When Peter walked on the water, did he do so by the immediate qualifying power of Jesus, or by the power of the Holy Spirit?
Jesus did say, "'1 do nothing on my own authority'" (John 8:28), suggesting that He had surrendered the right to act by His own power during His earthly years.
But the question is essentially immaterial; it makes no difference whether Peter was empowered by Jesus or by the Holy Spirit. He walked by divine power in either case. He could not walk on water without that power.
Today the Spirit is given to do Christ's work in our hearts and lives. You and 1 must walk by faith in the power of the Spirit.
"Walk by the Spirit," Paul urged the Galatians, "and do not gratify the desires of the flesh" (Gal. 5:16).
The thrust of this verse in the original language is, Live uninterruptedly (in spite of hindrances) by the promptings of the Spirit, and you will not, at any time, be led to respond to the desires of the flesh. The "flesh," as Paul uses the term here, is the same as his promptings of the "sinful body" of Romans 6:6, meaning the senses and faculties of the physical body, conditioned to acts of sin by inherited tendencies and habits of sin.
Transformed, motivated, constantly directed, and energized by the Spirit, your way of life will be one of habitual victory over sin, Paul says.
The way of constantly walking by the Spirit is experientially described by Isaiah: "Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left" (Isa. 30:21).
This is the voice of the Spirit, speaking through the enlightened conscience, quietly but insistently cautioning us when, for any reason, we begin to drift from the pathway of right. The Christian whose inner ear is tuned sensitively to that voice, heeding its directings, will not be seduced by the "desires of the flesh," whatever form they may take.
"If we swerve a single inch from duty, we are in danger of following on in a course of sin that will end in perdition. There is hope for everyone of us, but only in one way, and that is by binding ourselves to Christ, and exerting every energy to attain to the perfection of His character."- Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 540.
It has been pointed out that the Holy Spirit is not a luxury, given to Christians as a special bonus, simply for their convenience or enjoyment. The Spirit is not a kind of supplement to boost the believer's capacity for Christian living. He is not simply an addition to the gifts the Christian receives when he is born again.
The Christian has no capacity at all, no qualifications at all, for holy living without the Spirit. With the Spirit in the life he has all the requisites he needs for living; the Spirit brings these with Him. They cannot be present when He is not present. He will not be present in a life that is not fully committed to Him.
As Christ is Christianity, so, in a sense, the Holy Spirit is the new birth. There is no Christianity without Christ; there is no new birth without the Holy Spirit. "The Holy Spirit is the breath of spiritual life in the soul." - The Desire of Ages, p. 805.
How do we receive the Holy Spirit, so that, by Him, we may walk on water? "'The Holy Spirit ... is God's gift to those who obey him'" (Acts 5:32, T.KV.); by "constant surrender to God, which alone can enable men to hear and to obey the teaching of His Holy Spirit" (Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 172). Human beings may be "worked by the Holy Spirit" "when they surrender themselves to ... [God]" (ibid., vol. 8, p. 185). Without genuine, wholehearted surrender and constant obedience, we cannot have the Spirit.
How may we retain the Spirit, that we may continue to walk on water? "The Spirit illumines our darkness, informs our ignorance, and helps us in our manifold necessities. But [for this to be] the mind must be constantly going out after God. If worldliness is allowed to come in, if we have no desire to pray, no desire to commune with Him who is the source of strength and wisdom, the Spirit will not abide with us." -Our High Calling, p. 154.
"The Holy Spirit ... is God's gift to those who obey him."
"The acceptance of the will of God and the gift of the Spirit of God go hand in hand," said William Barclay. Many people have a very nebulous concept of what obedience to the Spirit means. They have tuned down the conscience so far, they have so conditioned themselves to rationalize, to follow expediency, they understand the functions of conscience so poorly, that they are easily baited into sin because they have nothing to warn them of danger.
When we are not alert to the warnings of conscience, Satan presents temptations so subtly, so attractively, that we are able to find what seem to be genuine reasons for transgression. We may then argue with ourselves and others that we are right, and we may feel highly aggrieved when the church and others take attitudes that go against our reasoning; we may feel that we have been treated in an unfair and unchristian manner. The facts are, we have been blinded by Satan, and by our desires and distorted reasonings.
"Walk by the Spirit." This is the secret of walking on water.
We may accept, in context, the sentiments of the hymn,
Ever near the Christian's side,
Gently lead us by the hand ... "
But Christ did not describe His Spirit as taking us by the hand, as it were, and, holding us up, leading us along on the water. He promised His disciples that the Spirit would be in them (John 14: 17).
Walking on water-living victoriously over sin and self-is possible only through the indwelling Spirit. The Spirit must displace self and sin in the soul; these are too weighty to permit us to walk on water. Real faith, the faith that buoys us up so that we can overcome the world (1 John 5:4), is possible only when all known sin has been expelled from the soul.