Growth In A New Life In Christ
In my book, Dead, Buried, And A New Life In Christ, I shared some very personal details of my life that displayed the evidence that Jesus has grown me through severe depression. My success over the depression was that I permitted Jesus to take me through it. He could have removed it very easily. But, I needed to grow through it, into a more-refined and mature Christian person. The results being is that I now am a mature Christian because my focus in more on Jesus as my new life. And yet I still need to mature. Yes, growth was necessary then and is just as necessary today. Yes, I do need it very desperately. (We all do. We never “arrive.”)
My growth in my new life in Christ actually seems little, if any at all. To me, I only see clearer my old Adamic sin nature, Mr. Flesh. And Mr. Flesh comes out repeatedly and consistently every day. Romans 14:23 “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” How can I be growing in my new life in Christ if I persistently sin? Makes no sense. But, a sure sign of quality Christian growth is an increasing awareness of the flesh in one’s life. One becomes more aware of how wretched and evil he is by nature. He loves the Lord so much and does not want to grieve Him. This is why it is grace when he turns to Jesus – so undeserving, yet so rewarding. Alleluia!
It makes no sense in “man’s eyes.” It makes perfect sense “in God’s eyes.” I Samuel 16:7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” It is only God’s opinion that really matters. His ways are way higher than ours. We are so accustomed to making observations about someone based on their external, physical appearance or life. And we often neglect the internal, spiritual life where Jesus resides. This internal growth occurs for lengthy periods of time (sometimes many years) even if we know it to be “theologically” true. Life experience is not lived in the mind. We must appropriate by faith daily the resurrected life of Christ (our new life) into our everyday life. Romans 11:36-12:2 “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present ye bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
This nourishes the seed of “Christ in us” (Colossians 1:27) to begin growing “behind the scenes.” Then, whenever the time is right (according only to God), the fruit of that seed will begin to flow through us. This is a key component of one’s growth in the new life in Christ. We must remember frequently: Only God’s opinion matters. This “renewing the mind” mindset now trains us to look more at Jesus, and less at us – to look more on what Jesus is doing on the inside, and less on what is occurring on the outside. John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” This is a consistent reinforcement we need. Yes, this type of growth in Christ I know and have experienced. I expressed it years earlier. Now, though, I am learning more than ever that my growth in Christ must be experienced on a daily basis – even despite changing circumstances. Yes, another reinforcement we consistently need to remember is that without Jesus we are 100% NOTHING. We need total dependence on the life of Jesus to flow through us. John 15:3-5 “Now ye are clean through the word I have spoken unto you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.”