The truth about spiritual growth

I used to believe that the responsibility of my growth as a Christian rested on my own shoulders.  I was told that certain steps needed to be followed, or specific courses needed to be completed in order for me to become more spiritually mature.  I believe this misconception is the biggest cause of burnout in the church today.

The truth (which we don’t often hear) is that Jesus is the one responsible for our spiritual growth.  There are two verses that come to mind:

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” Phil 1:6

And then the most convincing:

“Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].” Heb 12:2

How can anyone claim that we are in charge of our own spiritual growth if they read the above-mentioned verses?  All that remains for us is to look away from all that will distract (our own efforts and struggles to become more holy) unto Jesus, who will finish the work He started in us.  This means a lifetime of getting to know Him – a lifetime of simplicity – a single focus.

Only one sacrifice was needed

Jesus offered a complete sacrifice.  When His blood flowed it was enough to deal with our sin – once and for all.  When He said: “It is finished”, He meant it.  Nothing can be added to His sacrifice – all judgement has been lifted off us if we believe in what He did.  Therefore God is not angry at us! When He sees us He looks into the wonderful, complete sacrifice Jesus became.

“But as it now is, He has once for all at the consummation and close of the ages appeared to put away and abolish sin by His sacrifice [of Himself]…Even so it is that Christ, having been offered to take upon Himself and bear as a burden the sins of many once and once for all…” Heb 9:26, 28

“Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for all time, sat down at the right hand of God…For by a single offering He has forever completely cleansed and perfected those who are consecrated and made holy.” Heb 10:12, 14

Look at those words – “put away”, “abolish”, “once for all”, “a single sacrifice”, “for all time”, “forever”, “completely”, “perfected”, “made holy” – why do we try to appease God by striving to live holy?  If we live in a relationship with Jesus this will come naturally – like bearing fruit, but it should never come from a fearful, condemned mindset.  One sacrifice was enough forever, we cannot add to it or improve it.