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Growing Up in Christby Duane Mabee on October 10, 2017
One of the Holy Spirit’s primary roles in the life of every believer is to help them grow-up in Christ and become spiritually mature. We call that “sanctification”. The Spirit takes Personal responsibility for our spiritual growth. He will produce in us the fruit of the Holy Spirit, (Gal. 5:22-23). But, we don’t grow to be spiritually mature on autopilot. We cannot expect the Holy Spirit to do all the work. We have an active role to play in the process.
Our involvement in the sanctifying process requires specific, intentional effort. Colossians 3:5 tells us to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature,” (NIV). Ephesians 4:22-24 says to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” (NIV). That sounds like hard work, doesn’t it?
No one Christian will practice all the spiritual disciplines, but Christians who do not practice any of them will remain spiritually anemic and immature. If you want to be spiritually healthy, you need to develop the habit of intentionally pursuing spiritual maturity for yourself. Plus, a church can only be spiritually healthy when most of her members are intentionally pursuing spiritual health.
Don’t get discouraged. The Holy Spirit will help us with every step of the process. Plus, we are already loved and accepted in Christ Jesus. We don’t have to work hard to be good so that He will love us. But, if the Spirit of Christ lives in us, we will pursue spiritual maturity because we love Jesus. That pursuit will entail some hard work.
Every Christian should take an active and intentional interest in his or her own growth in Christlikeness. We do that by cooperating with the Holy Spirit and keeping in step with Him, as Galatians 5 instructs, but we also do it by following specific practices that help us gain spiritual insight and discipline. There are many resources for learning about the spiritual disciplines and I would encourage you to check them out. If you need suggestions, let me know.
At a minimum, every believer should be learning how to read the Bible for spiritual growth. This is different from reading for information or just reading because someone told you, you should. Every believer should be learning how to read the Bible on a regular basis while looking for the Holy Spirit to apply it to his or her life. The Spirit may use the Bible to encourage, direct, correct or rebuke us and we should be actively listening for Him to do that. Every believer should be learning to relate to God through prayer. This is more than dropping off our request list each day. We should be learning how to relate to God, worship Him, express ourselves to Him and listen to His voice. There are other spiritual disciplines that we should all practice like: Scripture memorization and meditation, reflection, confession, silence, fasting, etc.