A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34, 35 NKJV
Believers are called not only to love each other as yourself, but are also called to go one step further: to love each other as Christ loved you. To do this, you must walk in the Spirit, and you can’t walk in the Spirit without yielding the fruit of the Spirit. If fruit is the product of plant growth; then, spiritual fruit is a reflection of your personal growth and development in the Lord. According to the Apostle Paul, “the fruit of the Spirit is love . . .” (Gal.5:22, 23).
Both the Old Testament and the New Testament analogizes your life as a “tree” (Ps. 1:3; Matt. 7:20). Just as trees are consistent in the kind of fruit they produce, you need to consistently exhibit the fruit of the Spirit because they are the attributes, the character and nature of God in Christ in you, and God is love (1 John 4:7, 8).
Jesus taught that love is the greatest commandment, i.e., loving God and loving others as yourself (Matthew 22:37-40). Love (Agapeo, Greek) far exceeds what the Law and the prophets ever taught or commanded. Why? God is love and love is the fruit of His Spirit which fulfills all the Law and the prophets (Matt. 22:40; Gal. 5:23). Furthermore, Paul reveled to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:5 that there are three useful qualities that help you cultivate and demonstrate the love of God: a pure heart, a clear conscience, and unfeigned faith. Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfilled the lusts of your flesh (Gal. 5:16); but rather, you will yield the fruit of the Spirit which is love manifested in eight other attributes as outlined in Galatians 5:22, 23.
God is glorified when you yield the fruits of love. The fruit of the Spirit defines your discipleship in Christ more than other external measures. If you keep the commandments to love God and others as yourself, you then abide in God’s love and His Spirit (John 15:8-12). The fruit of the Spirit is Love!
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law . . . If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:16-18, 25 NKJV
The lust of the flesh is nothing more than an intense desire to carry out a work of the flesh, as enumerated in Galatians 5:19-21; it is a natural, sensual impulse whereby you set your heart upon carrying out the desires of the flesh.
But please understand that there are two conflicting forces within believers: the Holy Spirit and the sinful nature of the flesh. To rise above the lust of the flesh and to avoid fulfilling its desires, you must walk in the Spirit. When the Spirit of God dwells in you and rule your heart, the sinful fleshy nature will be destroyed. To walk in the Spirit is to live by the Spirit, i.e., to be influenced and impacted in your conduct and decision-making by the Spirit of God.
In John 15: 4-8, Jesus uses a farming analogy of the “Vine and the branches” to teach that walking in the Spirit produces fruit if you abide in the Vine (Christ and His Word). To “abide” in Christ is to dwell in Him, to be present with Him, remain, and continue with Him daily, regardless of your respective circumstances or situation. Fruit is the product of plant growth. So, when you abide in Christ, the Spirit causes certain graces to grow in your life, i.e., the fruit of the Spirit. Like fruit in the natural, spiritual fruit can be under-developed, fully developed; unripe and ripe. But the more you abide in the Vine, the more you grow if you continue to be yielded to the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit influences the spiritual atmosphere, attitude, and altitude of your life, impacting your surroundings and environment; your emotional mental state and feelings; and your spiritual elevation and stature in God. The fruit of the Spirit is Love and eight other attributes, as outlined in Galatians 5:22-23), that you should embrace for your life. God is Love and God is a Spirit. So, if you live in the Spirit, you should also allow the Spirit to influence and impact your life by walking in the Spirit!
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13 NKJV
What does it mean to be led by the Spirit? At the least, to be led by the Spirit is to be influenced by the Spirit of truth to guide you in doing the will of God—it’s like tuning into the “Holy Ghost’s” channel; you just raise your “spiritual antenna”, dial in and be led. But how do you reconcile that some people are able to dial in and are led by the Spirit, and others seem to never find their way to obey the will of God. Is it because a lack of spiritual awareness? If so, how do you develop spiritual awareness? I can suggest four things to help one develop spiritual awareness:
First, meditate in the Word of God; just as God instructed Joshua when he succeeded Moses as the leader of the congregation of Israel and the commander of its army (Joshua 1:8). The Hebrew word translated “meditate” (hagah) also means to mutter, ponder, and speak to yourself. God the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit are One (John 17:21-22). Meditation in the Word proffers awareness of the Spirit, and prosperity and success.
