spiritual Growth

I Peter 2:1,2 "Therefore laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby:"

2 Peter 3:17,18, "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace, and  knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and for ever. Amen"

The birth of a child is a marvelous event. Many of us who have brought children into the world have looked at them in their sweetest and most contented moments and wished for a few fleeting seconds that they would remain a child. We are usually jolted out of our musing with the realization that it wouldn’t be such a great idea after all.  I have known a few parents with a child that never grew out of babyhood and have been amazed at the love, patience, and fortitude some of these people have shown. At the same time I am sure they would have greatly preferred to see their child grow physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and skillfully.

I. There Should Be Growth After Birth.

Birth is Essential.
     We cannot have growing children until we first give birth to them. When a living child has been born the growing process should begin immediately.
     It is true in the spiritual realm. We must be born as a child of God by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-7). From the instant we are born spiritually into God’s family we should begin to grow spiritually.

Loving Care Is Essential 
     There may not be anything more helpless than a newborn baby. I was made very aware of this with our first baby, Dan.  Dan couldn’t sit up by himself. He couldn’t hold his head up, or crawl or walk. We often found something in Dan’s diaper besides him. It didn’t seem to bother Dan, but it bothered us. There were times when it definitely seemed to bother others. Dan never changed his diaper or washed it…or washed himself. We had to do it all.
     Baby Dan had no concern about what a bother or a disturbance he was to other people. When he was feeling the need for a little tender loving care it didn’t matter to him how busy we were. He raised an uproar until we dropped everything and gave full attention to him. When he got hungry for a bottle of milk in the middle of the night, he could care less about how much we needed our sleep. 
     It wasn’t long before I realized my son had some very bad character traits. When another baby had a nice toy he could be very covetous. He was also capable of using deceit and even force to take that toy away.  Dan wasn’t fair when he played. He insisted on being the good cowboy who was knocking off the bad guys and I always had to be the bad guy who got bumped off.  When he didn’t get his way, he could also get very angry.  We noticed the same pattern with our next two children.

     But Dan slowly and steadily grew. His formula was soon supplemented with baby food and then cereals and then vegetables and meat.  He steadily learned to coordinate his hands with his eyes…to crawl, to walk, to read, to write, to do math and many other things. In time he served in the military police as a dog handler in the Air Force and several years in the law-enforcement before becoming a truck driver.

     Newborn children of God also need loving care. When people first get saved, Christians and the things Christians do can seem pretty strange. These spiritual babes have a new spiritual nature and new life, but they still have the old fleshly nature and that’s the one they are used to living by.

During my early days in the ministry I heard about a fellow Texan who had been saved out of a cursing, drinking and fighting kind of life. He felt called to the ministry and was so zealous a church called him to be their pastor. As he was preaching he said, "Let me tell you what I think of the Devil. I think the Devil is a blankety-blank #!*#*#!#!*#!´ Out came his old cussing language. When he realized what he had done, he closed his Bible and in humiliation walked out the back door. A deacon walked up to the pulpit and said, "Folks, I can’t excuse what our pastor said. You heard it and it was awful. But our pastor hasn’t been saved very long and he was using the words he was familiar with to say what he thought about the Devil. I’m asking that we send him the message that we forgive him and love him, and that we feel pretty much the same way about the Devil."
     Newborn babes in Christ need a lot of loving care.

Newborn Babes in Christ Are Encouraged To Desire The PURe Milk of The Word
     Even as physical milk enables physical babies to grow, spiritual milk enables spiritual babes in Christ to grow. The first thing Peter indicates the newborn baby should do is suppress their appetite for things that feed the fleshly nature. "Laying aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking." If we pamper our fleshly appetite for worldly things we will grow in our fallen fleshly nature. It is when we hunger for spiritual things and satisfy that hunger that we grow spiritually. The more hearty our spiritual appetite the more robust our growth.

God’s Spiritual Milk Provides Total Nourishment
     Peter would write later "As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us by glory and virtue: by which have been given to us exceeding great and precious promises…" 2nd  Peter 1:3,4b
     Even when we are a spiritual baby God has placed pure spiritual milk in His word to give us all the nourishment we need. As we mature we will find that God has also provided meat for our entire life’s journey
Peter would go on to write that when we are diligent in adding the qualities of spiritual character that this will guarantee that we will not be useless or unfruitful and will insure an abundant entrance into the kingdom of God. 2nd Peter 1:5-11.

