Will You “Keep Walking by Spirit”?
“Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all.”—GALATIANS 5:16.
1. How can anxiety about sinning against the spirit be dispelled?
THERE is a way to dispel anxiety about sinning against Jehovah’s holy spirit. It is by doing what the apostle Paul said: “Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all.” (Galatians 5:16) If we let God’s spirit guide us, we will not be overcome by improper fleshly desires.—Romans 8:2-10.
2, 3. If we keep walking by spirit, how will we be affected?
2 As we “keep walking by spirit,” God’s active force will motivate us to obey Jehovah. We will display godly qualities in our ministry, in the congregation, at home, and elsewhere. The spirit’s fruitage will be evident in our dealings with our marriage mate, our children, our fellow believers, and others.
3 Living “as to the spirit from the standpoint of God” enables us to desist from sin. (1 Peter 4:1-6) If we are under the spirit’s influence, we will certainly not commit an unforgivable sin. But in what other fine ways will we be affected if we keep on walking by spirit?
Remain Close to God and Christ
4, 5. How does walking by spirit affect our view of Jesus?
4 Because we walk by holy spirit, we are able to maintain a close relationship with God and his Son. Writing about spiritual gifts, Paul told fellow believers in Corinth: “I would have you [former idolaters] know that nobody when speaking by God’s spirit says: ‘Jesus is accursed!’ and nobody can say: ‘Jesus is Lord!’ except by holy spirit.” (1 Corinthians 12:1-3) Any spirit that moves people to pronounce a curse upon Jesus must originate with Satan the Devil. As Christians walking by holy spirit, though, we are convinced that Jehovah raised Jesus from the dead and made him higher than all other creation. (Philippians 2:5-11) We have faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice and accept Jesus as the Lord appointed over us by God.
5 Certain professed Christians of the first century C.E. denied that Jesus came in the flesh. (2 John 7-11) Accepting that false viewpoint caused some to repudiate the true teachings about Jesus, the Messiah. (Mark 1:9-11; John 1:1, 14) Walking by holy spirit prevents us from succumbing to such apostasy. But only by remaining spiritually vigilant can we continue to enjoy Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and “go on walking in the truth.” (3 John 3, 4) Let us therefore be determined to reject all apostasy so that we can maintain a strong relationship with our heavenly Father.
6. What qualities does God’s spirit produce in those walking by spirit?
6 Paul listed apostate idolatry and sects among such “works of the flesh” as fornication and loose conduct. But he explained: “Those who belong to Christ Jesus impaled the flesh together with its passions and desires. If we are living by spirit, let us go on walking orderly also by spirit.” (Galatians 5:19-21, 24, 25) What qualities does God’s active force produce in those who live and walk by spirit? “The fruitage of the spirit,” wrote Paul, “is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) Let us consider these aspects of the spirit’s fruitage.
“Be Loving One Another”
7. What is love, and what are some of its characteristics?
7 Love—one aspect of the spirit’s fruitage—often involves strong affection and unselfish concern for others, coupled with warm attachment to them. The Scriptures say that “God is love” because he is the very epitome of that quality. The great love of God and his Son for mankind is exemplified in the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. (1 John 4:8; John 3:16; 15:13; Romans 5:8) As Jesus’ followers, we are identified by the love we have for one another. (John 13:34, 35) In fact, we are commanded to “be loving one another.” (1 John 3:23) And Paul says that love is long-suffering and kind. It is not jealous, and it does not brag, behave indecently, or look for its own interests. Love does not become provoked or keep account of the injury. It rejoices with the truth, not over unrighteousness. Love bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. Moreover, it never fails.—1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
8. Why should we show love for fellow worshippers of Jehovah?
8 If we allow God’s spirit to produce love within us, that quality will exist in our relationships with God and neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-39) “He who does not love remains in death,” wrote the apostle John. “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.” (1 John 3:14, 15) A manslayer could find safety in an Israelite city of refuge only if he did not hate the one slain. (Deuteronomy 19:4, 11-13) If we are led by holy spirit, we will show love for God, fellow worshippers, and others.
“The Joy of Jehovah Is Your Stronghold”
9, 10. What is joy, and what are some reasons to be joyful?
