Dr. Joel Beeke famously said:
Time is too precious to waste on nonsense. Read more for spiritual growth than professional advancement.
Indeed, it is incumbent on us to grow spiritually. It is all of God and all of grace, but it is not passive—it is active.
Second Peter 3:18 reminds us:
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.
Abraham grew in his faith (Rom. 4). Jesus grew, according to Luke 2:52, which says:
Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Genuine spiritual growth always results in a better grasp of our own weaknesses and a greater reliance upon God’s strength.
So, here are 11 keys to spiritual growth. Basic? Perhaps. Exhaustive list? Not at all. Necessary reminders? You bet!
Know you are saved.
You can’t (shouldn’t) drive the car with the emergency brake on. Spiritually, you cannot grow if you aren’t saved.
What Jesus did, we can’t do. What Jesus accomplished, we couldn’t achieve. What Jesus gives, we can’t earn. We are saved by grace alone!
Believe in the trustworthiness of Scripture. Believe in the finality of Jesus’ death (it was full and perfect and we can’t add to it). We must call upon the name of the Lord by faith alone in Christ alone we are saved. And, finally, there must be a changed and transformed life (spiritual fruit is evident).
Immerse yourself in Scripture.
There must be a steady, constant intake of the Word of God. The more we put it into practice into our lives is the extent we will grow as Christians.
Not pouring ourselves into the Word of God is not an ability issue or an aptitude issue; it’s an obedience issue. We will never advance beyond our steady diet of God’s Word.
What are some basics you need to know?
- Know the essential story line of the Bible
- Basic biblical doctrine (trinity, who is Jesus, character of God, the Gospel, resurrection, etc.) – We don’t grow in an intellectual vacuum.
- Our Christian duty (what does God require of me as I do the Christian life?)
- Godly examples in the Scripture (what can we learn from their lives?)
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
Grow to love and worship God.
As we grow in our relationship with the Lord and our devotion to Him and for Him, He becomes more precious and glorious to us.
The Gospel is grounds for unreserved worship. Just a sliver of comprehension of our union with Christ ought to create the explosion of joy that we call “worship.”
John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
Live in obedience to Christ.
Not according to our own agenda, but according to the Word of God and obedience to Him.
1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
Obedience is of utmost importance. Every step of growth in the Christian life is a step of obedience to Christ. Where there is no obedience there is no spiritual growth.
Be filled with the Spirit.
If you love Jesus, it’s because the Spirit proclaimed “Come forth!” over your dead heart. You’re saved ’cause you got preached at. And like sap going through the vines of a branch, so the Spirit is in the work of a Christian. You can do nothing apart from Christ.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
Better translated: “Be filled by the Spirit.” There’s not a sense that we are being filled up with the Spirit as though the Spirit is poured out a pitcher into our empty glass. Rather, to be filled is to be controlled by, led by, energized by, and growing in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
The Gospel’s fruit is proof the Spirit is still at work on the surface of the deep, that God is still declaring life into existence. We are to walk in the reliance, power, direction, and enablement. We are totally dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit to mature, develop, and grow us in Christ-likeness.
The fruit of the Spirit: there’s no law against such things. Completely free. You can get as much peace, patience, kindness, etc. as you want. We can’t take or leave certain fruit of the Holy Spirit. It’s all or nothing. They’re called “the fruit” of the Sprit, not “the fruits.”
Resist the world, the flesh, and the devil
- The world = the evil world system that dominates the world as we know it. The things of the world don’t seem expendable because we haven’t found Christ supremely valuable. We are to enjoy the world God has given us, to be sure. But we are to avoid the evil empire that is behind the realms of this world.
1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
- The flesh = Living by the flesh is like sweatin’ to pay back a dude who owes you money. Each one of us has a fallen humanness (see Romans 7) that must be put to death the deeds of the flesh. You must aggressively crucify our own flesh.
1 Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
- The devil = If you give the devil cereal, he’s going to want a glass of milk. When the devil comes to accuse you, remind him you are in super-tight with the God who made him. We must put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). We can never put our guard down.
1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
Be in close fellowship with other Christians.
The Puritans used to say:
The devil attacks the ship that sails only, not the one in the armada.
The Christian life is very contagious. It encourages you to stand strong as others step forward.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
We should be in the world – but who has access to your ear and heart? Those people need to be strong Christians (Pro. 27:17). When you run next to someone running with Christ, you pick up your pace and get more intentional about all you do for God’s glory and His kingdom.
Charles Spurgeon said:
Satan attaches more importance to godly fellowship than we. Since union is strength, he does his best to separate.
Be in prayer before God.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed Luke 5:16.
If Jesus needed focused prayer in solitude, how much more do we?!
We must know what is like to humble ourselves before the throne of grace. To confess our sins and seek his face. We are transformed into his image. You will learn dependence, trust, and giving him all your concerns.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing,
Ephesians 6:18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication
Come to the Lord’s Table.
Keep the cross central in your life, and you need to be regular at the Lord ’s Table. Often when we partake of the Lord’s Supper we’re wallowing in the mire of remembering ourselves and our sins when Jesus said, “remember me.”
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers.
“Breaking bread” was the Lord’s Supper. If you love the promise, come to the Lord’s table, and ponder its price.
Have a place of Service and to Share the Gospel (evangelize).
One of the marks of someone who desires to serve Christ is that he also desires to serve Christ’s church
There must be an intake an outflow. This might be a formal place in ministry. But often it is just doing normal life with those in your church.
When we are simply taking in (like taking food in with no exercise), we must also exercise our spiritual muscles and working in the Lord’s vineyard. Doesn’t matter where we are, which ministries we serve or support, what church we’re a member of—it’s all about God’s kingdom, not our own.
1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
We grow the most in our present trials.
Don’t hate what God has destined you for (1 Thess. 3:3). Our greatest lessons are most often learned in the school of affliction. These are not optional electives, but required classes.
You received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 1:6
You may need to pray today, “Lord, I am not where I want to be.” It is okay to pray that – better to be honest before Christ than anything else.
What are one or two of these areas you need to focus on before the Lord?