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How to Walk in the Spirit

Scripture tells us to walk in the Spirit, so that we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.

Galatim (Galatians) 5:16-17
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

This is perfect advice, but it seems not many believers know what it means, and of those that do know what it means, fewer still actually do it. This may be because it is not easy.

Contrary to popular belief, we do not begin to walk in the Spirit when we say we accept Yeshua as our Messiah. Rather, it is something that we must practice until it becomes second nature—and even then, we need to continuously monitor ourselves, to make sure we do not go astray.

In this article we will talk about what it means to walk in the Spirit, and how to do it. And once we know what to do, then it still takes practice and monitoring for the rest of our lives, but it greatly pleases Yeshua, and will stand us in good stead in the day of the Judgment.

What is a Spirit?

To learn how to walk in the Spirit, first we need to know what the concept of the Spirit is, in Hebrew. In Hebrew, the word for Spirit is the same as the word for wind, and for breath. That word is ruach (רוּחַ), and it is Strong’s Hebrew Concordance OT:7307. Notice that it deals not only with the wind, but also with the breathing of rational (i.e., human) beings.

OT:7307 ruwach (roo’-akh); from OT:7306; wind; by resemblance breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; figuratively, life, anger, unsubstantiality; by extension, a region of the sky; by resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (including its expression and functions):

Even in Hebrew culture, the concept of a Spirit is not always well understood, but it means spirit, wind, and breath all at the same time. It refers to an unseen force that animates both the wind, and our breathing. And not only that, but it is a living being that literally plants life within us—and if that seems like a strange concept, not even Nicodemus of the Sanhedrin understood it.

Yochanan (John) 3:5-8
5 Yeshua answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of Elohim.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

But what is the Spirit in relationship to man? First, our bodies are made from the dust of the ground, and our flesh is (called basar in Hebrew). We also have a breath of life (called nish’mat chaim). The nish’mat chaim is not the Spirit, but rather the physical breathing that goes in and out of our lungs. When we put our flesh and the breath of life together, we get a living being (called a nefesh), which is thought to have its own personality.

B’reisheet (Genesis) 2:7
7 And Yahweh Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

But there is more to breathing than mere respiration. In addition to our physical breathing, we humans can also have a spirit which leads us to behave in certain ways. There are many different aspects to this, and it is very possible to argue about the terms, but we will try to make it simple.

In Revelation and the End Times, we show that there are four main spirits of heaven that impact life here on earth. These are legitimate spirits that have gone out from their stations, and are no longer in the proper order (but are forming history here on earth). They are the red horse Esau spirit, the black horse Judah spirit, the white horse Joseph spirit (including both the Manasseh and Ephraim spirits), and the green (dappled, “pale”) horse Ishmael spirit. (For details, see Revelation and the End Times.)

To simplify, if we are born into a culture that is influenced by Yeshua’s white horse spirit, then the culture we grow up in will be influenced by His Spirit. As we explain in other places, the United Kingdom is of Manasseh, and it manifests a Manassite culture. The United States is of Ephraim, and it manifests an Ephraimite culture. The State of Israel is of Judah, and it manifests a black horse culture. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox nations are of Esau, and they manifest a red horse culture, which can take many forms (Catholic, socialist, communist, democratic, secular, or anarchistic). Finally, the Muslims nations are of Ishmael, and they manifest a green horse culture. These cultures can be thought of as “strongholds”, because they are so well-established that they can be difficult to change.

In addition to the spirit in the prevailing culture, there can also be demons. Demons are actually very common. In the first century, Israel was filled with a Pharisaic spirit, but in addition to that there were those who had spirits of unclean demons, even within the synagogues.

Luqa (Luke) 4:33-35
33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon. And he cried out with a loud voice,
34 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Yeshua of Natseret? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Set-apart One of Elohim!”
35 But Yeshua rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him in their midst, it came out of him and did not hurt him.

We will talk more about demons another time, but the main thing to understand here is that they must be sent away before Yeshua’s spirit will enter and dwell.

Immersion and Receiving Yeshua’s Spirit

Immersion (baptism) is a ritual that symbolizes dying to our flesh, washing away the old man of flesh and sin, and emerging from the waters a new spiritual man who is cleansed of unclean spirits, and ready to receive Yeshua’s Spirit. However, let us notice that these are two separate events. Let us also notice that just because the spirit alighted in Yeshua’s case does not necessarily mean that it will come automatically for us. Rather, what it means is that Yeshua was able to receive the Spirit because He was truly cleansed of unclean spirits—and this is the same pattern we also must follow. (First we must be truly cleansed, and then the Spirit will indwell.)

Mattityahu (Matthew) 3:16
16 When He had been immersed, Yeshua came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of Elohim descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.

In Hebrew, the Ruach is technically considered to be gender neutral (an “it”), while in Aramaic, the Spirit (Rukha) is a female. Scripture also speaks of spirits and spiritual groups as women. For example, in Proverbs 8, Yahweh’s Spirit (“wisdom” and “understanding”) is described as a She.