Second, spiritual awareness necessitates that one practice being a doer of the Word of God (Jas. 1:22-25). Without being a doer of the Word, the “Holy Ghost” channel is always distorted and unclear. You want a clear channel! Don’t make the mistake of thinking that talking about the Word and rejoicing about the Word is being a doer of the Word—not so! In fact, practicing the Word begins with walking in love (John 13:34). God is love (1 John 4:16). It is being about it, not just talking about it.
Third, give the Word of God first place in your life. Make the Word your first priority and final authority. Borrow from the wisdom of the writer of the Book of Proverbs, where he admonished you to “give attention to [God’s] words; incline your ear to [His] sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh” (Prov. 4:20-22). If you want to develop spiritual awareness and sensitivity, always ask yourself in every situation: “What does the Word say about this”? (See an example in 2 Chron. 16:12-13 as to what may happen when you don’t). And,
Fourth, instantly obey the Inward Voice and the Voice of Spirit. Remember, that your human spirit is the conduit that the Holy Spirit uses to communicate, lead and guide you (Prov. 20:27). Don’t second guest God’s voice. After all, you are a new creature in a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). In your new spiritual nature, you are of God and have overcome every spirit and voice of the anti-Christ and the anti-God influences in the world (1 John 4:4). Don’t be afraid. Just obey God! Spiritual awareness is walking in the Spirit, not fulfilling the desires of your flesh (Gal. 5:16).
[B]ecause, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21 NKJV
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:15 NKJV
Who are you? Where are you? Whose are you? Only you can decide, but you must make up your mind because “a double-minded man, is unstable in all his ways” (Jas. 1:8). Are you in a spiritual identity crisis? An identity crisis is believed to be one of the most important conflicts people face in life. Like the Roman and Greek philosophers, as mentioned in Romans chapter one, the rational minded believer suppresses the truth of God in unrighteousness and becomes confused about who he is in Christ.
Are you unsure of who you are and your role in life? Do you feel like you don’t know the real you? If so, you may be experiencing an identity crisis. But you can make this time work for you rather than against you. How? An identity crisis can be a time of intensive self-analysis and exploration, and a time of looking at yourself in a different way. The challenge is to see yourself in the light of God’s Word: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (Text).
Identify with your new identity according to the Gospel that says, “you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power . . . that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Col. 2:10; 4:12). You are now perfect and complete in Christ, lacking nothing. All that is required is that you boldly act on the fact of this new identity, accepting the Gospel truth that, in Christ, you died to the old man and the old identity.
So, claim your new identity in Christ by sharing your faith effectively by acknowledging every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus (Philem 6). You must relentlessly claim your new identity, even in the face of what seem to be contradictory appearances. Judge not by appearances!
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:12-13 NKJV
In addition to angels, dreams and visions, God will speak to you and lead you by the inward witness, the inward voice, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. Although the voice of the Holy Spirit is more authoritative than an inward witness and the inward voice, the inward witness is the primary way that God leads you (Rom. 8:14, 16). Therefore, your spirit must be open to the Holy Spirit to do God’s business.
The Apostle Paul admonished the Roman Christians: “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). Living for God and serving Him is to be considered “business.” God is the owner of the business; the Holy Spirit is the agent or employee; you’re the buyer, customer, and client. An opened business is always ready to supply your demand, to sell what you’re buying, and to do the bidding of its customers. Are you open to do God’s business? God has things to say to you, but can you bear them—are you in a place spiritually to handle them? It is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth who guides you and shows you things to come. Always buy the truth that the Spirit sells (Prov. 23:23). Never part with the truth for no consideration: money, pleasure, fame, or ease. Let nothing deprive you of His inward witness—cleave to it! Stay open to do God’s business regardless of challenging circumstances. Believe what God says and shows you (See Act 27:9-11, 21-25).
