The Bible contains many strange statements that are not easily understood – especially warning of “walking in the spirit” and to not “walk in the flesh“.
Much research and questioning is often required to discover what these topics truly mean and the doctrines below closely associate with “walking in the Spirit“.
- Holiness (Heb 12:14-16)
- Sanctification (1 Thes 4:4)
- Righteousness (Matt 5:20)
- Truth (John 18:38)
- Predestination (Rom 8:29)
Therefore, this article will endeavor to explain what “Walking in the Spirit” vs “Walking in the Flesh” means from the Bible’s perspective.
Introduction to Walking in the Spirit
God speaks to Christians through His words recorded in the Bible. In Romans 8:1, the Apostle Paul commands Christians to “walk in the Spirit” and NOT to walk “in the flesh”. But what does this mean in the practical sense?
This article will look at what “walking” spiritually represents, and what are the outcomes if Christians fail to “walk” as God requires. Before we do this, it is better to first appreciate that the “spirit world” exists everywhere around us, prior to understanding how it is possible for one to “walk in the spirit”.
What The Spirit World Represents
The Bible says that the world in which we live comprises both the physical world that we are able to touch, see, hear, smell and taste together with the spiritual world. However, the Bible says that our physical world is “temporal”, which is opposite to the “unseen” or spiritual world that is “eternal” (2 Cor 4:18).
Similarly, there are certain attributes the Bible ascribes to the human spirit (Job 32:8; Prov 20:27) that Christians need to be appreciate about their own personal spirit (Prov 20:27). In this, God has defined each human as being a “living soul” (Gen 2:7). This definition means we are a three-part being that comprises:
- A body of flesh, blood and bones;
- A soul;
- A spirit.
The Bible refers to:
- The human “body” as “the body of sin” (Rom 6:6);
- The human “soul”as it being either “lost” or “saved” (Heb 10:39) because of the lusts, passions and desires that make it function (1 John 2:16-17). The Bible indicates that the soul resides wherever blood is found in the body (Isa 53:12).
- The human “spirit” is considered by God to be either “alive” or “dead” towards Him (Rom 7:6) and that it MUST be “born-again” (John 3:3-8) if it ever hopes to live eternally with our Creator. The Bible indicates it resides under our physical heart or in the “belly” region (Prov 20:27).
Continuing on, the Bible refers to our physical “body” as representing the “Outward Man” (2 Cor 4:16). It is also termed a “vessel” (or container – 1 Thes 4:3-7), because it carries within it our “Inward Man” who is invisible and eternal (Rom 7:22; 2 Cor 4:16) – that cannot die (Mark 9:44-48).
Our “Inward Man” or Spirit and Soul
Our “Inward Man” refers to each individual’s combined spirit and soul. The “Inward Man” represents our “person” (or person-ality) that dwells within our physical body. To illustrate this point, the human “soul” can be related to an astronaut and his body a spacesuit.
When he (meaning the soul) requires the body to function (the spacesuit) to move in the alien environment (this world), the “Outward Man” (or spacesuit) operates according to the astronaut’s instructions. This is generally how our bio-mechanical bodies function — where our spirit man inside tells our outward (physical) man to do certain things the soul desires in this world.
“For as THE BODY [or spacesuit] WITHOUT THE SPIRIT [the astronaut inside] IS DEAD, so faith without works is dead also.”James 2:26
Death and the Spirit and Soul
When death occurs to the “Outward Man”, the “body” goes to the grave to await its resurrection. However, when the “Inward Man” departs the deceased body (Luke 23:46), it travels to where it awaits its resurrection and the time when it will be reunited with its eternal body.
In other words, if the “Inward Man” allows his “Outward Man” to die as a sinner (Ezek 18:20) this means the “Inward Man” will go to “Hell” (Luke 16:23-25) to wait in torment for his judgment to occur at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-13). This is where he will appear before Christ in his resurrected “Outward Man” (Rev 20:6) to give an account of every idle word (Matt 12:36).
Fortunately, those “righteous souls” that ascend into Heaven after the death of their “Outward Man” wait in their “mansion” in Heaven (John 14:2) to be reunited with their glorified resurrected bodies that will occur (very soon) at the First Resurrection – or ‘Rapture‘ (Rev 20:6).
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive [in our natural bodies] and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep [in the graves]. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air…”(1 Thes 4:15-18)
These “righteous souls” will ultimately rule and reign with Christ (2 Tim 2:11-13) throughout eternity in “the New Heavens and the New Earth” (Isa 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13). More about this will be discussed in another article.
The Spirit World’s Inhabitants
From the foregoing statements, it can be seen that scripture indicates the spiritual world is “eternal” in nature and unseen by the human eye – nevertheless it contains spirit beings that inhabit it, such as:
- The Godhead – God the Father; Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (1 John 5:7).
