Walking After The Spirit

By David J. Stewart | June 2018

Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which
are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

       For centuries there has been an ongoing theological battle between the free grace Gospel crowd and Calvinists over the issue of how “works” pertain to salvation in a believer's life. I say “free grace Gospel” crowd, because not everyone is either Armenian or Calvinist. I am neither! That is, I follow neither the beliefs of Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) nor John Calvin (1509-1564). I follow only the inspired Word of God in the King James Bible!!! I am not a Protestant. I am an independent fundamental Baptist, but first and foremost a born-again Christian, and admittedly a woeful sinner saved by God's grace.

I have had Calvinists debate with me, trying to use Romans 8:1 as biblical proof that a person must walk in the Spirit to be saved. I totally disagree, because that is not what this Bible verse is teaching. This passage simply means that if you are saved, you are led by the Holy Spirit, which doesn't necessarily mean you are following Him in your life. Many believers live in open, unrepentant, sin; yet they are still saved and are led by the Holy Spirit, that is, they hear His voice.

In his helpful book called, “A Verse-By-Verse Commentary On The Gospel According To John,” by Dr. John R. Rice, he states on page 285:

Romans 8:9 says, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

So every Christian has the Holy Spirit dwelling within. Jesus is simply stating a fact—that born-again people have a change in heart. However imperfectly, they are Christ's sheep who follow Him (10:27). Though not always sharply defined nor obviously apparent, every born-again Christian walks “not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4). So it is not a conditional promise that the Lord may pray the Father and the Father may give Christians another Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Here is a solemnly stated eternal fact. Jesus has prayed the Father and He has sent the Holy Spirit to abide forever in the body of every Christian.

John 14:16-17, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” [Scripture added for reference]

Note the time element in verse 17, “ye know him; for he dwelleth with you” before the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Spirit was simply with Christians, not in them. “ . . .  and shall be in you,” that is, after the resurrection of Christ would be within every Christian's body as in a temple. And that promise was certainly fulfilled for these disciples in John 20:19-22, and we believe it was fulfilled for every Christian in the world. At that time and since then the Holy Spirit came in and now comes in at conversion, regeneration, and abides forever with us.

SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice; “A Verse-By-Verse Commentary On The Gospel According To John,” p. 285; ©1976, Sword of the Lord publishers.

That is well written. Please don't misunderstand what Brother Rice is saying. I believe he is not saying that a person must have a change of heart to be saved, because that would constitute Lordship Salvation, which is another Gospel (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4). The “change of heart” that Dr. Rice is speaking about can only refer to voice of the Holy Spirit. When I got saved at age 13, there was a new awareness in my soul of the presence of God. Before that time, in hindsight, there is only darkness in my memory, no remembrance of the voice of God in my heart. Since I got saved, I have heard the silent convicting voice of God's blessed Holy Spirit. There was an immediate godly awareness about the sins in my life, but not necessarily a desire to give them up. The Lord began working on my heart when I got saved, and has been working on my heart ever since. I have struggled my whole life with sins in my life, as you have also if you are saved. Paul struggled with sins (Romans 7:14-25). There is no such thing as “turning from sins,” because as long as we dwell in the tabernacle of this mortal human flesh, we will commit sins. I do not say that to justify nor diminish the awfulness of sin; but rather, to emphasize the reality of sin.

As Dr. Rice rightly says, if you are truly born-again, then the Holy Spirit is not optional. The Holy Spirit is God's gift to every believer. The Holy Spirit immediately seals us the moment we are saved, proof that we belong to God and He will make good on His promise to redeem us in both soul and body. Ephesians 1:12-14, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” I love this passage of Scripture! What a blessed promise of encouragement from our beloved Savior and God!!! Please notice how easy and simple it is to be saved.

Please notice the simple statements: “trusted in Christ” and “ye also trusted” and “ye believed.” And then notice the phrase “ye heard the word of truth, the gospel.” Amen! There is no mention of repenting from sinful ways, nor of turning over a new leaf, nor of forsaking the world, nor of making a commitment to follow Christ, nor of surrendering to Jesus' Lordship, nor of confessing Christ publicly, nor of doing good works, nor of getting water baptized, nor of keeping sacraments, nor of joining a church, nor of doing anything except to trust the Good News (Gospel) of the precious Lord Jesus Christ. And upon trusting Christ and being saved, we are instantly sealed with the Holy Spirit, as proof of God's promise to redeem us completely in both soul and body. The Holy Spirit is God's downpayment on us, that He is coming back as He promised to redeem His purchase, which He has purchased with His own precious blood through His Son (Acts 20:28). 1st Peter 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

If you are saved, you have the Holy Spirit living inside your body. 1st John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” So the only true evidence that a person is saved is the indwelling Holy Spirit, which only that particular individual can know. The Epistle of 1st John was not written so that Christians could go around as fruit inspectors and determine who is saved or not; but rather, so that each individual person can self-examine them self, to determine if they are truly saved. The sole factor in that determination will be whether or not you have God's Holy Spirit dwelling inside you.

If you are saved, then you KNOW the Holy Spirit. John 10:25-27, “Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” That word “follow” doesn't mean to live a holy life as Calvinists would mislead us to believe. Keep in mind that the Gospel of John according to John 20:31 is God's Gospel tract. John 20:31 says, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” The Gospel of John was written to convince the reader that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God (i.e., God's biological Son, which makes Him almighty God as well), and that by BELIEVING they will be immediately and forever saved. So we must interpret John 10:27 in lieu of this great truth. I believe this Bible passage is simply teaching us that if we are saved, we are in Christ's family and we know that He is our Great Shepherd, and we continually hear the voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

A helpful Bible verse is found in Galatians 5:25, “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” I believe John 10:27 speaks of living in the Spirit. Living in the Spirit refers to salvation; Walking in the Spirit refers to discipleship. If we are to rightly divide the Scriptures, then we must never conclude that the manner in which we live affects the gift of eternal life, otherwise it couldn't be a free gift. Romans 5:14-15, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.” Salvation is the free gift of our merciful, loving and gracious God, paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Every born-again believer is alive in the Holy Spirit, but walking in that same Spirit is a separate matter of discipleship. We walk in the Spirit by yielding in obedience to the written Word of God, i.e. the King James Bible. The Holy Spirit NEVER leads anyone to go contrary to the Word of God. When anyone talks about spiritual matters without reference the Holy Bible, run away as fast as you can!

We won't always walk in the Spirit, and sometimes we will sinfully choose to walk in the lusts of the flesh instead; but we ALWAYS live in the Holy Spirit, i.e., walk after the Spirit... “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4b).


Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

“Nothing in my future can ever affect the salvation that I have... Once you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are eternally secure!” —Pastor Hank Lindstrom (1940-2008), a quote from the classic MP3 sermon titled, “How Permanent Is Your Salvation?

“Salvation is based upon purely what Jesus Christ has done. And if you've trusted Jesus Christ here, you're saved forever! Nothing in your life, nothing in your death, angels, principalities, nothing—nothing in your future—could ever undo that relationship that has been made when you trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. And there are many people who are confused over this whole thing.”
—Pastor Hank Lindstrom (1940-2008), a quote from the classic MP3 sermon titled, “How Permanent Is Your Salvation?”

“There are many people who name the name of Jesus Christ, who are not saved, because they're trusting in living the Christian life, or in their works, or in some efforts that they're doing, in order to obtain their salvation.”
—Pastor Hank Lindstrom (1940-2008), a quote from the classic MP3 sermon titled, “How Permanent Is Your Salvation?

Souls Are Dying!

How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)

“The mark of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)

Ye Must Be Born Again! | You Need HIS Righteousness!