"THE PROBLEM OF GROWTH OR THE LACK OF GROWTH" Introduction: > A deacon has a disagreement with his pastor, and for months will not speak to him. > A professing Christian couple get their feelings hurt and stop coming to church. > A church business meeting erupts into a nasty display of tempers and harsh words. And, again, we are painfully reminded that the problem of carnality, and a lack of growth among Christians is still with us. (I Cor. 3:1) > The word translated carnal here is the adjective "sarkikos." It appears eleven times in the New Testament and has both literal and figurative meanings. Literally, it may be defined as pertaining to the physical body or the things necessary for its sustenance and growth. Figurative, it describes the sinful, human nature common to the saint and sinner alike. > A carnal Christian is one who at a given point is allowing the old nature to govern his conduct and has not grown in maturity, but is still a babe in reaction, and thought. SEED THOUGHTS: A child fell out of bed during the night, and remarked that he slept too close to where he got in. Many stay too close to where they got into the family of God. Father stated that as an adult he had not truly grown since he was saved 20 years prior as a teen, and now realized that he had lost his wife and family in divorce because of his lack of growth. A fruit tree is expected to grow, and we do expect fruit, likewise God expects fruit. We are not to be like unto a dead stick. A small baby brought home from the hospital cried into the night, why?? He was hungry and the need had to be met. Do we have hunger for the Word for we need it the first thing in the morning. Some men know they are growing, but it is only around the middle. "I am becoming" must be a goal! I Pet. 2:1-23 He is becoming precious! I. Symptom of A Lack of Growth, which are evidenced in carnality. In the context of the verse referred to above, Paul mentions at least two symptoms of carnality: 1) envying or the sense of jealousy, and 2) strife, discord, or contention. There are other evidences equally familiar to us. Here are a few, we could add many more. 1. Pride: "I'll have you know, that I gave more money to. . . than anyone else." 2. Anger: "I'll show that preacher he can't push me around. I'll stop giving any of my money to the general fund, and we'll starve him out!" 3. Critical spirit: And this we witness too often among a church staff who work close together, or in the S.S. department, etc. "Well, I for one, thought that person did a lousy job." "Did you notice how many mistakes _________ II. The Seriousness of A Lack of Growth: 1. A lack of growth, which sets the stage for carnality, strips the believer of his peace, joy, and thrill of service. 2. The Christian can be so carnal that the lost are hindered from coming to Christ because of the poor testimony of the carnal, weak, sinning one. 3. When we do not grow, and are in need of the "first principles" and cannot receive the "meat of the word", (study Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1-12; 2:1-4), our lack grieves the Holy Spirit, and quenches His work. 4. We help block the Spirit's power in Christian service, and are a hindrance to answered prayer and to God sending revival blessings. 5. Growth is a choice in the spiritual realm. It does not take place automatically as physical growth does in the life of a child. It necessitates that we cooperate with the Holy Spirit to bring about the growth so obviously needed. With that we must pay the price for growth, for all good things cost something. Carnality is also a choice! III. If We Are To Change and Grow Up Into Maturity: 1. First, we must quit playing games with God. We must call pride, temper, gossip and unbelief, self-centered living, etc., what He calls them--sins that nailed Jesus to the cross and continue to grieve His heart. 2. Secondly, we must repent of our lack of growth and the things we have allowed to become priorities that have kept us from growth. This includes a genuine sorrow for our immaturity, selfishness and carnality and our willingness to repent and forsake those things that have kept us from growth. (Consider the third of the three kinds of soil -- "cares of the world, deceitfulness of riches, and pleasures, etc. Mark 4:18-20; Luke 8:14) 3. Third, we must restore Christ to the throne of our hearts, and lives. As we yield to the Holy Spirit He will control us, He will not only repress the fruit of the carnal nature, but will produce the fruit of the new nature. (Gal. 5:22,23; John 15:1-8) Consider that we are "servants to whom we obey"! (Rom 6:16,17) 4. Fourth, fruitfulness, and growth, (or to be established, settled, cf. I Peter 5:10 ) is dependent upon our continuation in the factors which produce growth. We will never totally arrive. Growth in Christlikeness is a life-long goal. (Study II Pet. 1:3-10 and note the things we must "ADD" to our faith in order to be fruitful and not barren as so many are who have not grown or added to beginning faith.) 5. Fifth, we must set goals for growth. This includes Scripture memory, meditating on the Word of God, and having a study method, i.e. study of doctrinal truths, biographical studies, book studies, etc. IV. Marks Of Maturity: 1. Dependability -- can others count on us? (I Cor . 15:58) 2. Determination-- (Joshua 24:14-24) 3. Control of the tongue -- (James 3) 4. Orderliness-- (I Cor. 14:33,40) 5. Decisiveness-- (James 1:5-8) 6. Loyalty, Faithfulness--- (Rev. 17:14; I Cor. 4:2) 7. Cooperation-- (Phil. 2:1-3; Eph. 4:3) 8. Confidence, faith in God-- (Phil. 1:6; Heb. 11:6, 11:1) V. Essentials for Growth: 1. Food- how many like food? Or would you just rather look at a lovely, or beautiful table setting. Many are more interested in how the table is set, (how the preacher spoke, how the choir sang, how lovely things were) and how it looks than the food thereon. A wife said, " Got the table set, but I'm too tired to get the food." Most of the time we just don't prepare the spiritual food for ourselves, and our lives how it. 2. Light- In a large city are many tenement houses with virtually no light from the sun. There is a lot of illness. Christ is our light, but we must take time to have the Light shine in. He is our SUN, and without HIS light in our lives we too will be spiritually ill. And in light is power. (Eph. 5:8-17) 3. Exercise- It is needed for strength. When flat on the back for weeks, we will be too weak, or dizzy to get up and walk. Also spiritually we can be too weak to even walk with the Lord. Also we need the spiritual walking of taking the gospel to others. (Phil. 2:12) We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It takes work to have a good garden and it takes work to have a spiritual walk and excel for God. You could ask the class how old they are? In Christ? A year old, 2, 5, etc., many new Christians are actually older in the Lord than some who have been saved for years. There are four classes of Christians....... those who are bottled fed, those who are spoon fed, those who have come to the place of feeding themselves, and those who feed others. Were are you?