"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." - Galatians 5:25
Paul makes an interesting statement here. Often we would think that these terms were interchangeable. We would say that living in something and walking in something is the same thing. However we see here that, at least in this case, it is not. Paul states first:
"If we live in the Spirit..."
This statement seems to apply that the reader does live in the Spirit. As we received Christ we received the Spirit and began to live in the Spirit. It was at that decision, regardless of what we had done, that allowed us to move into the Spirit and to live in the blessings associated with the Spirit. This is done regardless of our own actions or behavior but simply according to the grace of God. However, Paul doesn't stop there.
Paul tells us, in this simple challenge, that there is a step beyond 'living' in the Spirit, he tells us that we should also walk in the Spirit. Somehow there is a difference between the terms 'live' and 'walk'. For me the difference is the following: to live in the Spirit denotes a permanent place, it references where we stand in God's eyes. After we accept Christ, the Father looks at us and sees the Spirit because we are living in the Spirit. This is something we receive simply through our acceptance of and relationship with Christ.
On the other hand, to walk in the Spirit is to make the daily decision to follow the Spirit's guidance. Ever since we began living in the Spirit the guidance of the Spirit has been available to us but sadly, most of us have never actually opened up our spiritual ear to listen for Him, let alone follow Him. A part of this is the willingness to sacrifice. This is why Paul, before this statement writes:
"And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." - Galatians 5:24
In order to move from the simple location status of living in the Spirit to the action status of actually walking in the Spirit we must first crucify our fleshly passions and desires. This is not to be confused with the passions and desires in our Spirit. There are passions and desires that God has placed into your Spirit which He expects you to pursue, however there are also passions and desires that have to do with our flesh, our carnal or sinful nature. Not all of these are sinful in themselves, for example hunger is a normal desire and we are expected to eat to satisfy that hunger. However in order to truly walk after the Spirit we have to be willing to spend time fasting. This can also be true with sleep, another natural desire that is needed to take care of ourselves, but there might be times we need to prioritize our time with God and cut our sleep short.
In addition to these normal desires we also have desires like lust, laziness, greed, pride, etc. these one we see more as being sinful but we still all struggle with them to some degree. We need to be willing to crucify those things in order to fully learn to walk by the Spirit.
Ultimately we are given a choice. We can stay in the stage of living by the Spirit and ride the free gift to heaven, or we can make a daily decision to sacrifice our desires and follow the guidance of the Spirit no matter how hard it may be. In the end I challenge you in the same way Paul did. If we live in the Spirit, if we reap the benefits of the free gift, then let us also make the daily decision to sacrifice our fleshly desires and walk in His guidance.