HOW TO GROW SPIRITUALLY
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)
Text: 1 Peter 2:1-3 (READ)
1. We wish to speak on this text,
a. so that we can learn what we can
b. from this summary statement about Christian growth,
c. in order to experience it ourselves!
2. In this context
a. spiritual growth requires a negative and a positive.
b. The negative is the "putting away” or the “laying aside” of verse one,
1. and the positive is the longing for or the desiring of
2. the "sincere milk of the word,” the spiritual milk of verse two.
a. These things are to be done
b. in order that we "may grow thereby."
3. You know, we sometimes work very hard to avoid work!
a. And sometimes even Christians work very hard
b. to avoid the simple prescription God has given for spiritual growth.
4. We've found that God's ways are simple,
a. but many times we complicate God's arrangements
b. by our own ideas.
5. God's ways always produce the results God seeks,
a. and God always receives the glory.
b. This morning, let's learn God's way to true spiritual growth,
c. and then, let's put it into practice?
I. Peter as an Example
1. When we consider Peter’s life,
a. we remember that he himself fell
b. by denying Christ three times (Luke 22:31-34).
1. But later he arose to be one of the leading apostles
2. and writers of the New Testament.
2. Peter therefore knew from experience
a. both the necessity and the means of growth in Jesus.
b. He therefore writes to believers
c. to encourage them in Christian growth.
3. (READ vs. 1) The word "therefore” or wherefore” in some versions,
a. connects what follows with what precedes.
b. In chapter one, Peter had spoke of the fact
1. that we have been redeemed
2. by Christ's blood (chapter 1:18-19).
2. He also mentioned that we have been begotten again
a. by the incorruptible seed of God's word (vs. 23-25).
b. Christians are "therefore" to put away everything
c. that is incompatible with their saved, regenerated state.
3. The things which are to be put away,
a. or as the word literally means,
b. "to discard as one would discard filthy clothing,”
c. are malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy and all evil speaking.
1. Good synonyms for these words are
2. wickedness, deceit, pretense, jealousy and slander.
4. All five of these things have to do with human relations
a. and can affect the attitude
b. we as Christians have toward each other.
5. James, the Lord’s brother, also taught a similar lesson (Read Jam 1:21).
6. And Paul made it crystal clear (Read Eph. 4:22-32).
7. If these things are not put away,
a. they will stifle growth
b. and short-circuit our offering of acceptable sacrifices,
1. because one cannot be wrong with his brother or sister
2. and be right with his brother’s Father at the same time.
8. These attitudes and actions,
a. as well as all others like them,
b. must therefore be stripped away from our personalities
c. if we are to grow.
9. On the other hand we are taught that "as newborn babes, desire the pure
milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2).
10. Feeding on the Word of God
a. will enable one to properly nourish his spirit
b. and grow a soul fit for salvation.
11. The phrase "newborn babes" does not here mean new converts as such.
a. It is addressed to all of Peter's readers,
b. some of whom were undoubtedly converts
1. under Paul's preaching,
2. which had been done many years before.
12. All Christians are "newborn babes"
a. in their tender relationship to God (Isa. 40:11)
b. and in respect of what they will be in Heaven.
13. Peter's thought is that we,
a. whether old or new converts,
b. are to ardently long for,
1. intensely desire God's Word,
2. as a newborn babe longs for its mother's milk.
a. In other words, you’ve got to want to grow.
b. You have to have the desire to grow or you won’t.
14. Peter bases his exhortation on the fact that "if indeed you have tasted that
the Lord is gracious" (1 Peter 2:3).
a. The "if" in this verse does not imply doubt,
b. but carries the idea of "since."
15. In other words, seeing that we
a. have already experienced a taste of God's grace
b. through the salvation we enjoy,
1. surely we should desire to study His Word more and more
2. so that we may grow and savor that grace to the full.
16. The Psalmist said, "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who trusts in Him" (Ps. 34:8).
17. Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be filled" (Matt. 5:6).
18. It is noteworthy that as the divine Word
a. has power to create the new life in Christ (1 Peter 1:23),
b. it also has the power to nourish and sustain that life.
1. What we've seen so far is that to grow spiritually,
a. we must desire the pure milk of God's Word.
b. As newborn babes or literally, as "breast-babies," or "suckling’s,"
1. we should desire this pure sincere nourishment
2. that results in well-balanced growth.
2. Brethren, our preachers and teachers
a. must give more of God's own Word
b. and less human opinion and comment.
3. Christians must learn to desire God's Word
a. and encourage rather than discourage
b. teachers who try to teach it.
4. We feed on God's Word that we may "grow thereby."
a. So, if you have tasted that the Lord is good;
b. if you have seen and understand how God has blessed you,
1. your own experience in the Lord
2. should encourage you to seek more fellowship with God
3. and blessings in the Word.
5. Now with the Lord's help,
a. We want to try and take us a little deeper
b. into this subject of growing spiritually.
ARE YOU LISTENING? (Repeat above statement).
III. Olympic Athletics As Example
1. Not too long ago,
a. many in our nation were totally absorbed
b. by the Summer Olympics.
1. Hours went by
2. as we marveled at the beauty of Olympian performances.
2. We heard about their 6 to 8 hour days of stringent work,
a. seven days per week.
b. We heard of their separation from family
c. to enable them to study under the best coaches.
1. We heard of their overcoming setbacks,
2. one after another.
3. We sat in awe and watched a mind take control
a. of a body that could no longer function normally
b. and will it to take just one more step
c. until that race was finished.
4. We experienced the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
5. We smiled when they smiled
a. and we wept when they wept,
b. whether from joy or frustration.
