Theme of the Week: Christ Formed in You
Bible Verse: You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8:9
Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:13-26; John 1:14-16; Galatians 6:1-2; Romans 8:9
I don’t know about you, but considering spiritual growth, it causes me to realize how far I have to go. I’m still a toddler in my walk with Christ—much like a child taking small steps on wobbly legs, only to fall on his backside again and again. While I want to be like Jesus, I still have so far to go. Here are the last two characteristics that emerged from our passage in Galatians 5 from yesterday.
1. Spiritual Growth Is Symmetrical
The text doesn’t say “fruits,” but “fruit.” The nine qualities, which follow, grow together. “The singular form stresses that these qualities are a unity, like a bunch of grapes instead of separate pieces of fruit, and also that they are all to be found in all Christians.”1 This implies that you can’t discern genuine spiritual growth by the presence of only one or two positive character traits. Our imitation of Christ will not be perfect, but neither will we pick and choose in our obedience. Genuine spiritual growth is balanced, symmetrical growth.
2. Spiritual Growth Is Supernatural
Spiritual growth is supernatural. As Packer writes, “holy habits, though formed . . . by self-discipline and effort, are not natural products. The discipline and effort must be blessed by the Holy Spirit, or they would achieve nothing.”2
I have a casual appreciation for classical music and a particular admiration for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I admire Beethoven’s talent. But to suggest that I could compose a symphony just as majestic is ridiculous. Admiration is one thing; imitation is another. Sometimes we feel the same way about following Jesus. But what if someone discovered a way of replicating Beethoven’s genius in me? What if I could have Beethoven himself composing and conducting music through my hands? Then I could write a symphony!
This is the role the Spirit plays in our lives! He lives inside of us as the “Spirit of Christ” (Rom. 8:9). Jesus lived the exemplary Spirit-filled life. The Lord Jesus is our pattern. And his Spirit, sent into our hearts, is the agent who works from the inside out to reproduce this pattern in our lives.3 We will not grow if we are left to ourselves. We must depend on the Spirit.
If the pace of your growth in Christ is slower than you would like, don’t be too discouraged. Let your sense of need drive you to his feet. Seeing your need to grow up is the first step to actually doing so.
1 Boice, James Montgomery, “Galatians”, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Frank E. Gaebelein, edition., Volume 10 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), p. 498.
2 Packer, J. I., Keep In Step with the Spirit, p. 109.
3 Ferguson writes, “With respect to his economic ministry to us, the Spirit has been ‘imprinted’ with the character of Jesus.” Ferguson, Sinclair B., The Holy Spirit, Downers Grove, IL, InterVarsity Press, 1996, p 55.
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