Evidence of Spiritual Growth

Bible Book: 2 Peter  1 : 8-9
Subject: Spiritual Growth; Devotion; Commitment; Testimony
Series: Shoe Leather Christianity
Introduction

The life within will reproduce that image if we but diligently cooperate with God and use the means He has lavishly given us. And the amazing thing is this: as the image of Christ is reproduced in us, the process does not destroy our own personalities. We still remain uniquely ourselves. God only makes originals, no copies.

Peter has said that if the believer actually has a desire to grow in this knowledge and will be careful to build a superstructure, consisting of these virtues that have been named, on the foundation that has been laid, then he will not be idle in his pursuit of this full knowledge and grace.

The Christian life begins with faith, but that faith must lead to spiritual growth, unless it is dead faith. But dead faith is not saving faith (James 2:14-21). Faith leads to growth and growth leads to practical results in life and service. People who have this kind of Christian experience are not likely to fall prey to apostate false teachers.

GREAT QUESTION: How can the believer be certain that he is growing spiritually?

Will people say this about your life, “He did nothing in particular, and he did it very well.” The purpose in life is to have a life of purpose. John Foster, “You’re not truly free until you’ve been made captive by your mission in life.” Do we really believe that this life is just a “dress rehearsal” for eternity?

A man without principles never draws much interest. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” You can predict your future by the awareness you have of your unique purpose.

Remember, when the Holy Spirit comes to take-up residence within the spirit of a human being, He brings with Him those absolute standards of righteousness which reflect the very nature and character of God Himself. The Christian life is not about our own capacity and ability, but about God’s; not about who we are, but who He is; not what we have to offer, but what He offers, which is all of Himself, if only we are as available to Christ as Christ was available to His Father.

When the principle of 1 Peter 1:3-9 is a reality in our lives, we experience nothing less than the behavior of Christ Himself. Let me illustrate: the first chapter of the book of Genesis tells us that God made two great lights and set them in the firmament of the heavens, a great light (the sun) to rule the day, and a lesser light (the moon) to rule the night. The moon, however, is lightless of itself. It shines into the darkness only by virtue of its relationship to the greater light, the sun. It has nothing of itself to offer a world in the dark; it has only the sunlight that it receives and faithfully reflects, just as we have only the light of the Lord, and nothing of our own, to offer the world of darkness around us.

Philippians 2:15, “that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Matthew 5:15-16, “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

TRUTH WE NEED TO KNOW – You cannot manufacture fruit. Fruit grows on its own, in the right circumstances, and given a suitable environment. These virtues or fruits are not 7 different, or 9 different, fruits of the Spirit - it is one, with several characteristics. They are all inter-related. They are a reflection of the moral nature of God Himself. As you cooperate through surrender with the Holy Spirit, our Lord produces His character and nature in you, and then through you, in such a way that it produces fruit/works that rebound to His glory.

FACT – Negative goodness is not enough in a life; there must be positive qualities as well. Way you think of “works” (in the sense of what I do for Him) you think of effort, labor, strain, and toil; when you think of “fruit” you think of beauty, quietness, the unfolding of life.

Warren Wiersbe distinguishes between the:

Gift of the Spirit

Salvation

Gifts of the Spirit

Service

Graces of the Spirit

Christian character; what we are dealing with is His character in us and on display through us.

Fruit is seen in many different kinds in the New Testament.

For example:

People won to Christ. - Romans 1:13

Holy Living – Romans 6:22

Gifts brought to God – Romans 15:26-28

Good works – Col. 1:10

Praise – Heb. 13:15

John MacArthur speaks of both action fruit (what we do) and attitude fruit (who we have become)

Remember, looking at the list of 7, they are not products, nor can they be manifested in isolation from each other. When they are mine by possession and experience, my life will be productive.

I. THE CLAIMS OF THE GODLY LIFE. 8-9

A. POSSESSION.

“For if these things are yours”

The possession of the Christian virtues by the believer is a natural, expected thing by reason of the fact that he has become a partaker of the divine nature (1-4).

Not a spasmodic possession, present one day and absent the next. If they were not present in the life, one could well discount the person’s claim of being a child of God.

These qualities of character do exist “within us” because we possess the divine nature. We must cultivate them so that they increase and produce fruit in and through our lives.

EXAMPLE: I must mine what is mine.

John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Vincent, in Greek New Testament says, “In the sense of ‘being’ the verb is stronger than the simple ‘to be’; denoting being which is from the beginning; and therefore attaching to a person as a proper characteristic, something belonging to him, and so running into the idea of rightful possession as above”

EXAMPLE: You may be around people who bring out the best in you, but Jesus puts the best in you.

NOTE: “if” – present active circumstantial (conditional) participle.

Translates – “these things existing for you” (they are existing for you, but not necessarily experienced by you.)

