“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” which separates us from God (Rom. 3:23). Our only hope for reconciliation to God is through “the precious blood of Christ” who died as the perfect sacrifice for sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Until we turn to Christ, we remain “dead in trespasses and sins,” destined to face God's wrath in eternal torment (Eph. 2:1-3). The man who thinks he can draw closer to God while living in sin deceives himself.
Spiritual growth begins with a spiritual rebirth. Sinners are “born again” and purify their souls “in obeying the truth” (1 Pet. 1:22-23). This happens when they believe in Christ, repent of their sins, confess the deity of Christ, and submit to immersion in water. Since we reach the atoning blood of Christ when we are baptized, the Bible says that “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). At that moment, we become new creatures in Christ and begin to grow spiritually “as newborn babes” (1 Pet. 2:2).
Spiritual growth is an ongoing process. Those who “grow in the grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” are “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 3:18; 1:4). Such growth is a struggle requiring dedication and sacrifice - “giving all diligence.” Faith in Christ is the foundation for growth in the character traits listed below (2 Pet. 1:5-7).
Virtue is moral courage, the determination to do what is right at all costs. Knowledge is the true knowledge of God and His will which we learn from His Word and incorporate into our lives. Temperance is self-control, self-discipline, and self-sacrifice, bringing our will into submission to God's will. Patience is endurance, staying power, sticking-with-it.
Godliness is an active reverence toward God, a life of reverential obedience to Him in all things. Brotherly kindness is the genuine, warm concern, courtesy, and consideration shared in a family - in this case, the family of God. Charity is an active love which seeks the welfare and good of others, rather than being wholly absorbed with self.
Spiritual growth requires resisting the sinful desires of the flesh. We must learn to live “as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance” and we must “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 1:14; 2:11). As partakers of the holiness of God, God's people do not participate in such things as sexual immorality, profanity, pornography, gambling, alcohol, dishonesty, malice, spousal abuse, immodest dress, dancing, and lying.
Spiritual growth requires resisting false doctrine. God often warned of “false prophets” and “false teachers” who promise greater “liberty” but lead men into bondage to sin (2 Pet. 2). Many souls are misled by evolution and modernism which deny the Bible account of creation and other Bible miracles.
Moral relativism denies the moral absolutes of Scripture, making every man a law unto himself. Multitudes are deceived by the liberal philosophy that allows men to replace Bible teaching with their own theories on feminism, homosexuals, and unscriptural divorce and remarriage. Denominationalism deludes men with human doctrines and practices (names like Methodist and Mormon, sprinkling for baptism, instrumental music in worship, etc.).
Those who grow in Christ will receive “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4).