Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
-Ephesians 4:15 ESV
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation
-1 Peter 2:2 ESV
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.
-2 Peter 3:18 ESV
One of the more mysterious questions that we do notspend enough time contemplating is how we grow spiritually; more specifically how you personally grow spiritually. For instance, if we assume spiritual growth is like physical growth then we might conclude that it is automatic and we do nothing. Passages like Philippians 1:6, 2 Corinthians 3:18, and 2 Corinthians 4:16 all indicate an active growth process energized by the Holy Spirit is actively working to transform us into the image of Christ. However, there are lots of people who grow up physically but never mature emotionally, mentally or in their ability to relate to others. We might assume that image is related to His beliefs, values, behaviors, habits and character and we are to gradually begin reflecting these in my life as an innate, part of my being. But it also includes my rationale, my logic, feelings, common sense and creativity. In other words, true growth take place when I am not just trying to act like Christ but that I am, in fact, becoming like Christ. Do we think that actual growth is where my spiritual DNA is overriding my Flesh and re-writing my character to be more like Jesus? What does maturity look like in our lives? There are lots of models of sanctification – the Wesleyan model is about becoming perfect in love and thus eliminating the necessity to sin even though we may not sin. The Reformed position is about getting rid of the pollution of sin in our life because we have been given a new nature in Christ.
More important that what model you buy into is this question. If someone asked you how you know that you are actually growing spiritually, how would you explain and demonstratethat you are actually becoming like Christ? How would you distinguish actual growth from those who grow up in a system where they have simply learned all the right things to do and say without actually changing? How do you actually experience the power of God in your life? Is the power of the Spirit of God nothing more than a spiritual conscience to help you make better decisions? Is God’s work just tweaking our personality so that we are just a nicer version of me rather than genuinely becoming like Christ?
Obviously this gets back to the idea of how do you and I discern the work of God in our life. One of the more intriguing passages that raises the spiritual bar even higher is 2 Peter 1:3-4:
“… Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
(2Pe 1:3-4 NAS)
Did you notice that last phrase, “you might become partakers of the divine nature.”That sounds pretty heavy but quite amazing to consider. We are to becomelike Christ. I hope that when I get really old (Lord willing) that I do not revert back to an uglier version of myself; that might be … discouraging. Unfortunately, the afflictions and the weight of the curse upon God’s creation makes believers do strange things. Do you know you are becoming like Christ? Share your journey.