When someone accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, he identified as a new shoot. Shoot growth depends on the word of God he receives through hearing, reading, and meditates on His commands (Psalms 1:1-3 – NET), prayer life he pursued, personal spiritual experience, and relationship with his neighbour. With these factors, all believers could experience healthy spiritual growth as the time flows, until he is mature spiritually, that is to have the character of Jesus. In reality, everyone has a different level of spiritual growth, some even not going anywhere. It shows that there’s something that holds us up to grow. In this short article, the writer will elaborate on the possible barriers that end up becoming critical distractions for us to grow. By knowing these points, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we could get over it, and grow spiritually.
First, the world. The Bible says that the world (from Greek “kosmos”) has three unique forms that could be the distractions of spiritual growth, which are the desires of the eyes, the desire of the flesh, and the arrogance (1 John 2:16). These three things used by the devil to test God. He gave us an example of how to be up against the test, which is by the power of the word of the Lord (Mat. 4:1-11). Many Christians fall into that temptations: women, power, and wealth, that end up deflecting their spiritual growth. Those who have a friendship with the world means hostility toward God, whoever decides to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy (James 4:4). In fact, God has given us the only weapon to defeat the world, our faith. Consequently faith comes from what is heard (Rome 10:17). If we truly listen, read, meditate, understand, and do all that He commands, then we will not be diverted.
Second, the devil and demons. Jesus said, the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). According to its name, the ‘accuser’ will always accuse us by shadowing our past mistakes. For example, the devil accused Joshua the high priest because he was dressed in filthy clothes means he’s not worthy to serve God. But God strengthened Joshua by dismissing his clothes and change them with nice clothing. In other words, God welcomes Joshua to be His servant (Zach. 3:1-3). To get away from the devil, we have to confess our sins and stay away from it (1 John 1:9). Remember that we have received nice clothing from His sacrifice and if we wear it all the time we will be justified (Romans 3:26).
Third, ourselves. Man received a free will even after they live in Jesus Christ. Its purpose is so that man could make his own choice whether he/she wants to grow or not. Spiritual growth is not something you can forced someone to go into, but it’s something that we must pursue. Saint Peter use imperative word which is “grow” (2 Peter 3:18). It means the person himself wants to grow, and let the Holy Spirit to guide him. But if he satisfied enough with his spiritual growth, then the Holy Spirit will let him be.
Why some of the people stop growing? There’re a few reasons. We can’t deny that there’re risks when we grow spiritually, for instance, rejected by our business partners or friends. Someone who spiritually mature will act clean, refuse to insult, deceive, lie, and foul-mouthed to another. He put himself on a fifty-fifty area: halved live for God, another for sin. He acts like Eutychus who sat by the window. Half of his body is inside the room where the Apostle Paul is teaching the word of God, and another half is outside the window, sinking into a deep sleep. As a result, he fell off from the third store and was picked up dead. Favorably, the Apostle Paul – by the power of God – woke him up (Acts 20:7-12). We have to dedicate our lives to Christ, the choices are yes or not at all.
Fourth, heresy. In the end of this age, heresies intensified. It’s not only about false teaching which diverges from what the Bible says, or heretics such as Jehovah Witnesses, Theodicy, Mormonism, etc. (Mat.24:11). Those false prophets clearly must be rejected, because it’ll lure us out from the truth. Furthermore, there’re incompletes teaching of truth. Means, it focuses on physical blessings, known as Prosperity Gospel. But Jesus said “if anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up His cross, and follow Me.” (Mat.16:24). There’s no glory without the cross, no crow no crown. Behind the cross, there is glory.
There’re ignorant Christians who don’t care if he’s receiving true teaching or not. They assume that it’s the theologians and pastors business. As long as it fits the situation and rationally correct, he’ll accept it. The innocence of the people sometimes benefit the false prophets. They use religious terms and personal experience in their testimony, even elevate its value more than the word of God to gain benefits. The Bible placed under the testimony when it supposed to be our main principle and judge on various teaching around us. When you hear false teaching, consult with a God’s servant who loyal with the teaching of God’s word.
The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is near. He’s the groom which by the Holy Spirit is equipping us, His church, to be His bride. He yearns us to be mature spiritually. There will be no wedding if the bride is a baby or a child, isn’t it? Let us leave our status as a child spiritually and keep growing healthy by defeating those barriers.
by: peter freshman
This article can be read in BAHASA INDONESIA