- Seraphim (Isa 6:1-3)
- Holy Angels (Psalm 103:20; Rev 14:10)
- Spirit horses (Rev 9:17-18)
- Evil spirits (Acts 19:12)
- Evil angels (Eph 6:11-13; Jude 1:6)
- Satan (Job 2:1; Luke 10:18; 2 Cor 11:14)
To be truly “born-again”, Jesus said that every newborn Child of God must be able to “SEE” God’s kingdom:
“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, HE CANNOT SEE the kingdom of God.”John 3:3
“Walking in the Spirit” — An Analogy
Attempting to see the Kingdom of God in our mortal bodies is not possible in an un-regenerated (or “carnal”) state (Rom 8:7). Once our human spirit has been awakened by the preaching of God’s words contained in the True Gospel, our spirit awakes to the spirit world in a similar manner as a newborn baby opens its eyes to see the world around it.
In this, the Child of God’s spiritual eyes begin to “see” what our spiritual parent (God the Father) chooses to reveal to each of His children — in much the same manner as an earthly father shows his child those things that he wants his child to see.
As this ‘newborn’ child of God obtains spiritual nourishment from the “sincere milk of God’s words” (1 Peter 2:2), he or she must commence growing spiritually from being a newborn “babe” (Heb 5:13) into a “strong young man in Christ” and even to becoming a “father” (1 John 2:14).
At some point in between these levels of maturity, every Christian must commence their spiritual “pilgrimage” (Heb 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11) that will lead them towards their eternal home (Heb 11:13).
The Christian’s Spiritual ‘Pilgrimage’
Each Christian’s “pilgrimage” in the spirit world MUST involve “walking” from their current spiritual location to another spiritual destination that only our Heavenly Father knows the exact route. Such a journey involves walking through the spiritual “darkness of this world“ (Eph 6:12); so each soul requires spiritual “light” in which to see the path ahead:
“Thy word is a LAMP unto my feet, and a LIGHT unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
Therefore, the Bible relates this “pilgrimage” (or journey) similar to what a cross-country foot race might be like — where the contestants need to use maps to help them navigate their way to the finish line. In the spiritual sense, this means the Bible.
These “pilgrims” might also need to climb mountains, ford rivers and streams, and be able to fend off any wild animals or robbers along the way. So, the Bible refers to these challenges this way:
“…and let us RUN with patience THE RACE that is set before us …lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” Hebrews 12:1-3
“Know ye not that they which RUN IN A RACE run all, but one receiveth the prize? SO RUN, that ye may obtain.” 1 Cor 9:24
As can be seen in the above scripture verses, ALL Christians are required to “RUN” in a spiritual “RACE to obtain Salvation. In this requirement, skills and stamina are necessary to be able to navigate the route to cross the Finish Line (John 19:30) and to overcome the many obstacles along the way (Rev 3:21).
Stamina and perseverance (Eph 6:18) are necessary to “press towards the final mark” for the prize (Phil 3:14) — this representing eternal life with Christ, commonly known as Salvation and the “crown” that goes with it (2 Tim 4:8).
“Walking in the Flesh” — representative of ‘Religion’
As the previous notes have revealed, entry into Heaven at one’s death requires the individual to have:
- Heard the True Gospel of Jesus Christ
- Responded accordingly by repenting (stopping) of ALL past sinful behavior and accepting Christ as Savior;
- Pressed into God’s kingdom by reading, believing and doing what the Bible says;
- Experienced the ‘New Birth’;
- Grown spiritually from being a “babe in Christ” towards being a “Strong young man in Christ”;
- Been “walking” and are currently “running” the spiritual “race” required of all Christians;
- Overcome “Satan’s devices” that he uses to prevent Christians from completing their “pilgrimage”;
- Working towards meeting Jesus Christ at their death to receive their “crown” (2 Tim 4:8; James 1:12).
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”Psalm 116:15
Satan’s role in the Christian’s ‘Pilgrimage’
On the contrary, it is Satan’s will that every believer in Christ Jesus accepts an alternative scenario (or lie) to each of the above requirements.
To help this happen, Satan has established churches that have created false doctrines that lead God’s “sheep astray” (Isa 53:6) from following the “Narrow Way” that leads to eternal life (Matt 7:14). Embracing such beliefs represent “heresies” that God requires every Christian to detect and speak out about to warn others:
“But there were FALSE PROPHETS also among the people, even as there shall be FALSE TEACHERS among you, who privily shall bring in DAMNABLE HERESIES, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”2 Peter 2:1
“For there must be also HERESIES AMONG YOU, that they which are approved [by God] may be made manifest among you.”1 Cor 11:19
The Bible classes “heresies” as “works of the flesh” that will prevent Christians who embrace them from achieving eternal life with Christ:
“Now THE WORKS OF THE FLESH ARE MANIFEST, WHICH ARE THESE; Adultery, fornication… HERESIES … and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, THAT THEY WHICH DO SUCH THINGS SHALL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD.”Gal 5:19-21
A battle occurs in the spirit world between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ for every soul born on the Earth. The ONLY weapon that people have against losing their soul to Satan is discovering and applying Biblical and Absolute TRUTH to every circumstance!
To help you further understand more about what has been written here, I encourage you to read my articles on The New Birth and the True Church of Jesus Christ together with other topics on this blog to determine if your soul might be “ensnared” in one of Satan’s nets.
Feel free to comment below or to contact me if you have any questions.
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