I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
When most people read that we should walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh, as we are told several times in the Scripture, they look to the negative. They focus on whatever they consider the “flesh” to be and they seek to avoid the things of the flesh. For some, that means things like lust, alcohol, smoking, and whatever else they were taught was evil—perhaps particularly things related to the body. Then, somehow, they think that avoiding the things of the flesh will help them to walk in the Spirit.
But that isn’t what the Scripture says, nor is that the right way to look at living the Christian life. A walk in the Spirit is not about avoiding certain behaviors. Nor is it about trying to whip my life into shape so that I can be “like Jesus.” A walk in the Spirit is simply a walk with the Lord, focused on Him.
You see, the Christian life is not about the negatives. Paul talks about that in Colossians 2:
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—
“Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,”
which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men?
These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:20-23
No, Paul says, these things might look wise, but they have no positive effect when seeking to avoid the flesh.
If you want to avoid the flesh, learn to walk in the Spirit. That’s what our text from Galatians 5:16 says. Make your primary goal, the focus of your activity, the walk in the Spirit. If you learn to do that, the things of the flesh will fall away.
Listen: in other words, this is all positive! The sheer joy and freedom of walking in the Spirit will so surpass the fleshly walk that you won’t have to fight against it. You will drop it the way a dog drops an old dried-up bone at the offer of a piece of steak.