Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

Discipleship Series
by Rayola Kelley

We are clearly living in precarious times, but they are also exciting because we are watching Bible prophecy come true. Hebrews 12:27 tells us that everything will be shaken that can be shaken. At this moment, the financial markets of the world, as well as our nation are being shaken. As I listen to the news, I realize, as a Christian, it is time to take stock in where my confidence lies, as well as my heavenly citizenship, and my eternal destination. The Bible tells us the things of the world are all temporary, but what I possess as a Christian is eternal. Such consideration allows me to once again confidently cling to the source of my hope, the immovable Rock of Jesus. Regardless of the dark times in which we live, Jesus will never change no matter how much the world may shake. He is the same today, as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow.

As Christians, we know that we are in this world, but we are not to belong or be part of it. We are to be strangers to the ways of the world, and pilgrims in regard to the influences and philosophies of the world (1 Peter 2:11). Being strangers and pilgrims in this present age points to not only the type of attitude we need towards the world, but how we are to walk in it. As strangers, we will not be attracted to the fleshly ways of the world, and as pilgrims we will not only separate from the ways of the world, but we will live separate from those ways.

Because of the times in which we live, it is vital we examine our walk. Since we are walking through this world, we must consider how it is affecting us. After all, there are the cares of the world that can make us anxious, and will choke out the power of God’s Word. There are the entanglements of the world that have the capacity of causing us to get caught up with its endless affairs and causes. There are the ways of the world that will cause tribulation, the spirit of the world that works within those who are disobedient, and the god of this world that blinds people to the light or life of the Gospel (Matthew 13:22; John 16:33; 2 Corinthians 4:2-6; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Timothy 3-4).

As we consider the type of attitude we must have towards the world, we must recognize that our attitude towards it will determine how we walk in our present age. Walk also points to how we live or the type of lifestyle we develop along the way. In summation, our walk points to how we are going to actually live out our life in this present world.

The Bible tells us we will operate according to one of the two spiritual laws that are in operation. These laws are identified by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:2: “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” To walk according to our life in Christ means to walk after the Spirit. To walk in the law of sin and death means to walk according to the flesh.

The Apostle Paul summarizes the conditions that these two walks will produce in Romans 8:1: “There is, therefore no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Our walk will also determine what we reap in our life. Galatians 6:7-8: “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

There is a clear distinction concerning the two ways people are walking out their lives. Those who walk according to the Spirit will reap everlasting life, but those who walk according to their fleshly dictates will reap the corruption of death.

This brings us to the state in which we will walk out these different lives. We will either walk in a state of condemnation or we will walk according to a state of perpetual conviction. It is important to understand these two states, for they will clearly be identified by the fruit that they produce in our lives. Obviously, people are not only choosing the quality of life they will experience, but how that life will be expressed to others.

Let us consider the first state of condemnation. Condemnation first reminds us of the Law. When we walk according to the flesh, we are brought under the jurisdiction of the Law of God. This Law has declared us transgressors, guilty of breaking it, and, therefore, subject to the penalty of death.

In a sense, people who are walking in condemnation are the walking dead. They are spiritually dead towards that which can give them life. As a result, they have no hope, but only the fearful reality that eventually their death sentence will be carried out by the court of heaven. Although they may be experiencing certain aspects of the world, it all represents that which is corrupt.

Corruption points to that which has been contaminated by immorality, tainted by that which is depraved, perverted by dishonesty, and ultimately considered undesirable and putrid. This invading corruption points to that which will prove to be rotten, or decomposed to the core as it is brought forth into the light of the heavenly life that has been made available through Christ.

When we speak of the dishonesty of corruption, we must note that it points to the darkness of delusion. People who walk according to the flesh walk in delusion about the darkness they are walking in. Every aspect of this darkness contains the ways of death. There is no life that can be found in any of it. In the end, as they gulp to partake of the cup of worldly pursuits, they will simply end up tasting the bitterness left by vanity. They will blindly feel their way through this world according to their fleshly dictates and experience, leaving them in the wake of despair of guilt. They may cling to the small glimmer of hope the world offers, only to discover that it is fading into the abyss of hopelessness.

Although people walk in the tormenting and disappointing delusion of the false light this present age promises, they still prefer its darkness to the life of God. The reason for such preference is that they prefer their works of darkness. These works serve their purpose, as well as justifying their sin.

The second state people can walk in is the perpetual state of the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Conviction works from two premises. You have the conviction of guilt about sin. In fact, in this type of conviction you will actually be agreeing or taking God’s side about being guilty in regard to trespassing His Law or breaking His covenant. We know that it is the Holy Spirit that brings such conviction upon our conscience with the intent of bringing us to repentance. It is only at the place of repentance that we can seek forgiveness or pardon from God by confessing our sin. Upon our confession, we must believe by faith that we have been forgiven, and that our conscience now stands cleansed.

