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Summary: It’s God’s will for believers to grow individually and corporately as the Body of Christ. We must be aware that while God does want us to grow Satan wants us to atrophy. He will throw many obstacles in our path. Three are pride, partiality, and prejudice.

OBSTACLES TO INDIVIDUAL AND CHURCH GROWTH

PART 1

1 THESSALONIANS 3:12 – 4:1

INTRODUCTION: Jesus Christ said that He came that we might have may have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10). It is God’s will for believers to grow individually and corporately as the Body of Christ. Peter tells us to desire the pure milk of the Word that we may grow (1 Peter 2:3). Paul speaking of the church as the Body of Christ states that when every part does its share, it causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:16). God wants us to grow and not to stagnate. As we seek to grow for Christ, we must be aware of the fact that while God does want us to grow; Satan wants us to atrophy. He will throw many obstacles in our path and use our old nature as much as possible to keep us from growing. Over the next few weeks I want us to see the Devil’s Deadly Dozen Deterrents to church Growth. Today I want us to consider the first triplet – Pride, Partiality, and Prejudice.

I. PRIDE – THINKING TOO MUCH OF SELF

A. Pride is described as overt self-esteem.

B. Pride has a devastating effect both on the individual soul and on the body of Christ.

C. Psalm 10:4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

D. Pride causes a feeling of self-sufficiency. Pride refuses to acknowledge one’s own inadequacies and dependency upon God. Those who are proud are introverted and self-centered, always focusing on me, myself and I.

1. Pride does not take the little things to God – it says I can handle the little things. I’ll let God take care of the big things.

2. Pride seeks what it can get out of the church – my feeling good, having my needs met, my being recognized, things done according to my view.

3. Pride plans and builds by sight and not by faith determining what “I” can or cannot do as opposed to what “God” can do.

E. Psalms 127:1 Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.

F. Because pride is selfishness, pride destroys unity and brings discord into the life of the church.

G. Proverbs 13:10 By pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well advised is wisdom.

H. Pride hates to serve other people but loves and demands to be served. It is invariably ungrateful and demands more and better. Pride always focuses on what we don’t have. Pride envies and says: "I should have that too. Why should I go without? Why does he (or she) get all the recognition? "

I. Pride is rarely forgiving because a person with a proud heart will always feel that they are right. If they find themselves wrong it is because of mitigating circumstances. Pride is judgmental and negative.

J. Proverbs 15:25 The LORD will destroy the house of the proud…

K. God pickles the proud and preserves the foolish. – Anon

L. In John 13 Jesus gave the disciples an unforgettable lesson in humility.

M. John 13:4 (Jesus) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

N. Here was Jesus, the Son of God, kneeling at the feet of men. He set an example of what is needed in order for God to use us and our church - humility and a servant attitude – picking up both the towel and basin.

O. James 4:6 tells us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

II. PARTIALITY OR PREFERENTIALITY – THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF SOME

A. This is an inclination to favor one party or individual more than another - favoritism.

B. Someone has dubbed this as Koinonia-itis.

C. This is when some within the church congregate in such tight knit groups/cliques, that outsiders are not or do not feel welcome to join. They shut themselves out from their own church and community.

D. This obstacle can cause the death of the church through attrition as people leave and there is no one to come in and take their place.

E. James 2:1-4 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, "You sit here in a good place," and say to the poor man, "You stand there," or, "Sit here at my footstool," have you not shown partiality among yourselves…

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