According to the Bible, spiritual growth is exhibited in what is called the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians —23, the fruit of the Spirit is listed as love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Tim Keller describes these characteristics as follows:. These are characteristics that Christians strive for and depend on the Holy Spirit to bring about. Christians are made holy through their relationship with Jesus Christ. In other words, simply by virtue of their connection with Jesus, Christians are put in right relationship with God.
They are holy because Jesus is holy, and he shares that quality with them. However, there is also a progressive sense of holiness that is the aim of sanctification or spiritual growth. They are deeply flawed and broken—just like everyone else.
Paul continuously reminds these Christians that they are called to be a holy people. In light of this, the work of the Holy Spirit regarding spiritual growth can be described in two ways. First, the Holy Spirit convicts Christians of their sin and leads them to avoid evil in all forms. Second, the Holy Spirit impels Christians to pursue holiness and virtue. So, when the Bible teaches that individuals are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ, 16 the power for that sanctification comes from the Holy Spirit. The Bible directs Christians in the pursuit of spiritual transformation.
For individual practice, the most important things one can do are read Scripture and pray. Combining the two, one might find it helpful to read the Bible prayerfully, as George Whitfield discussed:. Several recent books have identified dozens of beneficial practices; however, it seems wise to begin with engagement in Bible-prescribed activities. There are several ways that the Bible offers guidance as to how to grow spiritually.
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First, the Bible reveals our sinfulness. The Bible is like a mirror in which we see ourselves as we truly are. For that reason, Scripture must be our central tool in personal growth.
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For this reason, the Bible also encourages Christians to pray without ceasing. Christians are to live their lives conscious of the fact that they are in the presence of God all day, every day. Scripture is an ongoing conversation between God and his people; we join in that conversation through prayer. This takes us back to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Our greatest problem in any situation is sin. Our greatest needs in any situation are a pure heart and God-honoring conduct. So we must practice these disciplines with Jesus as the focus—pursuing intimacy with Christ. I am a person-in-community. I cannot be who I am without regard to other people. When the Church gathers, members inspire one another to go deeper with God through corporate worship, reading and hearing the Bible, and prayer.
Generally speaking, a church gathering should be characterized by these aspects. A community is a body of individuals unified around something they hold in common. For Christians, the common unifier is the gospel. Christian community means community through and in Jesus Christ. In Ephesians —13, Paul discusses the importance of maturing in faith by addressing and describing the Church community as a whole, not as isolated individuals. In the Gospel of John, the words of Jesus to the Church are very clear: we are to make God known through our life together as the body of Christ.
Change is a community project. One huge implication of this claim is that sin is a community concern.
It stops us from growing together as the body of Christ. Even our private, secret sins affect the community. Of course no one is perfectly like Jesus, but other Christians help us see what it means to walk with Jesus. We model growth when people see us struggling with sin and turning in faith to God. God uses people to reveal things about ourselves that we cannot see on our own. We often discover things about our own hearts which we never anticipated. God places us all together in the tumbler of life to smooth out our rough edges. This requires that we receive truth and speak the truth in love to one another.
But truth without love is like doing heart surgery with a hammer. But the Bible also calls us to rebuke and confront each other. Church communities that practice loving rebuke and repentance are communities of grace, which allows being honest, open, and transparent about struggles. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it this way:. The key is that we accept each other as we really are, just as Christ has accepted us. God desires that his children reflect his character.
But this need not be so. While there may be many different spiritual paths today, the Christian gospel offers a uniquely satisfying road to spiritual growth. The gospel is the true foundation of spiritual growth. Rooted firmly in the gospel, spiritual growth proceeds through the power of the Holy Spirit, directed by prayerful Bible reading within the context of a robust church community.
Copy the following code and paste it into your website's code to display this article on your site. The Bible is full of advice. What does it say about how we should handle our money? Jesus is the central figure within Christianity. What does the Bible say about him? People love to talk about love.
What does the Bible have to say on the matter? Jesus hated religion, right? So why is Christianity around? The Bible makes many claims about itself within its text. What does it say? Is the Bible a guide for life?
Guide In the Pursuit of Holiness : Growing from milk to meat!
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Berean Literal Bible For even by the time you ought to be teachers, you have need of one to teach you again what is the beginning of the principles of the oracles of God; and you have become those having need of milk, and not of solid food. New American Standard Bible For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. New King James Version For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
King James Bible For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. Christian Standard Bible Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God's revelation again.
You need milk, not solid food. Contemporary English Version By now you should have been teachers, but once again you need to be taught the simplest things about what God has said. You need milk instead of solid food. Good News Translation There has been enough time for you to be teachers--yet you still need someone to teach you the first lessons of God's message.
Instead of eating solid food, you still have to drink milk.
Pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.
Holman Christian Standard Bible Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God's revelation again. International Standard Version In fact, though by now you should be teachers, you still need someone to teach you the basic truths of God's word. You have become people who need milk instead of solid food.