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What are the keys to spiritual growth?
What is the definition of spiritual growth and why is it important? Spiritual growth is what happens in your relationship with Jesus once you’ve asked Jesus to save your soul, and the progress you make as you learn and grow as a new Christian.
In this post, you will find 7 keys to spiritual growth. There are many more I’m sure, and these are in no particular order, but this list will get you off to a great start in your journey to grow in your Christian walk. We’ll cover why spiritual growth is important and the tools that you’ll need to get there, as well as some of the hindrances to spiritual growth that you’ll find along the way.
Above all, let’s always remember how important it is to pray for spiritual growth. Prayer is essential for every life challenge. We need guidance from the Lord. Pray for wisdom and understanding so that as you study scripture and listen to your preacher’s messages, that you discern the truth that God intends.
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The Bible says that we shouldn’t lean on our own understanding. This means, there’s only one interpretation of the Bible. God’s interpretation. And it’s not up to you to change the meaning in order to soften the blow on certain ideas. So let’s keep that in mind as we dig into our 7 keys to spiritual growth.
Also remember that misinterpreting the Bible is a hindrance to spiritual growth. We try to avoid those hindrances as much as we can, right? So if you don’t understand something, seek guidance from your pastor or someone who has been studying the Bible a lot longer than you.
2 Peter 1:20-21 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
Salvation is one of the first steps to spiritual growth
Salvation is one of the first steps to spiritual growth. It’s the first step in trusting the Lord. It all starts with repentance, which is the heartfelt conviction that you are a sinner. Sin is separation between you and God. But before you get worked up because I called you a sinner, it’s important to understand that we’re all sinners. Adam started it all. But Jesus, who knew no sin, took on that sin to pay the debt for all of us with His death on the cross.
Roman’s 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:”
Actually, so I don’t get ahead of myself, head on over to How to Grow your Faith in God for the information you need in order to accept your free gift of salvation from Jesus Christ, our wonderful Savior.
At the point of salvation, you turn away from your sins to live a life that honors God. Because in salvation you’ve humbled yourself to the point where you realize you’re not in control. God is in charge and that without accepting the free gift of salvation, you are doomed to an eternal life separated from Jesus and living in an everlasting lake of fire.
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Roman’s 10: 9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
For by grace are we saved through faith, not of works
So many people believe that if they are a “good person” it’s enough to get them into Heaven. But that’s not God’s way. Remember what I said earlier about leaving things up to your own interpretation? Go back and read 2 Peter 1:20.
Being a good person is relying on your own abilities. It really doesn’t have anything to do with Jesus, does it? And then if being a good person was what you needed for eternal salvation, then you would be working your way into Heaven. That would be all on you, not Jesus. If that were true, why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
But Jesus gave His life on the cross at Calvary, so that His shed blood would cover our debt of sin. Without that blood, there would be no remission or forgiveness of sins.
1 Peter 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”
Be filled with the Holy Spirit
At the point of salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to live in us. This is our Heavenly guide. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, new believers are saved from eternal damnation, filled with God’s Spirit, sealed, and sanctified as a child of God. The Holy Spirit opens our hearts and minds to God’s thoughts, teaches, guides and convicts us of God’s doctrines and the knowledge of our future. And the Holy Spirit also intercedes for Christians in prayer and in their weaknesses.
As you can see, the Holy Spirit is powerful, helpful and one of the necessary keys as you pray for spiritual growth in the life of a Child of God.
Hunger and thirst after righteousness
After salvation, the desire to grow in your love and knowledge of the Lord is extremely strong. We want to know Him, His character, His promises, what He desires from us and how He wants us to live. The very best way to do that is to immerse yourself in the Word of God. The Holy Bible is one of the critical keys to spiritual growth because it’s our rulebook for living.
What is really cool about the Bible is that you can learn something new every time you open it up. I have been saved and studying the Bible for half of my life and I have only scratched the surface of what the Lord has revealed to me as I pray for spiritual growth.
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.”
2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Be sure to set time aside every day for prayer and Bible study. A great way to start your day is with these uplifting “good morning” Bible verses to start your day.
There are tools for spiritual growth everywhere you look to help you grow in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Here are a few that you may be interested in.
Walk with God
Back in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve walked in the garden with the Lord. They spent time with Him. You can do that too. Walking with God is a way of life.
Learn how the Lord wants you to live, through prayer, Bible study, hearing the preaching of the Word and in learning from other Christians. It’s a daily walk. Making choices that will bring honor and glory to Jesus will always bring you blessings.
