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The Pathway to Spiritual Growth - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
February 15, 2024 12:00 am

The Pathway to Spiritual Growth - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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February 15, 2024 12:00 am

Find out seven principles for maturing in your walk with Jesus Christ.


Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Thursday, February 15th. Acknowledging failure usually isn't pleasant, but it's a necessary part of increasing in godliness. Let's develop a practical plan for maturing in the Lord along the pathway to spiritual growth. Are you growing spiritually? Do you know how to grow spiritually? When you were saved, did somebody simply sit you down the front row of a church pew somewhere and give you a white card to fill it out and said, what is your name? What is your address?

What is your telephone number? Is that the way you began your Christian life? Or I wonder how many of us could say, when I was saved, somebody not only explained to me how to be saved, and I trust that Jesus is my Savior, but then they gave me the steps by which I could grow as a believer. And they explained to me that God's goal for my life wasn't simply getting saved, but God's goal for my life was to be fashioned in the likeness of Christ, and I have been following those steps ever since.

Could you say that? Is it in the wonder that so many people are saved and yet not growing? That so many of you are really unhappy about your Christian life.

You know that something's wrong, but you don't know quite what it is. You're trying not to sin against God. That's sort of the perspective. And yet the joy that we talk about is not there and the happiness and the sense of contentment and you don't really feel in your heart that you know any more about God today than you did 10 years ago, five years ago. Or you listen to sermons and learn a few extra things and a few additional truths. But when it comes to feeling like you're growing in your Christian life, it's just not there.

Well, that's what I want to talk about. And if you'll turn to Second Peter, because, as he says in Second Peter, chapter three, spiritual growth is not a suggestion. Spiritual growth is the command of God, and he also has provided for us the ways by which you and I could grow in him. And so Peter says in the third chapter of the second epistle, but grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We're to grow. So that is the normal natural response and reaction of a believer. That is when God creates us.

Remember what he said? He said that you and I were born again. That speaks of a new spiritual life that he gave us a new spirit. He says that all things have become new.

So we have a new beginning. Now, as he says, as newborn babes, we are to grow. And the question is, what shall I do in order to grow? You don't just naturally grow as a Christian.

You don't just sort of drift and grow. You grow as a result of some actions that you and I take. And so the person who feels like, well, you know, once I'm saved, I guess God's going to grow me up. No, God is not going to force himself upon you to grow you up. But there are some steps that you and I can take. There are some things involved in growing as a Christian.

So what I'd like to ask you to do is that with your pencil and paper, a pen and paper there, I want to give you at least seven of those. Seven things that are vital to a person growing in their walk. Now, remember, he said that he predestined us to be shaped into his likeness. And so that a growing Christian is one who is being continuously, spiritually, emotionally and mentally shaped into the likeness of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So what is the first one of those steps? Number one is the renewing of your mind. Now, how does God renew our mind?

The best way for God to renew our mind is, listen, to place into our mind the thoughts of God. Now, here's the mistake some people make. They think, well, I got saved yesterday. I'm going to think exactly like God thinks. I'm going to act exactly like God acts.

No, you're not. And here's the reason. Though God saves you and gives you a new spirit, He doesn't give you a new brain. Before you were saved, what was your life's desire? It was to gratify your flesh, squeeze every bit of pleasure and security and fun out of life you possibly could. Now you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior.

That can't be your goal anymore. Your goal now is to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ, to glorify God in your body, that His countenance may be evident upon your face and that your life would be in the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. So how does God change all that? When the Word of God comes into our mind, that which was there is replaced by that which is good. We begin to think the way God thinks because all of our life up until this point, we've been thinking the way we were taught to think.

We've been thinking the way the world thinks. So when He says here that you and I are to renew our minds and that as newborn babes, we're to desire the milk of the Word. Now, why does He say, the desire of the milk of the Word? Look, if you will, in Hebrews chapter four. And when you and I begin to see God's viewpoint of God's Word, we begun to understand why He said that. Now, in describing this Bible, this is the way God describes it. For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword or ice pick or needle point and piercing as far as the division of the soul and the spirit, which man cannot see, of both joints and marrow and able to judge the thoughts and the intentions of the heart.

Now, you see, you and I have a renewing of the mind. That is, we begin to think the way God thinks when the Word of God becomes the part of our thinking, because that's what the Bible is. It is an expression of the thoughts of God. That is, this is the mind of God in the pages of this Bible. Now, when you and I absorb the truth of that into our thinking, we begin to think the way God thinks. When you think the way God thinks, you can no longer think the way the world thinks.

