Growing up I was part of a family that was at church every time the doors were open. Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night - we were at church. When I was a freshman in High School I had struck up a relationship with a girl that was actually 3 years ahead of me in school. This was really cool except that everyone assumed she was my older sister.
One Sunday afternoon we had the notion to go catch a movie instead of going to church that night. For this to happen, I needed to get my dad's permission. I can't remember exactly what my speech was to my dad but I am sure I presented a passionate presentation as to why just this one time he should give me the green light to skip church. My dad was much wiser than that. When I finished my words, he simply said this to me:
"Son, you know I think you should go to church tonight but I'm going to let you make that decision. But if you choose to go to the movies instead, I will be very disappointed in you!"
My response? HURRAY!!!! I get to go to the movies with my new girlfriend! And so we did! The only problem was that I was miserable the entire evening! I wasn't miserable because I was at the movies! I wasn't miserable because I was with my girlfriend. I wasn't even miserable because I was missing church. I was miserable because the only thing I could think about was my dad sitting in church filled with disappointment in his son.
I think of that story when I think of Paul's words in the book of Ephesians when he tells us not to "grieve the Holy Spirit." When I became a Christian by putting my faith in Jesus Christ alone for my forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit came to live inside of me. He leads me. He guides me. He convicts me. He empowers me. When I am tempted to do something that would not be pleasing to the Lord or not be according to His will for my life, the Holy Spirit makes that known to me. I'm not talking hearing a literal voice. I am talking about those internal promptings of the heart that come from the Spirit of God. And when I do that which I know He has prompted me not to do, I grieve Him - just like I grieved my dad the night I skipped church to go to the movies.
The same can be true in opposite form. Paul told the church at Thessalonica not to "quench the Spirit." Grieving the Spirit is when I do what the Spirit of God prompts me not to do. Quenching the Spirit is when I don't do what the Spirit of God prompts me to do. When the Spirit of God urges me to to do something and I choose not to, it is like I throw water on the fire the Spirit is trying to fan into flame in my life.
Walking by the Spirit, as seen in Galatians 5:16, is living my live always in tune to the Spirit of God within me. It's being sensitive to His promptings. It's not doing what He prompts me not to do and doing what He prompts me to do. And when we walk by the Spirit we will not carry out the lust of the flesh. That is what we will be talking about this Sunday as we continue our new series, "Walk This Way," at the Gaylord E-Free Church!