Self Help

How People Grow What the Bible Reveals ab - Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend

Author Photo

Matheus Puppe

· 62 min read

“If you liked the book, you can purchase it using the links in the description below. By buying through these links, you contribute to the blog without paying any extra, as we receive a small commission. This helps us bring more quality content to you!”



Here are a few key points summarizing how people grow according to the book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend:

  • Growth is a process that involves struggle and takes time. There are no quick fixes or easy answers. People often expect spiritual growth to be easier than it is.

  • To understand growth, you have to see the big picture of how God designed life to work. The Bible provides this framework of spiritual, psychological, and relational principles that enable growth when applied.

  • Growth occurs in the context of grace, truth, and time. God is the master gardener who tends our growth through his grace, truth, and patience.

  • People need a supportive climate to grow, which comes through acceptance, forgiveness, and community. This provides the openness and warmth for growth.

  • There are several key ingredients to the path of growth, including God’s Word, difficulties and suffering, developing righteousness, discipline, spiritual poverty, obedience to God, resisting sin and temptation, facing reality, activity and effort, and time.

  • Spiritual growth is a lifelong process. The goal is to increasingly know, love and be like Christ. This growth glorifies God and helps us reach our potential.

In summary, the book presents a biblical model of how growth takes place through God’s grace and truth, supported by loving relationships, culminating in spiritual transformation over time into Christlikeness. The principles enable people to cooperatively partner with God’s work in their lives.

Here is a summary of the typical activities in a busy psychiatric unit:

  • Patients exhibiting psychotic symptoms like hallucinations or delusions. Staff may need to provide medications, therapy, or restraints to help stabilize acute psychosis.

  • Patients struggling with severe depression or suicidal thoughts. Staff provides close monitoring, therapy, and medications to improve mood and ensure safety.

  • Group therapy sessions held to teach coping skills, process emotions, and provide peer support. Common diagnoses like addiction, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder are addressed.

  • Patients meeting with psychiatrists and therapists for medication management and individual counseling. Treatment plans are reviewed and adjusted.

  • Nursing staff distributing medications, monitoring side effects, and assisting with activities of daily living.

  • Social workers coordinating discharge plans, connecting patients with community resources and support systems.

  • Security staff maintaining safety, responding to incidents of aggression or self-harm.

  • Recreational activities like art therapy, exercise classes, games to provide stimulation and track progress.

  • Admissions and discharges as patients stabilize and transition back to outpatient care. Census fluctuates day to day.

In summary, a psychiatric unit involves intensive around-the-clock treatment delivered by an interdisciplinary team to stabilize acute mental health crises and improve functioning. The pace is busy with many different therapies and changing patient needs.

Here is a summary of the key points from the chapter:

  • Cloud and Townsend recall teaching a group of ministry leaders about spiritual growth. They realized many had not had formal theological training, so they wanted to provide a big picture framework of where humanity came from, where it went from there, and where it is heading.

  • To understand spiritual growth, we need to look at the overarching story of the Bible. God created a perfect world, but humans sinned and that perfection was lost. However, God had a plan to restore humanity through Jesus.

  • Spiritual growth is about progressing from our fallen, broken state back toward the perfection that God intended. It is moving from darkness back into light, from death back to life.

  • We are on a journey back to the paradise that was lost because of sin. The goal of spiritual growth is restoring our relationship with God, ourselves, and others to align with God’s perfect design.

  • As facilitators, we need to understand this big picture theological framework of where we came from and where we are going in order to guide others on the path of spiritual growth. We want to move people from a place of brokenness back toward wholeness and the fulfillment of their created potential.

Here are four key ideas from the account of Creation in Genesis:

  1. God is the source of all life and creation. Everything originated from him.

  2. Relationship was central to God’s design. Humans were made for relationship with God and each other.

  3. God was the authority and humans were under his authority. He gave commands and boundaries.

  4. Submission to God’s authority was key for humans to experience the fullness of life as God intended. Deviating from God’s design led to death.

Here is a summary of the key points about the roles of people in the passage:

  • God’s role was to be the source and provider. Humans’ role was to depend on God as the source.

  • God’s role was to be in control of the world. Humans’ role was to yield to God’s control and exercise self-control.

  • God’s role was to judge life and know good from evil. Humans’ role was to experience life, not judge it.

  • God made the rules for life. Humans’ role was to obey those rules.

  • In the Fall, humans tried to reverse these roles - seeking independence from God, taking control, becoming the judge, and making their own rules. This overturned the created order and damaged human relationships with God and each other.

Here is a summary of the key points in this chapter:

  • Rich and Stephanie are used as an example to illustrate how the Fall affects real relationships.

  • Though active in ministry, they were disconnected from God as a source of life and trying to meet their own needs.

  • This led them to look to each other for fulfillment, depending on the other person instead of God.

  • They became controlling and judgmental, reversing roles with God, which damaged their ability to love each other.

  • Redemption would involve reconnecting to God as the source, restoring their relationship, submitting to God’s order, and returning to their proper roles.

  • Their story illustrates how the Fall’s effects play out in everyday relationships and how redemption and growth reverse the damage.

  • Even good people active in God’s work can be negatively impacted by the Fall without realizing it. Examining relationships in light of the biblical narrative is key.

  • The chapter shows the importance of understanding the theological context of problems and growth in order to find solutions.

  • Rich and Stephanie were leaders in a large church but their marriage was struggling despite years of spiritual growth activities like Bible study and prayer.

  • They had lost their close dependence on God as the source of life and instead depended on themselves. They did not turn to God for help in their marriage or Rich’s sexual addiction.

  • Though involved in ministry, their relationships with others were not promoting growth or intimacy. They viewed relationships mainly as a context for ministry rather than a means of growth.

  • Their model of spiritual growth focused on Bible study, prayer, etc. but lacked key relational ingredients they needed to grow.

  • Over time they had become disconnected from God and disillusioned with their faith, feeling it had not deeply changed their lives.

  • The story illustrates how reconciliation with God’s created order involves depending on him as the source of life, valuing growth-promoting relationships, and addressing the impact of the Fall. For Rich and Stephanie, this came later through counseling.

  • Rich and Stephanie focused on spiritual activities like Bible studies and Christian service, but lacked deep, healing relationships. Their insecurities and issues from childhood went unresolved.

  • They needed a community where they could be vulnerable and receive support, growth, and healing. This could have prevented their marriage crisis.

  • Though committed to God as Lord, they didn’t submit to him in their daily lives and attitudes. Obeying God as Boss saved their marriage.

  • They had drifted into a self-sufficient role rather than depending on God and others. Reclaiming dependency through support groups was crucial.

  • Initially seeing themselves as victims, they came to take responsibility for their destructive attitudes and behaviors. Letting God take control enabled change.

  • Boundaries and self-control had to be developed. Their passions and desires could no longer rule their lives.

  • Restoring their proper roles as dependent on God and others, yielding control to God, and developing self-control enabled healing and the rebuilding of their marriage.

  • The author was counseling a couple named Rich and Stephanie. He pointed out that they were both trying to control each other, which was hurting their relationship.

  • Stephanie tried to control Rich by nagging him when he didn’t do things she wanted. She felt this was necessary or else nothing would get done.

  • Rich tried to control Stephanie’s feelings about him by trying to make her happy so she wouldn’t get upset with him.

  • The author told them they were both acting like “control freaks” and needed to stop trying to control the other person.