Mishle (Proverbs) 8:1-2
1 Does not wisdom cry out, And understanding lift up her voice?
2 She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, Beside the way, where the paths meet…

Consider: if Yahweh is a great King, then perhaps as an analogy, His Spirit can be likened unto a great Queen—and a Queen has no desire to enter our houses unless she is first warmly welcomed in. Further, She is not likely to stay if She is not paid attention to. This may be why so many believers get immersed, and pray for the Spirit, but nothing happens. Perhaps they either do not truly invite Elohim’s Spirit in, or they do not continuously help Her to feel welcomed, and paid attention to. Or it may be that She enters, but never speaks, because no one is truly listening.

Which Do We Want More?

If we have not received the Spirit (or if we are not sure), then we there are some very important questions we can ask ourselves. First and most importantly, do we realize that the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other? And is our foremost desire to help our Husband establish His kingdom here on this earth?

Galatim (Galatians) 5:16-17
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

If there is anything that we want more in life than to help Yeshua establish His kingdom here on earth, then we are not truly cleansed by our immersion, and Yeshua’s Spirit probably will not come (or it will not stay, or it will not speak). Because if we fail to walk after the Spirit, the Spirit will not feel honored (and there is no fooling the Spirit).

[One time I led a group to immerse at a pool. I spoke with them first about the need to dedicate ourselves and the rest of our lives toward helping Yeshua to establish His kingdom here on earth, but they did not understand what I was saying. As soon as the immersion was done, they went right back to what they were doing. One couple remarked how good it was that they had time to go for a ride in their airplane. Yet another couple started planning their next vacation. I started to speak, but it was clear that they valued their lives in the world over serving Yeshua—so why would Yeshua’s Spirit even enter?]

If we want to walk in the Spirit (and hear the voice of the Spirit), we must realize that the Spirit and the world are completely incompatible, and that we must choose one or the other (and that failing to choose the Spirit means we are following the flesh, by default).

Yaakov (James) 4:4-5
4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with Elohim? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of Elohim.
5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

If we seek Her like men chase money, then we shall find Her.

Mishle (Proverbs) 2:4-5
4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, And find the knowledge of Elohim.

And if She does not mean that much to us, then why should She want to be found by us?

Other Spirits and Emotional Issues

Yet in addition to those believers who never encounter Yeshua’s Spirit because they never truly dedicated themselves, there are also sincere disciples who pay their tithes, volunteer time and help for the kingdom, and who pray for the infilling of the Spirit, but who never receive the infilling of the Spirit, and so they are unable to hear the Spirit, or walk after Her. There can be many reasons for this, but very often it comes down to the presence of some type of idol, or some type of unclean spirit, of which they are usually not aware. Also, it can be a lack of forgiveness that cripples their ability to live joyfully in the Spirit—and this lack of forgiveness and joy can also have severe implications for their bodily health.

Often some of the most dedicated disciples are affected by some childhood trauma. Some of them were orphans, some were molested, some were beaten, some were cursed, or given severe shame or guilt trips, or other bad things. Often the Spirit enters them, but they cannot hear Her voice because there are too many other voices inside that are also vying for attention. This is a problem, because Elohim’s Spirit is jealous of all our attentions, and wants to be the only one we pay attention to.

Yaakov (James) 4:5
5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

Sometimes the problem can be a lack of forgiveness. Lack of forgiveness is effectively an idol (holding onto anger), because we subconsciously value the anger and the opportunity for revenge more than we trust Elohim to set things right.

There can also be worry or fear. Usually these are rooted in something that happened to us in the past. What it means is that our love and our trust (faith) in Yahweh has not been perfected as much as it needs to be, because if our love for Yahweh was perfected, we would choose to focus on Him instead (instead of the anger).

Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 4:17-19
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

Whether it is a lack of forgiveness, or some worry or fear that has its roots in past abuse, or for whatever reason, the problem is that when we take our eyes off of Yeshua to put it on the idol, we begin to “sink” in a metaphorical sense. We can no longer “walk on water.”

Mattityahu (Matthew) 14:28-31
28 And Kepha answered Him and said, “Adon, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Kepha had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Yeshua.
30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Adon, save me!”
31 And immediately Yeshua stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

This is a true history, but it also has other meanings. So long as we focus on Yahweh-Yeshua, the troubles of this world do not affect us. Yet if we have something that we secretly fear, eventually it will distract our attention away from Yahweh-Yeshua, and we will start to worry, or be afraid. The only solution to this is to refocus on Yahweh-Yeshua—and this is where an awareness of our breath (our spirit) becomes so important.

Practical Advice: Breathing and Spirits

Sometimes disciples ask if there is any practical advice for walking in the Spirit. The best advice I know is to focus on Yahweh-Yeshua continually, and to pay close attention to our breathing (our spirit). If we will monitor both His presence and our breathing, then we can know if we are abiding safely in Him, or if we are in danger of quenching His Spirit, and drifting away.