The Holy Spirit communicates to and through your human spirit, not your mind. So, don’t allow your intellect and knowledge to cause you to sell God’s truth. Be sensitive in your spirit, and if needed, build and develop your spirit. Your human spirit can be developed, just as your mind and body can be developed (Jude 20). But when you shut out your spirit, by not listening to the Holy Spirit, you are closed to doing God’s business. (Prov. 20:27). Stay open for business!
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13 NKJV
Growing up, I would often hear both my Father, who was a pastor, and his cousin, a prophet, say: “the Spirit told me this, that, or another” . . . or say “the Spirit showed me.” I didn’t make the connection then, but I do now—the Holy Spirit has a voice.
There are basically three ways to be led by the Spirit of God: the inward witness, the inward voice, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. The voice of the Holy Spirit is more authoritative than an inward witness that testifies of God’s truth of our position, power, and place in God’s family (Rom. 8:16), or the inward voice of conscience that keeps us in tune with the Holy Spirit by confirming the rightness or wrongness of our thoughts, actions, or motives (Rom. 9:1). The voice of the Holy Spirit comes to provide direction, guidance, and instructions (Text).
Simon Peter heard the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to him while he experienced a trance-like vision that God gave him to deal with his stronghold of racial bias, religion, and ethnic prejudice, in order for the Gospel to be taken to the Gentiles (Acts 10:17-20). The Holy Spirit also spoke to Philip to direct, guide, and instruct him to approach an Ethiopian Eunuch in order for the Gospel to be spread to Ethiopia (Acts 8:26-30). And, the Holy Spirit will speak to you to direct you, guide you, and instruct you according to his will (John 16:13).
Just know that, as in the case of both Peter and Philip, God has an overarching plan. He uses the voice of the Holy Spirit to communicate the direction, and provide guidance to His people to fulfill His plan and purpose. God’s given vision and direction doesn’t ever change, but the actual guidance and instructions, from season to season, may change or even seem circular (See Exodus 13:17-18); but this is just part of the process—whatever it takes, the voice of the Holy Spirit speaks to us in a way and in a place that we can hear and understand.
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh . . . Romans 9:1-3 NKJV
Apostle Paul, a Jew, preached salvation to both the Gentiles and the Jews. Many of his Jewish countrymen considered him a traitor; but he was not. Paul was deeply devoted to the Jewish people (Rom. 10:1-3); and notwithstanding, he preached the truth of the Gospel of grace, and did not lie. His conscience—the inward voice—confirmed his truth in the Holy Spirit.
Man is a spirit; he possesses a soul and lives in a body. The inward spirit man has a voice—a voice of conscience—that confirms what is truth and keeps us in tune with the Holy Spirit. This voice exists in every man, and it is a strong witness of our integrity or our guilt. “Conscience” is a conscious judgment whereby we decide whether our thoughts, actions and motives are morally right or wrong, which we instantly approve or condemn.
The inward voice of conscience always tell us the truth—the good, bad, and ugly. So, we should obey our conscience, and therefore, let our conscience be our guide (1 John 3:20-21). God himself speaks through the voice of our conscience as He did with Paul. “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching the innermost depths of the heart” (Prov. 20:27). And, God lives in us by His Spirit, and God speaks where He lives (John 14:23; 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16). Again, He speaks through the inward voice, i.e., the voice of our conscience. Thus, we need to keep our conscience clear to hear.
Also, it is critical to keep a sensitive and tender conscience, not burned and seared (1 Tim. 4:1-2).When your conscience becomes seared, the inward voice becomes distorted, muffled, muted, and out of tune with the Holy Spirit. Every time you ignore the inward voice of your conscience, you burn your conscience. Ouch!