  • Stephanie had to let go of her need for structure and accept that she couldn’t control Rich. She had to trust God instead.

  • Rich had to stop trying to appease Stephanie and make her happy all the time. He had to trust God instead of trying to control her reactions.

  • As they gave up trying to control each other externally, they gained more self-control internally. This improved their relationship.

  • Judging each other also hurt their relationship. They needed to accept each other instead of judging. When they stopped judging, they could experience each other more fully again.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Rich and Stephanie did not overtly reject God’s principles, but they subtly ignored and doubted them, living as if “did God really say that?”

  • They did not see their marital problems as connected to disobeying God’s ways, nor did they look to obeying his principles as the solution.

  • To heal their marriage, they had to rediscover that God’s design and ways were given to make life work.

  • Rich had to realign with the Bible’s teaching on embracing weakness and powerlessness. This helped him conquer his addictions.

  • Stephanie had to stop playing judge over Rich and learn that judgment belongs to God alone. This allowed her to truly know Rich and become a source of healing.

  • Overall, Rich and Stephanie had to rediscover that obedience to God’s principles is the path to healing and thriving in relationships and life. They had to shift from subtly doubting to fully aligning with God’s design.

  • The author recalls a difficult time in college when he had to quit his dream of playing competitive golf due to a hand injury. He felt lost about his future career and relationships.

  • One day he randomly opened a Bible and read Jesus’ words about seeking God’s kingdom first and not worrying about tomorrow. This gave him hope that God could provide answers.

  • He prayed a simple prayer asking God to show him if He was real. Later a friend invited him to a Bible study, which he took as a sign God had heard him.

  • Attending the Bible study, he learned that seeking God and His righteousness provides answers to life’s issues. This began a long process of coming to know who God really is.

  • One of the biggest obstacles to growth is our view of God. We must know His true nature as a gracious and loving God who desires to help us, not one who is against us or hates us. Getting this right is key for spiritual growth.

  • One of Jesus’ main aims was to correct people’s misconceptions about God’s nature and character.

  • When Philip asked Jesus to “show us the Father”, Jesus responded that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father, indicating that he reveals the true nature of God.

  • Jesus came to reveal that God is “with us”, not against us. He showed grace, favor and love, not condemnation.

  • People need to shift from seeing God as a God of law, demanding perfection, to seeing God as a God of grace, who is for us and wants to help us.

  • Grace means God’s unmerited favor and help. It is more than just forgiveness of sins.

  • Trying to earn salvation through self-effort is a legalistic view. Grace means we receive from God what we cannot achieve ourselves.

  • Practically, grace reverses the legalistic view. Instead of condemnation for failure, God is inclined to help in our weakness. Instead of demanding we save ourselves, grace means God’s provision of what we lack.

  • God’s grace is only effective when there is a need for it. People need to realize their inability to change or grow on their own before they will seek God’s grace.

  • The law shows us our need for grace by making us aware of our failure and inability to meet God’s standards. The law has value in bringing us to the end of ourselves so we realize we need help.

  • People often deny their need for grace and think they can change in their own strength. They need to be confronted and brought to a “death experience” where they realize they have come to the end of themselves.

  • Confrontation is an important tool to cut through denial and get people to see their need for God’s grace. Encouragement can enable denial, so sometimes discouragement from trying in one’s own strength is needed.

  • People will not see their need for grace if they do not see how they are failing to meet God’s standards. The law reveals where they are missing the mark.

  • Blaming circumstances or God for one’s problems or lack of growth enables denial. People need to take responsibility for the ways they are contributing to problems so they realize their need for change.

Here are the key points summarizing the passage:

  • As a child, I saw God the Father as someone who could help me, and I would pray to him “in Jesus’ name”, but I didn’t really understand Jesus’ role beyond that.

  • In college, I grew in my faith and grace, and learned about the Holy Spirit’s ministry in me, as well as Christ’s sacrifice for my sins. But I still didn’t grasp Jesus’ ongoing role in spiritual growth beyond salvation.

  • I learned about abiding in Christ, which helped me see I needed an ongoing relationship with him, but that was about it.

  • Others talked about having a profound, meaningful walk with Jesus, experiencing his power, and having deep spiritual cleansings “in Jesus’ name.” I wanted that kind of relationship but didn’t know how.

  • I realized I needed to understand how Jesus’ life, character, words, attitudes, and actions should become mine as I grow spiritually. I needed to internalize Jesus and his life as the model for my own growth.

  • Jesus is “with” believers through his indwelling presence, providing life, fruitfulness, answered prayer, power, and peace. People need to become aware of and dependent on Jesus’ presence within them.

  • Jesus serves as an identification model, showing through his life how to live and grow spiritually. His example is especially important in how to respond to suffering.

  • Jesus did not avoid suffering but saw it as part of the growth process. People need to normalize suffering as part of growth.

  • Jesus shows how to discern between godly suffering that produces growth versus ungodly suffering to be avoided.

  • Bearing suffering requires humility, not grandiosity or denial. Jesus humbled himself and did not demand exemption from suffering.

  • In his suffering Jesus depended on God and others for support, modeling interdependence over independence.

In summary, Jesus is essential for spiritual growth through his indwelling presence and his example of how to walk the path of growth, especially by responding properly to suffering.

  • When someone is sinned against or hurt by others, they should acknowledge the wound rather than deny it, as Jesus modeled expressing his pain openly. Staying connected to supportive relationships is also important, rather than isolating oneself.

  • It is natural to want to retaliate when hurt, but Jesus taught and exemplified loving and forgiving instead of seeking revenge. This does not mean we should not protect ourselves, but revenge is not the answer.

  • When injured, people often lose self-control and give power to the one who hurt them. Jesus maintained self-control and stayed on mission when wronged. Growth comes through taking back ownership of one’s life rather than remaining stuck.

  • Jesus had authority over evil and sin. He took a zero tolerance stance against it. Spiritual warfare is real - evil exists, but Jesus overcame Satan’s power. Recognizing evil’s influence and Jesus’ authority over it is important in the growth process.

Here are a few key points to summarize Jesus as our example for living and dealing with temptation:

  • Jesus resisted temptation by relying on God and Scripture, setting an example for us. He was tempted in every way as humans are, yet did not sin, so he understands and can help us when we are tempted.

  • Jesus’ suffering allows him to identify with us in our own sufferings and struggles. He is both compassionate and able to actively help us grow through difficulties. His experience enables him to be our merciful high priest.

  • When we realize Jesus understands our suffering from his own experience, it gives us comfort and encouragement to keep persevering in growth. His empathy for our weaknesses makes us feel less alone.

  • Jesus faced the temptations and trials of human life, showing us how to handle them in dependence on God. He models humility, refusing retaliation when harmed. His example guides us to make suffering normal yet seek to grow through it.

  • Overall, Jesus is the perfect model of living a human life in total reliance on and obedience to God. We are called to identify with him so we can walk as he walked, overcoming temptation and living for God’s purposes.

The Holy Spirit plays a key role in the process of spiritual growth. He initiates growth by drawing us to Christ, and he completes the work of making us like Christ. The Holy Spirit gives us security in our relationship with God by sealing us when we believe in Jesus. He then comes alongside us as a Counselor to help in many ways, including searching our hearts, giving abilities, leading and guiding, teaching truth, counseling, helping live rightly, filling and controlling, convicting, changing, and giving gifts to build up the church. We are to partner with the Holy Spirit in the growth process by asking for and depending on his work in our lives. Knowing the Spirit’s role provides assurance that growth is not up to us alone but happens through his power.

