Things Certain to Hinder
Spiritual Growth in 2010
by David Lemmons
If we wish to please the Lord it simply has to be our constant goal (not just on New Years’ Day) to grow spiritually (Ephesians 4:11-16). Sometimes we might begin to think that we have grown quite enough spiritually, and we may consider ourselves to be safely mature. I deny that this position is ever reached in this life by any of us. I think a good way to picture the matter is to compare spiritual growth with walking up an inclined plane. So long as we are moving forward/up, we are doing well. However, if we stop for a while, what happens is that we begin to SLIP BACK. Our Lord expects us to continue making progress onward and upward.
On the other hand, we do have an ENEMY, Satan, who wants the exact opposite of what is best for our spiritual health and what our Lord demands. He wants us to halt any progress toward spiritual maturity. Let’s briefly consider some of Satan’s most used tools in his quest.
Self-centeredness. This is one of Satan’s most powerful weapons which actually demands very little effort on his part. Folks just have a tendency to cooperate with the old devil on this one, voluntarily. It has been my contention for many years that we can find this spirit of independence in the hearts of God’s people at some interesting points in Bible history. Study it and see if those periods in Israel’s history when they had this independent spirit, thinking they could go it alone, not needing God, were not the very times that God had to punish His people. Want an example of the opposite position? Consider the household of Cornelius. Acts 10:33 informs us that they were gathered to hear Peter because they wanted to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.
Not Listening to God. Now where have I heard of that happening before. Yes, that’s right, way back at the Garden. Satan convinced Eve not to listen to God by adding to His words the little word NOT (Genesis 3:4). God’s great prophet Jeremiah called upon the people to walk in the old paths where is to be found the good way, but they refused to listen (Jeremiah 6:16-17). The rich man of Luke 16:19ff did not listen and found himself in torment, but he wanted to get a message back to his brothers so they would. He was told: “THEY HAVE MOSES AND THE PROPHETS, LET THEM HEAR THEM” (Luke 16:29). Unless we open up our Bibles, read and study, attend Bible classes and worship, let’s be assured, spiritual growth will not happen. Satan’s face turns smiley.
Apathy. The ruin of many great enterprises is indifference, unconcern, and lack of caring. The Hebrews writer points Christians back to their knowledge of the Old Testament as he gives this strong warning, Hebrews 2:1-4… “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” A person is guilty of the worst form of neglect or apathy who pays no attention to the great plan God has for saving the souls of men. A man might be drifting down the Niagara River in a rowboat. He can take oars and change the direction he is going. But if he NEGLECTS to do so he will reach a point at which certain destruction becomes his destiny.
Prejudice. Paul wrote to Timothy these words: 1 Timothy 5:21… “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” [NKJV]. In this particular context, Paul is evidently urging Timothy to follow through on the instructions just given relating to different groups of Christians. He is not to deal with any of them in a prejudicial manner. It seems to me that the word can also be applied to picking and choosing which commands of Scripture we will decide to obey and which we will decline to obey. Following God’s will is nowhere in Scripture portrayed as to be done “cafeteria-style.” Many folks would readily see what the Lord expects of them if they would approach His revealed will with a mind free from preconceived ideas!
It is my prayer for each of you that you will gain a great victory over Satan in 2010 and will grow, GROW, GROW spiritually.