This is He who came by water and blood — Jesus Christ; not only by water, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth . . . 9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. 1 John 5:6, 9-10 NKJV
No man can see God because God is a Spirit and has no bodily form. So, how can you be led by God and hear from God? Is there a way to be led by God’s Spirit? Absolutely! God is a Spirit and man is also a spirit (Prov. 20:27). However, according to the Apostle Paul (Rom. 8:16), Luke the disciple (Acts 10:19), and the Apostle John (1 John 5:10), there are three ways to be led by the Spirit of God: the inward witness, the inward voice, and the voice of the Holy Spirit. Each way is an operation and manifestation of listening and hearing with the “third ear” Let’s briefly focus on the Inward Witness:
A witness is one who testifies to provide evidence. The Holy Spirit is an inward witness that testifies of God’s truth about who you are, where you are, ad what you have been given of God in Christ. On the other hand the devil—your enemy—is a liar and false witness who must be resisted, chased away, and put to flight (John 10:10; Isa. 59:19; Jas. 4:7). Your adversary the devil will cause you to question and doubt your salvation and standing, your faith and prayers.
But the Holy Spirit bears witness (Rom. 8:16) to the truth that you are a son of God (Rom. 8:14), and that you are saved (1 John 5:10), and that you are positioned in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21), and that you have been adopted in the family of God and now belong to Abba Father (Rom. 8:15); and, the Inward Witness will encourage you with God’s love (Rom. 5:5). So, when the Inward witness manifests Himself in you, just know that He has been sent by the Father, i.e., the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father to testify about Christ in you (John 15:26). Resist the lies of the enemy; don’t believe everything that you see and feel, or what others may be think or say about you. Follow the Inward Witness and realize your purpose, your position, your power, and God’s plan, for your life. The Inward witness will be “a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path”! (Psalms 119:105).
But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV
Government, by definition, is “a structured organization or agency that exercises authority and the making of policy to provide authoritative direction and control (Merriam-Webster). There are at least six basic structures of authority: (1) the government of God, (2) civil government, (3) the family, (4) the church, (5) businesses, and self-government.
Regardless of the form of government there must be structure, authority, direction and control, especially in the family. In our text, the Apostle Paul addresses Christians in the church of Corinth to remind them of God’s desired government in the family. As translated in The Living Bible (TLB), it is important to note that the words “man and “woman” are referring to husbands and wives: “I want to remind you . . . that a wife is responsible to her husband, her husband is responsible to Christ, and Christ is responsible to God” (1 Cor. 11:3).
In any family, everything begins with a husband’s relation with Christ—the husband is the head of the family; Jesus is the head of the household; but, the husband’s headship is not superiority over the wife; it is responsibility! This word “head” means to lay hold of; to seize responsibility (Greek text). Headship is never intended to imply domination or suppression. Men and women, husbands and wives are equal in the sight of the Lord, but they have different roles and responsibilities in the family unit.
In fact, God’s government in the home is structured for mutual submission among husbands and wives (See Ephesians 5:21-25). God’s appointed head of the house—saved or unsaved—is the husband; therefore, do not attempt to usurp His government (1 Peter 3: 1-7).
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His . . . For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. Romans 8:9, 14-16 NKJV
When a person accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord, the Holy Spirit baptizes them into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). This is based on promise (Rom. 10:9-10, 13) not necessarily one’s feeling the Spirit or having the mind of the Spirit. Because the Spirit of God dwells in you, you belong to Christ and are deemed to be a son of God having now the Spirit of God.
In the above text, Paul uses adoption to illustrate a believer’s new relationship with God. In Roman culture (1st Century A.D.), an adopted child lost all rights in his old family and became a full heir to his new father’s estate. Likewise, when you become a Christian, you gain all the rights, responsibilities, and privileges of a child of God. One of the most notable privileges of your new sonship is being led by the Spirit.
No man can see God because God is a Spirit and has no bodily form. So, how can you be led by God or hear from God? Is there a way to be led by God’s Spirit? The image and nature of God is Spirit; and, and the image and nature of man is also spirit—both are eternal spirits (Gen. 1:26-27; John 4:24; 1 Thess. 5:23), and “the spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of his heart” (Prov. 20:27).
According to the books of Acts of the Apostles and Romans, there are three ways to be led by the Spirit, in and through and in concert with your human spirit: the Inward Witness (Rom. 8:16); the Inward Voice (Rom. 9:1); and, the Voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:19). Are you being led by the Spirit of God?