Spiritual Growth Cycle Verses
9...we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10 ESV)
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I want to point out a growth process to you … in Colossians chapter 1. I mention the fact that there is an intention by God, I think, to see a growth as like a slinky. Remember that little toy that snaked its way down stair cases and swing from one hand to the other. It’s one of those endearing toys that never seems to lose its popularity and it seems to keep coming back. … I think that is the intention of growth, it’s like a spiral that goes around and around… Now notice what he says in verse nine:
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Now, that’s kind of fascinating verse [and it goes on to say],
11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks…
Now I see a cycle here that he is talking about and it starts off with the knowledge of His will and that is the knowledge of His will and I don’t want to make too big of a deal out of this thing but I can present somebody with what is perceived to be the truth and they can even choose at that time what’s from God that is true. But filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Now I think personally here as we have tried to tear this apart in the economy of holiness is that that’s a very important juncture, from that move to the next one because the first one – here’s the knowledge of His will. I know what the word says. Now how does that apply? Have I allowed that truth to enter into my heart? Because, if it doesn’t do that, I can intellectually agree with you and go home morally the same. I’ve seen that happen and you have too all of our lives.
You can interact with material any way you want to but sometime in life, if God really loves you, He’s probably going to show you what’s there… And everybody has a little closet that’s opened every now and then. Some of it is just a growth issue in our life and we just deal with it as it comes, that’s why I’ve always tried to make a distinction between onions and bananas… The banana is somebody who has one layer of skin on … and can sit down with God and clean house in one sitting. There are a lot of people who are onions out there. Onions come off one layer at a time. If you tried to peal it all at once you would lose it – it would be all overwhelming – they couldn’t do it, they couldn’t handle it. God will graciously remove one layer at a time for these kind of people. [45:50]
… I can go to seminary and learn the knowledge of His will and not grow one bit. Now here is where you can break that slinky cycle right here – just increasing the knowledge there is no development of character, no transformation in my life. You are just intellectualizing it. You are not incarnating it. The word of God is intended to be incarnated in our lives. So then you come to that point where truth enters into the heart and resolves spiritual wisdom and understanding. It’s not intellectual, it’s spiritual wisdom and understanding. Tracking with me here, that’s what it says. All spiritual wisdom and understanding. In other words that wisdom and understanding, in the sense of application, enters into my heart. And what happens is that it touches the affect [emotions] and then what follows is, so that you will walk now in a manner worthy of Him. Once I have allowed my mind to entertain that thought it truly does enter into my heart. In other words I did not sit outside and inspect it, I entered in, I appropriated that, I said, “That’s truth. God show me what that means to me. I want it in my heart.” And at that moment, let’s say it does, it will touch that affect – your emotions are essentially a response to what you think or choose and it drives the will. Now you can stop right here but you can sit there and say, “I know I should be doing this. I know how I ought to apply this thing. It’s touched my heart and I don’t do it.” You just stopped the cycle of growth and you can just sit there stopped, stuck, go back and learn more knowledge of His will. Stuck. The intriguing part about this is… “walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit” Now is the time we start to bear fruit not because of the knowledge of His will but because you allowed it to enter into your heart in all spiritual wisdom and understanding and because you actually then did it. If you know these things happy and blessed are you if you do them (John 13:17). “please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work” and, now notice this ”and increasing in the knowledge of God” Now there are some people that just bristle at this but the truth of the matter is, I really believe this, that increase in knowledge now comes as a result of your obedience over here. It’s like looking at 2 Peter that we have become a partaker of the divine nature therefor unto your faith supply moral excellence and to moral excellence knowledge. And you go, wait a minute, isn’t that order reversed there? Shouldn’t it be knowledge first and then moral excellence? Now this is really interesting. It’s like a child who said, “I don’t see why I have to do that.” You do it and you’ll know why. Well you say, “Your basing this on experience.” That is not true, this starts with the knowledge of His will and increase in the knowledge of His will. Now, what we have observed … once that truth has entered into the heart, it touches the affect [emotions] and drives the will and then in the process, it’s rather remarkable, what comes around is, in the processes of the activation of my will, in other words, I did it, I started living this way, it comes back and increases my knowledge as well as it touches my affect [emotions]. And it’s like a cycle it keeps going around but you can stop it right here – I’ve arrived. No! Go back to the Word, the knowledge of God’s will, apply it to your heart, go do it, come back to the Word, apply it to your heart, go do it and you just keep doing it.
And it can just be aspects of your life. Just like evangelism. I could sit here 20 years and teach evangelism and never lead anybody to Christ. My knowledge wouldn’t increase either. I could read more books about it but the truth of the matter is I would be a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal, have no love. But eventually, if you want to teach evangelism, you had better go start evangelizing. Want to teach pastoring you better get out there and pastor. Want to set somebody free set yourself free first and start doing it.
You know what I didn’t know when I first started doing this was profound. Actually, that’s still true.
Neil T Anderson, "Sanctification & Spiritual Warfare", Video Transcript, http://www.youtube.com/embed/ly8D3Ei6k2Q?rel=0&start=2362&end=3053
Other Scriptures on Growth
1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV)
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
Ephesians 2:19-21 (ESV)
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
Colossians 2:19 (ESV)
...holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.
2 Peter 3:1 (ESV)
...grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.