The Holy Spirit and Growth in Grace
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 10 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Meet The Holy Spirit)
Regardless of the degree of one's spiritual maturity, he is always a minor here. Romans 8:23, "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." Notice the word "adoption." It means "majority" or "adulthood." The child of God does not reach spiritual majority or adulthood until his body is redeemed. That time will take place when Jesus comes for us and we receive our glorified bodies. I John 3:2, "Beloved, now are we sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is." Though we cannot grow to full maturity until then, we can, nevertheless, grow as children. As long as we have this body of flesh, we will be known as children of God.
If leaving the flesh at the rapture means us adults, then the lessening of the flesh and it's influence in our lives will enable us to grow to adulthood. This is the reason that the Corinthian church members were babes. I Corinthians 2:14, "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither fan he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." I Corinthians 3:1, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ." They were carnal. The word "carnal" means "flesh." To the degree that a Christian lives after the flesh he becomes childish. As he lives less after the flesh and more after the Spirit, though he is still a child, he does grow toward adulthood. The sad thing is that this growth is not necessarily progressive. At best, it is gradual. The growth is certainly not inevitable, it can be reverted. In other words, a Christian can grow in grace and become more mature. He then can become less mature by living more after the flesh. Consequently, the Christian's growth inn grace is in exact ratio to his walking after the Spirit and not after the flesh.
This growth in grace is a progressive one. Notice the words in I John 3:2, "We shall be like Him; FOR we shall see Him as He is." Why shall we be like Him? Because we shall see Him as He is. We shall not see Him as He is in a full sense until the rapture, but until then, the more we can see Him as He is, the more we will be like Him, for seeing Him as He is what makes us like Him. These words, "for we shall see Him as He is," in I John 3:2 could be translated, "as He shall be made manifested." This word "manifested" means "unveiled." This is like the unveiling of a statue. Day by day as we walk with God and walk in the Spirit, a little more of Christ is unveiled to us, and as we see more of Him due to this unveiling, we become more like Him. Hence, here is the divine order of growth in grace: 1. We walk with Him. 2. A little more of Him is unveiled. 3. We see Him more as He is. 4. When we see Him, we want to be like Him. 5. We then yield to the Holy Spirit, Who forms us more in the image of Christ.
Notice again, He makes us like Himself TO THE EXTENT THAT WE SEE HIM. We are as an unfinished block seeing more of the finished sculpture thereby desiring to be more like Him. With that desire and yielding, the Holy Spirit responds to making us more like Jesus.
We find then that the secret is to see Him more, for when we see Him, or appetites are whetted to be more like Him, and then the process of growth in grace is put into motion. How then may we see Him more? First and foremost, we must read and know the Word of God. If we would see Him, we must live in His Book. Second, we must walk with Him and talk with him in prayer. The more time we spend with Him and the more we consequently see Him, the more we will become like Him. Then also, we can see Him as we walk with people who are like Him, our desire to be like them and like Him is increased. Then, of course, a day-by-day yielding to the Holy Spirit is necessary in order that He may reveal Christ to us as we behold His glory. II Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
Now as we walk with Christ and fellowship with Him and become more like Him, we then begin to yield the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." This fruit is not generated by human effort. It is caused by a constant walk with Christ in the Spirit so that subconsciously we take His traits upon us. One cannot love because he DECIDES to love. He walks with the Author of love, and then gradually, love is transferred to him. One cannot have peace because he decides to have peace; peace is a fruit of the Spirit. As one walks in the Spirit, he then becomes more like Him, and peace is a natural result. Through constant fellowship with Christ, as we walk in the Spirit, He rubs off on us. This process brings forth the fruit of the Spirit.
Notice it is all one fruit. The Apostle does not say, "the FRUITS of the Spirit," but rather, "the FRUIT of the Spirit." One does not work on getting love and then work on getting joy and then work on getting peach, and once he gets those, works on getting longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, etc. He walks with the One Who is the embodiment of this fruit, and as one fruit, these ingredients come to us.
It is an accepted fact that constant dwelling with a person will make us take on his habits, his mannerisms, his gestures and oftentimes this even affects one's looks. Hence, we are not to seek the fruit; we are to seek HIM!
I guess the two people who have influenced me the most in my personality have been my Uncle Harvey Harris and Dr. John R. Rice. In the early days of my life, I got to know my uncle very well. His personality was contagious. The more I was with him, the more of his mannerisms I acquired.
