The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle would teach his students as he walked from place to place. His students became known as the Peripatetics, which means “given to walking about”. When Paul wrote these words some 350 years later, it was still a common practice for students to learn while walking from one place to another. So when Paul writes that we should walk by the Spirit, one thing he has in mind is the idea of learning from the Spirit as we go about our daily life.
A prerequisite of learning from the Spirit is to first of all possess the Holy Spirit. While all true believers possess the Holy Spirit, (1 Cor. 3:16), not all believers have learned to listen to the Holy Spirit. Jesus specifically said that His sheep would hear His voice (John 10:16).
We should remember that God’s voice is very quiet (I Kings 19:12-13). We are not going to hear God’s inner voice through the Spirit unless we believe that He is speaking to us, and take the time to carefully listen. Too many believers spend all of their prayer time talking to God, and very little time listening to Him. It’s difficult to walk by the Spirit if you are not listening!
A common mistake is to assume that God will simply work through our desires and preferences to lead us in His way. It is true that God does place desires and preferences within us, but we also have remnants of wrong desires and wrong preferences remaining within our flesh. Thus, we can mislead ourselves.
Walking by the Spirit requires that we take the time and effort to actively seek the Lord’s direction for our lives. This should be done, not only at times of important decisions, but on a daily basis as well. In fact, we eventually need to reach the point where we are practicing the presence of God on an ongoing basis. A wonderful resource available for free online is the classic book by Brother Lawrence entitled “The Practice of the Presence of God”.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Help me to learn to walk by Your Spirit by better hearing and obeying your voice.