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What does walking in the power of the spirit mean?

Does this phrase occur in the Bible?

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‘Walking in the power of the spirit’ is a phrase that does not occur in the Bible. It is coined and used by those who teach present day possession of the Holy Spirit being necessary to enable us to overcome sin.

This is somewhat astray from what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit.

In the Bible we are told that Jesus, having received the Holy Spirit at baptism, spent 40 days without food and drink in the wilderness of Judea and afterwards returned ‘in the power of the Spirit’ into Galilee.

Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.

The power of the Spirit in Jesus’ case was not the power by which he overcame sin; it was the power to perform miracles.

Luke 4:36 And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.

Luke 5:17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.

Luke 6:19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue (power) out of him, and healed them all.

Jesus conferred this power temporarily on those that he sent out to preach the gospel.

Luke 9:1 Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.

After his resurrection and ascension to heaven the apostles were given this power permanently by being baptised with the Holy Spirit

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Along with the power to perform miracles the Holy Spirit gave them complete recall of everything that Jesus had said during his ministry, to lead them into all truth so that what they taught would be the truth (which they had not understood during Christ’s ministry).

John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

They would also be able to prophecy future events (which they had been unable to do during Christ’s ministry).

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

The initial sign of the Holy Spirit was the ability to preach the gospel in foreign languages so that people could hear it in their native tongue.

Acts 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

The apostles were able to confer different gifts of the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands.

Acts 8:18 And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money,

Not all converts had Holy Spirit gifts and not all had the same powers.

Hebrews 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

1 Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Possession of Holy Spirit gifts is not necessary for salvation; as Paul points out.

1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.


1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Paul, being an apostle, had the full complement of Holy Spirit gifts.

2 Corinthians 12:11... for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. 12 Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.

Luke records:

Acts 19:11 And God wrought special miracles (powers) by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.

The veracity of Paul’s preaching was supported by the ability to perform miracles.

Romans 15:19 Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.

Paul speaks not of walking in the power of the Spirit, but of walking in the spirit. By this he means living by the commandments of Christ.

Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

He goes on to highlight the difference in behaviour. It is the difference between what we naturally desire to do and what God wants us to do. Like Jesus we are to do God’s will and not our own. Jesus didn’t do God’s will because he had the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit was given as God’s witness in the performing of miracles.

The whole counsel of God is written down by inspiration of the Holy Spirit for our learning.

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

It is from scripture that we learn what the will of God is, but changing the way that we think is an ongoing process.

Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11 For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The emphasis is not on receiving the Holy Spirit in the sense of a supernatural power to help us overcome sin, but on obeying the commandments by choice.

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

John 15:14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

Those who had Holy Spirit gifts (powers of the world to come) in the 1st century could still fall away.

Hebrews 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Love is the principal thing if we would attain to life.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

We walk in love in the spirit; not in the power of the Spirit.

1 Timothy 1:5 Now the end of the commandment is charity (love) out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love).

We worship God in spirit not in the power of the Spirit.

John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

I hope you have found this helpful.

May God bless you,
Glenn,
thisisyourbible.com

 
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