Walking In The Spirit – Kenneth Berding
This little book is a look at Romans 8 and how to base life on the Holy Spirit. The author sprinkles in many of his own personal stories throughout the book and with that shows how the spirit-ual walk really looks.
In Chapter 1 Berding says we are to walk in the spirit. Sounds like a simple starting place for this concept, but he goes deeper into what that really means. Walking in the Spirit really means that we are abiding in the Spirit. Further it means that we are setting our mind on things of the Spirit, hoping in the Spirit, praying in the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and being discipled by the Spirit. In fact this is the starting place for all spiritual growth. When we walk in the spirit we grow in fullness of the Spirit and our desire to sin gets shoved out by the Spirit.
Berding, in chapter 2, uses an illustration of getting a song stuck in your head to show what setting our minds on the things of Spirit really means. However setting our mind on things above is more than just focusing intently on those things. We have to train our minds to stay on the things of the Spirit. We do this through constant prayer, songs of worship, meditation of scripture and by living the words of Philippians 4:8 by thinking upon whatever is true, noble, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
Chapter 3 is all about putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit. The reality is we cannot get rid of our sin on our own. We are incapable of it, if this were not so then Jesus would not have had to come and die in our place. We need help in dealing with our sin that is where the Holy Spirit comes in to play. The Spirit frees us from condemnation and makes it possible to live lives pleasing to God instead of defined by the flesh.
Chapter 4 is where Berding tells us what it means to be led by the Spirit. This is more than just being led by broad Biblical wisdom. Although that is one aspect of how the Spirit leads, being led by the Spirit refers to a deeper more specific leading. It is where there Spirit actually leads us to go and do and say certain things. This type of leading is sadly foreign to the experience of many Evangelicals but why? Sometimes it is because we don’t want to be labeled a mystic or charismatic. But isn’t it better to remain Biblical and that is the point Berding is making here. We are told repeatedly by Paul to be led by the Spirit. To be led by the Spirit we have to be walking in the spirit, setting our minds on things above, and putting to death our old self. Otherwise we are not in a place to always clearly hear the Spirit’s lead.
Knowing God as Father is the fifth way of walking in spirit and the topic of chapter 5. The Holy Spirit teaches us to know God as our Father. Last night I was up in the middle of the night feeding my three month old son. After he finished eating I was trying to get him back to sleep and starting talking to him in what was really more of a prayer. One of the things I said to him was that I prayed he would know that his daddys arms were always a place of love and trust for him. I want him to know that dad is a safe place where he will always be loved and that I will always seek the best for him. Sadly many of us come from backgrounds and experiences where this is not what we think of when we think of fathers. The Spirit knows this and knows that we all have varying issues with trust and intimacy because of our former slavery to sin. So the Spirit disciples us and teaches us what it means that God is our Father.
The final two chapters address what it means to both hope in and pray in the Spirit. Hoping in the Spirit takes our minds from whatever suffering or hardship we might experience here and reminds us of our eternal security in the presence of the Glory of God. When we pray in the Spirit, our prayers turn from being focused on ourselves and somewhat selfish to being about the Glory and advancement of the Kingdom of God. Praying in the Spirit takes the focus off ourselves and rightly places it upon God.
The review questions at the end of each chapter alone make this book worth whatever price it might cost you. I highly recommend this book to all Christians. It has helped me to learn to understand more of the Holy Spirit’s role in my life and I know it will do the same for you.