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walking after the spirit

I’ve struggled with feeling guilty most of my life. 

I didn’t carry the normal amount of guilt when I messed up. It came down on me with a suffocating, paralyzing, torturous pressure.  

I have learned that this kind of guilt is not from God. Tormenting guilt that does not go away – even after confessing and apologizing – is directly from Satan, and I’ve learned to reject it. 

As a child, I was never encouraged when I made a mistake. I received a finger-wagging lecture, but I was never told I could redeem myself by apologizing and making amends. 

I wasn’t taught to go to Christ and find forgiveness and relief from guilt – even though I was raised in a Christian home. 

Enter 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” Romans 8:1

What freedom. What relief. What love. 

God does not condemn.

Let’s get one thing straight: God does not have a condemning heart. Ever. We see evidence of this in Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery: “…neither do I condemn thee.” (John 8:11)

However, there’s a difference between condemnation and judgment. And while God does not condemn, He does execute judgment. Judgment is simply the application of consequences brought upon ourselves through our choices. And when God applies it, it is with a bleeding heart. 

That is why Jesus didn’t end with telling the woman He didn’t condemn her. He urged her to “go and sin no more”. Because He knew that if she continued to sin she would condemn herself. 

But there’s more to 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.” 

Being “in” Christ results in walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh.  

What does it mean to be in Christ?

Verse 9 gives us the answer: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you…” 

If I have God’s Spirit living in me I am in the Spirit, in Christ.

And the result of Christ living in me is found in verse 4: “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

When the Spirit dwells in me, I will fulfill the demands of the law. I will walk “after the Spirit”. 

What does it mean to walk after the Spirit? 

To follow His promptings and heed the sense of restraint He gives.

The other night I watched a movie full of murders, treachery, deceit, and adultery. Half way through I got up to draw the curtains and I had the clear thought that this movie was not good for me. I reasoned the thought away – I mean, I was already halfway through, and, it’s real life stuff, and, I need to see how it ends…

So I finished the movie but did not feel good afterward – for two reasons: 1) I had filled my mind with dark, depressing stuff, and 2) I had pushed away from the prompting of the Holy Spirit who wanted to save me from filling my mind with darkness.

I had walked after the flesh and not after the Spirit.  

Instead of sinking into my usual pit of guilt and despair about my failure, I confessed my sin, (because it is sin to ignore the promptings of the Spirit – “Therefore to him, that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17). 

We must do more than hear God’s word to us.

I must be more than just a hearer of the word – including the Spirit’s word to me at the moment. I must be a doer. 

Which brings me full circle, because how can I be a doer and obey the Spirit’s promptings when my natural inclination is to watch that movie, gossip about someone else, indulge my anger, or harbor resentment?

By getting “in” Christ. 

Because when I am “in” Christ I become a new creature, old things pass away; and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17) – including my thoughts and feelings, my desires, my love for sin, and my self-will. 

When I let Christ, by His Spirit, into my heart, He dispels darkness – guilt, fear, anger, hatred, bitterness, unforgiveness, and every species of ugliness that the self-life generates, including the desire to ignore the promptings of the Spirit.  

Then there is no condemnation.

When Jesus said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more”, He was offering her Himself. To live in her heart, to change her inclinations, to free her from the reason why she kept returning to her pet sin – which may have been the fact that she felt condemned in the first place.

More of Christ

Without the indwelling Spirit I will walk after the flesh and obey its lusts, and bring upon myself the condemnation attached to sin.

I must have more of the Spirit. 

And I must have Him daily.

I cannot rely on yesterday’s surrender, yesterday’s victory, yesterday’s testimony. 

And the outcome of having more of Christ is freedom. 

“If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

Free from condemnation. Free from tormenting guilt. Free from despair. 


Bio: Jenny is a South African Mom to three grown kids – one girl and two boys. She is a freelance editor/proofreader and writer. She writes about all things relationship connected. Jenny shares a speaking ministry with her husband, Richard, helping people go beyond mediocre in their relationship with God, how to be better parents and have a marriage that rocks. She blogs at www.lovemoretolive.com and you can follow her on Facebook and Instagram @lovemoretolive.

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