“For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:11 NKJV).
Growth is defined as development from a lower or simpler to a higher or more complex form; an increase, as in size, number, value, or strength; extension or expansion (The American Heritage Dictionary).
Naturally, this definition is true, but spiritually it is not true or applicable!
True spiritual growth cannot be defined or measured in terms of increase in size, volume, number, value, or strength.
The new creation is one with Christ and is complete in Christ, filled with the fullness of Christ at the new birth (1 Cor. 6:17, Col. 2:9-10).
The Scripture teaches that the born-again believers have already possessed all things that pertain to life and godliness in their regenerated spirits through their spiritual union with Christ Jesus (2 Pet. 1:2-4, Eph. 1:3, Rom. 8:16-17).
1 Corinthians 3:
21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:
22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours.
23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (NKJV).
The Believers lack absolutely nothing in Christ!
Therefore, true spiritual growth is not seeking to increase the size, the height, the stature, the power, or the glory of our born-again spirits.
It is also not seeking to improve on the divine and holy nature of God we received at the new birth, or to improve on the quality of God’s kind of righteousness imputed to us at the new birth through faith in Christ.
True spiritual growth is not seeking to receive more blessing, grace, anointing, authority, or divine abilities from the Holy Spirit. Neither is it striving to do more good nor righteous works in order to please God or be acceptable to God.
If this is your concept or idea of spiritual growth you will always be frustrated, for you can never by any spiritual means add to or remove from what God has done and put in your born-again spirit through your spiritual union with Christ (Eccl. 3:14). Why?
Because your born-again spirit was sealed with the Holy Spirit at the point of regeneration until the day of redemption!
Paul clearly states this truth.
13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (NKJV).
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (NKJV).
Sadly, because of the wrong but widely acceptable concept of spiritual growth in the Church today many believers today are striving in vain to improve, increase, develop, educate or mature their recreated or born-again spirits through diverse spiritual means or exercises.
They pray and fast because they want their spirits to become stronger, more anointed or powerful. They read and study God’s Word because they want their spirits to have more spiritual knowledge or understanding. That is sheer ignorance!
While it is very right and beneficial to pray and fast and read and study God’s Word, however, it is not for the sake of your recreated or born-again spirit, but for the sake of your soul (mind, will and emotions) which still need to be purified, sanctified or renewed daily and for the sake of your body which still need to be disciplined and kept under control daily (Jam. 1:21, 1 Cor. 9:27, Rom. 8:23, 1 Pet. 1:9).
While your soul and body are yet to be fully redeemed; however, your born-again spirit is already fully redeemed, complete or perfect in Christ. Therefore, your born-again spirit needs no further growth, improvement, or development.
Your born-again spirit is presently in the perfect state of holiness, perfection or maturity it will be throughout eternity. There is nothing else to be changed, removed, or added to your born-again spirit. It is fully like Christ in every aspect (Gal. 4:6, Rom. 8:9, 1 John 4:17)!
1 Corinthians 6:
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. (NKJV).
If it is true that the believers’ born-again or recreated spirits are identical to or perfectly like that of Christ, why then are we still commanded to grow up into the full stature of Christ or to be conformed to the image of Christ?
It is simply because man is not just a spirit; he also has a soul and body! (1 Thess. 5:23).
While your recreated or born-again spirit has the fullness of Christ, your soul and body are yet to receive or experience the fullness of Christ. Though the full redemption of your soul and body is guaranteed, yet it is ongoing and will be completed in the future – at the physical return or full revelation of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:13-14).
Your recreated inward man is already fully conformed to the image or likeness of Christ, but your soul and body still bear the image of Adam, the fallen man.
You are only identical to Christ in your spirit, not yet in your soul and body. Though you already have the spirit of Christ, you are yet to have the soul and the body of Christ.
Growing into the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ or becoming fully conformed to the image of Christ has nothing to do with your recreated spirit, but it has everything to do with your soul (your mind, will and emotions) and your body.
While your spirit is already quickened and raised up together with Christ and is presently seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, your soul and your body are still full citizens of this earth (Eph. 2:4-6).
While the fullness of Christ is dwelling presently in your born-again spirit, your soul still has the negative and ungodly imprints and stuffs of your old man that was crucified with Christ, and your body still has all the human weaknesses and frailties.
While all the desires and delights of your new inward man or recreated spirit are godly, pure and perfect like that of Christ, however, those of your soul and body are often ungodly, impure and imperfect, and therefore need to be daily examined, purified or renewed according to the truths of God’s Word.
Beloved, true spiritual growth is not seeking more from God but letting God have more of you. It is not praying and fasting and reading and studying God’s Word to strengthen, develop or educate your inward man (your born-again spirit), but rather to purify your soul or renew your mind and to discipline and bring your body into subjection to your inward man, so that they also can experience and manifest the exceeding riches of grace in your spirit.
True spiritual growth is not seeking for more power or anointing of the Holy Spirit, but rather yielding more of your soul and body to the Holy Spirit, so that His power and anointing in your inward man may flow or manifest increasingly and unceasingly in and through your outward man.
In summary, true spiritual growth is becoming more and more like Christ, not in your spirit but in your thoughts, words, imaginations, perceptions, understanding, actions or character.
This can only happen as your carnal mind is increasingly renewed through constant reading, studying, listening to and meditating in the truths of God’s Word, and your body is increasingly disciplined and put under through Spirit-led fasting and prayer.
Babes in Christ are actually the believers who remain carnal or ungodly in their thinking after a long time of being born again. They are those who refuse to constantly and increasingly put off their old ways of thinking and living and to put on the new ways of thinking and living according to that of Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-4).
We cannot truly claim that the Church is growing if we are only increasing in size, number, material prosperity, mental or intellectual knowledge of God, spiritual gifting, or acquisition of possessions, but not becoming more and more like Christ in our thoughts, perceptions, emotions, actions, values, or virtues.
Friend, the life of Christ in your spirit must increasingly shine forth or manifest in your soul and mortal body (2 Cor. 4:11).
This is real spiritual growth!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I am so excited to know that my spirit is already completely redeemed and that my soul and body will be fully redeemed at the coming of Jesus Christ. My Dear Holy Spirit, teach and help me to increasingly renew my mind and discipline my body while waiting for the physical return or revelation of my Lord Jesus Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.