When you look at life it can be characterized by various examples of growth. From the day that a new-born child enters into this Earth, to a tiny seed that is planted in fertile soil. There are many examples of living organisms that show forth what growth looks like. For example, if a baby is blessed to experience life outside of his/her mother’s womb they will hopefully grow to reach their first year of life. It is then that years pass and the infant becomes a toddler, and then of course a young child. After surpassing the stage of a young child, then the teenage years begin which results in a brand new life experience.
After the teenage years, there are of course the years of adulthood. Once adulthood has been reached, then there is, of course, a transition into the middle-age period. Finally, if God has blessed you to live long enough, you will experience the Elderly stage of life. As it relates to every living creature there is a time span that God allows for growth. Each stage is different than the one before it, but there are stages of growth throughout this experience that we call ‘life.’
Spiritually speaking there is also the concept of growth. It is often that you hear of the term, ‘spiritual growth’ in the context of growing in godliness. In order to see where your life stands before a Holy God, the aspect of growing in godliness will be examined. The fact is that all of us are growing in either godliness or in our sinfulness, however, there is a difference between the two but in this post, the elements of what growing in godliness looks like and how it is accomplished will be explored through scripture.
As it relates to growing in godliness, the book of 2 Peter Chapter 1 will give us a better view of what it means to grow closer to God and exhibit His characteristics. In the first part of this chapter, the Apostle Peter makes a declaration of what it means to grow in faith. Throughout this chapter, the Apostle Peter uses characteristics that can be gained when we grow in godliness. In verses 3-4, Peter says the following:
(NLT) “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
It is clear that Peter is talking to those who are in Christ because he uses the terms ‘we’ and ‘us.’ Basically what Peter says in verse 3 is that God has given us all that we need to live a godly life. This means, the way that we ought to live and the principles for godliness are available to every person who chooses to follow God with their life. Notice that Peter says that we who are in Christ have received all that we need for living a godly life, based on our experience and knowledge of who God is.
In order to start the process of living and growing in godliness, it is important to know who God is both through His word and having knowledge of it and also experiencing God in an authentic relationship. To grow in godliness is to spend time with the one who exhibits godly characteristics. Think of it as spending time with your friends – when you are closely attached to those around you, you begin to exhibit similar characteristics. That is how it works in a relationship with God. The more time you and I spend with Him, the more His traits begin to show forth in our life.
Peter goes on to mention the promises of God in verse 4:
(NLT) “And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
Part of growing in godliness is not only receiving and understanding God’s promises but also responding in faith towards what God has promised. The fact is that all of us who are in Christ, God has made certain promises to us. It is by trusting in God’s promises and allowing our faith to be shown in our actions and our words that we are able to please God. Peter says that the promises of God enables us to share or portray the divinity of God while at the same time avoiding our sinful desires and the corruption of the world.
Peter continues in verses 5-7:
(NLT) “In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.”
In these two verses, the Apostle Peter instructs us to respond to God’s promises. Basically, he says that we are to build our faith by living in moral excellence or essentially to be in good standing with God based on how we live. Notice that he also lists a couple of the fruits of the Spirit. According to Galatians chapter 5 verses 22-23 the fruits of the Spirit are listed by the Apostle Paul.
Two of the fruits of the Spirit that Peter mentions in the above scripture are self-control and patience. The result of growing in godliness is exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit. Peter not only gives us two of the fruits of the Spirit, but he encourages us to display these fruits along with other godly characteristics such love or brotherly affection. How does one exhibit the fruits of the Spirit and how do we display brotherly love towards everyone?
The way that you and I can truly grow in godliness is by allowing God to change our hearts through His Holy presence. This goes back to the point of spending time with God. Prayer, worship and studying the Word of God are the key ways that we can grow in godliness. As you begin to seek the presence of God, He begins to saturate you with His presence which then enables you to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.
Finally verses 8-9 state the following:
(NLT) “The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.”
Peter says that the more you grow in godliness by responding to God’s promises and exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, then you will be productive in your knowledge of Jesus Christ. The fact is, the more we experience God in His fullness, the more we begin to know Him. Some have only an intellectual experience of God, but one cannot be productive if there is a limitation on actual experience. God wants us to know Him and the only way we can do that is if we experience Him in authenticity.
Peter gives a final warning in verse 9 when he warns against a failure of developing in godliness. When you and I do not develop ourselves in godliness, then we begin to forget the reason as to why Jesus came to save us in the first place. Jesus Christ bled, died on the cross and rose again so that we could perpetuate the image of God in the Earth and also be redeemed from our sins.
A failure to develop in godliness only means that we who are called to be separate from the world do not fully understand the privilege and honor we have to represent Jesus Christ. Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior? If not, then you are unable to grow in godliness without Christ. You have an opportunity to be apart of the call of God unto His Holiness and righteous way of life. He wants to cleanse you of all unrighteousness and use you in His Kingdom. Accept this gift of salvation and begin to see your life change because the power of Jesus Christ.