“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 a development from a lower or simpler to a higher or more complex form; an increase in size, number, value, or strength; extension or expansion (The American Heritage Dictionary).
Naturally, this definition is true, but spiritually it is not accurate 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, complete in Christ, filled with the fullness of Christ at the new birth.
Colossians 2:9-10 – NKJV
9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
The Scripture amply teaches that believers lack absolutely nothing pertaining to life and godliness or necessary to live a godly life. In Christ, you are blessed with every spiritual blessing.
2 Peter 1:2-3 – NKJV
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
Ephesians 1:3 – NKJV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
Therefore, true spiritual growth is not seeking to increase the size, height, stature, power, or glory of the new creation in Christ.
True spiritual growth is not seeking to improve on God’s divine and holy nature we received at the new birth or 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 more blessing, grace, anointing, authority, or divine abilities from the Holy Spirit. It is neither striving to do more good works to please God nor being acceptable to God.
If this is your concept or idea of spiritual growth, you will always be frustrated, for you can never by any means or effort add to or remove from what God has done in you and for you through the finished work of Christ.
Ecclesiastes 3:14 – NKJV
14 I know that whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him.
Your born-again spirit was sealed with the Holy Spirit at the point of regeneration until the day of redemption!
Ephesians 1:13-14 – NKJV
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.
Ephesians 4:30 – NKJV
30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Sadly, because of the wrong but widely accepted concept of spiritual growth in the Church today, many believers are striving in vain to improve, increase, develop, educate, or mature their recreated or born-again spirits through various spiritual exercises.
As a result of ignorance, many believers today pray and fast because they want their spirits to become stronger, anointed, or powerful. They read and study God’s Word because they want their spirits to have more spiritual knowledge or understanding.
What sheer ignorance!
While it is good and right to pray and fast and read and study God’s Word; however, it is not for the sake and benefit of your recreated or born-again spirit.
Instead, prayer and fasting and studying God’s Word are for the sake and benefit of your soul (mind, will, and emotions), which still needs to be purified, sanctified, or renewed daily, and for the sake and benefit of your body which still needs to be disciplined and kept under control daily; for they are yet to experience full redemption (Jam. 1:21, 1 Cor. 9:27, Rom. 8:23, 1 Pet. 1:9).
However, your born-again spirit is already fully redeemed and perfected in Christ; it, therefore, 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.
Nothing is to be changed, removed, or added to your born-again spirit. It is entirely like Christ in every aspect.
1 Corinthians 6:17 – NKJV
17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
1 Corinthians 15:47-48 – NKJV
47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.
1 John 4:17 – NKJV
17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.
If it is true that the believers’ born-again or recreated spirits are identical to Christ, why then are we still commanded to grow up into the full stature of Christ?
Man is not just a spirit; he also has a soul and body.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 – NKJV
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
While your recreated or born-again spirit is already full 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, 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 identical to Christ in your spirit but not yet in your soul and body. Though you already have a new spirit, you are yet to have a new soul and body like Christ’s.
Growing into the measure of the stature of the fullness 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 with Christ and is presently seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, your soul, and 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 many negative and ungodly imprints and stuff 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; 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 more power or anointing of the Holy Spirit but 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 unceasingly in and through your outward man.
In summary, true spiritual growth is growing in the revelation knowledge of Christ and 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 on the truths of God’s Word; likewise, as your body is increasingly disciplined and put under subjection through Spirit-led fasting and prayer.
Babes in Christ are believers who remain carnal or ungodly in their thinking after being born again. They refuse to constantly and increasingly put off their old ways of thinking and living and put on new ways of thinking and living according to that of Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-4).
We cannot genuinely claim that the Church is growing if we are only increasing in size, number, material prosperity, mental or intellectual or mental knowledge of God, spiritual gifting, or acquisition of earthly possessions, but not becoming more and more like Christ in our thoughts, perceptions, actions, values, virtues, conduct or lifestyle.
Friend, as a new creation, you have the fullness of Christ (His Spirit, Life, Nature, Glory, Wisdom, and Power) in you, but you must let it shine forth or manifest increasingly and continuously in your soul and mortal body.
That is true 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. Help me, Holy Spirit, renew my mind and discipline my body continually while waiting for the physical return or revelation of my Lord Jesus Christ, in Jesus’ name. Amen.