Summary: Growing downward to grow upward into Christ.
The Need For Repentance Unto Holiness
Reading: 2 Corinthians 7v1; 9-11
I can remember well when I was a little boy,…that my parents used to measure my growth on the wall in our kitchen.
Every now and then we three children used to line up against the wall,…and our measurement would be taken to see how much we have grown.
It’s a tradition that was continued with my some of nephews when they came down on holiday when they were small.
My parents would measure them against the wall,…mark it with a pencil,…and next year they would see how much they have grown.
I’m sure many of you have done that as well.
“Why did my parents do that?”
Well,…had they not been interested in our growth,…there would have been something wrong.
If we weren’t growing,…they would have been alerted to the fact that something was wrong with us.
So they were very interested in us growing up.
That’s often how we discern if we’re growing or not.
…but tonight I don’t want to focus not on growing up,…but growing down.
No,...I’m not going to talk about growing older!
“Have you noticed as people get older they get smaller?
I’m not going to talk about that!
I want to talk about growing down,…something that every Christian must learn to do.
Now,…this is not a common phenomenon in our culture today.
We often celebrate the fact of growing up physically.
We urge people to grow up emotionally.
We even urge people to grow up spiritually.
We are even commanded to grow up in Ephesians 4v15, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (NIV).
God asks us the same thing in 1 Peter 2v2, “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation.” (NLT).
…and if we look at these verse,…talking about growing down does not seem to make any sense.
However,…what I want you to underline in your mind this evening,…is that we grow up in Christ by growing down into humility!
In other words,…we grow mighty by getting smaller!
That’s what I believe John the Baptist said in John 3v30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (NLT).
In other words,…pride blows us up like balloons,…but grace punctures us,…and lets out the hot, proud air of our souls.
That’s the only time we see ourselves as we really are,…less nice,…less able,…less wise,…less good,…less strong,…less steady,…less committed,…less than we ever thought we were!
That’s when we stop kidding ourselves that we are of great importance to the world and
…and when we are low,…that’s the only times we can be trustful and obedient and dependent and patient and willing to serve God correctly.
That’s when we give up on our own dreams of being admired and doing wonderfully well.
That’s when learn we are not likely to ever appear successful in the eyes of the world’s standards.
That’s when we accept our weaknesses and look to God’s strength to operate in our weaknesses.
This is then what I would call growing downward!
Scottish preacher James Denney once said,…that it is impossible to let people have the impression that you are a great preacher and that Jesus is a great Saviour all at the same time!
In the same way,…it is impossible to let people have the impression that you are a great Christian and that Jesus Christ is a great Master!
That’s why we have to grow downwards to go upwards.
That’s the only way that I can let Christ show to be great in my life that He is indeed great and mighty!
…so the life of holiness is one of downward growth all the time.
In other words,…when Peter writes in 2 Peter 3v18, “Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (NLT),…when Paul writes that we must grow up into Christ,…they mean to say,…that our spiritual progress comes from growing smaller that allows the greatness of Christ’s grace to appear!
This is what they wanted to say that we are nothing and that God in Christ has become everything.
“How do I grow downwards?”
…by consistent repentance!
In other words,…continues repentance always leads to holiness!
In 1571,…Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Wittenberg Cathedral door.
The first one read like this, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’, he willed that the whole life of believers should be one of repentance”.
Here’s how I can describe what I’m saying.When you drive through the streets of major cities,…you will notice that they all have major drainage pipes next to the roads to easily let flood waters flow away and not damage the roads.