BIBLICAL INSIGHTS FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH – PART 3
As we continue our study of this important subject, we need to remember, there can be no growth until there is life. Until we are regenerated by the Spirit of God, there can be no growth because there is no life present.
We saw in our first lesson that the Word of God is the key to spiritual growth.
We are supposed to desire it like a baby craves milk so we can grow spiritually.
We also discussed how important this is for the believer and that if the Scriptures are neglected, we will be stunted in our growth.
We discussed in our second lesson why we should desire the milk of the Word. We desire it in order to discover the revealed will of God in order to obey it. We also saw the important role that the Bible has in spiritual growth.
In 2 Peter 3:18, he mentions two areas that we need to concentrate on for growth; grace and knowledge. We will look at the first one in this lesson.
3. THE CALL TO GROW IN GRACE
2 Pet. 3:18 – but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
A. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF GROWTH
1. We can’t make ourselves to grow. We can’t will growth into reality. What then are we to do?
a. Observe certain conditions which promote growth.
We need to realize that certain conditions do exist that promotes growth and we need to find ourselves actively involved in them.
What are some conditions that promote growth?
- *Being in the Word
- *Faithful in Church
- *Observing & following the example of mature believers
- *Renewing your mind – meditation
- *Faithfully exercising you gifts
- *Memorizing the Word
- *Trials 12
These are about as basic as they get. But, it’s things like these that promote spiritual growth.
b. We must avoid everything that is harmful to growth.
We need to realize that certain conditions exist that are very detrimental to one’s spiritual development and purposely avoid them.
This is not legalism, this is wisdom. It may even include limiting our freedom for the purpose of spiritual growth.
What are some illustrations of this?
- *Plants being moved inside or out depending on the weather.
- *Animals changing their locations throughout the year because of weather.
- *Athletes avoiding things that will weaken their bodies.
By the same token, there are many actions that one may do, or places that one might go as a believer, that possibly need changing to promote our spiritual growth.
2. Spiritual growth is gradual. It doesn’t happen all at once.
Prov. 4:18 – But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
2 Cor. 3:18 – But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
3. It is natural for all true believers to grow spiritually.
As soon as a living creature is born, it will seek for food in order that he might grow. This is also true for spiritual life. As soon as a believer has been regenerated, he will be dissatisfied with the feeble measure of grace he possesses, and will quickly be desirous to grow.
a. God promises that He will cause His regenerated children to grow.
Because regeneration brings life to the dead spirit of a believer, the next natural step to follow is growth. This doesn’t mean that growth is a straight shot up without any times of slipping backwards.
Ps. 92:12-13 – The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God.
It’s not merely a good thing for a believer to grow spiritually, it’s his nature to do so. Those who profess to be spiritually alive and do not manifest any growth need to conclude it is not well with their soul.
4. Spiritual growth comes as a believer cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification.
Phil. 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Messiah Jesus.
Phil. 2:12-13 – So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your 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.
5. Spiritual growth takes place differently in different believers.
- *Some grow very fast and others are amazed at their growth.
- *Some remain small in their growth while some attain great heights in their growth.
- *Some progress steadily.
- *Some produce 30 fold, 60 fold and 100 fold.
B. REASONS TO GROW IN GRACE
1. Growing in grace helps us handle our past.
- *Do you ever struggle with guilt?
- *Do you sometimes doubt God’s absolute total forgiveness?
- *Do you find it hard to forgive others that have sinned against you?
Growing in grace will help you handle problems such as these.
1 Tim. 1:12-15 – I thank Messiah Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service;even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Messiah Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Messiah Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
a. Note that God’s grace was more than abundant for Paul.
It means that there was an exceeding abundant amount. There was more than what was needed. Paul did not exhaust God’s grace and neither can we.
b. Our Father’s ability to forgive sin is endless, because of the payment made by the Lord Jesus.
The grace of God rises higher than any persons sin.
Mic. 7:18 – Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.
Rom. 5:15 – But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus the Messiah, abound to the many.
Rom. 5:20 – And the Law came in that the transgression might increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
c. A believer should never feel guilty over past sins that have been forgiven.
The only time a believer should feel guilty is when there is present sin that’s unconfessed.
Ps. 32:1-5 – How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away Through my groaning all day long. For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to Thee, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And Thou dids’t forgive the guilt of my sin. Selah.
d. A believer should never refuse to forgive someone who has sinned against them when they ask for forgiveness.
Every sin we commit is against God and He is willing to grant us forgiveness.
Eph. 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Messiah also has forgiven you.
Col. 3:12-13 – And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.
1 Pet. 3:8-9 – To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
2. Growing in grace helps us with our present circumstances.
- *Do you ever struggle with trials?
- *Do you feel overwhelmed because of sin in your life?
- *Are you ever overwhelmed because of persecution for being a believer?
Growing in grace will help you handle circumstances such as these.
The same grace that is available to help us with our past is also available to help us with our present. It too will be more than sufficient to help us with whatever we are called upon to face.
2 Cor. 12:7-10 – And because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me– to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I entreated the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Messiah may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Messiah’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
a. A believer should never refuse to utilize this grace that God offers.
If we do, we will experience some terrible consequences.
Heb. 12:15 – See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.
What about the future? We are not there yet, so no grace is presently needed. But it would be wise for us to always be growing in grace so that when our future becomes our present, we will be prepared to receive the abundant grace that we will then need.