Are you stuck and can't move forward in your faith & spiritual growth?

Keith Crosby 

"For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."  Rom 8:13

As we seek to upgrade our relationship with the Lord, we have to remind ourselves that we have a role to play, decisions to make, and responsibilities to take. There’s an old saying that if your faith hasn’t changed you, then it probably hasn’t saved you.

Christians, like children and trees, need feeding, care, and nurturing. If they do not grow, then they likely will die. You simply can’t deprive a child or a tree of water, food, and care and expect them to live. Romans 8:13 is a troubling verse to this end for a number of reasons. Look at it again.

1. The Apostle Paul speaks to us (notice the “you”). He challenges us to take responsibility for our own spiritual growth. You and I may neglect a plant and cause it to die because we did not water it. But ultimately, Christians are responsible, unlike plants, for playing a role in their own feeding and spiritual development.

2. You can’t miss the fact that to take no action in your spiritual development is to choose to die. A believer who does not pray AND read his or her Bible is committing spiritual suicide. No, you can’t lose your salvation. But one of the fruits of faith, one of the indications that are you and I are believers, is a hunger for God’s word. This hunger is demonstrated by action---taking responsibility for feeding ourselves.

So, what is the Holy Spirit saying to us through the pen of the Apostle Paul? If you choose to keep on living the way you lived before you trusted Christ, you will perish. To take no responsibility or action for your own spiritual growth is to choose to die rather than grow: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die.” The flesh represents the old way, the pre-salvation way, of living and thinking. In other words, the wages of sin is death. That’s the bad news. Show no growth, take no action to grow, and you will die. And the good news?

The good news is this: “but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” If the Holy Spirit is inside you, He will empower you to do for yourself what you could not do without Him: kill off bad habits, bad practices, addictions, wrong thinking, and other types of sinful practices in your life. We have to cooperate in our spiritual growth. We have to take the initiative. We have to kill off and cut off and cast away from us old habits, old harmful friendships and relationships, and old activities we embraced before we became Christians. If we do this, we will grow and we will live.

The trouble is in our fast food, micro-wave, culture is that we often want it all handed to us on a platter. We feel entitled (“I’ve got rights”). The truth is that God saved us to serve Him and He saved us to serve others and to grow. Therefore, we must be actively engaged in putting to death the old practices and growing in our knowledge of God and ability to serve Him. The Spirit will empower us. We just need to show up for the game ready to play, taking responsibility for our growth. Where can you start? Enroll in Spiritual Growth Classes (Discovery 1,2, and 3, or Equipping), and join a Life Group. Find a place to serve. Replace old harmful relationships with new ones through these classes or groups. Struggling with addiction---join Celebrate Recovery. Make a list of things in your life that need to go and seek accountability from this new circle of friends. Go through five step follow-up and nine week discipleship. Find a place to serve. Water your spiritual garden. Feed your soul. Grow. It takes work, it takes action and you may find it difficult. Difficult does not mean impossible.

"For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."  Rom 8:13

Someone wiser than me commented that people like to say that they are going to get their spiritual house in order “some day.” He pointed out that if we look on the calendar we see a Monday, a Tuesday, a Wednesday, etc... but no “Someday.” Today’s the day. Let’s get started.


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