“That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” —Romans 8:4
First, to walk after the Spirit, literally walk according to the Spirit, is a general condition of our newness of life. It means that since we are saved by the blessed grace of God through faith in Christ Jesus, our manner of living is spiritual now; our general behavior is on a course of holiness. God commands us to be holy because He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Therefore, because we are alive unto Christ, we have a desire to please God in holiness, a desire to please God in shunning sin and eschewing evil, a desire to please God by yielding to the Spirit to produce in us His fruit and righteousness unto the gospel of Jesus Christ. Does it mean that we won’t sin? That would not only contradict what we have learned in Romans 7, but it would contradict a great number of passages from various texts in the Bible. Henry Mahan described it similar to this from a sermon he preached on the same text: it’s like the Mississippi River; its general direction is south, but there are points in the river where it flows east and west, and even some points where it actually flows back north; yet, it’s general direction is south, with its ultimate end in the Gulf of Mexico. This is what it means to walk after the Spirit.
There is also a term in Galatians 5:16 that says, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” This, walk in the Spirit is different from our walk according to the Spirit. The phrase in that Galatians 5:16 is not a description of our general condition as believers, but instead, a direct command to believers in overcoming situations and particulars we face in our walk according to the Spirit.
One final and concluding thought concerning our walk after the Spirit is this: it means that the manifestation of the righteousness of the law in our lives, and its supply to carry out that righteousness, has its source in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, its stay in the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and must ultimately, its end in the atoning sacrifice of Christ. What do I mean by that? As we have seen a bit from our text in earlier articles, and as we will continue to see in our texts in the articles to come, the truth of manifest righteousness, of apparent sanctification, is being produced in the Christian believer’s life. In the last days, however, there will be such a deception surrounding the church, and that deception desiring to close in on it, I believe that the only way to discern the difference between the original and the counterfeit is by the truth of God’s Word, and specifically as it pertains to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are many people today that are full of good works and deeds that the Bible commends. They are against abortion. They are against same-sex union. They are for religious freedom, to worship according to conscience. They desire to find cures for AIDS and cancer. They want to feed the poor, heal the sick, and educate the ignorant. Yet, they preach a gospel-less message. They promise care without the Christ; hope without the Holy One; redemption without repentance; and Jesus without justification by grace alone through faith alone. Those good deeds they do, viz a vis, feeding the poor, healing the sick, clothing the naked, &etc., are not to them a means by which they may preach the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. For them, the good deeds are the end, rather than the goal being the glory of God and enjoying Him forever.
What we do springs from who we are; who we are comes from one thing alone: Christ, and Him crucified. The law fulfilled in me must begin with the cross and end at the cross, the whole time proclaiming the good news of the cross as we live by the truth of the cross..
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Read the previous article in this series, “The Law’s Righteousness Fulfilled in Us” (Romans 8:4).