Summary: Christian Growth Series
1. 2 Pet. 3:18 "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ"
a. The life implanted in regeneration needs developing and nurturing. Paul’s favorite term for undeveloped Christians is "babes in Christ," whom he calls "carnal" Christians in contrast to "spiritual" Christians.
2. Eph. 4:15 "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ."
A. The Enemies Of Growth
The factors that war against spiritual growth, odds that must be surmounted if development is to materialize are present, both within and without. Never for a moment should we think that are struggles are over; they have really just begun! The prime difference is that now we have a nature that revolts against sin and cannot be content to dwell in its destruction. Now we have Jesus dwelling within, and He will help us in our battles against the satanic powers that would attempt to overcome us.
1. FORCE WITHIN
i. The Flesh
a. Gal. 5:16,17 "For they that are after the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.... But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.... So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; butt if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live." He also declares, "Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are contrary the one to the other; that ye may not do the things that ye would" KJV
1) The term flesh denotes human nature in its sinful and evil tendency. The Christian finds that he is never out from under this power but must always fight the "fleshly" nature of his being. This ceaseless warfare is vividly portrayed by the great apostle in Romans 8:1-13. The flesh cannot be struck a once-forever blow but instead must be subdued constantly. Paul glories in the fact that he has been "crucified with Christ" (Gal. 2:20), but by no means does he infer that his struggles against the flesh have ceased. In the regenerate man the Spirit predominates over the flesh, and not vice versa, as in unregenerate nature; but that very flesh must be constantly quelled, nevertheless. And only as that flesh is crushed and God’s will performed will there be progress in gracious Christian living.
2. FORCES WITHOUT
There are certain objective factors that must be reckoned with if Christian grace is to be augmented.
ii. Prince of this World
a. John 12:31 "Now is the time for judgment on this world: now the prince of this world will be driven out"
1) The prince of this world is a positive deterrent to development, directing all evil forces to the detriment of Christian character. With the cross, the power of Satan is broken in the heart and life of everyone who accepts the atoning work of Calvary.
b. 1 Pet. 5:8-9 "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings."
1) Satan is still present in the world and wants to test all God’s people.
c. James 4:7 "Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you"
1) We are admonished to resist and be submitted to God.
d. Eph. 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
1) The power of this resisting comes through the blood of Christ and the witnessing of Christians (Rev. 12:11). Unless Satan is resisted there can be no growth.
iii. The World
a. John 1:10 "He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world did not recognize him"
b. Luke 6:26 "Woe to you when all men speak well of you"
1) The world, or the sphere of all evil impulses working in human society, is another adversary to spiritual development. Even Jesus did not receive a friendly welcome from the world. He also warns his disciples that they can expect from the world exactly the same treatment.
c. I John 4:4 "You dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world."