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The New Life: Walking In The Spirit

Excerpts from a key chapter in Charles Whitehead's CCR classic 'Towards A Fuller Life In The Holy Spirit' can help renew our relationship with the Lord.

The Holy Spirit is a person, promised by the Father and released to us after Jesus had ascended into heaven. The Spirit is available in his fullness to every Christian, and when he is poured out to work in us, he reveals Jesus as Lord and Saviour and God as a loving Father, and he brings love, power, authority and commitment into our lives. 

In chapter 36 the prophet Ezekiel prophesied God’s plan: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” Ezekiel 36:26-27.

We are born again when we enter this new life through Baptism and the coming of the Holy Spirit, but living it out is not automatic. Even though we know all about it and want to walk in the Spirit and enjoy this new life, the old life is still open to us and we must be aware of this.

From The Old To The New

What is the old life? It’s a life lived largely by rules. We see Jesus Christ as a man who lived 2,000 years ago, we believe that he is God, sent to us by his Father, and we try to follow his teachings and to do as he did. We take on his ideals and try to live by them. So we see Christianity as a way of life governed by a set of rules, and we try by using our will-power to do what is right, and to live as we believe Jesus would want us to live.

When we look at the teachings of Jesus, at the Sermon on the Mount for example, we realise that with only the law to help us, we will find it impossible to put them into practice in our lives.

So what is the new life? It is life in the Holy Spirit; God at work in us. Jesus has supplied us with the power to live a new life through his Holy Spirit – we provide the channel.

How do we enter into this new life? When we are thirsty Jesus invites us to come to him and drink (John 7:37). If we acknowledge our need and want to have new life in the Spirit, then with expectant faith we must ask him to baptise us in his Holy Spirit. What we mean when we speak of being baptised in the Spirit is an unconditional surrender to the work of the Spirit in us.

'Apart From Me You Can Do Nothing'

Living according to our own self-interest will direct us away from God and towards sin. We cannot live for God and ourselves at the same time – the two things are opposed to each other. We must die to ourselves so that God can fill us more and more.

When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit, we are just beginning. As we walk in the Spirit we will make many mistakes - we will have failures as well as successes. If we are to be of any use to God we must admit our failures, learn from others and accept their correction. Above all we need to remember these words of Jesus: “Apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5.

We must be honest and admit when we have failed, and allow the Holy Spirit to search us and untangle us. The answer is in humble repentance before God, and before others when necessary. The fact that the Holy Spirit has started working in us is the guarantee of the completion (Ephesians 1:14) because:

  • He inspires prayer; this will maintain our spiritual power (Romans 8:26).

  • He brings freedom in praise/worship; this maintains our relationship with God (Acts 16:25)

  • He gives a desire for intercession; this helps us to support others (1 Timothy 2:1).

  • He brings power to witness and evangelise; this draws others to Christ (Acts 1:8).

  • He brings power for healing/deliverance; this produces wholeness/freedom (Luke 9:1-2).

  • He nourishes social concern: this stops us becoming self-centred (Acts 2:44-45).

  • He gives access to his charisms, gifts and ministries; these build up the body of Christ  (1.Cor.12:4-31).

  • Most of all he brings a new freedom and joy (Gal. 5:1).

Called To Be Salt And Light

How do we stay with the Spirit and not slip back into the old ways? It’s quite possible to fall out of the principle of grace and to bring ourselves under the law again. Paul was angry when he saw the Galatian Christians allowing this to happen: “Are you people in Galatia mad?” Galatians 3:1-5.

To be baptised in the Holy Spirit is to realise afresh that in everything we are to live out of God’s provision of life and power in Christ. We are called to be salt and lightIf we are to remain salty and light-giving, we need the power of the Spirit in our lives.

When we walk in the will of God we will have peace, and we will know when we divert from his path. Christ died to give us freedom; let us accept it now, and walk with him in the power and freedom of his Spirit. Then we will begin to experience A Fuller Life in the Holy Spirit.

© Charles Whitehead


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