What is growth? Growth is not how many. Growth is how much.
I want to look at how God grows us. There is a process of growth that God wants to work in our lives and here's the process: Ephesians 4:22-24. "You were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
So, what do we have to do to make this work? 1. PUT OFF THE OLD. The old is what used to be. The old is our life without Christ. But what could prevent that? Trying to grow by doing good. Jesus gave His disciples then and us now a great picture of why this doesn't work. He talked about wine and wineskins in Matthew 9:17 "Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." Sometimes it looks like it will fit, it fits in the beginning but there's no room for growth, for expansion. Sometimes it looks like if I could just do enough good things, I'm going to grow. That will work in the beginning but there's no room for genuine change in that. There's no room for becoming all that God wants us to be. Trying to grow by keeping rules. Hebrews 13:9 "Your hearts should be strengthened by God's grace, not by obeying rules." Rules cannot produce growth. They control things, they control people. But you cannot produce growth through rules. What's the place of rules in the Bible? You might think of grace as the jets that power the engines. The Ten Commandments sort of give us some flight plan ideas, some direction. But the power doesn't come through rules. Trying to grow by feeling bad. Guilt can't produce growth, but we think sometimes, "If I just feel bad enough about myself, maybe I'll get better." If I really heap the guilt on, maybe I'll get better. Logically, we can see why that wouldn't work. If I feel bad about myself, I don't get better, I just feel bad. We're trying to beat God to the punch. We're trying to say, "God, I know You don't like what I'm doing so I'm going to feel bad. I'm going to condemn myself so somehow You won't condemn me." If we don't grow by feeling bad about ourselves, if it doesn't work by having a list of rules, and doing good things doesn't grow us in God’s grace, then what does?
2. PUT ON THE NEW. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come."
This is a promise for those who are in Christ, for those who have trusted their lives to Christ and His leadership. A couple of things about this new life that God wants to give to us. We don't have to achieve our new life. We don't have to make it work on our own. Newness is a creation of God. God is a new creation. We don't have to make ourselves new. We simply put on the new life God's given us. We don't have to keep our new life. We don't have to hold onto it. Colossians 3:3 "Your old sinful self has died and your new life is kept in Christ in God." That's pretty safe, pretty secure. Let Christ keep it for you! We do, however, have to put on this new life. There is a decision that everyone of us gets to make, that we’re allowed to make everyday of our life about this new life that God wants to give. We get to put it on. The third step is so important and it's the often forgotten step. We know we have to take off the old. We know we have to put on the new. The empowering step is number three.
3. BE RENEWED IN YOUR MIND. This step of God, renewing
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