Revised from Life Group teaching (May 28, 2020)
Galatians 5:25 (NIV) “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Before Jesus left this earth, he challenged us to share the good news of the Kingdom with others. But we would not be alone. He promised to send a Comforter, A Helper, A Guide—Someone who would reveal Jesus to us and equip us to do God’s will. On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to all who believed.
From that day until now, the Spirit has been working to accomplish God’s will on earth—through those willing to do the work of his kingdom—those willing to step into God’s story. 1 Cor 15:58 (NLT) “My dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
HINDRANCES TO KEEPING IN STEP WITH GOD’S SPIRIT:
1. Unconfessed sin:
Sin keeps us from knowing and doing God’s will. Our prayers are ineffective–we can’t hear what the Spirit wants to teach us. We no longer have fellowship with God. Like Adam and Eve, we are barred from those quiet walks in the garden.
On the cross, Christ paid the price for our sin, but he calls us to repentence. The remedy for sin is confession. When the prophet Samuel pointed out David’s sin, he humbled himself before God and repented.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence; and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me by your generous spirit. Then, I will teach transgressors your ways; and sinners shall be converted to you.” (Psalms 51:10-13 NKJV)
The first sentence in the Anglican prayer of confession, is: Most Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. . .”
What is keeping you from fellowship with God? Are holding a grudge against a neighbor? Are you bitter and angry about what is happening the world? What good thing have you neglected? Forgiveness is the first step toward peace.
2. Discontent Leads to Hardness of Heart:
In Hebrews 3, the writer warns the early Christians against complaining. He reminds them of what happened in the wilderness and why they weren’t able to enter into the promised land. Ingratitude can sabotage our spiritual walks. The hallmark of the humble is a grateful heart.
Pride keeps us from contentment. James warns in James 4:6b (NLT)“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Ingratitude keeps us from seeing God’s blessings amid the trials. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
If you must complain, do as David did and complain to God. Psalm 142:2 (NLT) “I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles.”
3. Unguarded minds:.
Our minds can be our greatest barrier to walking in the Spirit. Isaiah 26:3 (NKJV) “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.”
I love the song, “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus.” When our thoughts are focused on God, we are free to see the trials of life from God’s perspective. Philippians 2:5 (KJV)“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:”
May God give us the strength to renew our minds with his Word. Romans 12:2 (NIV) “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV) “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Often our thoughts reflect what our eyes see and our ears hear. Psalm 101:3a (NIV) “I will set before my eyes no vile thing.” Philippians 4:8 (NLT) “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
What are you putting before your eyes or listening to that might keep you from walking in the Spirit?
4. Failure to discern God’s will:
Allowing the Holy Spirit to direct our thinking frees us to see through spiritual eyes—to see from God’s point of view. When Peter tried to stop Jesus from obeying God, Jesus rebuked him. Matthew 16:22-23 (NLT): But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you! Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
When we are confused and unsure of our next steps, the Holy Spirit does not fail us. We are encouraged to seek His wisdom. James 1:5 (NIV) “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
Is your point of view aligned more with a news program, a political party or a popular opinion than it is with the Kingdom of God?
5. Neglected Prayer Life:
We can’t keep in step with the Spirit without first spending time in God’s presence. In his presence we receive instruction and guidance; we learn how to pray what’s on His heart—we see what he sees, and hear what he hears.
Since he was fully man, Jesus needed time alone without the distractions of others. He left the crowds and went up into the hills to find a quiet place where he could commune with the Father. Often, he prayed all night, seeking God’s will. Jesus said in John 5:19 (NLT), “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.”
Philippians 1:9-11 (NIV) “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”
James says we have not because we ask not. Take a moment and evaluate your prayer life. Are you praying what’s on God’s heart? Ask God to help you pray from His point of view. Go beyond the physical needs and pray for healing of the whole person—body, soul and spirit. Pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
With Jesus, it was all about the Kingdom. Even his prayers were focused on his father’s will.
Psalm 25:14 (Passion Translation) “There’s a private place reserved for the lovers of God, where they sit near him and receive the revelation-secrets of his promises.”
Galatians 5:25 “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Everywhere Jesus went, he not only prayed God’s will, but his actions reflected those of his father in heaven. Pray for ears to hear and eyes to see where the Spirit is moving and how God wants us to participate.
Do you have an example where you knew you were being led by the Spirit? Has he awakened you from sleep to pray for someone? Do you know in your spirit that you should make a telephone call? Perhaps you are in a line at the grocery store and He asks you to encourage a perfect stranger? Are you willing to do what he wants you to do?
We are people of mission. Because we have placed our lives in God’s hands, we are committed to do his will no matter the time, place or circumstances.
Jesus prayed for us before he went to the cross: John 17:17-21 (NIV) “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Visualize a scene on a quiet sandy beach where you are following in the footprints of Jesus. The closer you follow, the more the footprints become perfectly one.
"Open Our Eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus. To reach out and touch him, and say that we love him. Open our ears, Lord, and help us to listen. Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus." Written by Robert Cull.