Summary: As Christians we are called to grow in Christ, but we also need to be aware of the foes that are against that growth, so that we may overcome them.
The Growing Christian Series
The Foes of Spiritual Growth
The words of our text imply that the laying aside of harmful attitudes and evil actions should go hand in hand with the process of spiritual growth. Spiritual growth, like growth in the animal kingdoms, is always a struggle. Wild animals do not find growth easy, because they have to overcome enemies, adverse conditions, and diseases. If we are to grow toward spiritual maturity as the children of God, we must recognize the foes to that growth.
The 5 Foes to Spiritual Growth
I. The evil nature within us
• Paul discusses the struggle between our new nature and our old nature (Rom. 7:18 – 25).
o He declares that it is only through Jesus Christ that the new nature can experience victory over the old fleshly nature.
• In writing to the Galatian Christians, Paul speaks of the struggle that exists between the Holy Spirit and the lower nature of humans (Gal. 5:17).
o He declares that the only way we can grow spiritually and achieve victory in the Christian life is by walking in a conscious awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit who dwells within our hearts.
o He describes the fruit of the indwelling Spirit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance”.
II. The evil world about us
• The world and society as it exists today are contrary to the will of God, and makes spiritual growth exceedingly difficult.
• There is nothing in the natural world or in organized society that is conducive to spiritual growth.
• We cannot expect the world around us to encourage our efforts or to applaud our struggle toward spiritual maturity.
III. Satan himself
• Peter speaking from personal experience, warns us against the attack of the Devil.
• We can rest assured that the Satan will do everything he possibly can to hinder us from spending time in the Word of God that we might nourish our souls.
o He will keep us busy in order to keep us away from the worship and fellowship of the church.
o He will promise us both profit and pleasure if we will do his bidding.
o He is determined to try to keep us in spiritual infancy, because infants are no threat to him.
IV. Our natural tendency to neglect, postpone, and avoid struggle
• If children are to be healthy and to enjoy proper growth, they must have a proper diet and regular exercise.
• If students are to make steady progress toward academic excellence, they must do their homework day by day.
• If we are to make continual progress, we must not neglect that which is absolutely essential for health and success in the family of God.
V. The poor example of others
• If a person has never had the opportunity to measure himself by a mature Christian, he may become content with the spiritual stature of a midget.
• We need to allow Jesus Christ to be our ideal and to let His Word be our scale for measuring spiritual maturity.
While there are many foes to growth, we can be assured that we can overcome these and make progress toward spiritual maturity if we will sincerely desire the milk of the Word and determine to walk in the light provided by Him.