This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
— Galatians 5:16
How would you like to “walk in the Spirit” every day of your life? Does this proposal sound like an impossibility, or do you think that constantly walking in the Spirit is a possibility you should try to achieve? To answer the question of whether or not it is possible to consistently walk in the Spirit, let’s look at Paul’s words in Galatians 5:16. This verse says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
The word “walk” is the Greek word peripateo. It appears in the New Testament ninety-five times and has a very clear meaning. The word peripateo is a compound of the words peri and pateo. The word peri means around and suggests the idea of something that is encircling. In many cases it means concerning, but in this case it expresses the idea of encircling. The word pateo means to walk. It denotes the movement of the feet, and it can be translated to walk, to step, to stride, to tread, or even to trample. When these two words are compounded into one as they are in Galatians 5:16, it means to habitually walk around in one general vicinity. Thus, this word peripateo was often translated as the word “live.”
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This means that instead of being translated “walk in the Spirit,” the phrase in Galatians 5:16 could be translated “live in the Spirit.” This is a good rendering of the word peripateo, for indeed it suggests a person who has walked in one region for so long that it has now become his environment, his place of daily activity, the sphere that encircles his existence. One expositor notes that the word peripateo could be best explained by thinking of a person who has walked one path so habitually that he would be able to walk that path blindfolded because it is his path, his sphere, the place where he has habitually lived and functioned.
My wife and I recently invited a precious elderly couple whom we dearly love to come visit our family. The wife responded, “You see, Rick, I’ve lost most of my eyesight, so it’s best if I stay home. At least at home I know where all the furniture is, so even though I can’t see too well, I can still walk around.”
I was saddened to hear about this dear woman’s failing eyesight, but her words caused me to think of the Greek word peripateo in Galatians 5:16, which pictures a person who has frequented one area so repeatedly that it has become second nature to him. He needs no help to walk there, because he knows that path. It is his path, his walk, his realm of life, and he feels very safe and comfortable there.
In the secular literature of New Testament times, the word peripateo often meant to stroll. In fact, many Greek scholars suggest that the best way to translate Galatians 5:16 is “stroll in the Spirit.” To stroll is to leisurely walk. A person who strolls is not an anxious, frustrated person who is fighting to do something or to get somewhere; rather, he is restful, relaxed, unhurried, peaceful, and calm. This wonderfully describes what it is like to walk in the Spirit. You see, when a person walks in the Spirit, the stress and anxieties of life are removed, and he moves over into a realm where he can stroll along in continual rest, peace, and calmness.
Paul goes on to say that if you walk in the Spirit, “…ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” The word “lust” is from the Greek word epithumia. The second part of the word is the Greek word thumos, which describes an urge, a longing, a craving, a passion, or something that is excited. The word epi usually means over, but when combined with the word thumos, it means to get extremely excited for or over something. In fact, this excitement is so vigorous that it becomes a fervent passion, almost like an obsession, a mania, or a very strong desire.
In Ephesians 2:3, Paul states that before we came to Jesus Christ, we walked “…in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh….” The word “lusts” is this same word epithumia. The word “desires” is from the Greek word thelema, which denotes one’s will, intention, plan, or desire. In short, it means the flesh has a mind of its own. And if allowed to do so, the flesh will become obsessed with a fleshly temptation, fervently stirred up as it yearns to fulfill its deep, dark desires.
But Galatians 5:16 provides the answer to the flesh. It says if you “…walk in the Spirit, ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” The word “fulfil” is from the Greek work teleo, which means to fulfill, to complete, or to reach one’s goal. But because of the tense and the strong negative that are used in the Greek phrase, Paul is telling us that if we walk in the Spirit, we have basically pulled the plug on the flesh! As a result, we have nullified the yearnings of the flesh so that they will never be fulfilled.
Because of the various words used in this verse, Galatians 5:16 conveys this idea:
“Make the path of the Spirit the place where you habitually live and walk. Become so comfortable on this spiritual path that you learn to leisurely and peacefully stroll along in that realm. Living your life in this Spirit realm is the best way to guarantee that you will not allow the yearnings of your flesh to creep out and fulfill themselves.”
It is time for you to do everything you can to move up into a higher realm. Fixate on the goal of walking in the Spirit. Develop your own human spirit; do what you can to become more sensitive to the Spirit of God. When you become more spiritually sensitive, it will be easier for you to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. And as you follow Him and live to please the Lord, you will find that walking in the Spirit becomes a habit. You’ll deny your flesh for so long that its voice will eventually become weaker and weaker and weaker — until, finally, it will no longer have any authority in your life.
God is calling you higher! He wants you to leave the low life you’ve been living and to come up to the spiritual path He has destined for you to walk on in your life. In that higher realm, you will experience love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. These are the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces! What a contrast to the rotten, decaying garbage that the flesh produces! The Spirit always produces life!
So resolve in your heart today to make the path of the Holy Spirit the place where you live, work, and function. Don’t let it be a place you occasionally visit any longer. Make the realm of the Spirit the place where you habitually live your entire life!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, help me walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. I realize that I must make a choice to move up into this higher realm, so today I am telling You that I want to leave the low life I’ve been living and come up higher. You are beckoning me to come there, and I accept Your invitation. As I start taking steps to this higher sphere of life, help me resist the yearnings of the flesh that keep trying to pull me back down! I want to become so sensitive to You that the desires of the flesh altogether cease to have any effect on my life!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am moving up into a higher realm! I fixate on the goal of walking in the Spirit. I am developing my own human spirit, and I am becoming more sensitive to the Spirit of God. Every day the voice of my flesh is getting weaker and weaker. I have accepted the call of God to leave the low life behind, and I am following the Spirit of God to a higher realm, where I will live in continual peace, joy, and victory!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. If Jesus were to analyze your life to determine what percentage of your time is lived in the Spirit or in the flesh, what do you think He would conclude about you?
2. What steps do you need to take to start walking in the Spirit instead of being dominated by the flesh?
3. What role does praying and reading your Bible have to do with walking in the Spirit and rendering the flesh inoperative? In the past week, how much time have you spent on developing your spiritual life? Have you approached your spiritual life as if it was a high priority?