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Growing in Christlikeness

By David L. Parrish, 2006

The following ideas represent a synopsis of some essential principles on spiritual growth. There is an inherent danger in trying to “quantify” the concept of growth in Christ, or attempting to reduce it down to a simple list. Remember, the fundamental guideline for spiritual growth, which connects to all others, is conformity to the Word of God: knowing and obeying God’s clearly revealed will. This is clearly seen in Joshua 1:8 and Psalm 1:2-3. With that underlying commitment, these principles serve as a reminder of essential truths about the growth process: hindrances, stimulants, training, dependency, Satanic opposition, etc.. Since walking with Christ and becoming like Him present such a great challenge to us, reviewing and developing these concepts can provide encouragement and specific direction as they “stir up our pure minds.”

  1. Christian living is “Christ living in me.” “Not I, but Christ” (Gal. 2:20); “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27); “I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19)
  2. The one and only focus is Christ. “Abide in Me and I in you.” (John 15:4) “...looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:2); “Let the Word of Christ dwell within you richly” (Col. 3:16)
  3. The purpose of the Christian life is growth in Christlikeness (Rom. 8:28-29) that we might bring glory to God (Phil. 1:20-21; 1 Cor. 10:31; John 15:8). God chose us for this purpose and He will work faithfully to accomplish it (Eph. 1:4, 5; Phil. 1:6).
  4. The Christian life is a spiritual engagement therefore “spiritual battling” is required. God has provided the attire and weapons for us, which include faith and prayer. (Ephesians 6; 1 Thes. 5:8)
  5. Correct theology stimulates and undergirds spiritual progress. “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life” (Prov. 14:27); “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10): “nourished on the words of sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6)
  6. Death always precedes life. “Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone” (John 12:24); “baptized into His death” (Romans 6:4-11). In addition, pain and suffering are instruments God uses to stimulate our growth, increase our spiritual sensitivities, and teach us to depend on the Lord (Psalm 119:71; 2 Cor. 1:9; 4:16-18).
  7. Christian living requires work: both God’s and ours! “work out your salvation ... for it is God who is at work in you ...” (Phil. 2:12-13); “Giving all diligence, add to your faith... (2 Peter 1:3).
  8. Amount of growth is often determined by one’s hunger and thirst. “As newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2); “Open your mouth wide, that I may fill it.” (Psalm 81:10); “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matt. 5:6).
  9. There must be an inflow and outflow of the Holy Spirit. “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18); “walk by the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16); “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy ....” (Gal. 5:22-23).
  10. Growth is superintended by God. He controls the timing, process and final product: “...but God causes the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6, 7). “We are being transformed into the same image… just as from the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18)



 
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