BLOG: Spiritual Growth, Part 2



WRITTEN BY MELISSA H. STRAUTMAN, LMT

Spiritual Growth, Part 2: Christ as “Lord”, Not Just “Savior”
Companion blog to “Growing Steps” from the study Spiritual Growth

Last week, in Part 1, we outlined the three stages of spiritual growth and what it’s not supposed to look like.  We learned that Christians can be stunted in their growth if they only see Jesus as saving them from hell and don’t take that next step of Him being “Lord” over every aspect of their lives.

It’s like having a job that you walk 10 miles to every day and some nice person gives you a new car to drive but you decide to park it in the garage instead of using it.  This would be illogical.  Thus, having the word of God at your disposal and rejecting it as inconvenient or not politically/culturally correct for your life would be illogical.

Example:
You have a weakness when it comes to…

  • lying (exaggerating, etc)
  • stealing (cheating on taxes, etc)
  • sexual immorality (fornication, homosexuality, adultery, lust, etc)

You find yourself giving-in to these sinful behaviors and instead of going to God and His word for help in your struggle, you justify the sin based on current human morality because that eases your conscience just enough to get by.  You might even utter platitudes about Jesus ‘working it all out’.  After all, if your really smart and caring friends can help you see that God may not mean today what He said yesterday*, then you’ll have an excuse right?

Romans 1:18-21
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.  So they [sinners] are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor Him [do what he said] as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 

In other words, we can’t claim ignorance (suppress the truth), and if we keep sinning and trying to sell the lie that sin is not really sin, we will be given over to our sin.  There’s some serious discipline that comes next if we decide to go down that road.  In my experience, you’d be better off skipping this pain.  Beg God to crush this defiance in you.

Maybe, in your baby stage, you’re just stuck in the, “I don’t know how to go to him in prayer or where to find the life instructions I need to turn from this sin that burns at my conscience.”  Don’t get stuck here.  You have a choice to reach out for help!  Begin learning all you can about the truths God speaks into your situation by reading your Bible and talking to your elders/pastors.  Nothing you will ever experience is new.  God’s truth covers every scenario that could ever occur in your life.   You can’t know, until you start walking an informed-road, just how sufficient God’s grace will be for the chains that bind you in your most wicked weaknesses.

One thing is for certain about these moments of internal struggle; deciding to follow sinful desires or deciding to follow God is your choice to make.  If you were looking for free-will, here it is.  Choose.  One way will keep you stuck as a baby Christian and the other will propel you into the next stage of spiritual maturity.

It is also helpful to know that unrepentant sin also steals from the glory of God by imagining that He was unharmed by the transgression.  When you do not take the blame for your wrong doing, you are blaming the Creator for the situation that He put you in.  It’s either Him or you that’s wrong.  You also make a mockery of the death of Christ who already died for that sin you committed.  This sin will not be hidden on judgment day.  When you admit the sin in your life, you don’t become guilty, you become a Christian forgiven by God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 John 1:9).  Don’t steal that glory from God.  Confess your sin.

The Next Stage…

If we are to be growing spiritually from infants to the next stage we should be changing.  There should be evident decrease in sin and be an evident increase in holiness.  We should be decreasing in disobedience and increasing in obedience.  We can only accomplish this by the intentional striving to reach a goal.

What goal are we aiming at?  The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.  In order to hit this goal we will have to prefer Christ and His kingdom above all else in the decisions we make daily.   We have to ask ourselves if our decisions will glorify God or not.  This can be the litmus test for every decision we make; even the smallest matters.  We will know if we are on the right track by acting on what is true.  By ‘true’, I am referring to what God says is true about a thing.  You will not glorify God if you live your life believing what is not true.

How do I glorify God in the choices that I make?

 “Do the right thing.  Do the true thing.  Do what God has said about a thing”  Pastor Steve Wilson

If you do not know what is ‘true’ about a thing, then you must pursue what God has said about that thing.  If He hasn’t said anything about that thing specifically, then you need to ask God to honor the choice you are about to make so that you might bring glory to God.  This might feel uncertain at first.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other with the true intention of bringing glory to God.

1 Corinthians 10:31
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God

Pop Quiz Anyone?

God will even help you out by testing you to see if you will put His glory above all things that are really important to you.  Believe me, it will be obvious whether or not you were successful.  These tests will be the put-up or shut-up moments where you prove to yourself, other Christians and God whether or not you are truly committed to His glory and content in paying whatever price might be required through personal loss or injustice.  This is how you know that you are pressing on toward the goal**.

Is there anything in your life that you would not give up for the glory of God?  Better start mentally sorting that out now because Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny [even] himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Luke 14: 26-27
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

So, commit to giving glory to God in all things and you will be able to boast that He is Lord of your life, not just your Savior.


Next week we learn about yet another stage in spiritual growth. You can listen ahead to Pastor Wilson’s message here: Confident Steps, October 29, 2017.

    


*Hebrews 13:8
**Philippians 3:12-21