HINDRANCES TO TRUE SPIRITUAL GROWTH (Part 1)
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” (Hebrews 5:13 NKJV)
Every normal parent takes delight in the healthy growth and development of his child. Parents derive a sort of pleasure, joy, or fulfillment in watching their children grow up in every aspect of life into responsible adults who can be trusted with responsibility and authority.
Parents take special pride or delight in speaking about their children’s healthy growth and development, successes and achievements in life.
Likewise, God takes delight in His children healthy growth and development. God loves to see every believer grow up in all things into Christ.
God has made abundant provision in the Church for every born-again believer to grow up in all things into Christ.
Paul aptly testifies to this truth.
Ephesians 4:11-16 – NKJV
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
14 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,
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head–Christ-
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Every true pastor takes delight in the spiritual growth of the believers under his tutelage.
Apostle John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (3 John 1:4 NKJV).
Any pastor or spiritual leader who takes no delight in the spiritual growth of the believers under his care is simply selfish, carnal and wicked.
Unfortunately, there are many servants of God today who take no delight in seeing the believers under their authority grow up in spiritual understanding, knowledge or discernment. Why?
So that they may continue to deceive, control, manipulate, abuse or exploit them!
When a child is not growing or developing healthily and steadily in every aspect – physically, mentally, emotionally, or otherwise – all those who truly love and care about the child become very concerned, troubled and unhappy. Moreover, the child becomes a burden to his parents and all those around him.
Similarly, when you are not growing up healthily and steadily in every aspect of your life into Christ, you will become a burden and a concern to your pastor and all those around you. All those who genuinely love you in God’s family should be concerned when you are not growing, developing or maturing in the faith as you should.
If after several years of claiming to be born again you still must depend constantly and totally on your pastor or prophet for you to know, discern or recognize God’s voice and leading, or to receive direct divine guidance and direction for your life, then you have not really grown up spiritually.
If after many years of being in the faith, your conduct or character is still not in any way close to that of Christ, or you are still not bearing or manifesting the fruit of the Spirit, then something is wrong somewhere. You should be concerned!
It is sad but true that many people in our churches today are not growing up steadily into Christ. After several years of attending church services regularly and dutifully, yet they remain spiritually immature, shallow in spiritual understanding of God’s Word, unable to hear, recognize or discern God’s voice and leading and thus totally and continuously dependent on their pastors and prophets.
But what are the possible hindrances to healthy spiritual growth?
Why are many people in our churches today not maturing in the faith, or growing up into Christ steadily?
Let us consider some possible causes and solutions.
First, many people in our churches today are not growing up into Christ simply because they are not yet born-again and thus do not have the divine life, nature or seed of God in them.
As it is impossible for a lizard to grow up into a crocodile, or for a rat to grow up into a cat, so it is impossible for a sinner to grow up into Christ notwithstanding the years he spends in a church, the position he occupies in a church, or his activities in a church.
Until you are born again, you don’t have and cannot have the divine potentials to become like Christ.
1 John 3:9 – RSV
9 No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.
It is only those who have become a partaker of God’s nature through faith alone in the person and finished work of Jesus Christ that possess the spiritual potentials or capacities to grow up in all things into Christ (2 Pet. 1:3-4).
The truth is that there are many people in our churches today who suppose that they are born-again because of their regular attendance, faithfulness in tithing and offering, fervency in prayer, full participation in church activities, compliance with church’s doctrines or traditions, or because of the miracles they have received from God.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
Unfortunately, many of our church leaders strengthen and confirm the baseless assumptions of these unregenerate church converts by publicly commending their good but dead works in the church, by praising them for their generous donations, and even giving them special responsibilities in the church, and honouring them with leadership positions or titles in the church.
It is so sad but true that there are many religious sinners or unregenerate church converts in our churches today ushering the saints into the house of God, leading us in spiritual worship and ministering to us in spiritual songs, teaching God’s Word to our children, and worst still, serving as deacons, evangelists and elders in the church.
What an aberration!
It makes no difference whether in the church or in the street, a sinner is a sinner and can never grow up to become like Christ until he is genuinely born again through faith in the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ alone.
Second, many believers today are not growing spiritually because of the erroneous belief or mindset that spiritual growth is automatic, or that it comes naturally with time.
Even naturally, a child does not automatically grow up and develop healthily into a responsible adult without any input from his parents or his effort.
A new babe in Christ must be started on the pure milk of the Word of God that he may grow up.
1 Peter 2:1-3 – NKJV
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking,
2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
However, the young believer must not stay on the milk of the word forever. He must desire and go for solid food of the Word of God.
Many believers are not growing steadily in the faith today because their pastors continually serve them the milk and not the solid food – they are only taught the elementary principles of God’s revelation (Heb. 5:12-14).
Beloved, if you claim to be a believer in Christ and you are not being changed or transformed progressively into the likeness of Christ in your mindsets, values, emotions, or conduct, you certainly need to carefully examine your life.
Perhaps you are not yet genuinely born-again, thereby not having the divine potentials to become like Jesus Christ. Or perhaps you have stayed too long on the milk of the Word, not feeding on solid spiritual food.
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It is indeed time to change your spiritual diet!
Hebrews 5:13-14 – NKJV
13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Find out more hindrances to spiritual growth and how to overcome them in the second part of this piece.
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I strongly desire to grow up in all things into Christ. My Dear Holy Spirit, open my eyes today to the reasons why I am not spiritually growing healthily and steadily in all things into Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.