In his classic sermon, The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, Thomas Chalmers, a well-known 19th century Scottish preacher, describes a principle that is key to helping us overcome our idols. Chalmers proposed that the best way to rid ourselves of unwanted desires was to replace them with new desires.
In other words, instead of expending all kinds of energy resisting the draw of our idols, Chalmers suggested that it is better to focus our efforts on growing our affections for what is right.
It is a principle I believe Paul is expounding in this verse.
Paul writes that if we are actively walking by the Holy Spirit, that is, if we are actively listening to the inner promptings of the Spirit as we go about our daily routines, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Paul teaches that if we keep our focus on the Holy Spirit, our sinful desires will gradually lessen.
This applies to our need to move away for our false idols. The more that we remain focused on the fact that God is able to meet our critical needs of love, worth and impact, the less we will be drawn to our idols to meet those needs.
Instead of trying to resist the pull of illicit love, we should strive to experience the love the Father has for us. Instead of resisting the pull toward worth through our achievement, we should remind ourselves and reflect upon the fact that we are adopted children of God. Instead of jumping at every chance to have an impact in this world, we should prayerfully seek the Lord’s leading for every decision we make.
Paul describes this as walking by the Spirit. Walking by the Spirit is far more than simple obedience. It is walking in fellowship with the Spirit. It is going through our day aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit with us.
As you begin to fully experience what it means to walk by the Spirit, you will notice your idols slowly melt away…replaced by growing fulfillment and peace…shalom.
Prayer: Lord, help me learn what it means to walk by your Spirit, to increasingly meet my needs for love, worth and impact through You.