Here are a few key points summarizing the passage:

  • The Holy Spirit’s work cannot be reduced to a formula. We cannot control or predict exactly how and when He will work.

  • We should seek the Spirit, ask for Him, and follow Him. The Bible promises that if we ask for the Spirit, God will give Him to us.

  • Spirit-filled living involves a moment-by-moment relationship of depending on the Spirit. We yield ourselves to the Spirit working within us as we also actively take steps of faith and obedience.

  • Examples are given of people depending on the Spirit to empower them to resist temptation, make difficult confessions, have wisdom in conflicts, and confront others. In each case, they had to both rely on the Spirit and actively obey what He showed them to do.

  • The Holy Spirit provides guidance, strength, truth, and helps us in our growth process. As we depend on Him, taking steps of faith, He enables us to do things we could not do on our own power and wisdom.

  • The Holy Spirit empowers believers to live the Christian life, giving strength beyond our own abilities. We are to step out in faith, while the Spirit provides the power.

  • We need to yield control to the Holy Spirit, allowing him to guide us moment by moment. This involves submitting our will to his leading.

  • We can ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us about ourselves and God’s ways. Though sometimes painful, truth leads to growth and reality where God is.

  • The Holy Spirit leads us to truth through conviction, teaching, guidance, and showing the path. Our role is to follow where he leads.

  • The Spirit may speak in different ways to different people, such as through thoughts, feelings, circumstances, other people, Scripture, etc. We need to learn to recognize his voice and leading for our lives.

  • Overall, the Christian life involves trusting and obeying the Holy Spirit’s promptings as he empowers us to grow. It’s a partnership of our action and his provision.

Here are a few key points summarizing the passage:

  • The Holy Spirit communicates in different ways, including staying on someone’s mind, bringing up issues repeatedly from various sources, and quick promptings of conscience. The key is following each step the Spirit reveals.

  • Some misconceptions about being Spirit-filled are that it means no struggles, no sin, and instant spiritual fruit. In reality, growth takes time and the Spirit works progressively.

  • While imperfect progress doesn’t mean the Spirit is absent, a total lack of spiritual fruit or desire for God may signify his absence.

  • It’s not a passive “let go and let God” but an active partnership of following the Spirit’s leading step-by-step through life’s struggles. The Spirit empowers change but we must do our part in the process.

In summary, the Holy Spirit works individually to reveal truth and empower change, which we follow obediently one step at a time. It’s a journey of progressive growth by active partnership, not passive perfection. The goal is depending on the Spirit to become who we were designed to be.

  • The author was feeling depressed and disillusioned with God after giving up his dream of being a professional golfer due to injury.

  • A Christian friend listened and recommended he talk to a seminary student named Bill who had experience ministering to college students.

  • Bill and his wife Julie “took in” the author and discipled him - teaching him about God and the Bible and helping him grow spiritually.

  • Bill taught the author theology and doctrine and how to study the Bible, helping him understand and experience God in new ways.

  • Julie helped the author explore his inner life and process feelings of loss and hurt related to giving up golf.

  • Through being discipled by this couple, the author began to experience change and spiritual growth.

  • The author realized the “emptiness” he was feeling was actually sadness and hurt that needed to be processed.

  • The experience showed the importance of community and relationships in the process of spiritual and emotional growth.

Here are a few key points about the role the Body of Christ plays in spiritual growth:

  • Connection - People need relationship and connection with others to thrive emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Isolation can lead to many problems. The church provides connection to God and others.

  • Acceptance - The church can provide a place of belonging and acceptance, countering the rejection many experience. This allows people to heal and grow.

  • Accountability - Other believers can lovingly confront our sins and destructive patterns, helping us repent and change. Accountability leads to growth.

  • Teaching - The church teaches biblical truth, doctrine, ethics, etc. This instruction helps us mature in faith and obedience.

  • Modeling - We learn by example. Seeing other mature believers model Christlikeness gives us an image of what growth looks like.

  • Encouragement - The church encourages us in faith, hope, and love. This motivation propels us to persevere in pursuing growth.

  • Correction - When we stray doctrinally or ethically, the church can correct us. This preserves us from error and stunting of growth.

  • Discipline - At times discipline is needed, even to the extreme of excommunication. This stark reality prompts repentance and restoration.

In summary, growth requires interdependence with the Body of Christ, not just independence with Christ alone. The church is God’s plan and instrument for our growth.

Here are a few key points I gathered from the passage:

  • The Body of Christ is designed to connect people to each other, providing support and helping them grow. Being part of a small group or community is often key for overcoming struggles.

  • Addictions and compulsive behaviors are often driven by isolation and disconnection. Connecting to others in recovery groups helps break the power of addiction.

  • Discipline and self-control are developed through “other-discipline” - being disciplined and structured by others, then internalizing it. Accountability groups can expose problems but not fix them - further help is needed.

  • Accountability groups should monitor if someone is taking steps to truly address their issues, not just confess and commit to do better. The group itself does not provide the healing or change needed.

In summary, God’s plan is for people to grow through deep connection to Him and others in the Body of Christ. This happens through community, discipline from others, and taking steps beyond just accountability to truly transform.

  • Grace comes from outside of us, as unmerited favor. God uses other people to dispense his grace.

  • We can “know” grace intellectually, but to really experience it, our hearts need to be open and connected to God’s grace through others. Fellowship where people’s hearts are open allows grace to be felt deeply.

  • Many confess sins to God but don’t experience forgiveness fully because they don’t open up to others. Vulnerable sharing is needed.

  • The story illustrates how a pastor experienced grace and broke his addiction when he finally opened up to a group and saw their compassion.

  • We may not be open to receiving the grace available to us. Providing vulnerable experiences helps grace do its work.

  • Support from others enables us to face difficult tasks and grow. The story of the mother depending on her friend Emmett illustrates this.

  • The Body of Christ administers grace and provides the support we need to grow.

  • The church community functions like a body to surround and support its members in times of grief and loss. Just as the cells and systems in the physical body rally around an injury to promote healing, the church comes around to hold up and care for its hurting members.

  • Grieving is an important process that allows us to work through and let go of pain, while retaining the learning experiences. It helps us digest the bad things that happen and eliminate the waste, so our hearts stay open to new experiences.

  • Going through the grieving process with the support of the church body enables people to come out the other side and move forward in a healthy way. Trying to grieve in isolation leaves people vulnerable.

  • Spiritual mentoring should include guidance in career and work matters, not just prayer and Bible study. Developing talents and skills is part of our spiritual growth and character development. Mentoring people in their work as part of discipleship leads to greater success and an integrated life.

  • The church has a role to play in mentoring and guiding people in all aspects of their lives, including their careers. This provides character development and integration between work and spiritual life. Leaving career mentoring solely to companies leads to a split between work and faith.

We need supportive relationships to help us through difficult times like grief and loss. In a church community, people can find healing by sharing their pain with others who understand and care. This is better than trying to numb the pain through unhealthy behaviors. Through relationships we can experience healing, confront issues, gain accountability, and see positive examples. The body of Christ is designed to gently restore people caught in sin or addiction, not judge them. We need to see modeling of healthy conflict resolution and forgiveness. God designed us for community because we need each other for support, growth, and healing.

  • God designed humans to grow and mature through relationships with other people. This is “Plan A” - God working through people to accomplish his purposes.

