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Means of spiritual growth

Spiritual Growth  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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God has provided various means by which believers may grow spiritually.

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God supplies the resources for spiritual growth

Php 2:13; 2 Pe 1:3
Philippians 2:13 NLT
For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
2 Peter 1:3 NLT
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
See also Jn 1:16; Jn 4:14; Jn 15:2; Jn 15:5; 1 Co 10:13; 2 Co 3:18; 2 Co 9:10; Ga 5:22–23; Php 1:6; Col 2:19; Jas 1:17; Jas 4:6; Jud 24
John 1:16 NLT
From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.
John 4:14 NLT
But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
John 15:2 NLT
He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
John 15:5 NLT
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 9:10 NLT
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
Galatians 5:22–23 NLT
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Philippians 1:6 NLT
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Colossians 2:19 NLT
and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.
James 1:17 NLT
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
James 4:6 NLT
And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Jude 24 NLT
Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.

God’s people must make efforts to grow spiritually

Php 2:12; 2 Pe 1:5–9
Philippians 2:12 NLT
Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.
2 Peter 1:5–9 NLT
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.
See also Ro 6:19; 2 Co 7:1; Ga 5:16; Ga 5:25; Eph 5:15–16; Eph 6:11–13; 1 Ti 4:7; 1 Ti 6:11–12; 2 Ti 1:6; 2 Pe 3:14; 1 Jn 3:3; Jud 20
Romans 6:19 NLT
Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.
2 Corinthians 7:1 NLT
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
Galatians 5:16 NLT
So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Galatians 5:25 NLT
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
Ephesians 5:15–16 NLT
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
Ephesians 6:11–13 NLT
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
1 Timothy 4:7 NLT
Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
1 Timothy 6:11–12 NLT
But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have declared so well before many witnesses.
2 Timothy 1:6 NLT
This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.
2 Peter 3:14 NLT
And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.
1 John 3:3 NLT
And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure.
Jude 20 NLT
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,

Specific means of spiritual growth

Death to self-interest

Colossians 3:5 ESV
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
See also Mt 16:24; Ro 6:6; Ro 6:12; Ro 8:13; Eph 4:22; Col 3:9; 1 Pe 1:14; 1 Pe 2:11
Matthew 16:24 NLT
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
Romans 6:6 NLT
We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.
Romans 6:12 NLT
Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.
Romans 8:13 NLT
For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live.
Ephesians 4:22 NLT
throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.
Colossians 3:9 NLT
Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds.
1 Peter 1:14 NLT
So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.
1 Peter 2:11 NLT
Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

The Scriptures

2 Timothy 3:16–17 ESV
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
See also Jos 1:8; Ps 19:7–8; Ps 119:9–11; Jn 17:17; Eph 6:17; Col 3:16; 1 Pe 2:2; 1 Jn 2:14
Joshua 1:8 NLT
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.
Psalm 19:7–8 NLT
7 The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living.
Psalm 119:9–11 NLT
9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word. 10 I have tried hard to find you— don’t let me wander from your commands. 11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
John 17:17 NLT
Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.
Ephesians 6:17 NLT
Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Colossians 3:16 NLT
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.
1 Peter 2:2 NLT
Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment,
1 John 2:14 NLT
14 I have written to you who are God’s children because you know the Father. I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong. God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one.

Prayer

Mt 6:13; Col 4:2
Matthew 6:13 NLT
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
Colossians 4:2 NLT
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
See also 1 Ch 16:11; Mt 7:11; Mt 26:41; Jn 16:24; Ac 4:29–31; Eph 6:18; 1 Th 5:17; Jas 1:5
1 Chronicles 16:11 NLT
11 Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.
Matthew 7:11 NLT
11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 26:41 NLT
41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
John 16:24 NLT
24 You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
Acts 4:29–31 NLT
29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.
Ephesians 6:18 NLT
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
17 Never stop praying.
James 1:5 NLT
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Focusing on Jesus Christ

Hebrews 3:1 ESV
Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
See also Mt 11:29; Jn 13:15; Ro 15:5; Php 2:5; Heb 12:2–3; 1 Pe 2:21; 1 Jn 2:6
Matthew 11:29 NLT
29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
John 13:15 NLT
15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.
Romans 15:5 NLT
5 May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:5 NLT
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Hebrews 12:2–3 NLT
2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.
1 Peter 2:21 NLT
21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
1 John 2:6 NLT
6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

The role of the Holy Spirit in spiritual growth

Ephesians 3:16–18 ESV
that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
See also Eph 1:13–14; Eph 1:17; Eph 2:19–22
Ephesians 1:13–14 NLT
13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.
Ephesians 1:17 NLT
17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
Ephesians 2:19–22 NLT
19 So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. 20 Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. 21 We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. 22 Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

Christian leadership

Ephesians 4:11–13 ESV
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
See also 1 Co 4:16; 1 Co 11:1; Php 1:25; Php 3:17; Heb 13:7; Heb 13:17; 1 Pe 5:2–3
1 Corinthians 4:16 NLT
16 So I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 11:1 NLT
1 And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.
Philippians 1:25 NLT
25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.
Philippians 3:17 NLT
17 Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.
Hebrews 13:7 NLT
7 Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.
Hebrews 13:17 NLT
17 Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.
1 Peter 5:2–3 NLT
2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example.

Faith in God

Ephesians 6:16 ESV
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;
See also Heb 11:6; 1 Jn 5:4
Hebrews 11:6 NLT
6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
1 John 5:4 NLT
4 For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

Suffering and testing

Romans 5:3–4 ESV
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,
See also Job 23:10; Ps 119:67; Zec 13:9; Heb 12:10–11; 1 Pe 1:6–7; Jas 1:2–4
Job 23:10 NLT
10 “But he knows where I am going. And when he tests me, I will come out as pure as gold.
Psalm 119:67 NLT
67 I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.
Zechariah 13:9 NLT
9 I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’ ”
Hebrews 12:10–11 NLT
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. 11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
1 Peter 1:6–7 NLT
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
James 1:2–4 NLT
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Perseverance

Hebrews 12:1 ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
See also Php 3:12–14; 1 Ti 4:15
Philippians 3:12–14 NLT
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
1 Timothy 4:15 NLT
15 Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.

Cultivating wholesome thinking

Philippians 4:8 ESV
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

God will bring the spiritual growth of believers to completion

1 John 3:2 ESV
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
See also Eph 5:25–27; Php 1:6; Jud 24–25; Re 21:2
Ephesians 5:25–27 NLT
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.
Philippians 1:6 NLT
6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Jude 24–25 NLT
24 Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. 25 All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
Revelation 21:2 NLT
2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
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