How to grow in grace

2 Peter 3:18

 

I.Intro.

A.when there is no growth, there is no life

1.when a person is born again, there is a change in the energy of their spiritual life

2.where there is life, there is growth; but growth does not always come easily

B.growth in grace is a gradual and continuous thing

1.many passages of Scripture exhort the believer to crucify the flesh, and to increase in faith and good works

2.our text furnishes us with information concerning the origin and nature of this growth

C.people may advance rapidly in other kinds of knowledge, and yet make no advances in godliness

1.their minds may even be filled with correct academic knowledge of divine truth, but its effect may “puff up” rather than humble

2.many correct and thoughtful theologian has lived and died without being saved

3.those Christians, who are most diligent in dealing with God’s Word in public and private, will be the most likely to grow in godliness

D.young converts are prone to depend on joyful surroundings, and love excitement in their devotional exercises

1.our heavenly Father cures us of this folly, by leaving us for a season to walk in darkness and struggle with our own corruptions

2.when we are sorely pressed and discouraged, He strengthens us with might in the inner man

3.by such exercises, we become more sensible of our dependence on God, than we were at first

a)we learn to fear the Lord all the day long, and to distrust our own wisdom and strength, and to rely on the grace of Jesus Christ for everything

b)such a soul will not readily believe that it is growing in grace

c)to be emptied of self-dependence, and to know that we need aid for every duty, and even for every good thought, is an important step in our progress in godliness

II.evidence of growth in grace

A.one condition that goes with the growth of grace is a clearer and deeper insight into the evils of our own heart

1.this renders it exceedingly difficult for us to know that we are growing in grace

2.this is a good evidence of growth; but the first conclusion is apt to be, “I am growing worse every day; I see innumerable evils springing up within me which I never saw before”

3.we may compare this person to one shut up in a dark room where he is surrounded by many vile objects

a)if a single ray of light is let into the room, he sees the more prominent objects

b)as the light is gradually increased, he sees more of the filth which he has been surrounded with

c)it was there before, but he did not perceive it; his increased knowledge of the fact is a sure evidence of increasing light

B.growth in grace is seen by a more habitual vigilance against besetting sins and temptations

1.victory over besetting sins, shows an increased vigor in the born again life

C.a growing concern for what may be called minor duties is also a good sign of growth

D.an increase in spiritual mindedness is a sure evidence of growth in godliness; and this will always be accompanied by deadness to the world

1.a continual desire for God, in the house and by the way, in company and in solitude, indicate the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, by whose help all progress is made

E.increased concern for the salvation of men, and a desire to warn sinners of their danger, is an evidence of a growing state of godliness

F.it is a strong evidence of growth in grace, when we can bear injuries and provocations with meekness, and when we can desire the temporal and eternal good of our bitterest enemies

G.a confident reliance on the promises and providence of God, no matter how dark our horizon, or how many difficulties surround us, is a sign that we have learned to live by faith

1.a humble contentment with our condition, though it be one of poverty and obscurity, shows that we have profited by sitting at the feet of Jesus

H.there is no surer measure of spiritual growth than a habit of aiming at the glory of God in everything

I.increasing love to the brethren is a sure sign of growth

1.brotherly love is a proof for the existence of grace, and the exercise of love a proof of vigor in the divine life - 1 John 2:11, 4:20

2.this love will leap over all the barriers of sects and classes; it embraces the disciples of Christ wherever it finds them – John 13:34-35

J.a healthy state of godliness is always a growing state

1.that child which does not grows at all, must be sickly

2.if we want to enjoy spiritual comfort, we must be in a growing condition

3.if we would be useful to Christ, His church and the world, we must be growing Christians

K.since growth in grace is gradual, and the progress from day to day imperceptible, we should aim to do something in this work every day

1.we should die daily to sin and live unto righteousness

2.sometimes the children of God grow faster when in the fiery furnace than elsewhere

a)as metals are purified by being cast into the fire, so saints have their dross consumed and their evidences of growth brightened, by being cast into the furnace of affliction - 1 Peter 4:12-14