6. We saw what it was to be totally dedicated to a cause.
7. We believe, therefore,
a. that there are lessons to be learned
b. from the athletes who competed in this world event.
8. It seems there are three criteria
a. for becoming an Olympic gold crown winner:
b. Daring - Dedication - Discipline. REPEAT
9. If we are to grow spiritually
a. and win our crown of life (Rev. 2:10),
b. we must exercise these same standards.
IV. Dare To Be Different
1. Brethren, we must first DARE to be different.
2. Our Lord prayed in John 17:15, "I do not pray that you should take them
out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one.
a. We still live each day IN the world,
b. but we are not to be OF the world (John 17:14).
1. We are to be different from the World.
2. We must DARE to be different.
3. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus said (READ).
4. Peter wrote, "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy
nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).
5. If we believe we are the children of God,
a. we must not cower behind the cross.
b. We must stand boldly for those things
c. we know will please our Father.
4. We all know the power of one little candle in otherwise total darkness.
a. Christians, be a candle!
b. Be a light in this world of darkness.
5. One man wrote, "It is not enough to stand aloof from the sins of the
world; the Christian must exert an influence that will cause others
to withstand the influence of evil about them." (unquote).
6. For all we know, we who are here today
a. were chosen for such a time as this
b. to show the beauty of being a child of God.
7. It is our opportunity
a. to exert influence of the proper sort,
b. and to resist those who would deter us from this chosen course.
8. Dare to be different!
a. Where there is hatred, be loving;
b. where there is anger, be calm;
1. where there is immodesty, be modest;
2. where there is immorality, be moral;
3. where there is fear, radiate hope.
4. But, most of all, where there is mortality, seek immortality.
V. Dedicate Yourself to The Task
1. Next you must DEDICATE yourself to the task at hand.
a. Transform yourself by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).
b. That requires a commitment just as strong
c. as that of the Olympic winner.
1. If we are to succeed as Christians,
2. we must be willing to make the necessary sacrifices.
2. No longer will pleasing men,
a. or conforming to the world's standards,
b. be of any importance.
3. Like Jesus, the only one we’ll be living to please will be God.
a. His will is all we’ll want to do in this life (Luke 22:42).
b. We will set our minds on things above (READ Col. 3:1-3).
4. The beautiful aspect about true dedication
a. is that what looks so difficult
b. and unfairly demanding to outsiders
c. is of no consequence to the performer.
5. For most of us, running in a marathon
a. would be a most exquisite torture.
b. And it could be, that for the Christian marathoner,
1. caring for the sick, teaching Bible classes
2. and attending all services faithfully
3. would be that same sort of torture.
a. It all depends on our goals.
b. It all depends on our dedication?
ARE YOU LISTENING? (Amen)
Talk About Saying AMEN!
6. Do we truly believe there is a Heaven and a Hell?
a. Isn't the prize worth the cost? Paul says it is in Romans 8:18.
b. There he says “all the sufferings of this present time
are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us.
1. Are those fleshly desires really important
2. when compared to living forever with Christ?
7. General Omar Bradley once said, and I quote: "We have grasped the secret
of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount.
The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom
and power without conscience.
Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.
We know more about war than we know about peace,
more about killing than we know about living.” (Unquote)
8. We who profess to be followers of Christ
a. must dedicate ourselves to showing the world how to live.
b. Not in any grandiose, overbearing manner,
c. But by lighting our one small candle and holding it high.
9. And if the light of one candle alone is bright in a world of darkness,
a. just think how bright the light will be when we shine as a group.
b. USE YOUNG PEOPLE AS AN EXAMPLE!
1. The third secret to success in gaining spiritual growth
a. is that of DISCIPLINE.
b. Harnessing the wind brings life-giving water from the earth's depths.
1. Harnessing the mind will bring the body
2. into subjection to the will of God.
2. It is discipline that enables us to "Rejoice in the Lord always" (Phil. 4:4).
3. If our minds are to be controlled
a. to seek those things which are true, honest, just, pure, lovely,
b. of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8),
c. we must exercise a constant, consistent discipline.
4. Paul tells the Corinthians in 1Cor. 9:27, "I discipline my body, and bring it
into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself
should become disqualified."
5. Paul never underestimated the discipline needed
a. to be different for the Lord's sake.
b. Nor did he fail to remind us
1. that all the glory and joy of Heaven is ours
2. if we want it badly enough.
6. We are not to be wise in our own opinions (Rom. 12:16),
a. but we are to submit ourselves to God
b. and resist the devil;
1. we must draw near unto God
2. so He can draw near unto us (Jam. 4:7-8).
7. In this world of the boasters, proud, disobedient, blasphemers,
a. lovers of pleasure, deniers of God
b. and despisers of those that are good (2 Tim. 3:2-4),
c. we must dare to be different.
8. We must dedicate ourselves
a. by the transforming of our minds and spirits.
b. We must discipline ourselves,
1. with the help of God, Christ
2. and the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.
9. We must let our light shine.
a. And as night follows day,
b. all that is good will be ours.
1. In conclusion, please remember,
a. there are no short-cuts
b. to the growth that matters.
2. To grow spiritually, Christians must lay aside
a. all sinful impediments to growth (bad language, evil thoughts, lying),
b. and fill their hearts with God's pure Word.
3. Dare to be different from the world;
a. Dedicate yourself to the task at hand;
b. and Discipline your mind and your body
c. to the service of the Lord.
4. Our past experience with the Lord
a. proves that He is kind and seeks our welfare;
b. this can now encourage us to go on
c. in Christian growth day by day.
The Lesson is yours...