B. POTENTIAL.

“abound” – possessing in the sense of “super abounding”. The Spirit-filled is the overflowing life; an artesian well whose source is higher than its overflow, the overflow being spontaneous by reason of that fact.

You will find that if this is true, you will continue to grow. The Christian who ceases to grow in his Christian life begins to regress.

There must be a pursuing in order for there to be a progression

“yours” – “abounding” – first denotes owning property in an abiding sense. Fully at your disposal. Secondly, it refers to possessing more than enough, even too much, of something; drinking from the saucer because the cup has overflowed.

GREAT TRUTH:

The Christian life that does not run over, or overflow with spiritual blessings to others, is never a source of spiritual refreshment to others.

A farmer once said to his helper, who always filled the buckets of grain only ¾ full when they should have been full, “the buckets are never full until they are running over.”

So a Christian is never filled with the Spirit and spiritual blessings until his life is running over with the good things of God, refreshing the lives of others.

C. PROMISE.

“You will be neither” – to render, to make, to cause, they make you to be; set in order

a. You Will Not Be Inactive.

“barren” (argos) from ergon “work” and a, “not”, thus “no work”; idle. To be barren is to be inactive, indolent, and useless. With these virtues increasing in one’s life (vv 5-7), a Christian will not be useless or ineffective.

Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.”

James 2:20, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

b. You Will Not Be Unfruitful.

“unfruitful” – unproductive; when these qualities are increasing in a Christian’s life, there is the manifestation of the “divine nature” within the believer ineffective Christian service and activity is as natural to the growing Christian as breathing.

Titus 3:14, “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”

SPECIAL NOTE: When these Christian qualities are not present in a believer’s life (vv.5-7), he will be indistinguishable from an evildoer or a superficial believer.
TRUTH TO BE APPLIED: They are fruitful because they are faithful; they are effective because they are growing in their Christian experience.

Salvation is determined by faith alone (Eph. 2:8,9) and demonstrated by faithfulness to obey God’s will alone (Eph. 2:10).

D. PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP.

“in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” – same as II Peter 1:2; intimate knowledge or a full knowledge. The knowledge of Christ emphasized here is not a superficial knowledge, or a mere surface awareness of the facts about Christ, but a genuine, personal sharing of life with Christ, intimacy.

It is possible that your knowledge of Jesus Christ is producing nothing practical in your life.

II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF A GODLY LIFE. 9

A. HIS DISADVANTAGE.

“For he who lacks these things” – to whom these things are not present.

v.8 “are yours” – conveys the idea of possession. He denotes them now as merely present with him.

Peter is saying that the person who lacks the virtues of vv.5-7 is at a disadvantage in several areas, but 3 in particular:

1. Fruitfulness. 8

2. Vision. 9

3. Security. 10-11

“is shortsighted” – cannot see afar off, seeing only what is near; spiritual eyes; near-sighted. Nutritionists tell us that diet can certainly affect vision; also true in spiritual realm (we need for growth).

“blind” – the two words together speak of a person who is shortsighted, seeing only things present and not heavenly things.

“AMAZING GRACE”

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost but now am found,

Was blind but now I see.”

GREAT TRUTH: The Christian who fails to make progress in his life through growth lacks spiritual VISION. Some believers are blind in failing to recognize the need for growth in their lives.

“Pure in heart shall see God”

He is near-sighted in that he can see the here and now, but he is blind in that he has lost sight of heaven and his heavenly calling.

Shortsighted can also mean “to blink” or “to shut the eyes.” Peter may be implying that the Christian who fails to grow is blind because he has deliberately shut his eyes to the light. Life is too brief and the needs of the world too great for God’s people to be walking around with their eyes closed.

ILLUSTRATE: Katie on Disney log: hands raised/eyes closed

B. HIS DISCERNMENT.

“has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins”

Unable to discern his true spiritual condition, and thus have no assurance of his salvation.

Justification

Sanctification

Imputation

Redemption

Propitiation

“forgotten” – the failure to diligently pursue spiritual virtues produces spiritual amnesia. Such a person will have no confidence about his profession of faith. He may be saved and possess all the blessings of vv.3-4, but without the characteristics of vv.5-7, he will live in doubt and fear.

This speaks of a believer who has wandered far away from the Lord; guilty distance. He is carrying around with him his salvation, but not availing himself of his sanctification. He is not stone blind. He has some spiritual sight, but the light of the world dazzles his sin-sick soul as he turns his dimmed, spiritual eyes away, a sad situation in which to be.

DEALS WITH:

1. INDICTMENT.

“forgotten” – forgets the joyful delight

2. INSIGHT.

The person will be more easily attracted by the nearness of the things of earth than by the more distant verities of heaven.

3. INCENTIVE.

Total lack of assurance; detrimental to one’s spiritual life. Lack of gratitude.

If we forget what God has done for us, we will not be excited to share Christ with others.

WHAT A STATEMENT:

You actually forget what Jesus did at Calvary for you!