That's why God said, when you and I are saved, we are sanctified, set apart unto Him for Him. And He says, the world's going to think you are a peculiar people, and we are peculiar with regards to our environment. We don't act like they act. We don't think the way they think. We don't want what they want. Our destination is not what theirs is.

And so we are a different people. It is the renewing of the mind. Now, friend, I'll tell you right now that there's no way you're going to grow spiritually without absorbing this book into your thinking and beginning to think the way God thinks. That's what transforms a person's life by the renewing of your mind. Probably the most valuable thing you and I do in our spiritual walk is to meditate upon the Holy Word of God.

By meditating, I don't mean just reading it, but absorbing it, thinking about it, letting it digest in our thinking and applying its truths. That is the renewing of the mind. And that is the most valuable step you and I can take in this whole matter of growing in our Christian life. If you're not growing, you're out of the will of God.

If we are not growing, we are other than what God created us to be and to act out in our life. Second thing that is very valuable to our spiritual walk is this. That is a readiness, listen, a readiness to admit our failures and assume responsibility for them.

A readiness to admit our failures, to acknowledge our failures and to assume responsibility for them. Now, all of us make mistakes. All of us sin against God, not because we necessarily always want to. Sometime we sin because we want to. And the truth is, we always sin because we choose to. It may be in a moment of weakness. It may be Satan slips up on our blind side, whatever it may be.

But ultimately, we make the choice to disobey God. Now, there's something about being open and honest and saying, God, I blew it. Not going to blame it on anybody else. I blew it, God. I made a mistake. I let myself get in this position.

I haven't been reading and searching the Word as I ought. Lord, I've sinned against you. Can't blame anybody else in the world. I'm acknowledging that. I'm confessing it.

And, Lord, I need to deal with it. There's something about being honest about our sins. Now, my friend, as long as you and I deny it and we deceive ourselves by refusing to face up to it, what happens is we delay our spiritual growth. And there are many people who are wondering why they're not growing spiritually.

Well, let me show you something, and I don't want you to forget this, so that's why I'm going to emphasize the way I am. When you and I become a Christian and we begin to grow in our Christian life, God surfaces something every once in a while in our life that we have to deal with. And so what happens is sometimes it's like we just run head into it. And we think, now, I've got to deal with this, and so I'm going to deal with it one of these days. God says, no, you must deal with it now. And so we just keep running up against it.

God, one of these days, I'm going to deal with it. Now, in our thinking, here's the way we think. We think, well, Lord, I know that one of these days I have to deal with this, but right now I'm just going to detour around that.

I'm going to go on over here, and I'm going to keep growing in other areas of my life, but over here I'll get back to this at some time when I think I can deal with it. And the truth is, here's what we do. We keep running up against it. Now, in our mind, we think we've already passed that in our spiritual growth. And you see, what we do is here's the barrier that God's surfaced in our mind, something that's going on that shouldn't be. Here we are. So first of all, we say, well, Lord, I'm going to add this to my spiritual walk, and my goodness, I can get involved in this, and even if I do a little bit more of this and involve myself with these folks and join this organization and start giving a little bit more over here, after a while, God's just going to forget all about that.

No, He's not. Now, listen to me carefully. God hates everything in your life and my life that had the seeds of destruction of your spiritual walk in them.

He hates it. God has already zeroed in and targeted everything in your life and my life that hinders our spiritual growth, God's already targeted. There's no way for us to grow in our Christian life and act as if God says, well, okay, and we just pass on through and go on on the other side. No, there are people sitting in church pews who've been sitting there in their 30s, in their 40s, in their 50s, in their 60s, and they haven't grown since they were 30 years of age in their spiritual walk.

I mean, they joined everything coming and going and they're active, but in their relationship to Jesus Christ, they're still over there batting their head against an area of their life they absolutely refuse to deal with. So if you and I are going to grow in our spiritual life, we have to be open and honest and face up to our failures, our sins, our habits, those things that God has targeted as an enemy of our walk. There's a third thing that naturally follows this. And that is if you'll turn to 1 Peter chapter 2. Look at 1 Peter chapter 2 one more time. Listen to what he says, because the third step in growing in our Christian walk is repentance of our sin.

And listen how Peter places this. Therefore, verse 1, putting aside, that means to strip off of. Putting aside all malice, that's wicked ill will. All guile, that's deliberate dishonesty. All hypocrisy, pretended piety and love. All envy, that is resentful discontent about our situation circumstances.

All slander, all backbiting and lies. He says, now, having put aside all these things as newborn babes, we are to grow by desiring the milk of the Word. It's interesting that that same word, putting away here, is used in the book of Hebrews when he says that you and I, you and I are to lay aside. Look, if you will, in verse 1 of chapter 12 of Hebrews. Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1. Look at this verse. Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside, strip out of our life, remove from our life, repent of every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. It's very interesting that God uses this terminology. He doesn't say, well, just lay it over here for a moment. He says, strip yourself of this.

