Walk by Spirit and Live Up to Your Dedication
“Keep walking by spirit and you will carry out no fleshly desire at all.”—GAL. 5:16.
1. What baptisms occurred on the day of Pentecost?
WHEN Jesus’ followers spoke in tongues on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., it was after they had been baptized with holy spirit. They manifested a miraculous gift of the spirit. (1 Cor. 12:4-10) What was the effect of this gift and the discourse that the apostle Peter gave? Many “were stabbed to the heart.” At Peter’s urging, they repented and were baptized. The historical record says: “Those who embraced his word heartily were baptized, and on that day about three thousand souls were added.” (Acts 2:22, 36-41) As Jesus had instructed, they would have been baptized in water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the holy spirit.—Matt. 28:19.
2, 3. (a) Explain the difference between being baptized with holy spirit and being baptized in the name of the holy spirit. (b) Why is water baptism expected of all who become true Christians today?
2 However, is there any difference between being baptized with holy spirit and being baptized in the name of the holy spirit? Yes. Those who are baptized with holy spirit are born again as spirit-begotten sons of God. (John 3:3) They are anointed to be future associate kings and underpriests in God’s heavenly Kingdom, and they are part of the spiritual body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27; Rev. 20:6) So this baptism—being baptized with holy spirit—was what Jehovah performed when, on the day of Pentecost and thereafter, he chose individuals to become joint heirs with Christ. (Rom. 8:15-17) But what of water baptism in the name of the holy spirit, something that regularly occurs at assemblies and conventions of Jehovah’s people in our day?
3 Water baptism is a step that true Christians undertake in symbol of their unreserved dedication to Jehovah God. That is so of those who received the heavenly calling. But water baptism is also a necessary step for millions of men and women in modern times who now have the hope of living forever on earth. Regardless of a person’s hope, being baptized in water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit is a necessary step that one must take in order to be acceptable to God. All Christians who are thus baptized are expected to “keep walking by spirit.” (Read Galatians 5:16.) Are you walking by spirit and thus living up to your dedication?
What “Walking by Spirit” Means
4. What does “walking by spirit” basically mean?
4 “Walking by spirit” involves accepting the action of the holy spirit upon you, allowing the holy spirit to influence you. You might say that it means to be governed by the holy spirit in your daily activities. Galatians chapter 5 brings out the contrast between being under the influence of the holy spirit and that of the flesh.—Read Galatians 5:17, 18.
5. Being under the influence of the holy spirit involves refraining from what works?
5 If you are under the influence of the holy spirit, you seek to refrain from the works of the flesh. Those include such things as “fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, enmities, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries.” (Gal. 5:19-21) In a sense, you “put the practices of the body to death by the spirit.” (Rom. 8:5, 13) It will help to set your mind on the things of the spirit and cooperate with its leadings, rather than let yourself be controlled by fleshly desires.
6. Illustrate what is necessary in order to manifest the fruitage of the spirit.
6 As holy spirit operates upon you, you manifest godly qualities, “the fruitage of the spirit.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) You realize, though, that this calls for effort on your part. To illustrate: A farmer cultivates the land. Of course, sunshine and water are necessary; without such he cannot expect any harvest. We might compare holy spirit to sunshine. Holy spirit is needed for us to manifest the fruitage of the spirit. Yet, what would be produced without the farmer’s hard work? (Prov. 10:4) Yes, how you cultivate the soil of your heart makes a difference in the quality and quantity of the fruitage of the holy spirit in you. So ask yourself, ‘Am I permitting holy spirit to produce its fruitage by working along with it?’
7. Why are study and meditation so important if you want to cultivate the fruitage of the holy spirit?
7 To obtain a good harvest, farmers also need to water their crops. In order to cultivate the fruitage of the spirit, you need the waters of truth found in the Bible and available through the Christian congregation today. (Isa. 55:1) You have likely pointed out to many people that the Holy Scriptures are a product of holy spirit. (2 Tim. 3:16) Also, the faithful and discreet slave class provides much-needed understanding of the pure waters of Bible truth. (Matt. 24:45-47) The implication is clear. In order to come under the influence of the holy spirit, we must read and meditate on God’s Word. If you are doing that, you are imitating the fine examples of the prophets who made “a diligent inquiry and a careful search” of information that was provided. It is noteworthy that even the angels have shown deep interest in spiritual truths regarding the promised Seed and the anointed Christian congregation.—Read 1 Peter 1:10-12.
Influenced by the Spirit—How?
8. Why is it vital for you to ask Jehovah for his spirit?
8 It is not a matter of simply studying the Scriptures and meditating. You need to keep asking for Jehovah’s help and guidance. He can “do more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.” (Eph. 3:20; Luke 11:13) How would you answer, though, if someone inquired, “Why should I continue to ask if God already knows ‘what things I am needing before ever I ask him’?” (Matt. 6:8) Well, for one thing, by praying for holy spirit, you acknowledge your reliance on Jehovah. For example, if someone came to you for aid, you would do whatever you could to help him, one reason being that he asked you to assist him, showing trust in you. (Compare Proverbs 3:27.) Likewise, Jehovah finds pleasure in your asking him for his spirit, and he will give it to you.—Prov. 15:8.
