Sunday, May 3, 2015 am                        Perfection 2015 Index


Spiritual Growth

     Today we resume our study of our theme for 2015, “Let us go on to perfection”.  In previous months we have addressed the mindset of a Christian (January) and we have identified what a Christian is by noting various descriptions of the Christian (February/March).   This was reinforced with our gospel meeting dealing with Learning True Discipleship.   This is all preliminary.  Today we begin making application about living the Christian life.  This morning we will address the need for spiritual growth.  The remainder of this month we are going to notice some attitudes that will promote growth.  Some we have already address and will merely mention them, but others we will address in greater detail.

 I.                    The Bible Emphasizes spiritual growth –

a.        Heb. 5:12-6:1 – our theme text for this year clearly implies growth – that is how one goes on to maturity.

b.       2 Peter 3:18 – grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ

c.        1 Peter 2:1-3  desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby

d.       Ephesians 4:15 – speaking the truth in love may grow up

e.       2 Thessalonians 1:3, Paul thanked God because their faith was growing exceedingly as we their love toward others

f.         2 Peter 1:5-11 – describes how we are adding to our faith…  this will the text we want to examine this morning.

 II.                  Achieving spiritual growth

a.        Put away things which hinder. 
Last week we addressed the need to put away ungodly conduct – both actions and attitudes (Col. 3:5-9).    Being a Christian means a changed life which is only achieved by putting off bad conduct. 
1 Peter 2:1 tells us to lay aside malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking…so we can grow.
Another reason (not discussed) why we need to do this is because such things actually hinder our spiritual growth.   Sinful behavior is contrary to truth.  Jesus in Matt. 6:24 tells us these things are contrary to one another. 
Romans 8:5-10, 12-13 contrasts the flesh and the Spirit.  We have to put to death those things.
Galatians 5:16-18 – the flesh and Spirit are contrary to one another.
Galatians 6:8 tells us that he who sows to the flesh will reap corruption.
Also, putting away ungodliness demonstrates a serious commitment to follow God.  As long as you allow the weeds to grow in your heart (Luke 8:7, 14) you are not going to be serious about following Him.  The numerous passages that call for us to put Him first demonstrate that (cf. Luke 14:25-33, 9:57-62, etc.)

b.       Desire – we have addressed this earlier this year.  Our mindset has much to do with our spiritual growth. 
1 Peter 2:2 – desire the pure milk of the word.  Here we simply mention it by way of reminder.
We will WANT to be made well!  We will not make excuses to get out of our responsibilities. 
We will make up our mind to do the right thing (Col. 3:2)

c.        Give Diligence – eagerness, real and genuine effort.  L&N describes the word as “to do one’s very best in attempting to do something.” 
Sometimes people render lip service to being committed to God, but their actions show otherwise.  Some will allow the least of obstacles or distractions to keep them from doing what they need to do.   Some will pawn off their responsibilities on others rather than rolling up their sleeves and tackling the challenge.
John 6:27, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”” Work at it.
2 Peter. 1:5-7, Peter addresses the qualities that promote spiritual growth.  He begins by saying, “Giving all diligence”.   The Greek word (σπουδή, spoudē) in this text is used some 12 times.  Twice, in Mark 6:25 and Luke 1:39, it is translated “with haste”.  That emphasizes the urgency of the task at hand.
Romans 12:8, 11 the word is used of how leaders are to lead and how we are to be fervent in spirit, not lagging in diligence in serving the Lord.
2 Corinthians 7:11, it is a characteristic of true repentance, “what diligence it produced in you…”
Hebrews 6:11 says, “And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,
2 Timothy 2:15 calls for us to be diligent to present ourselves approved to God.
How much diligence are we putting in our service to God?
Why is diligence lacking? Often the REAL reason is because genuine desire is not there!

d.       Nourishment – the idea of nourishment is to feed our bodies with that which makes us healthy.  That might include our diets, exercise and even sunlight.  Just like the physical body needs nourishment, so spiritual growth requires that we feed ourselves.  Again, last week we noted Colossians 3:10-14 calls for us to “put on” the new man.  We noted that you must replace that “void” from cleansing our lives with that which is good.
1 Peter 2:2, tells us to desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby.  Jesus taught in Matthew 4:4 man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
There are many who are spiritually malnourished because they don’t take time to feed on His word. 
2 Peter 1:5-11, is a good place to start addressing what we need to nourish ourselves with.  As we can see, it is MORE than just the word of God, though it certainly includes that.

                                                   i.      Begin with faith – believing God, trusting Him.  Heb. 11:1, 6.

                                                  ii.      Virtue – moral excellence, integrity – it is our inner character.  It is a quality that will keep us from compromise and keep us honest and honorable in all that we do.
Note how early in this “list” it is mentioned – even before knowledge.
The word is found here, Phil. 4:8, 2 Pet. 1:3 (God has called us by glory and virtue) and 1 Peter 2:9 where we are to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness.

                                                iii.      Knowledge – we need the word of God to grow spiritually. 
2 Tim. 3:16-17 – it will make us complete. 
 Otherwise, our growth will be in the wrong direction, cf. Hosea 4:6, lack of knowledge destroys

                                                iv.      Self-control – and self-discipline.  It is the idea of practicing restraint with one’s emotions and actions.  It is a fundamental quality that is related to every sin we commit and resist.
I takes self-control to quit doing what you learn is wrong and to start doing what you learn is right. It is a quality of the “fruit of the Spirit” – Gal. 5:22-23.

                                                  v.      Perseverance – steadfast endurance, even when facing difficulties and setbacks. 
As we strive to grow, we simply cannot give up! 
Jesus told His disciples, “By your patience, possess your souls” (Luke 21:19).  This is within a context where Jesus warns of rejection and even persecutions.
Romans 2:7 promises, “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
Hebrews 10:36,  For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
As long as we live, we have to keep moving forward.  We press toward the goal – Phil. 3:12-14.  This is absolutely crucial to spiritual growth.  Just as fitness and strength comes from resistance exercises and pushing yourself, so it is spiritually.

                                                vi.      Godliness – is Implementing a lifestyle of respect for Him.  We are reminded of our need for reverence toward God.  Godliness is more than mere reverence, but reverence that is demonstrated by our actions.   It is living what we learn so that He is glorified.  Some describe this as “God likeness” in those qualities that we strive to imitate Him.
1 Timothy 4:7-8, “But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.

                                               vii.      Brotherly kindness – a genuine concern for others, especially our brethren.  Spiritual growth is going to be demonstrated in the way we treat others and our attitude toward them. 
Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
1 Peter 1:22, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
Never underestimate your relationship with your brethren in your spiritual growth.

                                             viii.      Love – agape.  We have to care!  We care for everyone.  We are again reminded that this is the pinnacle of our spiritual lives.  This is the love or our neighbors – both the first and second greatest commands (Matt. 22:37-39). 

 III.                The result of spiritual growth –

a.        We again appeal to 2 Peter 1:5-11.  When we ably develop the qualities we have discussed, we will be growing spiritually.  The result of living with these attitudes is:

b.       We will not be unfruitful or barren – in other words, we will be GROWING and producing (vs. 8). 

c.        We will have an awareness of our forgiveness and relationship with God and Christ (vs. 9)  
Such reminders are so crucial to our lives.

d.       We will “never stumble” (vs. 10) – the KJV says, “ye shall never fall”.  The idea here is that we will remain faithful to God.  I am convinced that Peter’s point is that if we perfect these qualities (and none of us will in this short life), we will be preserve ourselves unto salvation.   Because of the word used here, I believe it to be speaking of tripping up (see James2:10 – stumble in one point; James 3:2, “we all stumble in many things.  If anyone does not stumble in word…”, etc.)  You might call this our “eternal security”.  Though we are clearly taught we can forfeit it by abandoning Him.

e.       For so an entrance will be supplied to you into the everlasting kingdom (11) -  heaven when this life is over.  Is that not our ultimate goal? A home in heaven after this life.
Romans 2:7 speaks of the eternal life that awaits those who seek for “glory, honor and immortality.”  It is our eternal reward that keeps us moving toward him.


And thus we can see our need for spiritual growth and how to achieve it.   In upcoming lessons we will address in greater detail some of these qualities and attitudes.  Let us now get to work.