Summary: I defined spiritual growth in terms of "being conformed to the image of His Son" Christian activities or ministries wouldn't guarantee spiritual growth, unless one has the spiritual life, to begin with. One has to be born again to start and grow in spiritual life.

The four most common hindrances for Spiritual Growth.

1. Having not been born again by Barnabas Park

Romans 8:29: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren;

Beginning today, I would like to share concerning the four most common hindrances for Spiritual Growth, one hindrance at a time. As I share with you this afternoon concerning the four most common hindrances for spiritual growth, I guess we need to define what I mean by spiritual growth. If we talk about physical growth or mental and social growth, no doubt that most of us have very concrete ideas. That's what our parents had been yearning for us many years ago: they fed us, sent school, and encouraged us to be around with good friends and persons so that we might function as we should be in our society. Likewise, our heavenly Father also desires us to grow; that is what spiritual growth is all about.

According to the passage today, it is evident how God wants us to grow. "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren" Romans 8:29

What kind of growth does God want to see us grow? It says, "to become conformed to the image of His Son" In other words, God wants us to become conformed to Christ." Christ is our model for spiritual growth. Then what does it mean to become conformed to Christ? It may not be easy to answer since there seem to be so many attributes in Christ, and people have a different understanding of who he is.

But, then here, this is what God Himself says through Paul's expression: God identifies Jesus Christ as the Son of God. Christ is identified in terms of His relationship with God. Though he has so many attributes, His relationship with God, the Father, is the most outstanding. That being the case, we can safely conclude that being conformed to Christ means growing in our relationship with God as children of God, more than anything else.

Another thing is about the seriousness of "being conformed to the image of Christ." The passage says this is the very reason why God foreknew and predestined us. Being conformed to the image of Christ is more than an option. Moreover, this is even more than an obligation; this is God's design and our destiny. Unfortunately, despite such importance of spiritual growth, we tend to neglect it for so many reasons. I pray that as we study the four most common hindrances for spiritual growth, we all have a strong and urgent desire to grow spiritually and understand more in what is involved in spiritual growth and make concrete decisions to grow spiritually.

The first and most common and so obvious factor that hinders spiritual growth is when you don't have spiritual life. In other words, you can't grow unless you are born again.

There won't be any spiritual growth if you don't have a spiritual life, just as there wouldn't be physical growth without physical life, to begin with. It is an apparent reason, yet the most commonly ignored reason, for the impediment of spiritual growth. Do you know why? As far as physical, social, and mental growth, you have objective measures to observe and determine your growth. But, spiritual growth is not as measurable as other types of growth. You can do all kinds of spiritual activities, for example, attending church meetings, praising, thanking God, praying, offering, fellowship, bible study, even casting out demons, acting like prophets, that is, working as ministers and pastors. But, that doesn't guarantee you are genuine. It's like an artificial flower. Since it has the exact appearance of the real one, it is easy to confuse it with the real one.

Jesus warned that many, not few, would do ministries all their lives under self-deception until one day before Jesus they would be proved to be not a genuine believer.

Matthew 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. 22 "Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"

Jesus said to them, "I never knew you." I am sure that all their life, they might have thought they were Christians when they weren't even once.

Then how do you know if you are a genuine Christian or not? Let's consider the matter of flower again. Whether natural or artificial flowers, they look alike. Does it mean there isn't any intrinsic difference between them? Of course, there is. One grows from a tiny seed, the other without any seed. A natural flower grows because of the seed, which has life and power. Whether you have genuine faith or not also depends on this seed. This seed is the word of God, more specifically, the gospel.

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