• Laurel Appel

Flip on the Light

Updated: Feb 19, 2020

My friends, I am so excited to share with you a doctrine that is so life changing that I am amazed that it has been lost in many modern teachings. This doctrine changes you. This concept is what turned the world upside down when the apostles were first sent out to preach the gospel to the world.

What am I referring to? The doctrine of walking in the Spirit, or, as Phillip calls it, the light switch; the ability to choose between our flesh and the Spirit of God. It is like a light switch; it is on or off. We are either walking in our flesh (darkness), or in the Spirit (light). God provides us this ability through His Son, who freed us from our sin and flesh, and gave us the Spirit to co-pilot our lives. This is one of the great and awesome gifts that makes the Gospel good news!

In Christ we gain a dual nature. We are made into a whole new creation (2 Cor 5:17). However, our old flesh still hangs around (Gal 5:16, 1 Pet 3:21). This new dual nature explains why we can be made holy and righteous by Christ, and still do things that we call sin. It also helps us to clearly see that we have a choice, and the ability, to choose the flesh, or to choose the Spirit. See, we are born into a new spiritual life, but our flesh hangs around and pesters us until we walk into eternal life.

… you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you (Rom 8:9). [1]

Therefore, brethren, we are debtors — not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom 8:12-14)

In Christ, we get the Holy Spirit living in us 24/7. If we allow it, our new spirit cooperates and submits to the Holy Spirit. They are a team. However, our flesh is not on the same team.

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another (Gal 5:17).

So our flesh and our spirit battle each other for our attention. In any given moment, we can choose whose shoes we walk in: the flesh or the Spirit (Rom 8:3-4, Gal 5:16).

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom 8:5–6).

In Christ, we have put off, or died to, our old man which is called our flesh; not our skin and bones, but our sinful nature and desires. And, we have put on the new man, which has been created in righteousness, by Jesus and His resurrection.

… as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:21–24).

See, we can choose to put off our old man, and put on our new man. In other words, by a change in our mind (be renewed in the spirit of your mind), we can choose to act, speak, and live in submission to the Holy Spirit. We can do this because Jesus took sin’s controlling power away when He conquered it on the cross (Rom 6:14).

What does it look like to walk in the flesh? We drive wedges in our relationships and hurt people’s feelings, fear controls our actions, and we create consequences in our lives that, sometimes, are hard to recover from.

Death and destruction are the children of the flesh.

For a handy list of indicators that you are in your flesh, see Gal 5:19–21. Remember, our flesh is useless and not only that, but it actually gets worse over time (see Eph 4:21-24 above) and we can't trust it at all (John 6:63; Rom 7:18; Phil 3:3). We cannot do anything righteous if we are walking in our flesh.

But, praise Jesus, our Lord, the opposite is true! If we walk in the strength of the Spirit, then we can, and do, produce righteousness, life, and peace (Rom 6:18-22).

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Gal 5:16).

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another… But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection (Col 3:12–14).

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:25).

What does it look like to walk in the Spirit? Read Galatians 5:22–23 (the fruit of the Spirit). This is a list of what love looks like. Even when we are angry about something or at someone, we can walk in love. We can choose to speak with kindness. We can choose to be patient. We can choose to handle people with gentleness. How do I know this? Because the Spirit is the source of that fruit. We are able to tap into His power and love one another because the Holy Spirit has given us that ability (Rom 5:5). It is His strength that we walk in, not our own.

Love is what it looks like to walk in the Spirit.

As believers, our spiritual desire is to walk in His love, we just don't always know how to do that. However, the Spirit is there to guide us and help us. We don’t need years of being a Christian to have honed this fruit, as God molds us and shapes us. It is already done. Upon your receiving the Holy Spirit, those fruit are sitting there inside you, waiting to be offered to the world around you.

To do that, we must first recognize the difference between when we are being fleshly and when we are being spiritual. In other words, if you can fit your current thoughts, words and actions into that list of fleshly things in Galatians, you are in your flesh. Ask the Spirit to help you recognize when you are. Then, once you realize you are walking in your flesh, flip the switch. Give your attention to spiritual things, like the fruit of love, kindness, and peace. Redirect your attention to spiritual matters.

My friends, some of you are sitting there thinking, “Yeah, right, like I can just switch off the anger and switch on the love.” I ask you, have you ever been in a situation where you were in a heated argument or doing something you shouldn't be doing, then the phone or doorbell rings or someone comes around, and all of a sudden you change your tone, demeanor, and/or actions to avoid embarrassment or guilt? Yep. That was flipping the switch. You CAN do it. You just need to recognize it is possible. With God all things are possible.

This is a simple concept, but not always easy to do because our flesh wants to remain in control. We must practice this. I have found that it takes faith and trust in the Lord when I choose love rather than feed my flesh. Why? Because I usually want to control the situation. I want to make sure people learn their lesson. I want to be right. I want to make sure people don’t hurt me again. Those desires are all my flesh speaking. I have found, however, over the years, God really does know how to handle my life, and He is better at being in control than me. It turns out, those times that I choose to put control back into His hands, I am blessed with a life marked by peace, joy and love. It really does work! And, as you walk in the Spirit more and more, your faith and trust in God to handle all situations in your life will grow.

I encourage you to Flip on the light! (1 John 2:1–11) You will be surprised by what God can do when you walk in love.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:5–7).

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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