(Articles of Faith, 4)
Are You Growing Spiritually?
There comes those times when we can let down our guard when it comes to spiritual growth and development. We believe that we need a rest, a break from the maddening pace of life during the year. The temptation is then to take a break from “all of it,” including our spiritual disciplines.
The problem with this thinking and acting is that positive spiritual momentum can be lost. And, we never stay on center in the race for heaven (cf. Phil. 3). We either gain or lose momentum in this race. Remember the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus asked them to “watch and pray.” Instead, they fell asleep. After all, they needed a break, a rest, a vacation from the spiritual grind! “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matt. 26:41, 42)
There are three “S’s” that we must always, daily, guard against in this spiritual battle for growth momentum. I begin every day with prayer for God to give me victory over these “S’s” in my life.
It would be nice (and naïve) to think that our sins are all conquered. We still have a sinful nature, not just tainted, but rather permeated with the remnants of the old Adamic nature. An old church catechism says that the “imper-fection of sanctification in believers arises from the remnants of sin abiding in every part of them, and the perpetual lustings of the flesh against the spirit; whereby they are often foiled with temptations, and fall into many sins, are hindered in all their spiritual services, and their best works are imperfect and defiled in the sight of God” (Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 78).
Sins include known transgressions, unknown failures to live according to God’s Word and will, presumptuous faults, secret sins, and the bent of our natures against God. Every thought, every desire, every motivation, every act, or lack of action, experiences the hellishness and horror of our sinful nature. Yes, praise God!, Jesus died for all of those sins, but we have the obligation to die to sin daily.
Are you dying to sin daily in the power and love of Christ?!
The Bible tells us that Satan, our main spiritual Enemy, lies to us, deceives us, entraps us, baits us, tempts us and wants to destroy us. Peter, who understood Satan’s ways better than most, puts it this way: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)
Every day, and every minute of every day, we are in a spiritual battle against Satan and his hosts and forces of darkness. Again, the Word tells us that our struggle “is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).
The solution? “Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Pet. 5:9); “Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7); “Put on the full armor of God . . . take up the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit . . . and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests . . . be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph. 6:13ff).
Are you daily, consciously, intentionally fighting against Satan?!
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians that Timothy, and Timothy only, took a genuine interest in their welfare. He says, “For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 2:21).
Wow!! What about all your other helpers and aides, Paul? No, Paul says under the inspiration of God, everyone looks out for his own interests first! This is you and me. Pride, self-will, selfish desires, ego, call it what you will. We daily need to repent, renounce, and resist the natural selfishness that drives us to be “Number One.”
Do you daily, honestly, deeply ask God to make you truly selfless, others-oriented, and God-centered?
The three “S’s.” How you deal with them determines much of your spiritual growth and momentum in these months. I urge you to daily deal with them!