The promise of the gospel is a life of forgiveness and freedom. In Christ, we are no longer under the law, but under grace! (Romans 6:14)
Many new believers have received this good news and set out to follow Jesus with joy – only to find that the old desires are just as strong as they ever were. And the new desires to read the Word, pray and walk in holiness aren’t as strong as expected.
In those moments it is easy to turn back to the external constraints of the law. “How else are we going to manage the flesh and live a righteous life?”
Paul’s answer to this dilemma is stated clearly in Galatians 5:16 – walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
The pathway to a life of holiness is not the law, but the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is an ever-present source of life – of godly desires, godly character and of guidance.
True holiness comes not from self-effort and law-based striving. It comes from yielding to the indwelling power, desire and guidance of the Spirit. There is effort in walking in step with the Spirit, but it is a very different kind of striving.
Bill Bright, founder of CRU taught a very helpful illustration called Spiritual Breathing. Our bodies inhale life giving oxygen and exhale the waste product of carbon dioxide.
Spiritual breathing is a similar process of exhaling sin and self-sufficiency and inhaling the life-giving fullness of the Spirit.
It’s a helpful mental picture for developing a habit of walking in the Spirit.
Exhale: confess your sin, fear, and unbelief – then thank God for his forgiveness and grace.
Inhale: surrender control to Jesus and receive the fulness of the Holy Spirit by faith.
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown