1 John 2:12-14
What is spiritual growth? Godliness—Christlikeness. How do you measure a ministry? Not by the size of the buildings, the offerings, or the Sunday school attendance. Are you becoming more and more like Jesus?
Sanctification is a lifelong process, not a hundred-yard dash. Nobody is instantly spiritually mature.
Spiritual Growth in Stages
Born Again: Childhood
“I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12).
No matter your age when you get saved, you are a babe in Christ. What is the main thing a new Christian thinks about? Thank God my sins are forgiven! I’m on my way to Heaven.
There is a legitimate childhood stage of Christianity, and we need to make new believers feel at home. But they have to grow up. Some stay in the maternity ward for far too long.
Victory in Jesus: Manhood
“I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one….I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:13b,14b).
These Christians have moved to become workers and warriors. Are you a servant, or are you still being served? Delayed growth is a shame to Almighty God.
This is how you grow in Jesus Christ: when you move to the next stage, where John says the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God has made you strong, and you have overcome the wicked one. Are you any threat to Satan’s kingdom?
A Relationship with God: Fatherhood
“I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13a).
A father is someone who has come to mature wisdom. He has moved even beyond building and battling. He has been with the Lord so long that his life is beginning to manifest the likeness of God. Do you have any spiritual children? You can have spiritual grandchildren, and great-grandchildren—people you have won to Jesus go and win other people.
Never lose the wonder and sweetness of childhood—remember when your sins were forgiven. When you get to be a father, don’t step out of the spiritual warfare. Just add these things until you become a full-grown man or woman, really mature in the Lord.
How to Grow in Jesus Christ
To fail to grow in Christ is a sin. If you do not love Jesus more today than you did yesterday, you have backslidden.
You Must Be Born Again
Don’t try to grow up before you get born. You must to be born again as a child of God in order to grow.
Spiritual Growth Takes Spiritual Nourishment
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). The word “desire” means “to crave.” You are commanded to crave Bible reading!
Only going to church on Sunday morning is like feeding a newborn four gallons of milk on weekends. You have to be feeding day by day on the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God. There are no shortcuts. Keep plodding along, and you will grow. You can grow fast if you saturate yourself in His Word.
Christian Growth Takes Discipline
“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). Get a job—that is, find something to do in the Church. There is a place of service for you. Get busy for the Lord Jesus Christ.