Today we’re paying a fourth visit to Paul Steele at the blog Paul’s Ponderings. Usually at this point I encourage you to click the title below to read at source, but I also want to point you to a blog post Paul did in the form of an infographic. Before or after you’re done here, check out 6 Helpful Scriptures to Guide our Choices.
Intention in spiritual formation is essential. Our faith cannot, and will not, remain static. Every day our spirits are either being molded into the likeness of Jesus or into the likeness of the world.
Passivity is not an option.
Without intentional action our spirits will be conformed to the way of the world. If we are not moving towards Christ we are moving away from him.
The Apostle Peter was very aware of the importance of spiritual formation.
In 2 Peter 3:17-18 he wrote:
I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends. Be on guard so that you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen. (NLT)
There is a great danger in not being intentional about our spiritual formation in Jesus Christ.
Peter pointed out 3 dangers that we face when we are not serious about our spiritual formation: (1) losing our faith, (2) being led astray, and (3) living in error.
No matter how strong we believe our faith is right now, it is not enough to sustain us through all of life’s ups and downs. The faith that is sufficient today will not be sufficient tomorrow.
The writer of Hebrews shared a similar sentiment when he wrote:
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds* and placing our faith in God. (Hebrews 6:1, NLT)
God expects us to be engaged in spiritual formation. Maturity will only happen through intentional effort.
If we are not willing to do what it takes grow spiritually and to deepen our relationship with God, then we will continue to miss out on the life He created us to live. We cannot remain the same and remain with Jesus. Either we are moving with him or we are allowing ourselves to be left behind.
If spiritual formation is this important, how do we make it a part of our lives?
The entire Bible is filled with instruction and example of how we can partner with the Holy Spirit to bring maturity to our spirits.
Today I want to share with you a little bit of what the Apostle Paul told the Colossians about spiritual formation.
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers* of this world, rather than from Christ.(Colossians 2:6-8; NLT)
Let’s take a moment and examine what Paul wrote about spiritual formation:
1. We need to be consistent – Vs. 6
Faith is the key.
We came to salvation because we trusted in Jesus to deal with our sins. We experience spiritual maturity because we trust Jesus to lead us to the life God created us to live. Without this faith in Jesus we are unable to grow. If we cannot be consistent in our trust (trusting Jesus to take away our sins but not to lead us to life) means that we will be stunted in our maturity and our relationship with God will begin to die.
The consistency we need becomes visible through our obedience. We need to ask ourselves these questions: Am I willing to follow Jesus wherever he leads me? Will I risk my life, career, and reputation for the sake of the Gospel?
By being obedient we demonstrate that we trust God.
2. We need to be concrete – Vs. 7
Remember the parable Jesus told about the wise man and the foolish man?
The point of the story is people need to build on a firm foundation. The wise man is able to survive the storms because his house is built on the rock, which was able to withstand the power of the waves. The foolish man is destroyed because his house is built on the sand, which washed away with the raging water.
Being concrete is about holding on to truth. Jesus’ teachings are a firm foundation because they are truth. We receive truth through instruction, reading, relationships, and experiences. By constantly seeking and applying truth to our lives we are building on a firm foundation. This foundation will provide us with the security we need to survive any situation.
3. We need to be cautious – Vs. 8
It is easy to be led astray by something that seems credible.
Proverbs 14:12 reads; There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. (NLT). What seems to be right and what sounds good are not the best indicators of what is truth. We can get very lost following what seems to be right to us.
This is about influence. Who will we allow to influence us? What type of media will we use? Is their message in agreement with the message of Jesus?
The best way we can safe guard ourselves from being led astray is to know and live the teachings of Jesus. Only when we are familiar with the truth are we able to identify the lie.
Spiritual formation is essential for our relationship with God. We need to remain consistent in our faith, we need to be concrete in our belief, and we need cautious about what influences us.
These 3 components will help us stay on the path of spiritual formation. Without them we will be prevented from living the life that Jesus has for us to live.
Don’t neglect your spiritual formation. Be intentional about the person you are becoming and make an effort to become like Jesus.
What is an essential component to your spiritual formation?