To Walk After the Spirit

Posted in: 2012
By Tom M. Ballinger
May 25, 2012 - 5:47:49 PM

Plainer Words since 1968
May 25, 2012
Acts Period Truth
A careful survey of the operations of the Holy Spirit during “The Acts of the Apostles” leads the diligent inquirer and miner of the Biblical treasure to astonishing conclusions. A survey of the working of the Holy Spirit during the Pentecostal Dispensation leaves many scrambling back to their “base camp.”
Many pseudo-right dividers discover that many of their tenets do not stand the test of an honest survey. The straightforward conclusion is that the Spirit of God does not demonstrate His work, today, as He did during the Acts Period. The manifestations of the Spirit during the Book of Acts were not unusual, or uncommon among the community of Christians. But rather, among believers from Acts 2 to Acts 28, the obvious workings of the Holy Spirit were the usual, the normal, the expected, the common place. The Spirit’s working was in harmony with the Divine purpose for that unique period.
It is absolutely essential that the Bible teacher and student have the spiritual discernment to understand what God’s Program was during this critical time frame. The references to the Spirit during the Acts Period must be viewed and understood in light of the economy to which they belonged. What could be cited as the chief term characteristic to the operation of the new nature of the believer, during Acts, is that of walking after the Spirit. This term occurs twice in the great eighth chapter of Romans. We read in Verse One; “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but [walk] after the Spirit.”
The implied phrase, “walk after the Spirit,” is a term the Apostle Paul does not use after Acts 28. This expression is foreign to the Prison Epistles. Consequently, we should not attempt to read into Present Truth this weighty doctrine of the past age.
Set forth, below, will be a survey of the Book of Acts and the references to the Holy Spirit and Its operations during the time between Acts 2 to Acts 28:
1.      Acts 2:4. They were filled with the Holy Ghost and spoke in tongues.
2.      Acts 4:31-32.  They prayed, and the place shook, all were filled with the Holy Ghost. They were with one heart and had all things common.
3.      Acts 5:1-10. Ananias and Sapphira lied to Peter. But, Peter said they lied not to him but to the Holy Ghost, even to God. The result of their lie was they fell down dead.
4.      Acts 5:31-32. The Holy Ghost witnessed.
5.      Acts 8:18-19. The Holy Ghost was received by the laying on of hands.
6.      Acts 8:29. The Spirit said (an audible voice).
7.      Acts 8:39.  The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip.
8.      Acts 9:17-18. Ananais laid hands on Saul of Tarsus, and Saul was “filled with the Holy Ghost” and his sight was restored (Saul was later called Paul).
9.      Acts 9:31. Comfort was provided the churches by the Holy Ghost.
10.  Acts 10:19. The Spirit said … (spoke audibly).
11.  Acts 10:38. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and power.
12.  Acts 10:44. The Holy Ghost fell on them that heard the Word.
13.  Acts 10:45. On the Gentiles was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
14.  Acts 10:47. Peter could not refuse to baptize the Gentile household of Cornelius because they received the Holy Ghost even as did the Jews in    Acts 2.
15.  Acts 11:12. The Spirit asked Peter to go with three men from the house of Cornelius.
16.  Acts 11:16. The Holy Ghost fell on them.
17.  Acts 11:28. Agabus signified by the Spirit (i.e., something was made known by either words or signs).
18.  Acts 13:2.  The Holy Ghost said (spoke audibly).
19.  Acts 13:4. They were sent forth by the Holy Ghost.
20.  Acts 15:28. James said it seemed good to us and the Holy Ghost.
21.  Acts 16:6-7. Forbidden by the Holy Ghost.
22.  Acts 19:2. “Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?”
23.  Acts 19:4-6. Paul laid hands on John’s disciples and the Holy Ghost came upon them and they spake with tongues and prophesied.
24.  Acts 220:23. The Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city.
25.  Acts 20:28. The Holy Ghost made the Ephesian elders overseers of the Church of God.
26.  Acts 21:4. Disciples said to Paul through the Spirit that he should not go to Jerusalem.
27.  Acts 28:25. “Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet.”
We have enumerated the working of the Spirit of God in “The Acts of the Apostles.” When we turn to the epistles written by Paul before Acts 28 and notice his references to the Spirit of God, it is incumbent upon us to have a grasp of the mission of God’s Holy Spirit at that time. The epistles Paul wrote during the period of the Book of Acts were: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, and 1 & 2 Thessalonians. They expressed Truth that belonged to the Pentecostal Dispensation.
Sometimes in these epistles, the Apostle Paul, under inspiration, uses “Spirit” to refer to the new nature of the believer. It is capitalized to denote that it is the Divine nature imparted to the individual by the Spirit of God upon his salvation. Thus, it is distinguished between the new nature and the old, between the Spirit of the new nature .and the spirit of the natural man. The context is the determining factor.
There appears in the Epistle to the Romans, phrases that are extremely difficult to honestly apply to truth for today. As an example, note:
“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).
In order to avoid the consequences of this verse, some expositors have found some translations in which they have omitted “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” In fact, Nestle’s Greek New Testament states that this phrase does not belong in the verse. Nestle left out this phrase even though in his own critical apparatus, he points out that the majority of the manuscripts include the phrase.
For the phrase to be left in the verse presents the problem that “no condemnation” is conditional. This “problem” is imaginary. It’s a problem for those who don’t want to believe God. This conditional “no condemnation” throws a “monkey wrench” into their theology.  Notice, I said “their theology.” “Their theology” is not in agreement with God’s Truth for the dispensation in which it pertains. Failure to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” creates havoc to mid-Acts believers who subscribe to the idea that the Epistle to the Romans is Truth for Today.
Many only want to believe the positive side of Truth.  Romans Chapter Eight consists of both the positive, as well as, the negative aspect of Truth. In a 1963 wide-margin Bible of mine, I wrote with a Rapidiograph pen with India Ink, next to Romans 8:1, “No condemnation for the New Man.” These were the words of a Bible Teacher I sat under in 1963. He said the verse should read; “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The text of the KJV which reads, “…who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” should be ignored. In the babyhood of my learning, I believed if the Teacher said it, it was bound to be true. There came the time when I grew-up and put away the nursing bottles and wanted the strong meat of the Word (Hebrews 5:14).
Romans 8:1 does not need to be changed. We are to believe what it says. If there is a problem, it is in our minds and in our understanding. The problem is not with the Word of God. If we “rightly divide,” the alleged problem disappears.
Rightly dividing Romans 8:1 shows us that Romans was written during the Pentecostal Dispensation and must be interpreted in light of the Book of Acts. The entire 8th Chapter of Romans pertains to the Acts Period. In fact, the entire Book of Romans contains magnificent Truths which belong to the past dispensation, and not to the Present Dispensation of Grace.
It is quite apparent that during the Acts era, believers who did not walk after the Spirit came under condemnation. Condemnation is the act of inflicting a penalty, which is to say, “to pronounce to be utterly wrong: to utter a sentence of disapprobation against; to censure; to blame. To determine or judge to be wrong, or guilty; to sentence to punishment” (definition of “condemnation” as found in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary).
Christians, during the Pentecostal Dispensation (Acts 2 to Acts 28), who chose to walk “after the flesh” were under condemnation (Romans 8:1 & 4) for they “do mind the things of the flesh” (V. 5). To mind or walk after the “flesh” was to yield to the “old nature.” Whereas, to walk after the “Spirit” (Holy Ghost) was to allow the “new nature” to be manifest. To mind the things of the flesh was considered “to be carnally minded.” To be “carnally minded” was death (V. 6) “because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the Law of God neither indeed can be” (V. 7). Paul went on to explain; “So then they that in the flesh [old nature] cannot please God” (V. 8).
Those who walked after the flesh were reminded in Verse 13; “For if ye live after the flesh [old nature], ye shall die.” This, of course, was not Truth for Today. We, as members of the Church, which is His Body, are not warned that if we do not put off the old man with his deeds, we will die. But, during the Pentecostal period, believers were so warned:
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:13-14).
1 Corinthians 11:29-30 is an example of those who chose to walk after the flesh and became “weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” Ananias and Sapphira were obvious believers who died because they walked after the flesh [the old nature] (Acts 5:1-11)—to be carnally minded is death.
The other side of the coin was the positive. Those who “walked after the Spirit” [new nature] could rejoice in that there was no condemnation to them. To walk after the Spirit was to be free from “the law of sin and death (V. 2). For, to be spiritually minded was life and peace (V. 6).