That is, get rid of the word there is strip ourselves of. The word is repentance. That is, if you and I are moving in a particular direction and we know we're heading in the wrong direction with God, that habit, that attitude, that relationship, whatever it might be, it's not right. Repentance is not, well, Lord, I know that's not right.

One of these days I'm going to deal with it. No, repentance says, God, it is a sin. I must deal with it and so I make an about face and I head in the opposite direction. That is repentance. That is the willingness to strip myself of anything and everything, listen, that hinders the walk.

And I want to repeat this. Anything that hinders your spiritual walk, God has put a bullseye on it and he's coming after it one way or the other. Because, you see, you are precious in the eyes of God and because God loves you enough to have stretched out his Son on the cross to die for your sin, I want to tell you, my friend, whatever's going to hinder your walk, God's coming after it. And so we are to repent of that sin.

We are to deal with it because it is delaying. Listen, if you and I knew the plans that God had for our life, if you knew the blessings that God has stored up for your life and because we're still running up against the same old issue and we'll not deal with it and we'll not give it up, you and I don't know what we're missing. We need to face up to whatever it is and deal with it so that the blessings of God can begin to flow into your life and flow through your life those blessings that he's designed out of pure love for you. But there's a fourth thing that I want you to notice here. When he says, grow, listen, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

That is, something is going on. We are maturing in our spiritual walk, all right? The fourth thing is this, and that is receiving godly counsel. What does that have to do with a person's spiritual walk? Simply this, that none of us see ourselves really the way we are. We don't see ourselves the way God sees us.

It would be good if we could. We don't always see ourselves the way other people see us and oftentimes things can creep into our life that we're not even aware of. That's why godly counsel is so important to spiritual growth. And I mean by that that all of us need a friend, somebody that we can go to who will be absolutely deadly honest with us, loving but honest. Who will not tell us what we want to hear?

I'm talking about the kind of friend who can sit there and love you, accept you just the way you are. And then when you've told the whole story and you've shared your heart and you've said, you know, I know I've sinned against God, I've sinned against myself, I can't imagine myself getting in that kind of a position. And the other person with honesty and love and kindness says here, let me show you where you made the mistake.

Let me show you how you can avoid that next time. And I want to encourage you, you and I need to start praying about this area of weakness in your life. You see, everybody needs godly counsel. I've seen some mighty good men and women, some mighty great men and women plunge to the depths because they were too proud to admit to somebody else, hey, I can't do it. Somehow there's a weakness in my life.

Somehow I need some help. Are you too proud to say to God, Lord, send somebody into my life? My friend, are you struggling in some area of your Christian life that you've been struggling with for years and years and years and years and you think, well, I guess this is just the way the Christian life is. I guess this is just sort of normal Christian living when deep in your heart you know that some of that's not normal, not natural.

Are you willing to find yourself a friend who will love you, who's forgiving, who's forgetting, who will accept you just the way you are, who will let you tell them anything in the world you need to say and who will love you just the same, whose love for you can never be altered no matter what you may do. My friend, that is one of the greatest assets in the Christian life. That's why God gave us friendships. And listen, that's also why God made us interdependent upon each other. We need each other's encouragement, each other's help.

One of the vital steps in growing in the Christian walk is to have a friend who will give you wise, godly counsel. Now, let me just warn you about something. You can't hide anything from them. If you're not willing to be transparent and say, hey, I hate to tell you this, this is the way it is. You know what? God already knows.

Haven't hidden it from Him, so why don't you just tell your confidential friend and say, hey, can you help me at this point? Because sometimes we do repeat the same error and we don't even see it. But a godly friend who begins to know you, listen, you realize that when a person who is an intercessor begins to pray for someone else that God begins to reveal the innermost being of that person's heart to the intercessor and the reason God does that is so that person will know how to pray for them. Listen, if you want somebody to really know you, you get somebody who's committed to interceding before God for you and I'm telling you they'll tell you things about yourself you don't know. And when they tell you, you'll say, my goodness, that's right.

You know why? Because God gives them insight into your thinking and the ways you think in order for them to pray accurately for you. And, friend, when you begin to intercede for someone else and you become someone else's godly counsel, listen, that is a very delicate, precious relationship but so essential to growing in the Christian world. Thank you for listening to The Pathway to Spiritual Growth. For more inspirational messages like this, visit our online 24-7 station. And if you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-15 05:59:54 / 2024-02-15 06:08:22 / 8

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