How to Grow in Grace
Rewritten and expounded upon by 1stcorinth420 - 4/28/08
Based on a paragraph by Charles G. Finney
From Lectures on Revival
Please remember that every step of progress in your Christian walk must be made by faith, and not by works, or any effort of our own. The mistakes that most have made upon this subject is truly amazing. The custom, or practice, has been almost universal. To represent growth in grace as consisting in the formation of habits of obedience... to God. Now, it is quite surprising that so many have fallen into this mistake. The fact is that every step of progress in the Christian life is taken by a fresh and fuller appropriation (taking exclusive possession) of Christ by faith, or in other words, a fuller baptism (encounter, submersion, overshadowing) of the Holy Spirit. As our weaknesses (faults or defects), infirmities (weaknesses of mind, will or character), besetting sins (constantly present, dominating or attacking), and necessities (growth needs or requirements, deficiencies) are revealed to us, by the circumstance (or occurrence) of temptations through which we must pass and fall prey to, we discover that our only efficient (producer of desired) help is found in Christ, and we grow only as we surrender ourselves out of those exposed weaknesses and failures, and then step by step more fully appropriate Him, in one relation or another, and more fully “put Him on,” (Romans 13:4).
John G. Lake once wrote, “The life of the Christian, without the indwelling power of the Spirit in the heart, is weariness to the flesh. It is an obedience to commandments and an endeavor to walk according to a pattern that you have no power to follow. However, the Christian life that is lived by the impulse of the Spirit of Christ within your soul becomes a joy, a power, and a glory.”
“I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my ordinances, and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:27).
As we are more and more emptied of self dependence, as we more and more renounce all expectation of forming holy habits by any practice of obedience, reliance or effort of our own, and as by faith we secure deeper and deeper baptisms of the Holy Ghost, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ more and more thoroughly, by just so much the faster do we grow in the favor of God. Nothing can be more erroneous (mistaken or in error), dangerous and exhausting than the commonly received idea of growing in grace by the formation of holy habits. By acts of faith alone we appropriate Christ, and we are sanctified the same as we are justified, by faith. If you grow in grace, you must do it through faith. You must pray in faith for the Holy Spirit. You must appropriate and put on Christ through the person of the Holy Spirit. At every forward step in your Christian progress, you must have a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit, sought for, hungered after, and received through faith. It was Jesus Himself Who said, “…how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13). Obedience then becomes an inward desire and a joy, no longer a struggle to maintain out the futile effort of our own flesh which is an unacceptable offering in the sight of God. Efforts that align themselves with the garden toils originally offered up by Cain… and rejected by God.
Jesus Christ came, and died, that we might receive “…the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4), which is the Spirit of the living God Himself. It is His indwelling alone that enables us to live the victorious life. “If you live in obedience to your earthly nature, you will inevitably die; but if, by the power of the Spirit, you put an end to the evil habits of the body, you will live. For all those who are led, or guided by the Spirit of God, are sons of God.” (Romans 8:13, 14)
If we could do any of what is required of us as followers of Christ on our own, if the New Covenant is all about adhering to a new set of rules according to the power of our own will and the vanity of our own flesh, then Jesus came… and died in vain.
“Oh foolish Galatians. Who has bewitched you that you might not know or understand the truth…are you so foolish having begun in the Spirit and now think that you are being made perfect by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1a, 3).
We cannot modify our own behavior and expect Him to approve of it. We must resign from our own efforts, and surrender our lives in constant offering to Him, Who promises to continue to fill us with Himself.
“…so that there may come times (plural, meaning more than one occasion) of refreshing from the presence of the Lord”
The Bible dictate is simple,
“And so I say to you--ask, and your request shall be granted: search, and you shall find; knock, and the door shall be opened to you (all of this speaks of desperate persistence). For he that asks receives, he that searches finds, and to him that knocks the door shall be opened. What father among you, if his son asks him for a fish, will give him a snake instead, or, if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you, then, naturally wicked though you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him!" (Luke 11:9-13).
"I am now standing at the door and I am knocking. If any one listens to My voice and opens the door, I will go in to be with him (I will manifest Myself to him according to John 14:21) and will feast with him (have intimate fellowship with him), and he shall feast with Me."
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (extreme indulgence in sensuality); but ever be filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit. Speaking out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, and at all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”