Growing in the Faith
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
Now that our old life is gone and the new has come, how are you growing and maturing in the faith?
1 John 2:26-27
“I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”
In this new life in Christ, the Spirit should be teaching us. I love that John says we don’t need anyone to teach us what is true because the Spirit teaches us everything we need to know. So we don’t rely on our own understanding anymore (Proverbs 3:5), but we let the Spirit guide us as we read through the Bible and encounter the world.
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”
The Holy Spirit guides us in this life and when we let the Holy Spirit guide and teach us we won’t be doing what our sinful nature craves! Notice in the verse from 1 John above that in order to hear and pay attention to the teaching of the Spirit, we must be in fellowship with Christ, that is, we must be active in our faith.
“Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
Here are some ways to be active in the faith: study of the Bible, prayer, worship, and fasting.
Studying the Bible
We should be consistently studying the Word of God in our new life in Christ and Bible apps make reading the Bible more easy and convenient than ever.
“I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!”
Jesus goes on to teach the Lord’s Prayer in which we keep the Lord’s name holy, we ask for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done, we ask for food for the day, forgiveness of sins as we forgive others and help us to not fall into temptations but to be saved from the evil one. It’s simple and straightforward and it shows us what our priorities should be. The only advice this sinner can offer on prayer is to understand that it is a conversation between you and God who loves you more than you can understand.
C.S. Lewis once wrote about prayer, “For many years after my conversion, I never used any ready-made forms except the Lord’s Prayer. In fact I tried to pray without words at all—not to verbalize the mental acts. Even in praying for others I believe I tended to avoid their names and substituted mental images of them. I still think that the prayer without words is the best—if one can really achieve it.”
Worshipping the Lord is another action we can take to aid in our learning from the Spirit. Unfortunately we can make the mistake of assuming worship to only be singing songs. Some of us do not express ourselves this way and because of that we feel that worshipping may not be for us. But there are hundreds of verses throughout the Bible on the importance of worshipping/praising the Lord, many of which can be found in the Psalms, and the different forms of worshipping the Lord.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
And giving our bodies to God means that we do not give in to our bodies’ natural urges, which can lead us to sin.
“One day as these men were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Appoint Barnabas and Saul for the special work to which I have called them.’”
Fasting is another action that we could put in to practice to aid in our learning from the Spirit.
“Paul and Barnabas also appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting, they turned the elders over to the care of the Lord, in whom they had put their trust.”
Jesus Himself fasted in the wilderness for forty days before beginning His ministry. Fasting is a great way to learn that we do not live by bread alone; we deny ourselves this most basic of necessities and we allow the Spirit to guide and to teach us. If Jesus needed to do it, how much more do we need to do it?
Remain in fellowship with Christ and pay intentional attention to what the Spirit is teaching you. We’ve got to be growing in our faith, not just standing still and committing the same sin over and over because of no effort. We are commanded in the Bible to be growing and maturing in our faith.
“So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.”
Let us ask ourselves regularly: how am I growing in the faith?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.