Back in Deuteronomy 7:1-11, Moses gave the Israelites the mandates for their inheritance of the land of Canaan. There were specific things that they were to do. They were to eliminate their enemies (Deut. 7:1-4) because they opposed the holiness of God. Though these enemies were in the land, they were to remove them. In addition to removing the people, they were to also eliminate all the remnants of ungodliness (Deut. 7:5). The reason why the Lord commanded this elimination is because His people are holy, chosen, and loved. He said,
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
On the basis of their condition before the Lord, they were to remove anything that is not characteristic of this condition. We can use that episode in the history of Israel as a real illustration for what we need to be doing in our spiritual conduct. We are not called to remove any people groups from their nation but we are called – on the basis of our new life – to put to death anything in our lives that is not characteristic of God’s people. We are to remove the spiritual Hittites, Girgashites, Ammorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites in our life. Sin is a wicked thing. In-fact, sin should be considered the believer’s worst enemy. For this reason, our attitude towards sin should be very serious. By God’s grace, He has provided a number of resources for spiritual growth. It is essential that we make use of these in a genuine and God-glorifying way. We will consider the following resources for spiritual growth: the priority of prayer, the permeation of the Scriptures, the power of the Spirit, and the presence of fellowship. The Priority of Prayer Prayer is an essential element to the Christian life. As the people of God we ought to pray because we are in need of the Lord’s help. What is prayer? R. A. Torrey defines it as follows, “prayer is the means that God has appointed for our receiving mercy and obtaining grace”. This definition reminds us of what the writer of Hebrews says, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). This is why we need to pray. It ought to be our practice to be devoted to prayer. Making use of this resource for spiritual growth can occur in various ways. The familiar acronym ACTS has proven helpful to many. Our prayers are to consist of Adoration (“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable” Psalm 145:3); Confession (“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9); Thanksgiving (“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” Psalm 136:1) and Supplication (“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” Philippians 4:6). As we take time to prayed varied types of prayer, also be mindful of the different conditions find themselves in in. Pray for the strong, the struggling, the suffering and the sinful. As we walk the pathway of holiness we must pray. We are to regularly come before our Lord seeking from Him grace and mercy in our time of need. We cannot succeed apart from His help and for this reason we ought to pray. The Permeation of Scripture Another resource for spiritual growth the Lord has granted His people is His word. We are to make use of the Scriptures in our daily reading and meditation. If we were to as the questions, what is Scripture and what does it do? Consider David’s amazing answer, “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether” (Psalm 19:7-9). For a fuller description we could take time to read Psalm 119 and be exposed to line after line magnifying the authority and sufficiency of God’s word. Because this is what God’s word is and does, the Lord Jesus Christ prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). This is why we ought to make use of this divine resource. We are to allow Scripture to permeate our thoughts and change our actions. Paul said to the Colossians,
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16).
The word of God is to be a home dweller in our hearts. Not a guest but a home dweller. The word of God ought not to have that awkward feel in our lives of a guest visiting someone’s home for the first time or occasionally. The word of God ought not to function like that in your life. Is it a mere guest in your life? Does it only come out in formal settings? It is to dwell in you richly. It is to be a permanent, personal and precious resident in our lives. A guest is restricted in what he or she can and cant do. But not so for a home dweller! The home dweller has freedom to do what they please. They can walk into any room in the house and actually say, “I don’t like the look of that, I want to remove it”. A home dweller can be familiar and comfortable. So the word of God ought to have this freedom in our lives. Does the word of God have the freedom to unleash itself in your life in the most permanent, personal and precious ways in your life? If it is not dwelling in you richly, that means it is simply a guest. You are not giving it time to expose in you who you need to be. Only the word of God has speak with perfect accuracy concerning our spiritual needs and for this reason we are to consume our thoughts with what it says. This is why the Psalmist declared, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Psalm 119:9) and again, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). The word of God is true and powerful, let us take time to desire the word (Psalm 42:1; 119:131), read the word (1 Timothy 4:13; Rev. 1:3), meditate on the word (Joshua 1:8), memorize the word (Psalm 119:11) and obey the word (John 14:15).
In the next post we will conclude with the final two resources for spiritual growth: the power of the Spirit and and the presence of fellowship.