9. How can attending Christian meetings help you to come under the influence of God’s spirit?
9 You can well appreciate that another way to come under the influence of God’s spirit involves our meetings, assemblies, and conventions. Making an effort to be in attendance and paying attention to the program is very important. Doing so helps you to understand “the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) There are also benefits from regularly making comments. Think back on the meetings you attended in the last four weeks. How often did you raise your hand, offering to answer, to make an expression of your faith? Do you see room for improvement in this area? If you do, resolve what you will do in the weeks ahead. Jehovah will see your willingness to participate and will provide his holy spirit, which will help you to get even more out of the meetings you attend.
10. Walking by spirit involves extending what invitation to others?
10 Walking by spirit includes responding to the invitation we read at Revelation 22:17: “The spirit and the bride keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” The spirit, working through the anointed bride class, is extending this invitation regarding life’s water. If you have accepted the call to “come!” are you determined to say, “Come!”? What a privilege it is to be able to share in this lifesaving work!
11, 12. How is holy spirit involved in the preaching work?
11 This vital work is now being accomplished under the guidance of holy spirit. We read how the holy spirit was involved in the first century in opening up new territories for missionaries. The apostle Paul and his companions were “forbidden by the holy spirit to speak the word in the district of Asia”; nor were they permitted to go into Bithynia. We do not know exactly how the spirit prevented their going into those places, yet it is clear that the spirit led Paul into the vast field of Europe. He received a vision of a Macedonian man pleading for help.—Acts 16:6-10.
12 Today, Jehovah’s spirit is likewise directing the worldwide preaching. No miraculous visions are being used to give direction; instead, Jehovah guides the anointed by holy spirit. And the spirit motivates brothers and sisters to do all they can in preaching and teaching. You no doubt have been participating in this vital work. Can you increase your joy in this exciting activity?
13. How can you submit to the direction of the holy spirit? Illustrate.
13 You can submit to the direction of holy spirit by applying the information provided for God’s people. Consider young Mihoko from Japan. As a new pioneer, she felt unqualified to make return visits; she felt that she did not know how to capture the householder’s interest. About that time, practical suggestions on how to make brief return visits were provided in Our Kingdom Ministry. Then the brochure A Satisfying Life—How to Attain It was published. It proved to be especially useful in the Japanese field. Mihoko applied the suggestions given on how to use the brochure, especially on how to make brief return visits. Soon she was starting Bible studies with those who might previously have declined a study. She says, “I had so many studies—as many as 12 at one time—that I had to put some on a waiting list!” Indeed, when you walk by spirit, applying the direction given to Jehovah’s servants, you can reap bountifully.
Rely on God’s Spirit
14, 15. (a) How is it possible for imperfect humans to live up to their dedication? (b) How can you find the best friends?
14 As an ordained minister, you have a ministry to perform. (Rom. 10:14) You may not feel fully qualified to shoulder such a responsibility. But, as is the case of the anointed, it is God who qualifies you. (Read 2 Corinthians 3:5.) You can live up to your dedication by doing your best and relying on God’s spirit.
15 Granted, it is not easy for us imperfect humans to live up to our dedication to our perfect God, Jehovah. One complication is that some with whom you once associated may be puzzled at your new way of life and may ‘speak abusively of you.’ (1 Pet. 4:4) Yet, do not overlook the fact that you have since cultivated new friendships, the most important being with Jehovah and Jesus Christ. (Read James 2:21-23.) It is also vital to get to know the brothers and sisters in your local congregation, part of “the whole association of brothers” throughout the world. (1 Pet. 2:17; Prov. 17:17) Jehovah through his spirit will help you to have friends who will continue to be a good influence on you.
16. Why can you, like Paul, “take pleasure in weaknesses”?
16 Even with helpful friends around you in the congregation, you may still find it difficult to cope with daily challenges. What you have to contend with may at times leave you feeling lost, as if you were in a long tunnel of problems. That is especially a time for you to turn to Jehovah, asking for his holy spirit. “When I am weak,” wrote the apostle Paul, “then I am powerful.” (Read 2 Corinthians 4:7-10; 12:10.) Paul knew that God’s spirit can make up for human weaknesses, regardless of their nature. Thus, God’s active force can strengthen you whenever you feel weak and in need of help. Paul wrote that he could “take pleasure in weaknesses.” It was when he was weak that he felt holy spirit operating on him. You can experience the same feeling!—Rom. 15:13.
17. How can holy spirit help you as you move toward your destination?
17 We need God’s spirit so that we can lead a life dedicated to him. Think of yourself as the skipper of a sailboat. Your goal is to serve Jehovah forever. Holy spirit is like the wind that you want to catch so as to arrive at your destination safe and sound. You do not want to be carried hither and thither by the spirit of Satan’s world. (1 Cor. 2:12) You have to identify, as it were, the right wind and catch it. That is the holy spirit. Through God’s Word and his spirit-directed organization, holy spirit will move you in the right direction.
18. What is your determination now, and why?
18 If you have been studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses, enjoying spiritual association with them, but you have yet to take the vital steps of dedication and baptism, ask yourself, ‘Why should I hesitate?’ If you recognize the holy spirit’s role in accomplishing Jehovah’s will today and appreciate its operation, then take the steps you have learned to be right. Jehovah will richly bless you. He will generously provide his holy spirit for you. If you were baptized years or decades ago, surely you have experienced the influence of the holy spirit. You have seen and felt how God can strengthen you with his spirit. That can continue to be the case—yes, into the endless future. Thus, be determined to keep on walking by holy spirit.
Do You Recall?
• What does “walking by spirit” mean?
• What can help you to “keep walking by spirit”?
• How can you live up to your dedication?
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Cultivating the soil of your heart calls for effort
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Are you influenced by God’s spirit?