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4. The Process of Christian Growth

The Master's Instructions about Himself, Colossians 3:1-17.

The Christian life has to be lived. Paul describes it in Galatians 2:20: ‘Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.’ Various men and women may help you in your Christian understanding, but only God can make you grow. In Corinth, Paul planted the gospel seed, the Bible teacher Apollos watered the seed through his ministry, but ‘God made it grow’ (1 Corinthians 3:6). Paul told the

Colossians that the gospel was producing fruit and growing all over the world and that it would do the same among them (Colossians 1:6). Planting leads to production through the process of Christian growth.

How does this work in your life? I used to live on the eighth floor of a

block of flats near London’s Heathrow airport. On a clear day the sky

seemed to be filled with aeroplanes. Gradually my wife and I worked out

their pattern of approach, and sometimes we could pick out seven or eight

planes descending in a giant spiral preparing to land. When flying into

Heathrow myself, I’ve been able to work out when we have begun

gradually descending in one of these ‘stacks’ – circling around and around,

until it’s our turn to break off and land. The spiral or stack is a good

illustration of Christian growth – except that the planes come down and

we Christians should be going up!

As a Christian God makes you sensitive to some sin in your life. This is

the work of God the Holy Spirit (John 16:8). At that precise moment you

have a choice. You can steel yourself against God and say, ‘No, I’m not

going to crucify that area of my life. I want it too much.’ You are free to

make that choice. The consequence would be to lose your living walk with


What God requires is that you submit your will to His. He wants you to

yield control of your life to Him. He wants you to let go of that sinful

habit, wrong attitude or ambition. As you submit to God, Christ becomes

Lord in that area of your life (1 Peter 3:15).

Every time you crown Jesus Lord in this way, you are Holy Spirit-filled

(1 Corinthians 12:3). You have chosen spiritual life not death (Romans 8:6-11).

You have said that you serve God and you do not serve sin. You have chosen to

master sin through Christ rather than let sin master you. You have complied with

God the Father’s will. You have consecrated yourself through God the Son. You have co-operated with God the Holy Spirit. What happens next?

Immediately, you become even more sensitive to sin in your life. The more

the holy life of Jesus is in you, the more aware you become of your human

sinfulness. This does not mean you are further away from God, it means

that God is calling you up the spiral! He has brought you back to the same

spot, but higher up than you were before. You are getting ready to break

away and land – not on earth, but up in heaven – although you will probably

have many, many more turns to make before the Controller calls you in.

Every time God brings you to a place of choice, your response determines

whether you go up or down the spiral of Christian growth. What you

permit God to do produces growth. What He requires releases life. What

you stop God doing will stunt your growth. Christianity is a life that has

to be lived twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a

year. What God is doing in you will work out in your life. As God convicts

you, choose to yield to Him. Claim the Holy Spirit as you consecrate

yourself to Christ. Then keep on keeping on. That is Christian growing.

Discussion guide on ‘the Process of Christian growth’

Read Colossians 3:1-17.

1. Verses 1-2 show us clearly that as Christian disciples we face daily

choices. We will either look up to heaven and do what God wants,

or we will look around at the world about us and end up doing what

it wants. Share with the group some of the choices you have had to

make recently.

2. Describe, in your own words, what the Bible means when it says:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things”, verse 2.

3. “The more the holy life of Jesus is in you, the more aware you

become of your human sinfulness”. Explain why this is true. Does it

mean you are becoming more sinful, now you are a Christian

disciple? If not why not?

4. How do you “put to death” your pre-Christian human nature?

(verse 5).

5. Progress in the Christian life can be seen in these steps (below), which

are taken again and again in life. Start from the bottom line:

6._______________________________God triggers MORE growth, etc.


5. _________________________________/ The Christian has greater sensitivity to sin

/ Romans 8:12-14 and John 16:7-8

4. _____________________________/ The Holy Spirit is released in the Christian –

/ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and John 16:13

3. __________________________/ Christ becomes Lord in the Christian -

/ 1 Peter 3:15 and Colossians 1:18

2. _______________________/ The Christian chooses to yield to God – Romans 6:13

/and 1 John 1:8-9

1. _____________________/God triggers growth in the Christian – Philippians 1:6

/and 2:13.

Look up the Bible verses for each of the five steps. Discuss how the

Christian disciple is taken through these steps again and again as he or

she grows more like the Lord Jesus. Where are the key choices made?


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