Growing in God: Stages of Spiritual Development and the New Christian
Although there are small nuggets of truth in each of these, there are also some inaccuracies that will leave a new Christian questioning God and wanting to abandon ship. Here are seven steps for spiritual development to help you grow in your relationship with God.
7 steps for spiritual development.
Let’s explore some very important stages that every new Christian needs to understand for spiritual development and to avoid the above pitfalls.
Step 1 – Salvation.
As a developer begins to build a house, they must first lay a foundation for the house to stand upon. Without the large cement slab, the house will eventually sink and crumble. So it is with the Christian faith. Unfortunately, people want to become spiritual but want to bypass the first step. It can’t be done. What is salvation? It’s very simple which is why it’s so hard for many to grasp. Salvation has three steps to it: repent, believe, and call upon the name of Jesus.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23, NIV
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. – Luke 13:3, ESV
If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. – Romans 10:9-10, NIV
No one is perfect. We have all fallen short of God’s holy standard. Because of this we are destined to perish, but God loved us far too much to let that happen. Sending his son, Jesus took our punishment on the cross so that if we accept His sacrifice, we can have eternal life.
The key to unlocking this mystery is to repent of sins and to acknowledge that we need a Savior. Then believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to God the Father and eternal life. Call out to Jesus and tell Him that you are choosing Him!
Step 2 – Baptism.The first request Christ makes of us after salvation is to be baptized. In the ancient Jewish wedding custom of Jesus’ day, the soon to be bride participates in a ceremonial cleansing ritual. This was a “pool” in the community called a Mikveh. After her engagement, she publicly washes herself to signify that her status has changed. She is no longer available.
This is baptism. Jesus, our groom, has asked us to be baptized to show the community that our status has changed. We have died to old selves and are raised in the newness of life as he was raised from the dead. We are declaring that we are now followers of him. Continued spiritual growth can’t happen unless we take this very first step of obedience.
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. – Romans 6:4, ESV
Step 3 – Find a church.
This is difficult for some to do especially if there is past trauma inflicted by a church experience. It is imperative that the actions of the church is separated from God. Although they should reflect God, that is not always the case because church leaders are still human.
No matter how a church may hurt someone, God still commands that we attend one because we need the encouragement. Satan likes to isolate, but if we are connected to a community of believers it will be harder to attack.
Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. – Hebrews 10:25, ESV
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. – Matthew 18:20, ESV
Finding a church can be a challenge, but take your time with it. Look at what they believe to make sure their doctrines align with the Bible. Watch for friendliness of other attendees and how they worship. Is it dead or alive? Does the pastor use the Bible and actually talk about God or are the messages more of self-help lectures? These are things to look for.
Step 4 – SurrenderAs you begin to grow deeper in your faith, you will find areas in your life that God wants you to surrender. This is a life-long process, so don’t get discouraged. The more we see God in action, the more our faith and belief grows.
Many cringe at the word surrender because they believe that they’ll have to give up something they love for something horrible. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Yes, God may ask you to give up something important, but it’s always to give you something better.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
If peace is elusive, then ask yourself if you are holding onto something tightly that God wants you to give up. Let it go! It’s not worth the turmoil!
Step 5 – Know the enemy.
This is extremely important in your spiritual growth. There is another realm that is very real, and you need to be aware of it.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8, NIV
There’s a danger in ignoring the fact that the Devil and demons are real. Satan wants to deceive people into thinking that he’s not real or that he’s not that much of a threat. There are some Christians that believe to know too much about Satan is to give him more attention than he deserves.
If we applied that thought before going into war, we would lose. Those in command will learn everything they can about the enemy and their tactics in order to fight them and insure victory. Know the enemy! Be aware of his tactics. Learn to look beyond your circumstances and see the bigger picture.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12, NIV
Step 6 – Know who you fight with.
Along with understanding the enemy, grow in knowledge of who fights for you and who fights with you. The Holy Spirit has been given to you for the purpose of teaching, convicting, and comforting. He also prays for us when we don’t know how to.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groaning that cannot be expressed in words. – Romans 8:26, NLT
Jesus makes intercession to the Father on our behalf.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. – 1 Timothy 2:5, NIV
God has an army of angels protecting those that fear him.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. – Psalm 34:7, ESV
You have a community of believers fighting alongside you.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. – Hebrews 10:24, ESV
You are never alone in the battle. Always remember that God is more powerful than Satan, and he has given you the ability to overcome any trial.
Step 7 – Serve.
The last step for spiritual growth is to apply what you have been learning. When Jesus left earth, he gave the final command to Go.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. – Matthew 28:19, NIV
The best way for all the lessons to sink in is to “practice what you preach”. Spread God’s love whether it’s serving in the church, workplace, or community. Let those in your circle see your new life in Christ.
Seven steps for spiritual development: salvation, baptism, finding a church, surrender, knowing the enemy, knowing who you fight with, and serving. If you are struggling in any of these areas, reach out to a Christian coach who will help get you on your spiritual development journey.
“Christian Symbols”, Courtesy of Geralt, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Khmer Bible”, Courtesy of Se-Kimseng, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Unity”, Courtesy of Johnhain, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Glasses and Bible”, Courtesy of Frantras, Pixabay.com, CC0 License