9 Joy is a state of great happiness. Jehovah is “the happy God.” (1 Timothy 1:11; Psalm 104:31) The Son delights to do his Father’s will. (Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:7-9) And “the joy of Jehovah is [our] stronghold.”—Nehemiah 8:10.
10 God-given joy brings us deep satisfaction when we do the divine will even in times of hardship, sorrow, or persecution. What happiness “the very knowledge of God” brings us! (Proverbs 2:1-5) Our joyous relationship with God is based on accurate knowledge and faith in him and in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. (1 John 2:1, 2) Being part of the only true international brotherhood is another source of joy. (Zephaniah 3:9; Haggai 2:7) Our Kingdom hope and the grand privilege of declaring the good news make us joyful. (Matthew 6:9, 10; 24:14) So does the prospect of everlasting life. (John 17:3) Since we have such a grand hope, we should be “nothing but joyful.”—Deuteronomy 16:15.
Be Peaceable and Long-Suffering
11, 12. (a) How would you define peace? (b) What effect does godly peace have on us?
11 Peace—another aspect of the spirit’s fruitage—is a state of tranquillity and freedom from disturbance. Our heavenly Father is the God of peace, and we are given the assurance: “Jehovah himself will bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11; 1 Corinthians 14:33) Jesus told his disciples: “I leave you peace, I give you my peace.” (John 14:27) How would that help his followers?
12 The peace that Jesus gave his disciples calmed their hearts and minds and allayed their fears. Especially did they have peace when they received the promised holy spirit. (John 14:26) Under the spirit’s influence and in answer to our prayers today, we enjoy the incomparable “peace of God,” which puts our heart and mind at rest. (Philippians 4:6, 7) Moreover, Jehovah’s spirit helps us to be calm and peaceable with fellow believers and others.—Romans 12:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:13.
13, 14. What is long-suffering, and why should we display it?
13 Long-suffering is related to peaceableness, for it is our patient endurance of provocation or wrong in hopes of improvement in the situation. God is long-suffering. (Romans 9:22-24) Jesus also manifests this quality. We can be recipients of it, for Paul wrote: “The reason why I was shown mercy was that by means of me as the foremost case Christ Jesus might demonstrate all his long-suffering for a sample of those who are going to rest their faith on him for everlasting life.”—1 Timothy 1:16.
14 The quality of long-suffering helps us to endure when others say or do unkind or thoughtless things. Paul urged fellow Christians: “Be long-suffering toward all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14) Since all of us are imperfect and make mistakes, surely we want people to be patient with us, to be long-suffering when we err in our dealings with them. Let us therefore make it a point to “be long-suffering with joy.”—Colossians 1:9-12.
Display Kindness and Goodness
15. Define kindness, and cite examples of it.
15 Kindness is displayed when we show interest in others by means of friendly and helpful words and acts. Jehovah is kind, and so is his Son. (Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 10:1) Kindness is expected of servants of God and Christ. (Micah 6:8; Colossians 3:12) Even some lacking a personal relationship with God have shown “extraordinary human kindness.” (Acts 27:3; 28:2) Surely, then, we can display kindness if we “keep walking by spirit.”
16. What are some circumstances that should move us to show kindness?
16 Kindness can be shown even if we have justifiably become angry because of someone’s hurtful words or inconsiderate actions. “Be wrathful, and yet do not sin,” said Paul. “Let the sun not set with you in a provoked state, neither allow place for the Devil. . . . Become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:26, 27, 32) It is especially fitting to display kindness toward those experiencing trials. Of course, a Christian elder would not be showing kindness if he failed to give Scriptural counsel just to avoid hurting the feelings of someone clearly in danger of abandoning the course of “goodness and righteousness and truth.”—Ephesians 5:9.
17, 18. How is goodness defined, and what role should this quality play in our life?
17 Goodness is virtue, moral excellence, or the quality or state of being good. God is good in the absolute sense. (Psalm 25:8; Zechariah 9:17) Jesus is virtuous and has the quality of moral excellence. Yet, he would not accept “Good” as a title when he was called “Good Teacher.” (Mark 10:17, 18) This was evidently because he recognized God as the pinnacle of goodness.
