Your session will end in  seconds due to inactivity. Click here to continue using this web page.
The Study Bible - A Bible that gives you instant access to all of John’s teaching on the passage you’re reading.
Friday, October 26, 2012 | Comments (4)

by John MacArthur

We’ve reached the end of our series on spiritual formation and sanctification, but before we close the discussion, I want to encourage you with some practical ways to evaluate your own spiritual growth.

Yesterday we discussed the true, biblical nature of sanctification—that it’s the work of the Lord in the lives of His people.

However, each of us bears some responsibility for our own spiritual growth, as well. I can’t tell you what percentage of the responsibility falls on you, or exactly how your disciplined life cooperates with God’s work in you (Isaiah 55:9). But I can tell you that faithful Bible study, prayer, and self-discipline play a vital role in your sanctification. As we’ve seen over the last several weeks, we can’t manufacture spiritual growth on our own, but we can certainly hinder it through unchecked sin and spiritual laziness.

With that in mind, I want to help you take accurate, biblical stock of where you are in your spiritual growth. Simply observing and acknowledging where and how the Lord has transformed your life can be a great encouragement. It can also alert you to areas of your spiritual life that demand more focus and discipline.

Just as you might measure a child’s height on a wall or a doorpost, use these biblical principles to gauge how much you’ve grown spiritually, and how much more you still need to grow.

First of all, people who are being sanctified can clearly remember a time when they weren’t. Look back at your life and the sinful patterns that used to dominate it. What has changed, and why did it change? If you’re truly growing spiritually, you ought to see a stark difference between your life now and how you lived before you were saved.

Next, people who are being sanctified are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Is the Spirit living and working in you on a daily basis? That’s not a mystical, subjective evaluation—is there practical evidence of God’s Spirit at work in your life? Look over Paul’s description of the Spirit-filled life in Ephesians 5:15–6:9. Can you find those characteristics, attitudes, and actions in your own life?

Third, people who are being sanctified have a strong antipathy toward sin. Do you hate the sin in your life? What about the sin in the world around you—is it attractive or repulsive to you? God is faithful to grant His people a strong aversion to sin. Do you feel the same internal tension Paul described in Romans 7:15?

Fourth, people who are being sanctified are motivated by a heart of love for God. In 2 Corinthians 5:14, Paul says that his love for God controls his life—do you see that same control at work in your life? Do you truly love the Lord, and does that love guide and direct your decisions, your actions, your speech, and your relationships?

Fifth, people who are being sanctified live disciplined lives. Peter commanded believers to reflect God’s holiness in their own lives (1 Peter 1:13-16). To be holy means to be in control of your behavior, and not just in areas of obvious, blatant sin. Are you lazy? Do you love gossip? Is your speech filled with profanity and filthiness? Do you look a lot like the rest of the world, or are you living a disciplined, holy life?

Sixth, people who are being sanctified have a strong desire to serve Christ. Part of growing spiritually is presenting yourself as a living sacrifice to the Lord. You’re not consumed with your own agendas, interests, or desires. As Paul told Timothy, you’ve become “a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21). Are you devoted to serving Christ?

Number seven on our spiritual growth checklist: people who are being sanctified love the Word of God. Read Psalm 119, paying careful attention to all the times the psalmist professes his love for God’s Word. Can you see that same love for Scripture in your life? Are you hungry for the life-transforming truth of God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2)?

Finally, people who are being sanctified associate with other people who are being sanctified. Rather than wallowing in the world, they seek out and surround themselves with other believers. We can’t totally separate ourselves from the world—nor should we try to. But who you choose to spend your time with says a lot about what you love and value, and what matters most to you. People who are growing spiritually don’t intentionally open themselves up to worldly, corrupting influences (1 Corinthians 15:33). Instead, they seek out productive, godly fellowship—the kind that “stimulate[s] one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). Who do you spend your time with, and what does it say about where your heart is?

If you truly belong to the Lord, His ongoing work in you will be evident. If you feel like your spiritual growth has stalled out, first carefully examine your life for unchecked sin. Then look back over that checklist and see where you might be falling short. Don’t let yourself become spiritually complacent or lazy. Keep the goal of godliness in front of you at all times, and trust the Lord to keep working through His Word and His Spirit in your life (Philippians 1:6).


You have 3000 characters remaining for your comment. Note: All comments must be approved before being posted.


#2  Posted by Sharon Sheffield  |  Friday, October 26, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Hi John and thank you for the checklist regarding how I'm Measuring Up. Sometimes bullet points can be hard to measure up to themselves. Because the spiritual life is one of those things that is can be kind of subjective. I'm doing some of those things some of the time, but not all of those things all the time. But I do like that there is a way to think about these things. So, to answer the question I think it's a yes and a no. But think I end up on the yes side more then the no, praise God. I would say the hardest bullet to put into practice is to getting in the word every day. Putting God first and getting to know God better is a constant spiritual battle, but I'm working on it because it's paramount to all the other bullets in the list. Thanks for the encouragement, Sharon

#3  Posted by Crystal Jordan  |  Sunday, October 28, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Thank you for providing the information How Do You Measure Up! As a newly, recommitted Christian I have found myself asking this very thing. It is something I struggled with very early on... how could I reckognize when true sanctification was transforming my life, was I doing enough to nourish it, was there anything I was doing that would hinder it, etc. As you said, this is a great way to observe where my spiritual growth is and acknowledge areas I may be lacking. My walk with God started 8 months ago, and I can look over this list and see the distinct lines in the sand. I wake up every single day and the first thing I'm drawn to is my bible, I can't get enough of it. I've woke up during the night with an overwhelming need to pray, not even sure what I was being called to pray for, but I prayed regardless. In the past, my emotions (from things in my past to things more present) pretty much had a hand over me. I can honestly say God has given me strength and power to no longer submit to those things. My past no longer is a burden to how I live today.

When I think of my relationship with God, I think back to this story: I once had to go to my daughter's 2nd grade classroom for a school function and the teacher pull me aside. She said how much she loved having my daughter in her classroom because she was so kind, loving, and selfless with other kids. She gave me several instinces she witnessed of how big her heart was for those around her. Then the teacher thanked me for being such a good mother and instilling those characteristics in my child, especially in a time when it is so rare to see. While I was extremely proud of my daughter and felt this was really the ultimate compliment a parent could receive regarding their child (to the point I had tears welling up in my eyes), I didn't fully understand why she was giving me all the praise for what my daughter had done so well with. I understand it now and it drives my own relationship with God! I want my life and my actions to resemble Christ so much so that it glorifies God. I want my life to be a compliment to Him. Just as my daughter's teacher looked at her and saw good parents, I want others to look at me and see a wonderfully awesome God!

I am printing this blog so that I can refer back to it often. Thank you for the encouragement you continue to give Christians.

#4  Posted by Daniel Wilson  |  Monday, October 29, 2012 at 7:39 PM

Lord, Thank you for your grace.. Amen...

#5  Posted by Donna Fitzpatrick  |  Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 8:07 AM

Thank you Dr. John for posting these points. Even though I am not always disciplined in my life, I want to be (and that is such a telling point on if I am being sanctified) I have a new wanter ! :) I want to love the LORD, I want to serve HIM, I want to know HIM more and more through HIS word, I want to be with other who are being sanctified, and I don't want to sin