Thus, in Romans 8:1-14, there is a series of contrasts between “after the flesh” and “after the Spirit.” The former walk of the believer would cause to be operative, “the law of sin and death.” The latter walk, on the other hand, would cause “the law of the Spirit of life” to be operative. The consequence of “the law of sin and death” being set in motion was ─ death; “for if ye live after the flesh [old nature], ye shall die” (V. 13).

What was the end result of “the law of the Spirit of life?” If the believer followed the law of the Spirit of life, he would “through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body;” hence, he “shall live” (V. 13) which was to say, he would live until the manifestation of the Kingdom of God (V. 19).

Those who were led by the Spirit were the “sons of God” (V. 14).  Those who walked after the Spirit were led by the Spirit of God. Those who walked after the flesh were not led by the Holy Spirit. As a result, they were not considered the “sons of God;” maybe, the “children of God” but, certainly, not the “sons of God” according to Romans 8:14. The “children of God” were considered to be “heirs of God.” But, by contrast, the “sons of God” were led by the Spirit, willing to “suffer with Him [Christ];” thereby, being counted as “joint-heirs with Christ” (V. 17).

Notice the verses:
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17).
This sets forth that the children of God are heirs of God, but those whose heart attitude was that of being willing to suffer with Christ were joint-heirs with Him. This is, clearly, denominating two classes of believers during “The Acts of the Apostles.” The two expressions are not synonymous. To be an heir is not the same as being a joint-heir.
To illustrate this point, let’s say that a father dies and leaves his estate to his children. As heirs, each offspring receives an equal share. In plainer words, the estate is divided, equally, among the heirs. If there were 100 acres of land left to the heirs, and there were four heirs, each would receive 25 acres.
However,  if the children were to be considered joint-heirs, then, the 100 acres could not be divided into fourths, but rather, each heir would have claim to the 100 acres instead of 25. All four would control the estate as one.
During the Pentecostal Dispensation, those who were “led by the Spirit of God were called the sons of God” (V. 14). Sonship, in this instance, denoted progression and maturity in opposition to that of being simply “children of God.” Sonship was related to a willingness to “suffer with Christ.” Believers were classed in two categories: “children” and “sons.”
For, “we are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” To be considered a “son of God,” in the Pentecostal Pauline sense, was to be willing to suffer with Christ.”
Children of God = Heirs of God
Sons of God = Joint-heirs with Christ
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