“I don’t seem to be growing spiritually, and I can’t figure out why,” said Antoine. “My life as a Christian today seems no different from when I first believed in my early twenties. I’ve been involved in Bible studies, in men’s groups, and I know a lot about Scripture. I occasionally fast and give financially to my local church. Plus, I’ve attempted to share the gospel with people God puts in my path.”
“Yet I feel like something is missing. I’ve talked to my pastor and other spiritual mentors. They were sympathetic. But they mostly offered me books to read about discipleship and spiritual growth, which just seemed to put a different spin on everything I’m already doing.”
Antoine’s voice lowered. “I haven’t told anybody else what I’m about to tell you, but I’m starting to feel worn down. I’m concerned that I may never grow spiritually and I’ll forever feel stuck as a Christian.”
Like Antoine, do you ever feel you are stuck in your spiritual growth? Have you tried different options to grow spiritually but still feel stagnant? Consider this perspective. Maybe the reason you feel stuck is that you’ve never really believed you are righteous.
I know that sounds like a bold statement. So first, let’s make sure we understand the accurate definition of “spiritual growth.” It’s easy to think spiritual growth is only about increasing our understanding of Scripture, praying fervently for longer periods of time, and serving more effectively. These can certainly be some of the evidences and aids of spiritual growth, but I believe spiritual growth is much more. Spiritual growth (maturity) is living more and more like who we are in Christ, which is directly tied to the idea of our righteousness.
In Isaiah 61:3, God prophesied that the Messiah would fundamentally change who we are and that He would be glorified as a result. Look at what He says: “So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified” (NASB).
In this verse, God calls us oaks of righteousness. When an oak tree first pushes through the ground as a seedling, it is 100 percent an oak tree already. For the remainder of its life, it will simply grow more and more into the oak tree it already is. In the same way, God wants you to understand that you’re as righteous as you will ever be the moment you are saved. You and I will never be more righteous no matter how long we live. From that point until we die, however, we can grow more and more like who we already are as a righteous person in Christ.
That verse ends by saying that because God made us righteous, we can glorify Him. The clear meaning is that because we are righteous in our identity in Christ, we can live like who we are. This is spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. This is what gives God glory.
What does giving God glory look like? It means we will think more and more like a righteous person. We will trust God in us more and more like a righteous person. We will act more and more like a righteous person. In other words, we will spiritually mature as a righteous person.
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