“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” (Ephesians 4:15 RSV).
One of the primary characteristics of every living thing is growth. Synonyms for growth are: “development, increase, growing, maturation.”
When any living thing is not growing or developing as it should, something is definitely wrong somewhere. Similarly, when a believer is not growing spiritually, there is a problem somewhere.
It is God’s expectation that all His children will grow up in every way into the full stature of Christ; “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” (Eph. 4:14-15).
Believers in Christ are “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Rom. 8:29). This is God’s ultimate purpose for all His children in this world!
The general concept of spiritual growth in the Church today is that the believers are born again into God’s kingdom as babes or infants who then grow up into maturity as they feed regularly on God’s Word, fellowship daily with God in prayer and participate in diverse spiritual activities.
This concept of spiritual growth presupposes that at the point of spiritual generation the born-again believers as the new creations are not perfectly like Christ in their born-again spirit, perhaps “a miniature Christ”.
Therefore the emphasis of this wrong concept of spiritual growth is on the growth, increase, development or maturity of the inward man, the believer’s born-again spirit.
All the spiritual exercises that those who hold or embrace this wrong concept of spiritual growth do is therefore consider as a means of increasing the size, power, strength, anointing or knowledge of their born-again spirits.
Though this concept seems very logical or sensible to our natural mind; it is inconsistent with the New Testament’s concept of spiritual growth!
The New Testament clearly teaches that the product of the new or spiritual birth is “a new creation.”
The Scripture states: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17 NKJV).
This Scripture is speaking about the believer’s recreated or born-again spirit (the inward man), and not about his soul or his body (the outward or physical man).
What does the Scripture teach or reveal about the believer’s new spirit, the regenerated inward man or the new creation?
First, The Scripture teaches that the new creation was “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Eph. 4:24 RSV). What does this imply?
It implies that the believer’s recreated spirit has God’s kind of righteousness and holiness as his nature at the new birth. He is perfectly like Christ who is the express image of God (I John 4:17, Heb. 1:1-3).
This is why the Scripture states that: “No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9 RSV).
This is also why the believer’s spirit is called “the Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9, Gal. 4:6). This means that the believer’s regenerated spirit cannot be more righteous, perfect or holier; “because as He is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17).
True spiritual growth is therefore not increase in godliness, holiness or righteousness!
Second, the Scripture teaches that the believer’s inward man is complete in Christ.
The Scripture says: “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” (Col. 2:9-10).
What is this scripture saying?
It is saying that just as the fullness of God dwells in Christ, the fullness of Christ also dwells in the believer’s spirit. What does this imply?
It implies that the new creation lacks nothing that Christ has!
As a new creation, your recreated inward man has all things that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3); he is blessed with all things (Eph. 1:3, 1 Cor. 3:21); he is anointed (2 Cor. 1:21); and he is a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17).
Therefore, your inward man or recreated spirit does not need to grow or increase by any spiritual means in anything, for he already has the fullness of Christ at the new birth. True spiritual growth therefore does not imply increase in anointing, wealth, riches, possessions or blessings!
Third, the New Testament also teaches that at the point of spiritual regeneration the believer’s inward man or born-again spirit has the exact mind of Christ.
The Scripture states: “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:16 RSV).
The Scripture also says that the new creation “is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.” (Col. 3:10 NKJV).
The New Testament believers already have God’s Word engrained or implanted in their new spirits or hearts (Heb. 8:10-11, Rom. 7:22).
The Scripture says of the born-again believers: “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” (1 John 2:27 NKJV).
What do all these scriptures imply?
They imply that the believer’s regenerated spirit or heart does not need to be taught God’s Word; it already has God’s Word implanted in it and knows the truth (1 John 2:20-21)!
True Spiritual growth is therefore not increase in acquisition of the knowledge of God’s Word!
What then is true spiritual growth? Find out in the next piece!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for recreating in me the spirit of Christ at the New Birth. Teach and help me Holy Spirit to acknowledge, believe and appropriate the truths about my born-again spirit, in Jesus’ name. Amen.