The only way you can know that you are walking in the Spirit is by seeing if you are bearing the fruit of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.
The only sign the Bible gives us so that we can know if we are walking in the Spirit is the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. There is no other clear indicator.
When we look at an apple tree, how do we know that it is an apple tree? By the fruit we see. Or if we look at an orange tree, how do we know that we are looking at an orange tree? Same thing, the fruit!
It is the same way when it comes to walking in the Spirit! If we don’t see the fruit of the Spirit (a.k.a the characteristics of the Holy Spirit) in our lives then we can know for sure that we are not walking in the Spirit.
However, one could argue that you are not walking in the Spirit if you are not obeying what the Bible reveals walking in the Spirit is. [Related article: What Does it Mean to Walk/Live in the Spirit? (Explained)].
The apostle Paul tells us what walking in the Spirit is in Romans 8:5.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit“
So if we are not setting our minds on the things of the Spirit (i.e. the word of God, love, communion with God, worship, etc.) then obviously we are not walking in the Spirit.
Although this argument is true, it is not a clear indicator that we are truly walking in the Spirit. The reason for this is we may be thinking that we are setting our minds on the things of the Spirit and then all of a sudden a lust of the flesh manifests itself.
Maybe it’s worry, an outburst of anger, or covetousness. Whatever it may be, it manifests itself and that is a clear indicator that we stepped out of the Spirit and into the flesh.
We know this because the Bible makes it clear, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
So if we ever stumble in the flesh, we know that somewhere along the line our minds have wandered from the things of the Spirit.
What should we do when this happens?
Ask God for forgiveness, turn away from whatever you stumbled into, and then get your mind back on Jesus. It’s that simple.
The apostle Paul gave an example of this out of his own life in Philippians 3.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”
When Paul says that he desires to “lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” He is referring to the reason that every single one of us got saved.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He (Christ) might be the firstborn among many brethren (us).” (Romans 8:29)
Jesus attained us with intention!
So, in Philippians 3, the apostle Paul is essentially saying that he desires to be perfect, he desires to walk just as Jesus walked.
What does he do to accomplish this goal?
He forgets what lies behind and he presses on to what’s in front of him.
He continually sets his mind on the things of the Spirit so that he can bear the fruit of the Spirit, and if for some reason he stumbles in the flesh, he quickly repents and then moves on, pressing toward his goal and calling that Christ Jesus called all of us to.
How to know if you have the fruits of the Spirit
If you are a born-again believer you have the fruits of the Spirit on the inside of you, because the Holy Spirit is in you. However, we must all learn to access these fruits by learning to walk in the Spirit.
The fruits of the Spirit are nothing more than the quality traits of the Holy Spirit. So when we get saved the Bible reveals that the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of us which means that His quality traits come with Him (1 Corinthians 3:16).
In other words, you can know you have the fruits of the Spirit available to you because you are a follower of Jesus.
Now just because we have the fruits of the Spirit available to us doesn’t necessarily mean that they are manifesting in our lives. This can only happen through walking in the Spirit. [Related article: How to Walk/Live in the Spirit (Complete Guide)]
As we walk in Him, His quality traits begin to manifest in our lives without us trying so hard.
A simple way you can know that you have the fruits of the Spirit manifesting in your life is you will have joy and peace on the inside of you.
You won’t be so prone to worry or stress about things. Joy will come easy to you and you will have a sense of excitement about your life.
A more practical way that you can know that you have the fruits of the Spirit in your life is you will see them manifest themselves in different situations.
You may see yourself responding in love toward someone when they weren’t acting very loving, you may have patience for people in the midst of criticism or persecution, or you may just be responding kinder to others as you go throughout your day.
All of these instances reveal the fruit of the Spirit in your life. [Related article: Fruits of the Holy Spirit (Common Questions Answered)].
The fruits of the Holy Spirit are not some mystical thing that we can’t know for sure if we have them. No, the fruits of the Spirit are very practical and they only manifest themselves as we walk with the Spirit of God.
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