Recently I preached from the book of Philippians in a series called “Joy in the Church. The study from Philippians 3has been very thought-provoking.
The issue of diligently giving maximum effort for the sake of spiritual has stirred thinking and discussion. So, today I just want to jot down a few things to encourage and aide you in your pursuit of spiritual growth.
Let me say at the outset that you’ve got to keep your mind on the ultimate end. What is that? Well, just look at Philippians 3:12, “…but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (ESV). Later in verse 14 Paul explains, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” I point this out to say that you’ve got to remember that which is the ultimate end. Spiritual growth is about becoming like Christ. It is about Christ-likeness. It is about being transformed into His image. That’s why you’ve been redeemed. “To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess.2:14). That’s the end. Don’t forget that.
It’s easy for us to see this in part as opposed to the whole. Spiritual growth is not a matter of you being a better daddy or mommy. It is not a matter of you being a better neighbor or employee. Spiritual growth is about being like Christ. That is spiritual transformation. And that is the point.
So once again I want to point you to 2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Spiritual transformation is a work of God in the life of the believer who is beholding the glory of the Lord. Pressing on toward spiritual growth is about beholding the glory of the Lord. Therefore, “Do not be conformed to this world”. Friends, there’s a lot to be ware of here. There’s a lot of the “world” to which the church is conforming. Beware of “christian” trends. Beware of fads. Beware of the latest craze or religious obsession. Just watch out. “…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:2). Transformation is a spiritual work that happens by mind renewal.
Make your life about Christ. See Him as He is put on display on the pages of the Word. Revel in Him as you observe the day-to-day displays of His glory that are emblazoned in His creation. Fight for that. Go to battle everyday against the weakness of your flesh, the allure of the world, and the enticement of Satan. Wake up tomorrow morning and preach to yourself. Tell yourself that you are locked in a battle with the pull of the world, the apathy of your flesh, and the damnation of the devil. And make up your mind that you cannot face those things with the pea-shooter of legalism, or the passing fad of the latest trendy book, lecture series, or t-shirt. Make every day about the glory of Christ. And do whatever you need to do to battle for that. And let me just give you a few things that I need in this battle, and maybe these things will help you in yours:
- I must daily study the Scriptures and remind myself of what God says in necessary. So much of my life can be taken with the non-essentials. Those things that are nice but not necessary. I have to constantly weed them out. And, by-the-way, as a husband and father I have to help weed them out of the lives of my wife and kids. The Scripture is VERY clear about what is absolutely necessary.
- I must find someone to pray together with early every morning, late every night. But shouldn’t I do this on my own? Hey, listen. I am in a battle. And I NEED help! God has ordained that help comes through fellow soldiers. I depend early and often on others. A phone call here, text message there, email, Skype-conversation, breakfast meeting, family get-together. Whatever it may be, I have come to rely on others in my pursuit of spiritual transformation.
- I must gather together with the local church of which God has made me a part for regular public worship. I’ll tell you that I very seldom come home from church not motivated to puruse spiritual growth. Worship, fellowship, the preaching of the Word, observing the Lord’s Table, joining in baptism, prayer, giving, etc. This is all absolutely necessary for my battle to behold the glory of Christ.
- I must constantly place myself in a position to behold His glory. For me, this means guarding the music I listen to, the programs that I watch, the things that I read, and what I do with my free time. I will tell you this, free time for me usually means “down time” and that time usually spells spiritual disaster.
Think on these things.