…have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires …Keep in step with the Spirit,
Fears and doubts fill the domain of the “flesh” because it is life lived apart from God. To keep in step with the Spirit we must first get rid of the baser human thoughts and motives, for until we do we will be guided by these things and not God.
Watchman Nee in his book series The Spiritual Man, described the “soulish Christian” as someone who seeks to keep in step with his emotions over the Spirit. Nee wrote,
Those who are soulish usually thrive on sensation. The Lord affords them the sense of His presence before they attain spirituality. They treat such a sensation as their supreme joy. When granted such a feeling, they picture themselves as making huge strides towards the peak of spiritual maturity. Yet the Lord alternately bestows and withdraws this touch that He might gradually train them to be weaned from sensation and walk by faith. These do not understand the way of the Lord, however, and conclude that their spiritual condition is highest when they can feel the Lord’s presence and lowest when they fail to do so.
The soulish Christian opens himself up to temptation and weakness for he confuses his feelings with the leadership of God – he is seeking to keep in step with his emotions. If he is fearful, he says God is leading him a different way, though elsewhere the Scripture clearly says that God does not give us the spirit of fear (2 Tim. 1:7). If he is euphoric and “feels good” about something then God must be in it, even though it may simply be that he got a good night’s sleep. He believes in his heart and is saved but he operates practically on the same level as the world – imagining his feelings as the leading of God.
For those of us who were touched by God in adolescence, it is easy in our memory to associate the chemical flood of young hormones with the fullness of the Spirit, and the two are not the same. To keep in step with the Spirit means to live above emotions and walk by faith, not by sight and not by feelings. This is perhaps one of the most difficult steps toward spiritual maturity.
Keeping in step with the Spirit, walking with God, means setting our minds on His truth and not on feelings. Until we are able to discern the difference between what God truly says and how we feel at any given moment, we will remain in a state of spiritual selfishness, immaturity and confusion. Take what God says as truth, then the Spirit will begin to remind you of His truth and you will be guided by the Spirit. The words of Shakespeare come to mind: “The coward dies a thousand deaths; the valiant only one.”
Lord, let us follow You by Your truth and not by our feelings. Amen.