16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
Faith is a necessary part of submitting to the Spirit
A believer submits to the Spirit by giving Him their attention (focus) through faith. If no faith is present, then this will not be possible (James 1:5-8, Hebrews 11:6). Giving ourselves over requires that we trust in the Lord to sustain us through life’s daily struggles.
To be controlled by God, we must have an undivided mind
If believers want to be under God’s control (protection), they must have an undivided mind (James 1:5-8). We must have Christ and His Word as our focus, not that we are thinking about the Lord and His truth (virtue thinking) all the time, of course. There are plenty of moments where our attention will be on other things. There is nothing wrong with that, and that isn’t necessarily an indication that we are not under the Spirit’s control. For example, if we are at work, our minds will naturally focus on the task at hand. The same thing goes with any other activity that demands our attention, such as driving a forklift, etc. But we should strive to meditate on God’s truth as often as we are able.
Giving our minds over to God
To submit to the Holy Spirit, we simply give our minds over to God. We accomplish this by going to Him in prayer by giving Him our focus and attention.
13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints.
There is no formula; it is all about the disposition of our hearts
There is no special phrase or group of words to recite to submit to the Spirit. It is all about the disposition of our hearts and whether we are willing to do things God’s way by allowing Him to work through us with our hearts and minds fixed on Him (faith and obedience). The battle starts in the mind because we act based on how we think, and our decisions come from the heart. We have already discussed above what it means to submit to the Spirit’s power and how. We simply give ourselves (our minds) over to God, who will direct our every thought, word, and deed. This is a choice and not automatic, of course. Suppose it was – then the believer would never have to trust and obey (exercise faith)! That obviously isn’t right.
Christ will accomplish His work through us. But that requires our trust and obedience. Once we have done our part, God will then do His.
7 Submit therefore to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
So when we give ourselves over to God, it is not necessary to say, “Lord, I give myself over to your Spirit,” or “Lord, I just pray that you would control me with your Spirit.” There is no need to recite anything specific in a ritualistic manner. If a believer knows how to give themselves (their mind/attention) over to God in prayer, then they know how to walk/be controlled by the Spirit. That is a decision to obey by conducting oneself as Christ would have them walk. No believer has to be taught how to go to God in prayer and give Him their steadfast attention. They could never pray if they didn’t know this. That is something they already know how to do. Every believer has the knowledge and ability of how to pray. The question is whether they will be willing to do so (the issue with most believers today is their unwillingness to become zealous for Christ). Willingness is the issue (along with obedience), not knowledge.
All believers just have to give themselves over to God as we described above. Other than that, there are no magical steps or things to recite to achieve this. What matters is that the person has chosen to say yes to God in their hearts. Walking in the Spirit means being controlled by the Spirit, which will guarantee that the person’s every thought, word, and action are in line with God’s Will because they are all accomplished through His strength and not our own. A person will walk by the Spirit if they choose to be controlled by Him and vice versa. Both aspects are one and the same.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Everything above is necessary for the believer to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25). In order to follow the Spirit’s leading and do what He would have us do, we first have to be controlled by Him. This scenario is well described by many theologians as similar to keeping in step with a dance partner. In order to dance, we have to join ourselves with the other person and cooperate (submitting to the Spirit). After that, we then have to keep in step with them. This would be equivalent to following the Spirit’s leading in the spiritual dance in which all believers should be involved.