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Spiritual Growth #2
Jesus once said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
The point the Lord made then was that there is a part within us that can live only by the word of God, and that part is our soul.
Evidently, our body can live by physical food; but if we lived on physical food alone, without any supplement from the word of God, we would surely die spiritually.
As much as the body depends upon physical food, the spirit depends on the word of God for strength and survival.
Although the words “soul” and “spirit” here are used interchangeably, as they are in the Bible, they technically mean two distinct substantive entities that can be separated (Hebrews 4:12).
They refer either to the disembodied man (the Greek word for that is “pneuma”) or the inward part of the bodily person (which is called “psuche” in Greek, and from which derives the suffix “psycho” used in English to form various words that express mental realities).
The invisible part of man is often referred to in the Bible with the words “mind” or “heart.” This part can be born again, and, thus, be transformed to the point that the individual changes in his way of thinking, reasoning, loving and purposing through the power of the gospel.
Also, there is power in the word of God to keep changing the person to the extent that they want to submit more to the will of God and become more like Christ, the ideal of man that God had in mind at creation.
On one occasion, Jesus taught a crowd in Galilee that He was “the bread of life” (John 6:35). Incidentally, that teaching took place just after He had miraculously fed over 5, 000 people.
But when He finished teaching that great lesson, the crowd left Him. Clearly, those people had not come to Jesus for the purpose of hearing the word of God.
All they wanted was food, and perhaps any other kind of material things, while Jesus wanted His teaching to become their bread. In other words, He wanted it to be assimilated in mind and heart and become an integral part of their beings so as to produce in them a Christ-like character.
Put in the context of the comment Peter made in chapter 2 of his first epistle, maturity in a Christian is measured at their ability to rid their character of deep-seated feelings such as malice, guile or deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking.
Think back where you were in your Christian journey two, three or five years ago. Are you growing spiritually and becoming more like Christ?
Are you more interested in perishable things than you are in things that are eternal in value? Do you harbour hatred in your heart? That’s malice, if you do.
Do you say one thing and mean something else? You would be guilty of guile if that was to be said about you.
Do you pretend to be what you are not? You would be labelled a hypocrite if found pretending.
Do you gossip, slender or utter profanities using, for example, the name of God in vain when expressing surprise, in the way people in the world now typically do?
Are you envious, and not content with what the Lord blesses you with?
Has Christianity become for you merely a matter of coming to worship in search of help from God whenever you have a problem?
Do you meet with the saints to worship without anybody having to tell you to? Do you regularly read your Bible to learn from God’s word? We need to take stock of our spiritual life asking ourselves those questions.
Christians that are growing spiritually are Christians who desire the word of God, yearn for it, meditate upon it, understand it and bring forth fruits (Luke 8:15).
But unless we fully expose our minds to it, either at home through daily Bible reading or by faithfully taking part in the teaching that the church provides, removing ourselves from things that we give more attention to than to God’s word (shopping, television, Internet, jobs, etc.) we will always struggle to develop spiritually.
Let us give ourselves fully to the reading of our Bibles and happily become the steward of the truth of the gospel.
Paul said, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). That way, we will “be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).
Friend, we urge you to gladly receive the life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ today, and only then can your growth in the Lord begin, after you have believed His gospel message of salvation (Mark 16:16), repented of your sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30), confessed Him (Acts 8:35-38; Philippians 2:11) and been baptised into water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:48).
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