  • The Bible highlights many ways the church community (the Body of Christ) is meant to facilitate growth, including providing connection, accountability, discipline, support, mentoring, modeling, healing, and confronting sin.

  • Seeing other believers honestly acknowledge their struggles and imperfections helps reduce shame and guilt. It provides hope and models for working through difficulties.

  • One-on-one discipleship allows doctrine and real life to intersect in a personal, relational way. This kind of investment in others’ growth is a biblical model.

  • Spiritual growth involves a “complete makeover” as we are reborn into God’s family. Just as children grow up in a family, believers mature in the family of God as the church fulfills its role.

Here are the key points from the excerpt:

  • Acceptance begins with God, who accepts us through Christ despite our sinfulness. As Christ accepted us, we are to accept others.

  • Acceptance means receiving someone into relationship with no condemnation. It is closely tied to grace.

  • Acceptance was God’s original design for human relationships before the Fall, seen in Adam and Eve’s vulnerability and lack of shame.

  • After the Fall, God’s holiness required atonement for sin, which Christ provided on the cross. This restored our acceptance by God.

  • Acceptance frees us from bondage to the law’s impossible demands. We no longer have to prove our worth or appease God’s anger.

  • Acceptance allows us to focus on love and growth rather than legalistic efforts to be good enough. It liberates us.

  • Acceptance creates a climate where people feel safe bringing their whole selves. This empowers vulnerability, confession, and transformation.

  • Acceptance is key for spiritual growth. Condemnation blocks change, while grace empowers it. Acceptance helps restore God’s original relational design.

  • Acceptance builds trust and relationships. It allows people to be known and loved fully.

  • Acceptance provides healing and growth. Feeling accepted helps people be more honest and vulnerable, bringing issues into the open.

  • Acceptance creates safety to be ourselves. It allows us to experience all parts of ourselves, even the negative ones, so they can be healed.

  • Acceptance enables confession and healing. Feeling accepted gives us the safety to confess issues and bring them into relationship with God and others.

  • Acceptance increases initiative and risk in growth. With acceptance, people are more likely to take risks and try new things in their spiritual growth.

Overall, acceptance is a powerful force that builds connections, enables growth and change, and motivates spiritual development. It does this by providing safety, trust, and freedom from judgment.

  • As we mature spiritually, we grow by trying new things, even if we fail. There is no condemnation, only acceptance.

  • Acceptance allows us to become aware of our brokenness and need for grace. Simply pursuing goodness misses the mark; we need acceptance of our flaws.

  • To find greater acceptance, confess your needs, give up trying to earn acceptance through the law, deal with tendencies to negate acceptance, and use acceptance to grow. Request rather than demand acceptance.

  • Acceptance is not the same as agreement. Acceptance creates a safe context for honest feedback.

  • To foster acceptance, communicate it is the norm, be appropriately vulnerable, address critical attitudes as internal issues, distinguish between sin and sinner, and maintain humility.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Guilt originally came from humanity’s separation from God due to the Fall. This broke our relationship with God and made us feel guilty and ashamed.

  • Guilt is resolved through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin against God by dying on the cross. This restores our relationship with God and reconnects us to him.

  • When we are reconnected to God through Christ, there is no longer any separation or guilt. We are declared “not guilty” and nothing can separate us from God’s love.

  • The resolution of guilt comes from being reconciled to God, not from “being good.” It is based on Christ’s sacrifice, not our own merits.

  • In Christ, there is no longer any condemnation or wrath against us. The verdict is “not guilty” - our guilt has been fully resolved.

  • Understanding this theology of guilt’s origin and resolution is important for addressing feelings of guilt in the spiritual growth process. Guilt is ultimately resolved through deepening our connection to God in Christ.

  • The Bible talks about our legal standing before God, not our feelings. We can feel guilty even when God has forgiven us.

  • Wrong teaching can make us feel guilty if we don’t understand God’s forgiveness. We need to know what the Bible says about no condemnation.

  • Disconnection from grace can lead to guilt. We need grace from God’s people too. Being in a supportive community helps.

  • False standards like perfectionism cause guilt when we compare ourselves to an unrealistic ideal. Getting in touch with reality and seeing ourselves as fellow strugglers resolves this.

  • Stephen feels guilty because he has one or more of these issues - wrong teaching, disconnection from grace, or false standards. He needs to address the root causes to resolve his guilt.

Here are some key points about finding the warmth of forgiveness and dealing with a condemning conscience:

  • Forgiveness comes from fully understanding that we are made righteous and forgiven through Christ. We can’t earn forgiveness or righteousness through our own efforts.

  • A condemning conscience keeps us feeling unforgiven and condemned. It focuses on guilt instead of godly sorrow and repentance.

  • Guilt is self-focused and says “I’m bad.” Godly sorrow is other-focused and says “I’m sorry for how I hurt you.”

  • We shouldn’t confuse guilt feelings with the conviction of the Holy Spirit. His conviction is about showing us where we are hurting God or others.

  • The conviction of the Holy Spirit should lead to godly sorrow and a desire to make things right, not just feeling guilty.

  • Conscience needs to correct us with both grace and truth, not just condemnation. We need an accepting tone that still holds us to God’s standards.

  • Getting connected to other forgiven strugglers helps us internalize God’s forgiveness. We’re not alone in our failures and need for grace.

  • The key is moving from guilt to love - seeing how our actions affect God and others, not just feeling bad about ourselves. God’s forgiveness can then warm us.

Here are the key points from the example:

  • Summer felt intense self-criticism and condemnation (“I’m so stupid!”) after making a mistake and going back to a destructive relationship. Her inner voice was very harsh.

  • The group realized Summer needed help changing the tone of her inner voice to be more gentle and loving, not critical. Harsh inner voices don’t actually keep people on the right path.

  • Over time, with the group’s support, Summer was able to transform her self-talk to be more compassionate. When tempted again by her ex, she heard the group’s kinder voices guiding her, and was able to make a healthier choice.

  • The example illustrates the importance of addressing self-condemnation versus just feeling bad about mistakes. The goal is to help people develop a more supportive inner voice so they can grow. Harsh self-criticism is ultimately counterproductive.

The section also distinguishes between “true guilt” and “false guilt” - feeling appropriately remorseful versus undeserved self-condemnation. The focus should be on addressing the real problems, not just feeling guilty. Guilt doesn’t lead to change, but insightful problem-solving does.

  • Joyce felt guilty after being honest with a friend, even though the friend was not upset. This reflected internalized guilt messages from past relationships where her honesty was punished.

  • Guilt often comes from having an aspect of oneself attacked or disapproved of in a significant relationship. That part then feels guilty when expressed. Joyce felt guilty about expressing her truth-telling self.

  • Anger that can’t be expressed outward is often turned inward as guilt. Resolving the anger removes the guilt.

  • Being in a perpetual child position under parental figures leads to constant guilt from seeking approval. Moving into equal adulthood resolves this.

  • Guilt is about feeling separated from love. Feeling connected to love removes guilt more than feeling better about oneself.

  • The spiritual community can help resolve guilt by providing a safe place to grow into adulthood, resolve anger appropriately, and feel connected to love. The focus should be on addressing the real problem underlying guilt, not just on forgiveness.

Here are a few key points about the power and authority of the Bible in spiritual growth:

  • The Bible is God’s inspired and authoritative Word. It is trustworthy and contains everything we need to know about spiritual growth and resolving personal struggles (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

  • Through the Bible, God reveals himself, his purposes, and his plan for growth and redemption. The Scriptures point us to Christ and shape our understanding of who God is.

  • The Bible is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). God’s Spirit works through Scripture to convict, instruct, guide, and transform us. The Word impacts us emotionally, spiritually, and practically.

  • Scripture equips us for growth. It teaches, rebukes, corrects, and trains us in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). As we apply biblical truth, it renews our minds and changes our lives.

  • The Bible doesn’t just give us information - it is relational. God reveals himself to us through his Word and transforms us as we encounter him. Scripture helps us know God personally.

  • God’s Word is comprehensive. It thoroughly equips us for growth in Christ (2 Timothy 3:17). The Bible contains everything we need to understand spiritual growth and resolve personal struggles.

  • Scripture works in conjunction with God’s Spirit. The Spirit illuminates the Word and enables us to understand, apply, and be shaped by biblical truth.

  • Overall, the Bible has unique authority and power to facilitate lasting heart transformation as we humbly submit to its teachings. It is God’s living and active catalyst for growth.

  • Reading the Bible allows people to come into contact with God and see the world from his perspective. It is one of the main ways God speaks to people’s lives.

  • The Bible points to God as the ultimate source of all growth and maturity. Spiritual growth comes from dependence on him.

  • The Bible prescribes elements necessary for growth - relationship, truth, and time. It also outlines tasks for growth like submission, need/dependency, responsibility, and forgiveness.

  • The Bible is itself a resource that aids growth in four main ways: it teaches truths about God, rebukes sin and wrongdoing, corrects errors and flaws, and trains in righteousness.

  • Specific Bible passages can speak to an individual’s specific situation or need at a given time, as illuminated by the Holy Spirit. The Bible both universally communicates God’s truth and personally applies it to each person.

  • Overall, the Bible is essential for spiritual growth because it connects people to God and prescribes how growth happens. It both teaches about growth and directly facilitates it through the work of the Spirit.

Here are a few key points summarizing the relationship between the Bible and psychology according to the passage:

  • The Bible contains all the principles and truths necessary for spiritual growth and relating to God and others. God has been maturing his people through the Bible since creation.

  • All personal growth can be viewed as spiritual growth, whether it is religious, emotional, relational, or behavioral.

  • Psychology is secondary to and must bend the knee to Scripture. Psychology can illustrate and support biblical truths, but the Bible is the ultimate authority.

  • Psychologists observe human behavior and draw conclusions about motivation, development, and problem-solving. These conclusions align with biblical teachings, even though they are not directly based on the Bible.

  • For example, the Bible and psychology both recognize the human need for community and relationships. Though psychology did not get this from the Bible, it aligns with biblical teaching.

  • In summary, the Bible is sufficient for growth and mature living, though insights from psychology can shed additional light on human behavior in a manner consistent with Scripture. But Scripture remains the final authority.

Here is a summary of the role of suffering and grief in growth:

  • Suffering and grief are inevitable parts of life. Growth comes from how we respond to them.

  • Suffering builds perseverance, character, and hope. It helps us let go of things we have depended on and deepens our relationship with God.

  • Grief is the process of accepting loss. It involves shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Avoiding the pain prolongs grief.

  • Letting ourselves grieve is healing. We need to feel the loss, express the emotions, and accept that life is different now. This allows us to adjust to the new reality.

  • God comforts us in our grief and uses it to conform us to Christ’s image. We grow by depending more on him, rather than things that can be lost. Our faith and character are strengthened.

  • Facilitators should validate people’s pain, help them process their emotions, avoid quick fixes, encourage spiritual growth, and walk with them through the grief process. Suffering produces hope when handled in God’s way.

  • There are two types of suffering - “good pain” that leads to growth, and “muggings” which are destructive and offer no benefit.

  • When helping others who are suffering, first distinguish which type of pain it is. Offer healing, support and comfort for “muggings”.

  • For “good pain”, recognize it has value for growth. Do not assume suffering is due to sin or lack of faith.

  • The story of Dan illustrates “good pain.” Success led to arrogance and distance from others. Business and marriage crises caused great pain, but led Dan to make needed changes.

  • Suffering can tear down negative traits and build up positive ones, like exercise builds up muscles. But not all suffering is meant for growth.

  • The key is determining which type of suffering it is, and giving the right kind of help - comfort for destructive pain, and support for growth with constructive pain.

  • The story is about a man named Dan who had a successful career and status in the church but was emotionally isolated and relied on charm and performance to cope.

  • When difficulties arose, Dan’s coping mechanisms failed and his weaknesses were exposed.

  • The author argues this kind of “good pain” that breaks down old patterns is necessary for spiritual growth and maturity. Suffering pushes us past our limits so we can develop perseverance, character and hope.

  • Dan had to face his pain and inferiority and give up his controlling behaviors. This was like a painful surgery to remove unhealthy parts of his character and develop new spiritual health.

  • Suffering is part of the path Jesus modeled to become obedient and grow. We need to view trials as opportunities to learn and grow, not just pain to avoid. The goal is becoming mature and complete in Christ.

  • The summary is that painful trials, if undergone rightly, can produce character growth and spiritual maturity by exposing our limitations and forcing us to develop new godly habits and perspectives.

  • Peter initially avoided suffering and denied Jesus. After Jesus’ death, Peter embraced suffering and became a bold leader of the early church.

  • Suffering helps break our self-centeredness and self-sufficiency. It opens us up to realizing our need for God.

  • Embracing necessary suffering helps build character, compassion, and spiritual maturity. Avoiding legitimate suffering leads to stagnation.

  • We should view suffering as a tool for growth, not something to avoid. Helping others see the value in their suffering can lead to redemption.

  • Suffering for unavoidable circumstances is different from suffering due to our own patterns and sins. The latter can be redeemed by owning our part in it.

  • Spiritual leaders should guide people to embrace suffering for growth, not enable avoidance of it. Suffering can strengthen and transform people.

  • Jesus taught that following him requires denying oneself, taking up one’s cross, and embracing suffering. When Peter tried to get Jesus to avoid suffering, Jesus rebuked him and taught that suffering is necessary for growth.

  • We can arm ourselves with Christ’s attitude toward suffering in two main ways:

  1. Emptying ourselves of trying to be “godlike” and humbly submitting to God’s will instead of our own. This is what Jesus did in giving up equality with God to become human.

  2. Submitting our will to God’s will, as Jesus did in Gethsemane when he prayed “Not my will, but yours be done.” This means facing our problems and pain instead of avoiding suffering through things like substances, performance, materialism, or defense mechanisms.

  • Tony avoided dealing with criticism from girlfriends by becoming defensive. Even if the criticism was unfair, his reaction was immature. To grow, he had to face the pain of the criticism without withdrawing or retaliation. Embracing the suffering of staying engaged is key for growth.

  • The author explains that he was counseling a man named Tony who had a pattern of getting defensive and withdrawing from relationships when conflicts arose.

  • The author challenged Tony to stop acting defensively and instead learn to relate to others as God would want him to, even if it meant “suffering” through difficult interactions.

  • Tony worked on not being defensive and learned to stay engaged. He discovered underlying hurt and fear from childhood that he had to face.

  • As Tony became less defensive, he was able to have healthier relationships. He fell in love and got married to a woman he may have seen as “too strong” before.

  • The author explains that we need to focus on our own ability to relate well, not others’ issues. Like Jesus, we should “suffer through” others’ dysfunction and not retaliate, instead overcoming evil with good.

  • This kind of suffering leads to growth in character and righteousness. We have to pick up our cross, give up saving ourselves, and surrender our will to God’s will.

  • Grief is the hardest voluntary pain but it heals hurt. God wants us to grieve to let go of bad things and make room for the new. Grief is how the soul finishes with pain and is freed up for better things.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Grief is a natural process we are designed for when we experience loss. It follows stages: the loss itself (reality), protest (denial, anger), despair/depression (giving in), sadness/grief (letting go), and resolution (moving forward with understanding).

  • Grief is good for the heart according to Solomon - “A sad face is good for the heart.” Going through the grief process helps us let go, say goodbye, and become available for new life.

  • We don’t grieve as we should because we often stay in denial or protest of a loss for a long time, not seeing it as a real loss. Also, grief is difficult and painful, so we avoid it.

  • Grief should be seen as normal and embraced as a healing process leading to growth and resurrection. We need support and contexts to go through grief fully.

  • If we get stuck protesting a loss instead of fully grieving, we can’t move forward. Grieving losses like unmet childhood needs can free us to have new relationships not determined by the past.

In summary, embracing the grief process, as difficult as it is, allows us to let go, grow, and move forward in new life. We need to see grief as normal and helpful, not something to avoid. Supporting others in their grief process is important.

  • When seeking God’s help to improve our lives, we often focus just on what He can do for us rather than realizing we need to grow and change too.

  • Becoming more righteous means becoming more mature and Christlike in our character and actions. It is not about being perfect but changing dysfunctional patterns.

  • Growth and healing often come as we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness. For example, the author’s depression was healed as he resolved ungrief and became more relationally open and vulnerable.

  • We want God to just give us better circumstances, but sometimes he wants to make us better people first, so we are ready for those new circumstances.

  • Seeking righteousness means turning from our ways and adopting God’s ways instead in how we live, feel, think, and act. The author had to become more responsible, honest, relational, etc.

  • Bible verses illustrate righteousness is not just a legal standing before God but a way of living: showing love, speaking truth, bearing fruit, etc.

  • As we seek God’s kingdom and become more righteous people, the things we need are often given to us, as growth enables new capacities.

In summary, to gain what we want from God, we need to seek not just his favors but his transformation of us into more righteous and Christlike people. Our growth is key to receiving God’s blessings.

  • To grow and become righteous people who do things God’s way, we need three characteristics:
  1. Repentance - Turning from worldly ways and adopting God’s ways instead. This is not about “being good” but about finding the path to life.

  2. Understanding and Insight - Seeking to continually gain more wisdom and discernment into God’s ways.

  3. Discipline - Committing to the pain and effort required to grow spiritually.

  • We should follow God’s ways not out of religious obligation, but because they lead to life and prosperity.

  • The Beatitudes outline the values of God’s kingdom which are opposite to the world’s - weakness instead of power, mourning instead of comfort etc.

  • The teachings in the Sermon on the Mount give a blueprint for righteous living that leads to blessing.

  • To grow, we must reject the world’s ways and wholly adopt God’s ways, realizing this is the only path that works and leads to life.

Here are a few key points on growing in righteousness:

  • Righteousness means being in right relationship with God and others. It goes beyond just rule-following to having a heart oriented toward what is good, just, and loving.

  • We need to see righteousness not just as something we “should” do, but as something we truly need for our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. It leads to the life we desire.

  • Gaining insight into our own lives is crucial. We need context and feedback to become aware of areas we lack righteousness and need to change. Bible study alone is not enough.

  • Group settings can provide this deeper level of insight into our patterns and dynamics that we can’t easily see on our own. Accountability helps.

  • Righteousness must be internalized and lived out at a personal level. We have to apply God’s ways to our specific issues and struggles. Head knowledge isn’t enough.

  • Becoming more righteous is a growth process. It takes continually examining our hearts, receiving input, and making changes over time to align our lives with God’s ways.

The key is connecting growing in righteousness not just with “being good” but with living the fulfilling life God desires for us. Insight, accountability, and personal application are essential.

  • Discipline provides the structure for love to grow us up. We need external discipline to develop internal self-control.

  • Discipline involves training, correcting, instructing, reproving - it is the process of learning self-control.

  • We need discipline because we lack self-control in areas of life. Like children, we go astray and need parameters.

  • Discipline applies to all areas we are not operating rightly in - from organization to attitudes to relationships.

  • The goal is to develop the fruit of self-control over time through God’s and others’ discipline, so we rely less on external enforcement.

  • Discipline, though painful, is an essential part of growth. We should not despise or resent it.

  • Submitting to discipline with humility is honored by God, as in the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector.

  • Discipline leads to blessings of righteousness, peace, and fruitfulness when we embrace the process.

  • Self-control provides structure for love to flow through us in fulfilling ways. Discipline gives us form and protection.

  • Discipline is often painful but leads to growth. It should not be seen as punishment but as nurturing.

  • For discipline to work, the person being disciplined must provide receptiveness, confession, and repentance.

  • Discipline must come from an outside source like God, other people, or reality imposing consequences.

  • Discipline should be administered with empathy, care, and appropriate amounts of pain to promote change.

  • Ultimately, discipline helps instill self-control, responsibility, and dependability in someone, building character and maturity.

  • Discipline is an important part of spiritual growth. It helps us prune away unhelpful behaviors and habits.

  • Discipline should be administered with grace, care, and sensitivity. The goal is growth, not punishment. Give reminders before consequences.

  • Know what needs disciplining - ignorance, lack of structure, unhealthy patterns, etc. But also comfort those who are brokenhearted.

  • People often resist discipline through denial, rationalization, minimization, or blaming. Point these out gently.

  • Discipline takes time to work, depending on the attitude of the person, severity of issue, and resources available.

  • The goal is for the person to internalize the lesson so they no longer need external discipline.

  • As a facilitator, make sure any pain you administer through discipline is appropriate and careful. Earn the right to speak into others’ lives.

  • Ultimately, see discipline as an act of love to help people grow. God disciplines us because he cares for our growth.

Here are some key points on the value of spiritual poverty in helping people grow:

  • Spiritual poverty helps people recognize their need for God. When we experience our brokenness and dependency on God, it drives us to seek him rather than relying on our own strength.

  • It counters self-righteousness and narcissism. Recognizing our spiritual poverty keeps us humble before God and dependent on his grace.

  • It draws us to God for comfort and healing. In our poverty, God promises to be near to the brokenhearted. Our need draws us closer to him.

  • It helps us relate to others who are struggling. Seeing our own spiritual poverty helps us have compassion for others going through hard times rather than judging them.

  • It motivates us to grow. Experiencing our deficiencies and need for God motivates us to pursue growth and maturity in Christ.

  • It is a “blessed” condition. Despite the difficulty of facing our brokenness, Jesus called this state “blessed” because it helps us find refuge and salvation in God.

  • It is the common human condition. Regardless of outward appearances, all people are incomplete and in need of God’s grace. Spiritual poverty helps us identify with others.

The key is that coming to terms with our spiritual poverty and need for God is an important step in spiritual growth and relating to others also on the journey. It draws us to God’s resources rather than our own.

  • Spiritual poverty helps people grow because it makes them aware of their neediness and drives them to seek God. It is required for saving faith, as we must admit our lostness to accept Christ.

  • Spiritual poverty develops a hunger for God. Those who know their need are more motivated to look beyond themselves to the Lord. There is a paradox that more dysfunctional yet “poor in spirit” people often grow more than less dysfunctional people.

  • Spiritual poverty helps endure the pain of growth. Once aware of the need, it’s hard to go back to pretending there is no problem. The pain of growth becomes more bearable than the pain of staying in poverty.

  • Spiritual poverty keeps us living relationally, reducing us to a childlike neediness and helplessness which connects us to God and others. It is the opposite of self-sufficiency.

  • Overall, the more broken we are, the more God can grow us up. Spiritual poverty drives us to him.

Here are the key points from the passage:

  • Children naturally seek relationship and help from others when in need. This illustrates the blessing of spiritual poverty - it helps us seek comfort, support, and acceptance from God and others.

  • Spiritual poverty provokes us to move beyond spiritual immaturity into a deeper relationship with God. It doesn’t allow us to remain shallow.

  • Spiritual poverty guides us to identify specific areas of spiritual need and growth, as it makes us seekers. Different people may need to grow in different areas like being loved, self-control, accepting themselves and others, etc.

  • Ways to develop spiritual poverty include: asking God, being honest about your weaknesses and need for God, studying biblical teachings on spiritual poverty, getting feedback from others, and sharing your needs with a small group or in your family.

  • The goal is realizing and admitting your poverty before God, not becoming poor. This poverty and need keep us close to God and dependent on him.

There are a few key points we can glean from these stories about obedience in spiritual growth:

  • Obedience needs to go beyond just devotions and spiritual disciplines. It must connect to real life, relationships and situations. Jackie was obedient in her religious life but it did not transform her marriage.

  • Obedience is more than just following rules or principles from the Bible. It involves wisdom in applying those principles to complex situations. Kim saw the biblical principles as too rigid.

  • Obedience requires faith and perseverance even when we don’t see results. Both Jackie and Kim struggled with continuing to obey God amidst difficult marriages.

  • Obedience is about submitting our will to God’s, not just checking off a list. It flows from a heart surrendered to God, as we trust Him even when life is hard.

  • True obedience brings freedom, not bondage. Neither Jackie nor Kim experienced the joy and fulfillment that comes from following God’s ways.

  • Obedience goes two ways - we obey God and He responds by guiding us. We need to stay connected to God and listen for His direction in each situation.

The key is that obedience is about a relationship with God, not just blindly following rules. It requires wisdom in applying God’s principles, faith when we don’t see results, and an openness to God’s leading each step of the way. The goal is becoming more like Christ and experiencing the blessings of following Him.

Here are the key points in summarizing the passage on the three women and obedience:

  • Jackie sought closeness to God through religious activities like Bible study and prayer, hoping it would solve her marital problems. But she didn’t look inward at her own issues.

  • Kim had an affair and left her husband. She saw God guiding her through emotions and relationships, leading to self-actualization. She focused more on personal growth than obedience to God.

  • Alison committed to making her marriage work. She pursued closeness to God but also looked inward to identify and work on her own issues. She took responsibility for her part in the problems.

  • The author sees Alison’s approach as the most balanced - maintaining obedience to God through spiritual disciplines while also doing inner work to grow and heal.

  • True obedience should encompass all of life and all of oneself - not just external behaviors but internal values and motivations too. It leads to life and prosperity when followed.

  • Obedience helps integrate different parts of oneself that may be in conflict, like distrust and need for intimacy. Submitting to God in all areas brings wholeness.

  • Obedience is an essential part of spiritual growth. It involves submitting to God’s ways and commands.

  • There are different aspects of obedience: external behavior and internal attitude. Both are important for comprehensive spiritual growth.

  • The tasks of obedience change as we grow in maturity. God meets us where we’re at and shows us the next step.

  • Failure and disobedience are inevitable due to our sinful nature. However, we should repent, seek forgiveness, and get back on the path of obedience.

  • Repentance involves changing our mind, feeling remorse, and changing behavior away from sin and toward God.

  • We find guidance for obedience in biblical commands, the Holy Spirit’s prompting, godly counsel, our conscience, and circumstances.

  • Obedience leads to blessing, while disobedience leads to difficulties. Staying on the path requires humility, faith, and perseverance.

You raise an important issue about the complex nature of sin and human responsibility. A balanced view affirms both truths:

  • We are responsible moral agents - Our choices matter and we are accountable for our actions. Sin begins with our will and choices.

  • We are also fallen and powerless - Due to the effects of sin, we are incapable of fully extricating ourselves from its grip. Our will is compromised.

A few key points:

  • Seeing ourselves as completely powerless can lead to fatalism and diminish personal responsibility.

  • Seeing ourselves as completely free agents denies the distorting effects of sin on our nature and minimizes grace.

  • We need God’s empowering grace to overcome sin’s hold on us. Our efforts alone are insufficient.

  • Taking responsibility involves confession, repentance, accountability, and utilizing spiritual resources. It’s not merely trying harder.

  • The hope is found in Christ’s redemptive work, not our own futile efforts. We need a Savior to rescue us from sin’s power.

So in summary, a balanced biblical view affirms human responsibility alongside an honest acknowledgement of our inability apart from God’s grace. This leads us to humility, dependence and gratitude for the cross.

  1. Sin is a real problem that prevents growth. But not all struggles are due to one’s own sin - some are due to the sin of others or living in a fallen world.

  2. Telling people to simply “do better” or follow the law does not work to change behavior long-term because of our sinful nature and because the law actually arouses sinful passions.

  3. The law produces guilt, anger, and fear in people but cannot transform them.

  4. The solution is repentance and living by the Spirit instead of the law. Through Christ, the requirements of the law can be fully met in us as we live by the Spirit instead of the sinful nature.

  5. The gospel provides the way out - we need God’s grace and power through Christ, not just willpower and effort. This transforms us from the inside out.

  6. Sin is like a weed - the gospel solution deals with sin at the root so it stops cropping up. The law only trims the tops of the weeds.

  7. Summary: Telling people to simply stop sinning doesn’t work long-term; we need repentance and grace through Christ to live by the Spirit instead of the sinful nature in order to experience true transformation.

  • There are two aspects to sin - our inability to resist due to our sinful nature, and deliberate rebellion against what we know is right.

  • We are powerless to stop sinning on our own and need God’s help. Simply trying to stop a sinful behavior through willpower is not enough.

  • To overcome sin, we need to go through a process of admitting our powerlessness, repenting and changing our thinking, establishing a relationship with Jesus, being set free from guilt/condemnation, seeking healing for hurts, receiving forgiveness, and living according to the Spirit’s work in our lives. This involves submitting all areas of life to God.

  • “Repent” means a complete change of mind and life direction, not just stopping a behavior. It’s a total life change to living by the Spirit’s power.

  • However, sometimes we do have control yet choose to rebel and sin anyway, out of meanness or desire to indulge. This shows a deliberate choice against what we know is right.

  • We need to identify areas where we are deliberately rebelling vs. where we are truly powerless, and take responsibility for our willful disobedience. God’s help is needed for both.

  • Sin is a reality that we all struggle with. Even when we have the ability to do good, we sometimes willfully choose to sin instead. The solution is confession, remorse, repentance, making amends, and reconciliation.

  • We should not make excuses for our sinful choices or blame others. Though our past experiences may explain our motivations, they don’t excuse our behavior. We are still responsible for how we respond.

  • Sin is more than just outward actions, it also includes inward thoughts, attitudes, and motivations that are contrary to God’s will. We need to look inside ourselves, confess and repent of the “crummy stuff” we find there.

  • Even good and legitimate needs, when unresolved, can tempt us towards sinful ways of meeting those needs. Satan often tempts us in our areas of weakness and need.

  • The key is dealing with our hurts, needs and motivations through healing, repentance and reliance on God rather than sinful quick fixes. Our sinful choices are still our responsibility even if the temptation arises from places of brokenness.

  • Sin stems from trying to meet our needs apart from God, becoming our own ‘god.’ True repentance involves returning to dependence on God.

  • We are often tempted to only address the bad behavior, not the hurt or need driving it. Overcoming sin requires adding good as well as removing bad.

  • Strategies for avoiding sin include praying, fleeing tempting situations, and escaping when temptation arises. Don’t flirt with temptation.

  • Sin involves independence from God, loss of relationship with him and others, trying to control things, and judging self/others. It stems from trying to usurp God’s role.

  • Loving God by obeying him and loving others helps cure sin. Loving others meets needs that we try to meet through sin. Community and connection to others is part of the cure.

  • Jesus said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor. Following these undercuts sin by returning us to proper dependence on and relationship with God and others.

  • John had an encounter with truth from multiple sources that helped him grow. His wife, a client, and a friend all told him he was distant and preoccupied. Initially he denied it, but eventually he realized they were all reflecting the same truth back to him.

  • The Bible verse 2 Corinthians 6:12 resonated with him and convicted him of withdrawing affection from others while being preoccupied with a business problem.

  • Facing the consistent feedback from others and the conviction from the Bible verse humbled John and helped him realize he had gone inside himself and lost contact with those around him.

  • This experience illustrates how truth from multiple sources can lead to growth and self-awareness if we are open to hearing it. Even if the truth is uncomfortable or we resist it at first, embracing it deepens growth.

  • The passage emphasizes being open to feedback from others and Scripture as sources of truth that can promote growth, if we humble ourselves to recognize when we need correction or change. Facing reality leads to growth.

Here are a few key points about how truth functions in spiritual growth:

  • Truth provides a path for life and spiritual maturity. It gives us a guide and structure to know the way to grow.

  • Truth is meant to be combined with love and grace. God blends truth, love and grace together. We shouldn’t separate truth from love in relating to others.

  • Truth both saves and gives life. It warns us of danger and also guides us into life-giving activities and relationships.

  • Truth helps separate what is real from what is not. It clarifies reality, helping us discern truth from falsehood.

  • Truth convicts and frees us from sin and illusion. It shows our need for God and helps align us to him.

  • Truth sanctifies us and renews our minds. As we internalize truth, it transforms us to be more like Christ.

In summary, God uses truth in many vital ways to facilitate our spiritual growth and maturity in him. Truth is an essential tool God gives us on the path of growth.

The passage discusses several important truths for spiritual growth. First, people need to know the truth of God’s design - his plan for their growth and prosperity. Second, they need the truth about their own condition - that everyone has weaknesses and areas needing growth. Third, they need to know the resources available for growth, like relationships and time. Fourth, they need to understand the tasks required for growth, such as self-examination and change. Fifth, they should be aware of obstacles like spiritual resistance.

The passage then discusses how truth serves different functions in growth. Truth provides illumination of inner dynamics, comfort in hard times, clarification of problems, guidance for life issues, and correction when people stray. Growth facilitators should provide a full menu of truth tailored to the needs of each person.

Finally, the passage advises that we should have the right attitude toward truth - loving it, being open and receptive, admitting when we’re wrong, and applying it to our lives for change. This helps maximize the healing and growth that truth provides.

  • Truth is powerful and can save and preserve lives, so it is understandable to love and pursue it. Seek out truth through God, honest people, and safe relationships.

  • Facing truth can be painful but ultimately worthwhile. The more love we have, the more truth we can bear. Become sensitive to truth vs untruth.

  • Be open to all styles of truth delivery. Accept that there are mysteries and unknown truths that we may never fully understand. Focus on the truth we do have access to.

  • Struggles with truth come from past hurts or from too much permissiveness. Both require experiencing loving truth and seeing the fruit of living by truth vs self-will.

  • Take an active stance towards pursuing truth. The more connected to truth, the more discerning one becomes. Truth and growth go hand in hand.

  • Spiritual growth requires active participation and effort on our part. It is not passive.

  • Activity and love are interconnected. Love fuels activity and activity expresses love. Loving relationships require initiative and effort.

  • Spiritual growth is a collaboration between us and God. We have certain tasks such as seeking out safe people, opening up, confessing who we are, etc. God prepares our hearts, sets up circumstances, and brings results.

  • Exploring our souls and seeing what needs to be done is hard work and requires love and support from God and others.

  • We are active partners with God in our spiritual growth, not just passive recipients of God’s work. Growth requires initiative from us, except for the passive period of the womb.

  • Examples are given of a couple in counseling - the more damaged person who actively pursued growth saw more life change than the less damaged but more passive person.

  • Spiritual growth takes blood, sweat, and tears - it is active work, not passive ‘happening’ to us. But it is a collaboration with God’s efforts as well.

Here are some key points summarizing the causes and solutions for passivity:

  • Misunderstanding the Bible’s message - The Bible encourages active engagement and warns against passivity. Need to correctly understand biblical principles.

  • Fear of failure - Passive people avoid taking risks that may lead to failure. Need to develop resilience and learn from failures.

  • Lack of ownership - Passive people don’t take responsibility for their lives. Need to realize they have power to shape their lives.

  • Dependency needs - Passive people overly rely on others instead of being proactive. Need to build autonomy while still valuing relationships.

  • Identity struggles - Passive people lack strong sense of self. Need to develop their identity in Christ.

  • Unresolved childhood wounds - Passivity can stem from childhood emotional neglect. Need healing through counseling.

  • Biological factors - In some cases passivity has biological underpinnings. May need medical help.

Solutions include biblical teaching on active engagement, developing self-efficacy, taking ownership of one’s life, building autonomy, resolving identity issues, healing childhood wounds, and medical treatment if needed. The key is progressing from passivity to proactivity.

Here are a few key points about the importance of time in spiritual growth:

  • Spiritual growth is a process that takes time. There are no quick fixes or instant solutions. It requires patience and perseverance.

  • We must wait on God’s timing. His plan for our growth unfolds gradually according to His wisdom, not our own desired timeframe. Rushing the process can short-circuit what God wants to do in us.

  • Spiritual growth involves both sowing and reaping. We sow spiritual disciplines, good deeds, service, etc. Then in God’s timing and ways, we reap the fruit - changed thoughts, character, and habits.

  • Seasons of difficulty are often needed for the deepest growth. Trials strengthen our faith and dependency on God. Waiting through them develops perseverance.

  • Rest is an important part of the rhythm of spiritual growth. We need Sabbath breaks from our busyness to receive from God.

  • Community provides support and encouragement to keep going during the waiting times. Other believers walk with us through the process.

  • Keeping an eternal perspective is key. Our present struggles are temporary compared to our future hope and God’s final purpose being fulfilled in us.

In summary, spiritual growth requires committed action by us, along with patient waiting on God’s work in His timing. Embracing both the active and passive dimensions leads to deep and lasting life transformation.

  • Spiritual growth takes time. Many people get discouraged when they don’t see instant results. But growth is a process, like plants growing.

  • