Newspaper Article published 3.15.19
Dr. Gary M. Barker
This week I’m going to begin a series of meditations on the topic of producing spiritual growth in character and commitment. God’s salvation has made it possible for every believer to be transformed in his character. God desires that sinners will change character and become holy saints who behave like the Lord Jesus Christ. This change is spiritual growth which results in spiritual maturity. Spiritual growth occurs when a believer sins less and less and habitually acts more and more in a holy and righteous manner. The pattern that should develop in a believer’s life is: Conversion should produce Change of Character and this change should produce Commitment in Service. A theological way of expressing this pattern is: Salvation produces Sanctification which produces Service. Spiritual growth should always result in making a believer a more committed and dedicated servant.
The apostle Peter teaches us that God thru His Word has commanded believers to grow spiritually: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Growth always involves increasing in something. Verse eighteen commands us to grow in our experiential knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God expects believers to learn about Christ so that they can imitate Christ in their behavior. This is the ultimate purpose of the Christian Life and spiritual growth. God desires that believers conform their lifestyles and behavior to be Christlike (Romans 8:29, 1 John 3:1-3). The apostle Peter states in 1 Peter 2:21 that Christ has given us a living example of how we should behave by following His steps. Based upon this clear teaching, I can give you a simple definition of spiritual growth: Spiritual growth is a transformation and change of a believer’s character and life from being sinful to becoming Christlike. Spiritual growth occurs when a believer conquers and overcomes sinful desires and begins to habitually manifest Christlike qualities such as holiness, righteousness, love, goodness, truthfulness, humility, kindness, gentleness, and sacrifice. The apostle John in his first epistle prophesied that someday we would be made like Jesus completely and having this hope should motivate us to be becoming holy as Christ is holy (1 John 3:1-3). What a wonderful blessing it would be to become like Christ and to treat others as He treated people. This is what He commanded us to do in John 13:34: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Spiritual growth will produce so many beneficial behaviors. I will be writing about this in my future meditations.