The reason quenching the Spirit is such a big deal is that mankind was designed to be in constant union with the Divine. This essential connection was lost in the Garden of Eden (when mankind fell from favor or grace), and while various individuals had it before Yeshua’s first advent, it was with Yeshua’s first advent that His Spirit became available to the masses of believers, restoring the spiritual connection.

The relationship we want is that Yeshua dwells in us, and we dwell in Him, while He dwells with His Father, and His Father also dwells in Him. This restores the lost connection.

Yochanan (John) 17:20-23
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word;
21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:
23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

What we want is to be continuously aware of Yeshua’s presence within us. Also, when we are abiding in Him, we should ideally feel at shalom. Our breathing should be calm, and relaxed, our attitude should be joyful, and we should be eager to do the kinds of works that lead to His kingdom becoming established. (In other words, we need to joyfully contribute toward building His kingdom. If we do this correctly, it will lead us to want to do all the same things as Yeshua would do, if He were physically here (because when He is in us, in a very real sense, He is).

Galatians 5:19-25 tells us what it looks like when our relationship in Yeshua is correct, and what happens if it is not.

Galatim (Galatians) 5:19-25
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no Torah [i.e., there is no instruction against these].
24 And those who are Messiah’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

If we are paying attention to Yeshua’s presence within us, and if we are truly doing what we can to help His kingdom to grow, and yet somehow we start to get upset, or if we start manifesting the works of the flesh, then we know we are starting to lose our focus on Him, or are starting to quench His Spirit. This can happen to anyone, at any time, and the solution is to refocus on Him, and pray until the indwelling is re-established.

The world uses bio-feedback machines to do this same kind of thing, but such machines are not necessary for us. As disciples, we only need to focus on Yeshua, feel the connection, pray, breathe, and then listen for what we hear the Spirit telling us to do (and then do it). This is what walking in the Spirit is all about, because when we approach life this way, if causes us to put the Spirit first (and then we can begin thinking). It causes us to seek the kingdom of Elohim first.

Satan Attacks Us Through Our Minds

There is much more we could say, but before we close we should talk about how Satan tries to fool us, so we can be aware of his devices.

In the article, “Satan Attacks Us Through Our Minds” in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 4, we explain how Satan attacks us through our minds. In that article we explain how Yahweh gives us brains, and He expects us to use them. Only, He expects us to maintain the spiritual connection with Him first (through the indwelling of His Son Yeshua). Then, while we maintain that indwelling, then we can use our minds to think.

If we will think within the confines of the indwelling, the spiritual connection between Elohim and man will not be broken. But that is precisely why Satan wants us to think without considering that spiritual relationship. (And that is what secular people do, and that is why Satan has them under his power.)

Satan-worship requires idols. An idol is anything that we place between ourselves and Yahweh-Yeshua. It can be money, power, fame, carnal relationships, or mistaken ideals. It can be a demon spirit, fears, worries, or any number of other things. Anything we value more highly than service to Yahweh-Yeshua is an idol (plain and simple).

If we will seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, He will give us everything that He wants us to have, to serve Him. This may be as little as food and clothing, or it may be much more than that, but the point is that it is always enough. And he may test us in this, but if we will be faithful to Him, He will always give us enough to do what He wants us to do for Him.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;
29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Now if Elohim so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
33 But seek first the kingdom of Elohim and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This does not mean, not to work hard, because Hebrews have always worked hard. Rather, what it means is that when we focus on Yeshua and our breathing, and then do our very best job for Him, that we don’t need to worry, because He is fully and completely in control. Whether or not He wants us to have a house, or money, or long life, that is all up to Him. The main thing is that no matter what happens, we maintain the indwelling relationship with Yahweh-Yeshua, and breathe, and pray, and do what we hear Him telling us to do. And if anything goes to interrupt our breathing, we don’t alter our breathing, we edit the outside interference out. But to do this we must have unshakable faith in Yahweh, because there will always be many trials.

About Predestination (Predetermination)

We will talk about how to build unshakable faith in future articles, but the first thing is to understand what is called Predestination, or Predetermination. This is the concept that one way or another, Yahweh is perfectly in control of everything that happens here on earth. So if that is the case, then if we will think about it, the only logical response is to love Him, and trust Him completely no matter what, as this will please Him the best, and will also stand us in the best stead, in the Judgment. So because of this, there is never a need for worry.

We talk about Predestination (Predetermination) in the article, “About Predestination (Predetermination)”, in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 1. If you tend to worry, or be afraid, or you are having a hard time developing an unshakable faith in Yahweh-Yeshua, we pray that article will help.

If you struggle with forgiveness, please see “About Forgiveness“, in the Covenant Relationships collection.

There is much more we could say, but hopefully this article will help some to understand what it means to walk in the Spirit, as well as how to do it.

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