Our bodies were made to move! Promoting exercise and proper physical health is something all good doctors do, as it is so important for the quality of one's life. As a result, many people today wear devices that will daily count the physical steps they take. The CDC recommends that most adults take 10,000 steps a day, but they also tell us many only get around 3,000-4,000 per day. That means you better get up and start walking as you read the rest of this article!
More important than our physical steps though is the number of spiritual steps believers daily take. I submit to you that Christians ought to be counting their spiritual steps; in other words, how many steps did we take in the Spirit today verses how many in the flesh? Let's say just for sake of illustration that we take 5,000 steps in the spiritual realm every day. These are the things we do, the words we say, the thoughts we think, really everything about our lives. Would we think we're doing ok if 2,500 of them we're in the power of the Spirit? How about 3,500 or even 4,000? Well, compared to others we may think we're hot stuff. The problem is God wants ALL of the steps in our Christian walk to be true spiritual steps – steps that are under His direction and power. Any step that's not is a waste of time (no matter how it outwardly looks) and a hindrance to what God is doing in us and through us.
Again, a spiritual step is one that is led and empowered by the Spirit of God. Gal.5:16 states, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” The Greek word for walk περιπατεω (peripateo) means “to go around or move about.” In the original language the definite article is not there before the word Spirit – this emphasizes the quality or power of the Spirit. We are commanded to daily move about in the power of God's Spirit, and when we do so we are promised that we won't fulfill the desires of our flesh. It is not automatic, as this command is an imperative that we must choose to obey, but what a glorious provision is ours to always do what is right!
A few verses later in Gal.5:25 Paul writes, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The word walk here is a different Greek word στοιχεω (stoicheo), and has the idea of proceeding in a row like a soldier would march in a line. So since we live in or by the Spirit, we need to keep in step with the Spirit. We need to always follow His leadership – yes, He leads according to God's Word, but His leadership is also very specific when we're tuned in to His voice. We need to witness when He says witness, pray when He says pray, give an extra offering when He says to, eliminate something from our lives when He says so. You see, this is the practical side of walking in the Spirit. To walk with God is not mystical, something that is far out there that we can never really grasp or explain. On the contrary, a spiritual step with Christ is very practical. It is simply depending on God for His power to obey Him when He is giving you a clear leading.
Let's break it down even more. What is a walk? Well, walking means taking reiterated steps. I believe the reiterated steps of walking in the Spirit are faith and obedience. One step of faith (conscious dependence on Jesus) leads to another step of obedience (doing what He clearly says). One is not walking in the Spirit when he is not obeying Jesus, no matter how big his Bible is or how much he says he loves Jesus. As has been said, talk is cheap! It is the walk (in this case, the walk in the Spirit), that is important. Again, do not over-complicate it; walking in the Spirit is living in faith and obedience. The songwriter got it right when he said, “Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!”
Yesterday I took my car to get a valve stem replaced on one of the tires. The guys that worked at the shop were some rough characters – I was hearing 4 letter words left and right! The Spirit prompted my heart to give one particular man a gospel tract. I had a choice: to take the spiritual steps of faith (depending upon Christ for His power) and obedience (following through with giving the tract), or to take a fleshly step of fear of man and disobedience. By God's grace I chose Jesus over self and the tract was given and received, hopefully to be read and heeded. Now, don't be too impressed because I could give you many examples of not taking that spiritual step when the Spirit told me to! I'm just giving one practical example of following or fleeing from the Spirit's leadership. The Bible says we are not to quench the Spirit (1 Thess.5:19), meaning we are not to subdue or be unresponsive to His guidance. Instead, we are to be filled (controlled) with the Spirit (Eph.5:18). It could be witnessing, praying, reading, fasting, giving, teaching, helping, or repenting of some sin. We all face decisions like this daily, and we will step into those decisions in one way or another. The question is, will another spiritual step be officially counted in our lives?
There are many texts where we could study the word walk and all of its implications. Let me encourage you to do that on your own sometime. But I do want to highlight one other passage. Rom.6:4 says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” I love that phrase: walk in newness of life! Comparing Scripture with Scripture, we know that the new life we have as God's children is the life of God Himself within us (Gal.2:20, Col.3:4, 1 Jn.3:9). Walking in the Spirit is walking in newness of life, because it is the Spirit of God who reveals Jesus in us (Jn.16:14, Gal.5:22-23). Many times we hear from different preachers or read from various books that the Spirit of God came to replace Jesus. I believe that's a great misunderstanding and nothing could be further from the truth. He did not come to replace Jesus because He's gone, but to reveal Jesus because He now lives inside us! It is Christ's life that is to be formed within us, and this is accomplished every time we take another spiritual step.
I'm afraid many Christians would be horrified and ashamed if they could genuinely see the comparison of their spiritual verses fleshly steps. Just because one comes to church or reads his Bible doesn't mean he's walking in the Spirit, as any unsaved person can do those activities, and many saved persons do them in their flesh! Don't misunderstand me, I believe spiritual steps will lead one to gather with God's people and to study the Word, but that is the genuine result of being filled with the life of God, as opposed to just doing things out of routine or because we've been told to. I guess a good way to put it would be: is your brand of Christianity more routine or more relational? More rules or more relationship? Spiritual steps are always related to the Spirit of Christ within, not just trying to keep a list of rules or an empty routine.
If we were honest, all of us could be taking more spiritual steps than we now do. As a traveling evangelist I spend a decent amount of time sitting in my van. When I'm home I daily go into my office at church and sit behind my desk as I study and pray. I'm definitely not making it to 10,000 steps a day! I am learning to be intentional about getting up at certain times to walk around. Christian friend, we must be intentional about taking steps in the Spirit. We must be intentional about believing and obeying Him. If we have failed with a fleshly step, then be intentional about confessing and claiming the precious blood, and then get up and keep moving about in the Spirit!
Spiritual steps count for now and they count for eternity. They are the gold, silver, and precious stones that are being laid up in the bank of heaven. They walk the path that lead to fruitfulness. They are the steps that advance us to “well done, good and faithful servant.” Walk a lot physically, but walk even more in the Spirit. May we take God's enabling grace to daily add more spiritual steps to our meter!