For 22 years I spent much of my life with Dr. John R. Rice. I preached with him, shared motel rooms with him, ate meals with him, prayed with him, fellowshipped with him, and in so doing, acquired many of his mannerisms. Now, I did not TRY to do so; it just happened.
This is true concerning the fruit of the Spirit. We are not to try of obtain the fruit; we are to try to walk with Him Who possesses it in it's perfection, and as we walk with Him and yield to His Spirit, the Spirit of God gives us more and more of this fruit. Now we are not to try to be like someone else, we just join their venture and let it happen. It may be that this is the most important part of education. Perhaps the most important thing obtained by formal training is not collection of facts and the acquiring of certain knowledge, but rather the privilege of having close contact with great people. In so doing, their personalities merge with ours and we are the better for it. This is the reason young people should go to Christian schools where dedicated, Spirit-filled professors and teachers cannot only impart to them great truths but show to them the fruit of these truths in a life. Perhaps if we would spend less time wanting to be like Jesus and more time wanting to be like Him, maybe we would be more like Him. Maybe if we spent less time attempting to walk LIKE Him and more time walking WITH Him, we would then walk more like Him. Oh, yes, to be sure, we should have a desire an yearning to be like Jesus, but being like Him does not come because of a desire or yearning; it comes because we get to know Him better; perhaps by osmosis we become more like Him.
The same is true concerning walking and fellowshipping with the wrong crowd. Galatians 5:19-21, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, reveling, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." Most people who begin doing the works of the flesh do not start on such a path by seeking to do so. Rather, they walk with those who possess these qualities and are subconsciously affected by them until they find themselves doing the works of the flesh because of their association with those who embodied these evil deeds.
The Bible says that we are predestined to be like Jesus. Romans 8:29, "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." Here the word "predestinated" means "determined." Here the word "predestinated" means "determined." The words "to be" in that verse are durative, which means, "to be being." The word "conformed" comes from two words meaning "with form." Put them together and we have, "God has determined for us to BE BEING with the form of His Son." This passage is not speaking at all about salvation; it is simply telling us that God in His foreknowledge wanted to conform us to the image of His Son and to make us like Jesus, and He is doing that now, in that we are to BE BEING like Jesus. So it is the will of God that we BE BEING like Jesus or that we become more like Him daily.
God has also predestined us to be holy. Ephesians 1:4, 11, "According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will." God has determined that we should be holy, or set apart. Note also Ephesians 1:5, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." The word "adoption" here means "majority" or "adulthood." God has predetermined that someday we will be adults. Romans 8:23, "And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves grown within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." Notice that this adoption comes AT THE REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES. The redemption of our bodies comes at the rapture. So one day we will become adults. The Holy Spirit will see to it. In the mean time, God wants us to be becoming more holy all the time. This is done as we yield to the Holy Spirit.
I can recall my mother telling me when I was a little boy, "Son, I love you, but I loved you even before you were born. I loved you before I knew what you would look like, how big you would be, and what color your eyes and hair would be." Jesus is saying, "A long time before you were born, I knew you would be saved, and I loved you. Even then I determined that someday I would make you like Me and that the Holy Spirit would perform this work." He is saying, "Before you were born, I wanted for you to be holy and set apart and live for the praise of God's glory."
Now the Holy Spirit's part in all this is found in Romans 8:13, "For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." Our part is in Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." We are to present our bodies or yield or bodies constantly a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service. The word "reasonable" here means "spiritual," which means that EVEN THIS is accomplished by the Holy Spirit.
There is one other thing that God has chosen us to do. John 15:16, "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in My name, He shall give it you." These words do not teaches that God has chosen some people to go to Heaven and some to go to Hell! Nothing is farther form the truth! They do teach us that God has chosen that each of His children should bring forth fruit. Again, this fruit is brought forth as the Holy Spirit works in our lives.
We can then say that before the foundation of the world, God ordained that those whom He knew would trust Him would have the Holy Spirit to help them to be more and more conformed to his image, that this same Holy Spirit would lead them to win others to Christ, and that this same holy Spirit would lead them to win others to Christ, and that this same Holy Spirit would someday present them faultless before the presence of His Glory with exceeding joy. Jude 24, "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." Hence, the Holy Spirit will someday make me like Jesus. Until that day, it is the plan of God that I yield to Him more and more so that He can make me more and more like Jesus, until that day when I awake in His likeness.
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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." —Billy SUNDAY