As you consider the difference between condemnation and conviction, you will see that in condemnation, there is no hope. You have been judged and in a matter of time you will actually taste the judgment of it. Conviction is for the purpose of bringing a person to a place of restoration. When you think about how many people prefer to walk in condemnation to maintain their works of darkness, you begin to realize how foolishness is truly bound in the heart of people.

The second type of conviction involves attitudes that are established by a deep sense of fervor about a matter. This fervor results in actions that are compelled by passion and assurance. The Holy Spirit is the One who brings a powerful conviction to our spirits about spiritual matters. Such a conviction has to do with righteousness. The Gospel of John tells us that the Holy Spirit reproves us of sin, of righteousness and of judgment (John 16:7-11). Clearly, the conviction of the Holy Spirit reveals sin, establishes what is considered righteousness, and shows that judgment has already been pronounced on Satan.

At this point people might wonder why the Holy Spirit has been entrusted with the responsibility of conviction. The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit serves as our witness. As Christians, we have two main witnesses to confirm a matter. They are God’s Word and His Spirit. The Word of God tells us how to live according to the character of God. It brings a clear contrast between light and darkness. When we encounter or are challenged by the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will take it, and impart the intent or truth of it to our spirits. This not only validates or confirms the Word, but it will also bring forth the compelling conviction as to how we are to handle the truth to ensure right standing before God in our Christian walk.

Clearly, the Spirit must be the one who convicts us of a matter. I am sure you have experienced the harsh judgments of other people who are trying to be your conscience or be the Holy Spirit in a matter. These individuals come to you out of so-called “concern” about a particular action, belief or handling of a situation on your part. They voice their “concern” with the intent of stirring up your conscience in order to compel you to line up to their way of thinking. However, you know they are not your conscience, and that there are matters they are not aware of in regard to the situation. Nevertheless, you must discern or make sure that the Holy Spirit is not trying to bring conviction to you through this person.

If the Holy Spirit does not bring confirmation to the person’s “concern,” you can at that time consider it to be simply the person’s opinion, thereby, disregarding it. The problem that arises from this development is that the individuals who are “concerned” often become insulted that you did not properly regard their instruction or warning. Due to pride, it can prove to be hard for them to accept that the “concern” they had came out of vain imaginations, and that it would not be proper for them to insist or force their particular reality on anyone.

The reason that Christians cannot accept any other conviction other than from the Spirit of God is because the Holy Spirit prepares and enables them to make the necessary change in order to come into line with righteousness. On the other hand, a person who is forcing personal convictions on others will simply be burdening these individuals with indifferent demands or requirements that will leave them feeling oppressed.

Since the Holy Spirit is the one who must bring conviction to us in regards to the quality of our walk, we are commanded to walk after the Spirit, be led by the Spirit and to walk in the Spirit. Although we could clearly exchange the intent or principle of these three decisive responses, they do present a picture that reveals the type of emphasis, attitude and approach we must adopt towards our walk.

We are told to follow after righteousness. Clearly, as we walk after the Spirit according to righteousness, we will find ourselves coming into submission to the leading of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us by way of revelation into greater heights in Jesus, as well as enabling us to experience the depths of His abiding presence in and upon our lives. Once He leads us to these inner places of growth and communion, we will discover what it means to truly walk in the Spirit concerning God’s will and purpose for our lives.

The main question we must ask ourselves is how do we avail ourselves to this walk? The first thing we must do is become open to the work of the Spirit. This openness involves taking on the disposition of lowliness and the attitude of meekness. Once we become sensitive to the Spirit, we can begin to walk after Him in obedience to the ways of righteousness. As we follow Him, His fruit will be developed in our lives as we become submissive to His gentle leading.

Godly submission gives way to that which is greater for the benefit of God’s kingdom. As we give way to the Spirit, He begins to work the life of Jesus in us in greater ways. The deeper He goes the more that Jesus’ life and likeness will be lifted up in our life for all to see. As the life of Jesus is being established in us in greater measure, we will finally come to the place where we will walk in the Spirit according to the life of Jesus in us.

Because of the Spirit, the Christian walk is full and complete. There is nothing lacking in it. The Holy Spirit will go before us in preparation, will allow us to walk in His leading to ensure spiritual growth, and in the end we will come into step with Him to be  identified to the future glory that awaits us.

What about your walk? Are you walking in condemnation or are you walking according to the conviction of the Holy Spirit? We know that the first type of walk will result in death, but the second walk will result in possessing the fullness of our heavenly inheritance. If you are not sure, consider the fruits coming out of your life. They will identify where you have been walking.