What is Spiritual Growth?
What is spiritual growth? We hear this term all the time in Christian circles, but what does it really mean? Spiritual growth can be simply defined as the continual process of being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The call of a believer in their life is to continually be conformed to the image of Christ. But how is this accomplished? And is there a “best” way or more “efficient way of doing so? While others would say that this is a very complex question and write for days on end about how it can be done, my answer is simple and brief. I would say that the key to spiritual growth (conformity to Christ) is to walk in the Spirit.
Walking in the Spirit is paramount in a Christian’s life. It is only through the Spirit that we are able to resist temptation, sin, and the devil. Paul says in Galatians 5:16, “Walk in the Spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Walking in the Spirit means yielding to the desires of the Spirit, if you are yielding to the desires of the Spirit, you are being conformed to the image of the Son. It is simple logic, seeing that this is the goal of the Spirit.
Now those are the over-arching ideas if you will. But what about the practicality of it? What about the ‘Nitty gritties?” When you are walking in the spirit a few things will come as an effect of it. You will constantly be in fellowship with God (prayer), you will constantly be in the Word, and you will constantly tell no to sin. You will truly be living a life pleasing to God.
Let me give you an illustration of spiritual growth. A new believer is like a newly planted tree, he is small and stubby. Now what He needs is water, the water of walking in the spirit. He also needs sunlight, the rays of yielding to the Spirit. As he walks in the Spirit (by yielding his desires to God, and being dependent on Him for everything) he begins to grow (spiritual growth; conformity with Christ). As he grows, he begins to bear fruit like victory over sin, more time spent in the Word, a passion for reaching the lost, etc.
You see the fruit, isn’t the actual growth. The fruit is an effect of the growth. If the fruit was the growth that would mean that you are doing the work and not God. Which is incorrect, the Spirit is doing the work through you. While you are responsible for your own spiritual maturity, the Holy Spirit is the one doing the work, all you are doing is continually yielding yourself to and walking in the Spirit. Again, fruit is not the actual growth, just an effect. I would say that a simple breakdown would look something like this (a prerequisite would be that you are already a believer with no unconfessed sin in your life) 1. Yield to the Spirit, 2. Be controlled by the Spirit, 3. Start over again. That’s spiritual growth.