III.HOW TO GROW IN GRACE AND MAKE PROGRESS IN GODLINESS

A.this objective will never be attained without vigorous and continued effort

1.it must not only be desired and sought for, but considered more important than all other pursuits

2.remember also, nothing can be achieved in this work without the aid of the Holy Spirit - Gal 5:22-23

B.spend much time examining God’s Word, and strive to obtain a clear view of the plan of redemption

1.learn to contemplate the truth in its true nature, and avoid curious and obscure speculations regarding things unrevealed

2.it is not the critic, the speculative or argumentative theologian, who is most likely to receive the right impression, but the humble, simple-hearted, thoughtful Christian

3.we must learn to sit at the feet of Jesus in the spirit of a child, or we will not likely be edified by our studies

C.pray constantly and fervently for the influences of the Holy Spirit

1.we must not only pray, but we must watch against everything in our heart or life which has a tendency to grieve the Spirit of God – Eph 4:30, 1 Thess 5:19

2.what use is it to pray, if we indulge ourselves with evil thoughts and imaginations

3.what use is it to pray, if we give way to the evil passions of anger, pride and avarice; or bridle not our tongue from evil speaking

D.take time for praying and self-examination

1.we must deal faithfully with our self; earnestly search out all secret sins and repent of them

2.if sin is found, confess the fault before God

3.we do not need to ask why we do not grow, when there is an ulcer of sin within us, that is unconfessed

E.cultivate and exercise brotherly love more than we have been accustomed to do

1.Christ is displeased with many of His professed followers, because they are so cold and indifferent to His people on earth

2.remember the account Christ gave of the last judgment - Matthew 25:34-40, James 2:15-17

F.if we want to make greater progress in godliness, we must do more than we have done for the promotion of God's glory and of Christ's kingdom on earth

1.we must enter into the will of God with livelier and deeper feelings to advance His objectives

2.we must give more than we have done before

3.it is a shame how small a portion some professors devote to the Lord, of the gains God gave them

4.we should not be afraid of making our self poor by giving to the Lord

a)God’s word is better than any bond, and He says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you;” also “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days” - Luke 6:38, Ecclesiastes 11:1

b)we should send the Bible, missionaries, and tracts to the perishing heathen

IV.some reasons FOR Christians BEING of little a stature and of feeble strength in their faith

A.there is a defect in the belief of some concerning the freeness of divine grace - Romans 8:32, 1 Cor 2:12

1.it is by faith that the spiritual life is made to grow

2.Christians are too inclined to depend on themselves, and not to derive their life entirely from Christ

3.we must be identified with Christ, crucified with Him, and living by Him, and have Christ living in us

B.growth in grace is hindered when a Christian’s obedience to Christ does not grasp every object of pursuit

1.their religion is too much a separate thing, and they pursue their worldly business in another spirit

2.they try to unite the service of God and Mammon

3.their minds are divided, and often distracted with earthly cares and desires which interfere with the service of God

4.everything should be done for God and to God; whether we eat or drink we should do all to His glory

C.another hindrance to growth in the life of God is that we make general resolutions of improvement, but neglect to extend our efforts to particulars

1.we promise ourselves that in the indefinite future we will do something in the way of reformation, but are found doing nothing each day in cultivating godliness

2.we begin and end a day without aiming or expecting to make any particular advance on that day; therefore our best resolutions evaporate without effect

3.we merely do the prescribed duty, satisfied if we do nothing amiss and neglect no external service, which we feel to be mandatory

4.the natural body will grow without our thinking about it, but not the life of godliness

5.every day we should direct our attention to the growth of particular graces, especially of those in which we know ourselves to be defective

D.another cause of slow growth in godliness is our neglect to improve our knowledge of divine things

1.spiritual knowledge is the foundation of all genuine exercises of faith; therefore growth in godliness is intimately connected with divine knowledge

2.we cannot grow in grace without increasing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ - Col 1:9-10

3.the more faithful we are in studying the Bible, the more prosperous we will be in spiritual things