so doing, they have missed being in step with God. In so doing, they have pushed God to the margins because they do not need Him.
As I was preparing for this I realized something. The difference between the words trial and trail is where the “i” is positioned. This is a simple illustration and may be a slight stretch but I hope you see what I am talking about. Notice that in the word trail the “i” is after the “a.” To me the “a” represents almighty God. In the word trial notice the “a” comes after the “i.” Heres the deal when we put “I” before God we will face greater trials and tribulations. When we walk in pride we can miss what God is doing. This does not mean that we will not face trouble when we follow God, it just means that God takes our trials and turns them to opportunities to show Himself strong.
What a sad commentary to think that we have reached a point where we believe that we do not need God. We isolate and push God out of the equation. No wonder we live with anxiousness, fear, and depleted lives. No wonder sin abounds and the absolutes of truth have been cast off. Sadly, we are seeing a great attempt to remove God from the fabric of our nation. But in the end it all falls apart without God. When we remove God, we remove His power and His spirit from directing our lives. Remove God and we remove His favor and His grace. Maintain a God focused life and we experience His favor and grace in deeper ways.
Thirdly pride leads us to compare ourselves with others. We become so concerned about what others think we end up compromising our walk by pleasing others. You see God never called us to be like someone else but we are called to be like Christ. We are originals created by God with a plan and purpose. Here is the problem however. When we compare ourselves to others we can feel we do not measure up because we are using the wrong measure. God is and must be the measure of our success and accomplishments. When we keep in step with the Spirit we will be less likely to compare ourselves to others.
The problem with comparing ourselves with others is that we can begin to seek the applause of man rather than the heart of God. John Piper stated that we do not seek the applause of men or the glory of man but to know that we are pleasing and honoring God in all we do. The great problem in contemporary Christian living is not learning the right things to do but how to do the right thing. The problem is not to discover what love looks like but how to love by the Spirit. For Paul it is absolutely crucial that, if we come to life by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit, then we must learn to walk by the free and sovereign work of the Spirit as well.
Finally, the answer to the issue of pride is to recognize that the Holy Spirit’s primary role is to point us to Christ and transform us into Christ’s image (2 Corinthians 3:18). By His spirit, we can be transformed from having a spirit of pride to one of humility. After all, Jesus modeled forgiveness for us by going to the cross. Jesus humbled Himself and offered Himself as an obedient sacrifice for our sin and our sins. Accepting the work of the Spirit into our hearts transforms us. It changes us. Too many say they follow Christ but there is no change. There is no transformation.
Our transformation into the image of Christ is more important than our ministry. It is more important than our spiritual experience. It is more important than our spiritual gifts or even the knowledge we may have. If we are not being transformed and changed by the work of the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel, we are not living up to the desire God has for us.
So today, we are being called to keep in step with the Spirit. In so doing, we live in victory and the freedom given to us by Christ. Give up pride and we will find that it is easier to keep in step with the Spirit. We will be sustained through every difficulty. We will be transformed. We will be free and victorious.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom