The Dangers of Spiritual Growth – Pastor Stacey Shiflett

The Dangers of Spiritual Growth

2 Peter 3:11-18

Intro. I am grateful to be in a place where people are growing in the Lord! It is exciting to see Christians being discipled and growing. That is what God intended!

1. Growth is Expected

  • Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

Everything that is alive that is healthy should grow.

               2. Growth is Exponential

  • 2 Thessalonians 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;

When you start growing in one area, it affects other areas of your life.

Their faith was growing, therefore their charity toward one another was growing.

We call it a learning curve.

But you get to a place where things start making more sense and it all comes together.

               3. Growth is Expedient

  • Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

God can use growing Christians to help others that are struggling.

Once you learn and mature, God can use you to be a tremendous help to others.

Paul rebuked the believers in Hebrews that had not grown enough to help others.

  • Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

The church needs more leaders, more examples, more mentors, more people modeling Christian growth.

In our text in 2 Peter 3, Peter used several words to caution the believers.

  • Vs. 11 – seeing then…what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness
  • Vs. 14 seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace…
  • Vs. 15, 16 – warned not to misinterpret the words of Paul as those that are unlearned and unstable…
  • Vs. 17 – …seeing ye know these things, beware lest ye also, being led away…
  • Vs. 18 – but grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…

There are some dangers involved when a Christian begins to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. 

It’s not just enough to grow, but we need to grow in grace! 

Here are some pitfalls that we must avoid as growing Christians.

I. The Danger of Pride   

  • 1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

The more you learn and the more you know, the greater your tendency to become proud.

  • 1 Corinthians 8:1 Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

If you’re not careful, you can have pride:

               A. In your Salvation

Ephesians 2:8, 9 – we are not saved by our merits, but by His mercy!!

               B. In your Sanctification – we still have a long way to go!

1 Peter 1

  • 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
  • 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
  • 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

               C. In your Separation – we separate for HIS glory, not ours I Cor. 6:17, 18

  • 2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

D. In your Scriptural Knowledge

I never cease to be amazed at how many new converts seem to know more than the pastor after just a few months of listening to him preach.

They read their Bible, they connect a few dots, and then they start criticizing and correcting the preacher.

The preacher is not infallible. None of them are.

And none of us pastors know it all.

But I doubt very seriously that a person that has only been saved a year or two is capable of correcting the man of God.

I also doubt that your favorite TV evangelist or YouTube personality is a reliable standard for truth and biblical interpretation.

Stay humble, be teachable, and keep learning.

II. The Danger of Pointing

Matthew 7:1-5

  • 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
  • 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
  • 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
  • 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
  • 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

               A. Pointing out the faults of others

               B. Pointing out the failures of other

               C. Pointing out the feebleness of others

  • Hebrews 12:12 Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

SIDENOTE: I have a problem with a person pretending to be spiritual because they refuse to judge a person that is living in open and flagrant sin, but they have no problem judging those that are trying to live right.

If you will judge a person that is trying to live holy but you won’t judge a person that is living in sin, you’re doing it wrong.

Also, making excuses and condoning people that are living in sin is not “not judging”. It is unbiblical.

However, one of the dangers of growing in the Lord is becoming very judgmental of people that have not grown in the same areas that you have.

God was patient with you; He dealt with your heart and showed you what He wanted and you responded.

Give others the same opportunity to grow.

III. The Danger of Preferring

READ 1 Corinthians 12:14-27

               A. Preferring the Strong is wrong

               B. Preferring the Comely is wrong

               C. Preferring the Honorable is wrong

Preferential treatment based on spiritual growth is unbiblical.

Only wanting to talk to people that you consider is on your spiritual level is wrong.

WARNING!! – When fellowshipping with weaker Christians, be an example; not a partaker.

Notice what Paul said about the ditches on both sides of the road.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.

We find a PRINCIPLE here that applies to what I’m talking about.

1 Timothy 5

  • 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
  • 20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
  • 21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
  • 22 Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.

IV. The Danger of Procrastinating

I Timothy 4:11-16

  • 12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
  • 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.
  • 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
  • 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
  • 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine;

We can easily feel that we have “arrived” and sit back and get in a comfort zone and wait for everybody else to “catch up” with us and our spiritual level.

Many people fear “standing out” in a crowd.

They are more comfortable being on the same level, living on the same plain spiritually.

Growth draws opposition; criticism; attacks; problems.

It’s easier to “assimilate” and blend in.

This is exactly what Paul warned Timothy to do. 

He commanded him to “Neglect not!!!” 

If we are not careful, we will be guilty of:

               A Procrastinating in our Example “…be thou an example…”

               B. Procrastinating in our Exhortation “Give attendance to….exhortation!”

               C. Procrastinating in our Examination “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine!”