“Walking in the Spirit” and “living in the Spirit.” Is there a difference?

Does “walking in the Spirit” mean the same as “living in the Spirit?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

What does walking in the Spirit” mean? What does living in the Spirit” mean? Are they really the same concept? Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.

The terms “walk in the Spirit” and “live in the Spirit” only appear in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, so we will focus on this Bible book for now. Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” I assume that the question involves these verses. To answer the question, “walking in the Spirit” and “living in the Spirit” are not the same concept, for the Bible says in Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The word “also” indicates that the terms are similar, but not synonymous.

“LIVE IN THE SPIRIT”

The Spirit of God imparts spiritual life to us (Romans 8:1-13). Romans 8:10-13 summarizes, “[10] And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. [11] But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [12] Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. [13] For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

We Christians were put to death at Calvary’s cross: “[6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him” (Romans 6:6-8). “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me…” (Galatians 2:20abc). The only life we have now is in Jesus Christ, in His Spirit, the Holy Spirit.

Since our life is now in Jesus Christ and in His Spirit, we need to walk in that identity we have in Him. This is why Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” “Walking in the Spirit” is us simply walking by faith in the life we have in the Spirit of God (our “life in the Spirit”).

“WALK IN THE SPIRIT”

Galatians 5:16 says, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” If we want to serve the Lord in our Christian lives, we need to remember whom God the Father has made us in Jesus Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). We are to “walk in [Jesus Christ],” or “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16,25). It would help us to read the verses in between Galatians 5:16 and Galatians 5:25 in order to better grasp these concepts.

“[16] This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. [17] For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. [18] But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. [19] Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, 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. [22] But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [23] Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. [24] And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. [25] If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. [26] Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”

It is apparent from this passage (especially verse 25) that, the phrase live in the Spirit” emphasizes the believer’s position in Christ, but the termwalk in the Spirit” focuses on the believer’s lifestyle (the believer appropriating that identity by faith, allowing the Holy Spirit to give him power and victory over daily sins, “the flesh” of Galatians 5:16 and “the law” of Galatians 5:18). God has given us life in His Holy Spirit (“we live in the Spirit”). Will we now, by faith in Paul’s epistles to us, allow that Holy Spirit to work in us and accomplish His will? Will we walk in the Spirit?”

It is apparent from this passage (especially verse 25) that, the phrase live in the Spirit” emphasizes the believer’s position in Christ, but the termwalk in the Spirit” focuses on the believer’s lifestyle (the believer appropriating that identity by faith, allowing the Holy Spirit to give him power and victory over daily sins, “the flesh” of Galatians 5:16 and “the law” of Galatians 5:18). God has given us life in His Holy Spirit (“we live in the Spirit”). Will we now, by faith in Paul’s epistles to us, allow that Holy Spirit to work in us and accomplish His will? Will we walk in the Spirit?” Or will we walk after our flesh (legalism, the context of Galatians)?

You can also study Romans 8:1-39 to learn how the Spirit of God works in us Christians to give us victory over daily sins. “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). We received Jesus Christ by faith in His performance as sufficient payment for our sins, so we need to walk by faith in His performance (not ours) as means for triumphing over daily sins.

 

Also see:
» Should I be “filled with the Holy Ghost?” Should I be “slain in the Spirit?” (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» What is God’s will for my life? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)
» Must I keep the Mosaic Law as means for Christian living? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

4 responses to ““Walking in the Spirit” and “living in the Spirit.” Is there a difference?

  1. Pingback: Why did Israel have to keep so many “strange” laws? | For What Saith the Scriptures?

  2. Pingback: Should we observe the Lord’s Supper? | For What Saith the Scriptures?

  3. Pingback: What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life? | For What Saith the Scriptures?

  4. Pingback: How do we not live after the flesh if we live in bodies of flesh? | For What Saith the Scriptures?

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