Walking by the Spirit


Marilyn Howshall


author and developer of the

Lifestyle of Learning™ message.





Jesus wants to become intimately involved in the daily process of our lives where our thoughts will so enmesh with His and His with ours that we will simply be transformed as we abide in each other. He said:


"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? 

Come to Me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life.

I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and you'll recover

your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and

work with me, watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company

with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." 


(Matthew 11:28–30; The Message Bible)



I love the expression "unforced rhythms of grace." It perfectly embodies what is, to me, walking in His grace. We hear from the Lord about things we are to do, but then we go about fulfilling them in our own ways, thus producing a burden that is ill-fitting and much too heavy for our souls. The Lord's way is restful and freeing. Yet the paradox is that in His way of rest we will recover our lives.

When first learning how to let go of my self and my ways in homeschooling it seemed that nothing would happen if I was not very busy making it happen. Living "freely and lightly" seemed an impossible condition to attain in my early years with homeschooling. As I reflected on those years, I found that my ability to hear God and be led of His Spirit was achieved in stages. The earlier stages were wrought with intense inner struggles and were more emotionally traumatic as my flesh was strongly engaged while God was trying to get my attention. The latter stages and where I am now are much more peaceful, and resemble more closely the ideal depicted in this Scripture. I learned that, with minimal effort on my part, doing only those things the Lord directed me to do, my life would take on a freedom in His Spirit I never thought possible, a light burden that I could bear.

In this message I hope to describe to you what it may feel like on the inside when first attempts are made to hear God regarding how to homeschool. The first thing we must begin to believe is that we truly hear Him, for He is speaking: 



"My sheep

hear My voice, and I know them, 

and they follow Me."


(John 10:27)  



The trouble is that we do not always discern His voice among all the voices that seem to assail us. Yes, even the Scripture clearly acknowledges that there are conflicting and opposing voices working within us.


"Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the 

desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the

Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in

opposition to one another, so that you may not do the

things that you please. But if you are led by the

spirit, you are not under the Law."


(Gal. 5:16–18)


It is good news to know that there is more in us than our own thoughts, impressions, natural strength and will (the flesh). There is actually a war being waged in us between our own flesh and God's Holy Spirit. If we learn to listen to what is going on inside of us, then we will learn to know His voice. As the following Scripture indicates, it is God (by His Spirit) who is at work in us to cause us to do His will.


"Work out your own salvation with fear and

trembling; for it is God who is at work in you both to will

and to work for His good pleasure."


(Philippians 2:12–13)


We cannot assume that every thought or sense inside of us is coming from our own preconceived and/or accumulated impressions! The Holy Spirit, our Teacher, is speaking to us, teaching us about God's will for each and every thing we are doing in obedience to His call. When we have teachable hearts, we will learn to discern which is His voice and not our own. When making the initial decision to homeschool, many of us experienced the war described in Galatians 5:16–18 above. The flesh rose up and screamed "NO!" while at the same time we yielded to the Spirit's conviction. Others may have experienced this war when first being introduced to a more relaxed homeschool philosophy. The strongest objections from people will always come when their flesh is being threatened and the cross of "death to self" is being presented.

You might ask, in reference to Philippians 2:12 above, if we are saved by grace, why must we work out our salvation? Grace makes it possible for us to obey the Lord in true obedience to the Spirit (not to the law, Jesus already did that). He sent the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth. It is by His Spirit we are convicted of sin and shown our own ways that are displeasing to Him.

While initially He may show us our overall condition and need for His life to flood and transform every area of our lives, He only begins to deal with us about a few areas at a time. He then tells us to follow Him and He will show us the way in which He wants us to proceed.

There is a way we can know for certain whether or not we are walking by the Spirit in any given area of our lives. We must listen to what is going on inside of us. Notice the qualifier in the following sentences: 

"There is therefore now no condemnation to

those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according

 to the flesh, but according to the Spirit."


(Rom. 8:1)


I have noticed that when this Scripture is referenced, the qualifiers for in Christ Jesus are often dropped from the teaching and somehow we are just not ever supposed to feel condemnation simply because we are born again into the family of God. However, the above Scripture and the following one contradict this common teaching: 


"For as many as are

led by the Spirit of God, these

are sons of God."


(Romans 8:14)


When the qualifiers are ignored, we are left with a power less Gospel. To be "in Christ Jesus" we must walk by the Spirit. When we are walking by the Spirit, He will always take us to the cross. The Spirit and the cross are inseparable! Thus, to be in Christ Jesus, should we not be walking by the Spirit to the cross? The cross is the only way to experience the power of the Gospel unto salvation, even the salvation of our souls.





This was Part I of an article that was in

the Oct. 1997 Lifestyle of Learning Newsletter.

Part II was in the Jan. 1998 newsletter. However, it has now

been rewritten into a complete book of its own called

Walk by the Spirit in Your Homeschool Decisions

that can be obtained directly from the

Lifestyle of Learning e-store at:




Check out their website at: 




Article used with permission from ~ and much

gratefulness to ~ Marilyn Howshall, author and developer

of the Lifestyle of Learning message.



I got the background at:



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