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glorifying God in spiritual growth

Continuing to edit notes from John Hannah's teaching on spiritual life [see previous post]...

6.    What does God do to cause us to glorify Him more?

a)    God graciously redeems us from sin’s condemning power and grants us the Holy Spirit. He provides the basis for spiritual growth (John 3:6).

b)    God provides His children with protective mercies and preservation.

c)    God chastises us to curb our dangerous tendencies and humble us. This is often expressed in the consequences of moral failure. For the child of God, this action is always remedial in nature, never punitive (Heb.12:5-6).

d)    God brings disappointments into our lives to shape us spiritually in that the design is that through them we depend on the Lord more (John 9:1-3).

e)    God uses the evil actions of others upon our lives to shape us to reflect His glory (Genesis 50:20).

f)    God helps us to understand that this world is but a shadow of a world yet to come. This gives us perspective of the things we see. Like Abraham, we “seek after a city whose builder and maker is God”.

7. What should we do to cause ourselves to glorify God more? Radiating the character of God involves positive action and negative action: Vivification and Mortification, the positive increase of spiritual strength and dying progressively to sin. 
 
“Sanctification has a double aspect.  Its positive side is vivification, the growing and maturing of the new man; its negative side is mortification, the weakening and killing of the old man” (J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life [1990]).  Some initial observations follow…

a)  The spiritual life requires discipline; it is hard work and is a product of time and repetition. The spiritual person is described in Hebrews 5:13 as one whose “senses are trained to discern good and evil”. Habits are routines that are not easy, but over time become a delight. What you are doing is replacing one set of routines for another. Love makes the burdens of habit-building less a burden.

b)  We are individuals, so remember that we connect with the spiritual disciplines in different ways, proportions, and times in our lives. By personality and spiritual giftedness, we are naturally given to some disciplines more than others. Our goal should be to incorporate those disciples we find helpful and needed at different times in our lives.

c)    Length of time in devotional exercises not an issue and often detrimental, particularly if we do not progress slowly. What we most value is not what we most invest time in doing; it is what we think about and most frequently return too.

d)    Remember, generally, we are better at doing than being. However, it is dangerous to confuse the two. Doing is important because it is evidence of a spiritual reality in our lives, but it must grow out of a relationship that is rooted in a love relationship.

e)    Do not be discouraged by the fact that you simply cannot do one or another of the disciplines no matter how hard you try. Some cannot memorize Scripture; some find fasting unimportant; some find it hard to pray; some find it hard to read the Bible daily.  The important thing is to find something that you can start doing; the spiritual life is a process (what you can manage at 25 is surely not the same as 65!).

f)    Do not get discouraged by your lack of doing it right; it is more important to be doing. No one has their act together; we all have areas of spiritual success, areas needing improved discipline, and areas of failure. Join the “club” of fallen, redeemed humanity!

g)    Discipline is a fruit of a love relationship; the deepest issue is that of love. It is not about how well we are doing; it is all about loving. Love is not merely an emotion; it is a state of being. That state for us is the presence of the life of God, the Holy Spirit, in our very beings.  Do not become discouraged by what you cannot do; delight in what you can and in the progress you see over time. This is not “bean counting,” it is a love relationship.

[More to come...] 



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