Five Characteristics of Spiritual Growth

From time to time, over the past several months, I have passed on to you valuable teaching about the doctrine of sanctification from Christ Formed In You by Brian Hedges, which my men’s small group has been studying this year. In Part 2 of the book, “The Pattern of Personal Change,” Hedges draws 5 characteristics of spiritual growth from the well-known Fruit of the Spirit passage in Paul’s letter to the believers in the churches of Galatia.

Here’s a suggestion for your personal time in the Word or small group. Read Galatians 5:13-26 and then think about/discuss the following traits of spiritual growth.

  1. Spiritual Growth is Relational. “Spiritual growth always happens in a relational context. Did you notice how this passage is framed with ‘one another’ commands?”
  2. Spiritual Growth Involves Conflict. Spiritual growth “never happens in ideal conditions. Expect a fierce contest between the Spirit and the flesh (Gal. 5:16-17). Conflict is normal in Christian experience. No one walks in the Spirit without waging warfare against unruly passions and desires (cf. 1 Peter 2:11).”
  3. Spiritual Growth Is Inside Out. “Spiritual growth is organic, not mechanical; fruit is grown, not built…. Because, like fruit, a character formed by the Spirit can only be grown from the inside out. It can’t be legislated.”
  4. Spiritual Growth is Symmetrical. “The text doesn’t say ‘fruits,’ but ‘fruit.’ The nine qualities, which follow, grow together. The singular form stresses that these qualities are a unity, like a bunch of grapes instead of separate pieces of fruit.”
  5. Spiritual Growth is Supernatural. The Holy Spirit “lives inside of us as the ‘Spirit of Christ’ (Rom 8:9)…. We will not grow if we are left to ourselves. We must depend on the Spirit.”

Here are two previous related posts. Double Representation and Ten Holy Affections of the Heart.

You can get Christ Formed In You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change from Westminster Books.

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