     Before closing his second epistle he states that spiritual growth in knowledge would protect us from being led astray by wicked deceivers. 2nd Peter 3:17, 18.

II.  We Are To Continue To Grow Throughout Our Christian Life


     With great sadness we acknowledge that there are those who seem to have been truly saved, but they are like babes who never grow. There are others whose growth seems to be severely stunted, with little evidence of spiritual growth in any area of their life. The Apostle Paul was obviously feeling great disappointment when he wrote the Christians at Corinth, "And I, brethren, could not  speak to you as to spiritual people, but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, and not with solid food: for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able for you are still carnal…" 1st Corinthians 3:1-3a

        Even the most mature Christians will acknowledge their spiritual growth has not always been as strong and steady as it should be.
     Abraham is called "Father" by Israel, Muslims, and Christians. Even he experienced spiritual growth by fits, starts, and back-sets. He was walking in the flesh when he went down to Egypt; when he called Sarai his sister and did not acknowledge her as his wife; and when he fathered a son by Hagar. God had promised to give him a son through whom all nations would be blessed. He and Sarai wearied of waiting on God to give them a child and devised a fleshly solution. When God rejected Ishmael and affirmed that He would give Abraham a son through Sarai, Abraham believed God to do it. As a result:

  1. God counted Abraham’s faith for righteousness. Genesis 15:6
  2. God turned back the clock of life for Abraham and Sarai to childbearing years. (Genesis 17:10-14)
  3. Abraham went on to develop the faith to believe God to raise Isaac from the dead. Hebrews 11:17-19.

There is a wonderful promise for those who continue to grow spiritually throughout their life in Psalms 92:12-15. Verse 14 reads, "They shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing."

III.  Important Areas In Which We Are To Grow.

Remain True To The Lord With Purpose of Heart.
     This is what Barnabas exhorted the Christians to do in the infant church at Antioch. (Acts 11:23) This is an unshakable commitment to be a disciple of Jesus Christ…to learn of Him, and the truth He has given…to become more like Him…to live according to His truth and be a source of that truth to those who desperately need to hear it.

Faith, Hope, Love
     Paul wrote that when everything else has passed away, there are three things that will endure forever. That statement alone underscores what great qualities faith, hope and love will be in our lives. (1st  Corinthians 13:13).

     Faith is believing that God is true and cannot lie.
     Faith is trusting Christ alone for salvation of the soul
     Faith is human weakness trusting God to meet one’s needs.
     Faith is claiming victory over temptations, trials and difficulties.
     Faith is reaching out to God in confidence for guidance in life.

     Hope is the inward confidence that what God has promised about the future He will bring to pass. This hope is not only produced by God’s promises, but the result of Christ living within. "…which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" Colossians 1:27.
     The believers hope is that when Jesus comes for His people and with His people all will be glory for them for the rest of eternity.

     Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13.34. This kind of love is an unconditional commitment that our thoughts, words and actions will be in the best interests of others. The entire 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians extols the beautiful qualities of this kind of love.

Peter’s List
     The apostle Peter gave a progressive list in which the believer is to grow:

     Virtue - the strength of character that leads to moral purity.
     Knowledge - a clear perception of the truth God has revealed
Temperance - self control
     Patience - cheerful endurance through trial
     Godliness - God likeness
     Brotherly kindness -
             Perhaps better illustrated than defined. When Christians were willing to die for one another in the Roman persecutions a common expression was, "Behold, how they love one another!"
     Charity - love
     The same crowning virtue Paul gave in 1st  Corinthians 13. When Christians reach this point we have an example of what God wants all of us to be.

     In closing, we should add that we should seek to enhance our talents, abilities, and spiritual gifts so that we can be the best witness for Christ that we can and be able to minister to others the most effectively that we can. 
       We have a lot of growing to do. Let’s commit to it and stay at it.

Copyright © 2002 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted


 Dr. Tom Berry

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.