2 Peter 3:18 – But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
THEME OF THE DAY. THE TWO “H’s” NECESSARY FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH. Today’s scripture are the goals in the Christian life. Once we experience new birth in Christ, we begin the process of growing in Christ; a growth in grace and knowledge of Him. This process is what theologians call “sanctification”. As it unfolds, we learn this is a cooperative work with the Lord. It is not achieved by the unbiblical, but ‘spiritual’ sounding words of “let go, let God.” No. There is a personal responsibility on our part in this grace work of God. The Apostle Paul writes “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). We may pray and pray and pray, even beg God to help us know and grow in Him but nothing happens without our effort. It has been said concerning spiritual progress and service, “Work as if it all depends on us and trust as if it all depends on God.” His power at work in us for spiritual growth and our effort for spiritual growth are not incompatible. They are in harmony and both necessary.
Yet, before we go off and “work” on spiritual growth in Christ, there are two essential virtues which must be planted in the soul and thriving. No, not in full bloom, but willingly embraced and pursued to ensure full bloom. Without them, all our Bible reading for growth; all our praying for growth; all our service for growth; and all our faithfulness in church will produce no spiritual growth. It will be like a hamster on a wheel expending a ton of energy and going nowhere. And these two essential virtues begin with the letter “h” and if sought, will guide us to achieve the Apostle Peter’s stated goals in the Christian life – growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
First is the virtue of humility. This is the beginning and continuing necessity for everything in the Christian life. From salvation to glorification, only the humble will know the Lord, grow in the Lord, and see the Lord. It isn’t hard to understand this truth; only the humble see their sin, need for Christ and flee to Christ. And only the humble see their total dependence on Him AFTER salvation for anything of spiritual value in their lives. Peter writes “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Allow pride in any form – an unforgiving spirit, a critical heart, a sense of spiritual superiority, a condescending look at struggling Christians, and other manifestations to exist and growth stops. Immediately. God will resist us, even oppose us. Fight pride by submitting to the Lord’s work, painful work, of making us a humble people. Our joy and spiritual growth depend upon it.
The second necessary virtue to ensure spiritual growth is holiness. It co-exists with humility. In fact, without humility there can be no holiness. And where holiness is present so is humility. But to see the necessity and relationship between the two, we need a proper understanding of holiness. In its simplest definition, holiness is conformity to the character of our Lord Jesus in all the splendor of the Fruit of the Spirit and inward purity. Holiness is from the inside out. It is not conforming to religious traditions, external do’s and don’ts, or some man-generated code of religious conduct. Holiness is a beautiful work of the Spirit of God creating within us a love for what God loves, a hatred for what He hates, and a sure transformation of our character to reflect the Person of the Lord Jesus. And like humility, holiness is a cooperative work of grace with God. We don’t get “zapped” into holiness. We strive for holiness – “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Spiritual growth. It is the natural progress in the Christian. It will be experienced by us as we do our part – pursue the two necessary virtues for this experience; humility and holiness.
PRAYER: “Lord, make me willing to embrace what is necessary for my growth in You – holiness and humility.”
QUOTE: “Growth in Christ is not achieved by our actions for Him but our abiding in Him.”