Live in obedience to God. Often we have our own desires. But God’s ways are not our ways. This is where the enemy always likes to step in and redirect us. One of the keys to spiritual growth is that we get good at identifying where what we are doing is different from God’s ways and to repent, humbly ask forgiveness, pray for spiritual growth and course correct. As you know, it’s certainly not easy. It’s truly a lifelong struggle.
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Isaiah 55:8-9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Colossians 1:10 “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
Now let’s talk about love. Jesus commanded us in Luke to put love first in our life. Love God first, and then everybody else. That means to do everything with a heart of love. Others should see we love Jesus by our actions. Living out these scriptures in 1 Corinthians 13 will prove who you are as a child of the King.
Luke 10:27 “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”
Pray without ceasing
One of the steps to spiritual growth is learning to pray. There’s no perfect way to pray. My idea of praying without ceasing is to keep the conversation with the Lord going all day long.
When I’m sitting outside on our back deck and I can feel the wind on my face, hear the birds singing and the nearby creek flowing and the leaves rustling in the trees, that’s the time I praise God for the beauty of His creation. Pray before you get out of bed, before you go to sleep, and before meals.
You don’t need to hit your knees every single time. But if we’re walking with God, then we’re talking to Him like He’s right there with you all the time. Sometimes when I lose sight of my connection with the Lord, I’ll pull a chair in the room where I spend my day. I imagine Jesus in that chair. This is one of the cool tools for spiritual growth that I use. And I talk to Him like I’m talking to a friend. Of course, don’t let this type of conversation ever take you away from those on your knees types of prayers. You need those too.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Another option is using an acronym like the ACTS method of prayer. ACTS stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. Start by acknowledging God for who He is, then confessing your sins, thanking Him for all of your blessings, and praying supplication for others. This is a really nice way to pray when you find yourself at a loss for what to pray.
Live by the fruit of the spirit
When the Holy Spirit fills us up, we produce works that show evidence that we’re followers of Christ. Remember, we’re not saved by works. We work because we’re saved. Refer back to Ephesians 2:8-10 that I mentioned earlier. But there are 9 fruits or attributes of someone who is a child of God and is walking in the spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
I already wrote a whole guest blog post already breaking down the fruit of the spirit. So for now, let’s just paraphrase what Paul is talking about here in Galatians. Because growing in your fruit of the spirit is one of the important steps to spiritual growth.
Love is first because in the book of Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus tells His disciples to love God first and everybody else second. As we discussed earlier, showing love proves you’re a Christian. I’m not talking about loving people who love you back. Love EVERYBODY! Even those people who are hard to love. Love like Jesus, which is the kind of love that you’ll give your life for, even your enemies.
Joy is an internal emotion that comes from a belief of the heart. This is not the wishy-washy happiness that goes away when somebody takes the last box of cookies at the grocery story. This is joy that comes only from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We experience peace that passes all understanding once we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. This isn’t world peace. This peace comforts us through every storm of life because we know that regardless of the obstacles we face, we know that God has a plan. And we know that all things will work out for our good and His glory.
This fruit of longsuffering means that we can be patient through every single trial and affliction. God has been patient and longsuffering with us since the beginning of time. He has set up guidelines for our living. He has watched us sin, and turn away from Him time and time again, yet still He’s forgiven us. We can be longsuffering and forgiving to everyone we love in our lives as well.
The meaning here for gentleness is kindness. We show kindness to others as a form of respect. We are kind, not because others deserve it. Instead, we show kindness because we love and serve like Jesus does. We know often that kindness can go unnoticed and unappreciated. But as the hands and feet of Jesus we serve out of love, not because it’s a popular random act of kindness, kind of thing to do.
The Greek interpretation of this word here is generosity. Often we talk about generosity in terms of money. But Jesus didn’t have a lot of money. Yet He was more generous than any of us. So give like Jesus, with your heart, your time, your talents and also your money.
Putting your faith in God is a huge step in spiritual growth. Faith is complete belief and confidence in God, His promises and His doctrine. Faith is believing without seeing. We can’t always see God, but we know He’s there because of the evidence He shows. When I pray for spiritual growth, I pray for the Lord to increase my faith. Then we must also be faithful toward others. They must be able to trust us because they believe that what we say and do is trustworthy.
Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Possessing meekness or gentleness is showing others that you are humble. You turn the other cheek when faced with a challenge. How do you respond in light of these current turbulent times? Do you join in the battle and behave obnoxiously like so much of the world? Or do you treat others with the humble, kind and loving manner that Jesus did?