18 Our ability to do good is hindered because of inherited sin. (Romans 5:12) Nevertheless, we can display this quality if we pray that God ‘teach us goodness.’ (Psalm 119:66) Paul told fellow believers in Rome: “I myself also am persuaded about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are also full of goodness, as you have been filled with all knowledge.” (Romans 15:14) A Christian overseer must be “a lover of goodness.” (Titus 1:7, 8) If we are led by God’s spirit, we will become known for goodness, and Jehovah will ‘remember us for the good we do.’—Nehemiah 5:19; 13:31.
“Faith Without Hypocrisy”
19. Define faith, in keeping with Hebrews 11:1.
19 Faith—also part of the spirit’s fruitage—“is the assured expectation of things hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities though not beheld.” (Hebrews 11:1) If we have faith, we are certain that everything Jehovah promises is as good as done. The convincing evidence of unseen realities is so strong that faith is said to be equivalent to that evidence. For instance, the existence of created things convinces us that there is a Creator. That is the kind of faith we will display if we keep walking by spirit.
20. What is “the sin that easily entangles us,” and how can we avoid it and the works of the flesh?
20 Lack of faith is “the sin that easily entangles us.” (Hebrews 12:1) We need to rely on God’s spirit in order to avoid works of the flesh, materialism, and false teachings that can destroy faith. (Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; 2 Timothy 4:3-5) God’s spirit produces in Jehovah’s present-day servants faith like that of pre-Christian witnesses and others of Bible record. (Hebrews 11:2-40) And our own “faith without hypocrisy” may well bolster the faith of others.—1 Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 13:7.
Exhibit Mildness and Self-Control
21, 22. How is mildness defined, and why should we display it?
21 Mildness is gentleness in temperament and behavior. One of God’s attributes is mildness of temper. We know this because Jesus, who was a mild-tempered man, perfectly reflected Jehovah’s personality. (Matthew 11:28-30; John 1:18; 5:19) What, then, is required of us as God’s servants?
22 As Christians, we are expected to ‘exhibit mildness toward all men.’ (Titus 3:2) We display mildness in our ministry. Those with spiritual qualifications are counseled to readjust an erring Christian “in a spirit of mildness.” (Galatians 6:1) All of us can contribute to Christian unity and peace by displaying “lowliness of mind and mildness.” (Ephesians 4:1-3) We can exhibit mildness if we consistently walk by spirit and exercise self-control.
23, 24. What is self-control, and how does it help us?
23 Self-control enables us to keep our thoughts, speech, and actions in check. Jehovah “kept exercising self-control” in dealing with the Babylonian desolaters of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 42:14) His Son ‘left us a model’ by exercising self-control during his sufferings. And the apostle Peter counseled fellow Christians to ‘supply to their knowledge self-control.’—1 Peter 2:21-23; 2 Peter 1:5-8.
24 Christian elders are expected to be self-controlled. (Titus 1:7, 8) Actually, all who are led by holy spirit can exercise self-control and can thus avoid immorality, vulgar speech, or anything else that could result in Jehovah’s disapproval. If we allow God’s spirit to produce self-control within us, this will be apparent to others because of our godly speech and conduct.
Go On Walking by Spirit
25, 26. How will walking by spirit affect our present relationships and our future prospects?
25 If we walk by spirit, we will be zealous Kingdom proclaimers. (Acts 18:24-26) We will be pleasant associates, and especially will people of godly devotion delight in our company. As those who are guided by holy spirit, we will also be sources of spiritual encouragement to fellow worshippers of Jehovah. (Philippians 2:1-4) Is that not what all Christians want to be?
26 In this world under Satan’s control, it is not easy to walk by spirit. (1 John 5:19) Nevertheless, millions are doing so today. If we trust in Jehovah with all our heart, we will enjoy life now and will be able to keep on walking forever in the righteous ways of the loving Provider of holy spirit.—Psalm 128:1; Proverbs 3:5, 6.
What Is Your Reply?
• How does “walking by spirit” affect our relationship with God and his Son?
• The fruitage of the holy spirit consists of what qualities?
• What are some ways to display the fruitage of God’s spirit?
• How does walking by spirit affect our present life and our future prospects?
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Jehovah’s holy spirit promotes love for our fellow believers
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Show kindness through helpful words and deeds