Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25 )
This verse has always interested me. I think about over and over. I’ve taken it apart and put it back together. If we already “live by the Spirit” why do we need the second half? How is keeping in step different from living?
Paul thought the second half was important–and different from the first–or he wouldn’t have added it. Let’s see what we can come up with.
“Live by the Spirit” is passive. It has to do with our new life in Jesus Christ. We see ourselves as sinners, ask for forgiveness, accept Him as our Savior and become part of God’s family. These all happen because of the Spirit’s work in our hearts. We wouldn’t do any of those things on our own – we are chosen by God and He begins working in us before we are even aware of it. He gives us new life.
Earlier Paul wrote that if we live by the Spirit we put aside the “desires of the sinful nature”- ugly things like sexual immorality, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, and selfish ambition. Instead, the fruit of living by the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I think that’s where keeping in step comes in.
The word the NIV translates as “keep in step” means to “walk in line, follow, to be in rows”–to proceed in a row as the march of a soldier. We are to walk along the path or according the the line that the Spirit, Himself, lays down.
This is the active part of the Christian faith–keeping in step. We reject the path of what we know to be wrong and determine to follow what we know to be right. Paul is telling us here that a conversion in the past is only the beginning. For it to be real, it has to continue on from there. It has to make a difference in the way we live. Christian faith is active.
How do we know what the Spirit lays down? I have a lot of really interesting books on my shelves. I keep expecting that the information will just kind of ooze into me, but it hasn’t yet. To know what God wants for us, we need to take the Bible off the shelf and read it (then we’ll know what He wants and how to judge what is right) and spend time in prayer (talking to Him and listening, too).
…those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires…those who are led by the Spirit of God are [children] of God.(Romans 8:5,14)