Temperance is another word for self control. This means resisting the ways of the world and living a Godly life. It certainly does take a lot of self control to turn away from the popular, sinful ways of life that come so natural for most, but are contrary to the ways of Jesus. Love others, not as the world loves, but the agape love of Jesus.
Growing in the fruit of the spirit no doubt takes strength, faith and a strong effort to pray for spiritual growth. But leaning on the Lord and focusing on His will for your life will guide you each step of the way. You can do it. Let Him help you.
Walk not after the ways of the world
This is a tough one, my friend, because we live in an evil, sin-cursed world, which is a hindrance to spiritual growth. But the following two scriptures assure us that it definitely can be done. Walking away from the world means walking WITH God, like Adam and Eve did in the Garden. However, you can’t have it both ways. Of course, if you fall off track, you repent, ask for forgiveness and get back on the track.
Choosing to not love the world means you make a conscious effort to choose things that give honor and glory to God. Let’s face it, though. Even David, who was a man after God’s own heart committed some major sins. What made him a man after God’s heart though, was that he recognized his sin, repented and turned back to God.
I would have to say that as long as we are living here, the best that we can do is the best we can do. When Jesus comes to take us all home, I like to think it will be easier. But until then, who knows? What I do know is that we have a loving, Heavenly Father who is there for us every day, guiding us and comforting us all along the way.
Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
1 John 2:15-17 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Make Christian fellowship a priority
A major key to spiritual growth is Christian fellowship. Christian fellowship should not just happen in church service on Sundays. But your closest friendships should be with Christians who love Jesus and believe the same things you do.
Unfortunately, for many of us, the people we spend the most time with, either at work or play, don’t have the same Christian beliefs as we do, which can be a hindrance to our spiritual growth. The Apostle Paul teaches us to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. When we are saved, we need to be sanctified or set apart. The only way we can grow our spiritual life is with other believers that we can learn and grow from.
2 Corinthians 6:14 “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?“
For my family, when churches were closed due to COVID-19, our spiritual life suffered due to not meeting. We really needed that Christian fellowship. We missed our church family. Communicating through texting and social media wasn’t the same, clearly, as being together.
Additionally, meeting online doesn’t compare to meeting in person. It doesn’t compare to listening to sermons in person and it doesn’t compare for fellowship. We are now back to our regular schedule and we are all so thankful. Because truly, one of the steps to spiritual growth is having that local Christian fellowship.
Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Tools for spiritual growth
All of the keys that I have given you are great tools for spiritual growth. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention just a few more tools, even though they probably go without saying.
There is no greater tool than your own personal Bible. Most people have more than one. But after using your Bible for years and years, it’s not unusual to know where you can find scriptures, even if you can’t remember the book, chapter and verse, it’s very likely you know where on the page it’s located. That is one of the very greatest keys to spiritual growth, having that kind of familiarity with your personal Word of God.
Another one of the critical steps to spiritual growth is church membership in a local New Testament church, where you will have the closest fellowship with your Christian friends. For my family, these people are an extension of our family. We can have friendships all day long, but strong friendships with your church family will always be essential for your spiritual growth. These people will nurture and guide you in your walk with the Lord, so keep them close.
Avoid any hindrance to spiritual growth
Lastly, be sure to avoid those things that are a hindrance to spiritual growth. These hindrances would include things like surrounding yourself with worldly friends and participating in worldly activities, books, movies, etc. Don’t let these types of activities get in the way of your spiritual growth and your relationship with the Lord.
It’s easy to say things like “that will never happen to me.” But I promise you, the enemy is out there, walking to and fro, seeking out who he can devour. The bigger your desire and success at serving the Lord, the harder he fights to defeat you. That’s why he’s called the enemy. And he shows up in the people, places and things that you’re closest too.
A constant prayer for spiritual growth is necessary to defeat the enemy. That’s why we’re instructed to pray without ceasing. If you’re not one hundred percent focused at all times on the Lord that old devil will sneak in and make trouble. It’s a tall order, I know. But stay strong. Keep that armor of God on at times because it’s your best weapon.
Well there you have it. 7 powerful and effective keys to spiritual growth that will guide you in your life as a Christian. My prayer is that you will grow stronger in the Lord on a daily basis.
What steps to spiritual growth have I missed? What are your favorite tools? What hindrances cause you the most trouble? Be sure and join the conversation and leave your comments below.
***All scripture was taken from the King James version of the Holy Bible