Spiritual growth is likely the most important thing you will study as a Christian. Many people believe spiritual growth is somehow connected to how much knowledge we can accumulate or how prosperous we have become in our lives. Our spiritual growth is not dependent upon the amount of time we've been a believer or how much God loves us. It's about what we invest in our relationship with God, what we learn, and how we apply it to our lives.
The Goal of Spiritual Growth
It should be fairly evident that the goal of spiritual growth is become more like our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. The goal is not to be better or more mature than anyone else. It's simply to grow in knowledge and understanding to produce the kind of life that will reflect God's love for us. It is to show the world the redeeming power of Christ's sacrifice. Spiritual growth should be the natural course of action for your life once you've accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
To grow spiritually, we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is responsible for leading us to the kind of spiritual growth God wants from us. We must learn to identify the convictions we feel when we're not acting in harmony with the Word of God, and learn to repent from those things.
The acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21) identify our lives as unbelievers, but when we receive salvation we should be producing fruits of the Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17). These fruits of the Spirit should be evident as we overcome our sins (through repentance and turning from the sins we've confessed). As we grow, fewer and fewer acts of the flesh will manifest in our lives, and our fruits of the Spirit should become increasingly evident as we continue to purge our lives of sin.
Ways to Grow in the Spirit
In life, we grow from childhood to adulthood by being taught our mistakes and learning to correct them. Our spiritual growth happens in much the same way. The Word was given to us for our edification and growth. All of our knowledge of God and how He expects us to grow comes from reading the Bible and studying God's word (2 Peter 1:3-8). This knowledge is the key to obtaining all we need for growth.
Galatians 5:19-23 is a great place to start when learning what a godly life looks like. We are to take what we read from the Scriptures and hold it like a mirror against our own lives. If it doesn't match up to the person God says we should be, it's time to start confessing, repenting (turning from our sin) and applying the Word of God in the way the Spirit leads you (Galatians 5:16-26). Acts of the flesh can be overcome through prayer and study, but more importantly through the application of the knowledge He gives us.
Growth Will Happen
Just as a child will grow based on the influences around them, we as believers grow in the same way. If we surround ourselves with the Word, and put it into practice, we will grow into exactly the kind of people God has created us to become (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If we choose to ignore the teaching of the Spirit that lives within us (John 14:16-17), we will end up down the wrong path and it will be evident in the fruits of our lives.
Growth is a lifelong commitment on your part. It requires study, prayer, application, and desire to grow closer to God. He desires our growth, so we should honor Him by putting in the effort to grow. Seek God's wisdom for the ways in which He wishes you to grow. Ask Him to increase your faith and knowledge of Him. Romans 6:1-7:25 tells us that sin and death have already been defeated through Christ, and that we are new creatures in Him. Through study and application of His Word, our old sinful nature yields to the new Christ-like nature within us. So seek out His guidance to make your life reflect that.