Summary: In this final message in the series titled "Keys to Spiritual Growth" we examine three more keys that will help us grow spiritually. These keys are purity, unity, and spiritual gifts.
Today we conclude my sermon series on “Keys to Spiritual Growth.” My foundational text for this series is 2 Peter 3:18:
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).
In his book, By Divine Design, Dana Key tells the story of a man named Konnie Stevens who took over as pastor of a large southern church after spending eight years ministering in Moscow and other Eastern European cities some years ago. Things had changed a lot in America, especially in the world of technology. Cable TV, computers, cell phones—it all got a bit confusing. So when pastor Stevens complained to his new secretary that he didn’t think that the paging device folks asked him to wear was working, she was gentle in pointing out that he was wearing his garage door opener! That, of course, also explained why his pager wasn’t having much success opening the garage door!
Pastor Stevens had all the tools. He just needed a little good information on how to use them.
Christians today have all the tools for spiritual growth. We just need a little good information on how to use the tools that God has given us for our growth.
That is why I have been preaching a series titled “Keys to Spiritual Growth.” It has been my intention to give you some information to help you grow spiritually.
Over the previous few weeks I said that the master key to all spiritual growth is the glory of God. God has created all things—including us—for his own glory. Living for the glory of God is the master key to spiritual growth. But there are other keys as well. So far we have looked at the following keys to spiritual growth:
1. Confessing Christ as Lord
2. Aiming Our Lives at Glorifying God
3. Confessing Our Sins
4. Trusting God
5. Bearing Fruit
6. Praising God
7. Loving God
Today, let’s look at the last three keys that I want to mention that will help you grow spiritually. These keys are:
3. Spiritual gifts
A vital key to spiritual growth is maintaining moral purity.
You cannot grow spiritually while embracing an impure lifestyle. First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
In this passage Paul is discussing moral purity, a topic relevant to our amoral society. Today’s permissiveness has affected even the church, which is growing increasingly tolerant of sin—particularly sexual sin.
Years ago Eileen overheard a young man say when asked whether or not he was married, “Well, I guess you could say so.” People in our culture cannot even tell anymore whether or not they are married!
In my own experience, I am no longer surprised when a young couple comes to me for pre-marital counseling and I learn that they are sexually active. In fact, I am now surprised when I learn that they are not sexually active. And this is consistent with the experience of other pastors.
In 1 Corinthians 6:13 Paul says, “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord.”
The Greek word translated “sexual immorality” is pornea, from which we get the English word “pornography.” Its meaning includes all forms of sexual sin.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul gives three reasons for avoiding sexual immorality: it is harmful, it is enslaving, and it is a perversion.
A. Sexual Sin is Harmful
First, sexual sin is harmful.
Paul began by saying, “Everything is permissible for me—but not everything is beneficial” (1 Corinthians 6:12a).
The Greek word translated “beneficial” (sumphero) means “to be profitable.” In the King James Version the word “beneficial” is translated as “expedient.” The English word “expedient” contains the Latin word ped, which means, “foot.” “Expedient,” then, means “keeping the foot free from entanglement.” Something that is not expedient, therefore, would hinder us on our spiritual journey by tangling up our feet.
Sexual immorality is one such thing. It never helps but only harms. First Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality . . . [because] he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” There are numerous illustrations of the damage caused by sexual immorality.
For example, Proverbs 5-7 and 9 contain extensive lists of the devastating physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of illicit sex.
David’s adultery with Bathsheba led to other sin (such as the murder of Uriah) and eventually left him racked with guilt. When he wrote Psalm 38, he was desperately alone and literally physically sick as a result of his sin.