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Your Spiritual Growth

Charles F. Stanley

Scripture: Psalm 139:1-4,17-18, 23-24

I. Introduction: Salvation is just the beginning of a relationship with God. After coming to faith in Christ, a person should develop a deeper friendship with the Father, learn more spiritual truth, and begin to serve the Lord. No matter how long a believer has been saved, his or her life should be characterized by spiritual growth.

II. The Request

  1. Our petition: On a regular basis, we should ask the Lord to examine our lives (Ps. 139:1-4, 23-24) and reveal His perspective (Ps. 139:17-18). God will show us relationships that aren’t right, areas where we are no longer growing, and distractions that hinder our walk with Him.
  2. Our motivation: Our determination to obey the Father can be strengthened when we understand the consequences of sinful choices (Ps. 139:19-22).
  3. Our assurance of God’s response: The Lord desires to reveal our weaknesses so that we will walk more righteously (Job 23:10).

III. The Requirements

  1. Humility: We need both a willingness to look within and the light of the Holy Spirit to reveal positive and negative aspects of our character.
  2. Honesty: The Spirit of God shows us the truth about ourselves (1 Cor. 2:10-11). When He brings something to the surface, don’t rationalize your sin or make excuses for your behavior.
  3. Patience: In kindness, the Lord reveals our wrong attitudes and actions little by little. Just as it took decades for you to become an adult, it will take time to grow spiritually.
  4. Courage: You will never become the person God wants you to be until you ask Him to examine your heart. You may look healthy on the outside, but harboring sin will destroy your peace and joy.

IV. The Reasons We Resist Examination

  1. Fear of learning the truth about ourselves: It can be frightening when God reveals our sin. Dr. Stanley had to ask forgiveness for his attitude toward his stepfather, who had been an abusive husband.
  2. Fear of what the Lord may require: Don’t refuse to listen to God’s instructions, or you will limit your spiritual growth. The Lord will strengthen you and help you obey Him (John 15:4-5).

V. The Rewards

  1. Removal of spiritual blockages: Tell the Father, “Lord, search me. Reveal my heart and show me how to obey You.” He will be faithful to disclose what hinders your walk with Him.
  2. Greater intimacy with God: When your conscience is clear, you will experience a closer friendship with the Lord.
  3. Deeper fulfillment: Not only will your relationship with God be healthy, but He will also prompt you to set things right with other people. You will experience more peace, contentment, and joy.
  4. Increased priority of time with God: Those who allow the Father to examine their hearts will make room in their schedules for studying the Scriptures and praying.
  5. Renewed energy: Worry, resentment, fear, and other ungodly attitudes drain our energy. When we become spiritually healthy, serving God is a joy instead of a duty.
  6. Spiritual freedom: Some people go through life blaming unhappiness on other individuals, society, or circumstances. But God can show you how to be joyful and forgiving, regardless of your situation.

VI. Conclusion: Maybe your spiritual growth has stagnated. Or perhaps you simply want to make sure your heart is clear before the Father. In either case, pray as King David did: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23-24). The Holy Spirit will reveal what impedes your walk with God and show you the way to freedom. Let today be the start of a fresh, new season of spiritual growth.

(Copyright 2011 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.)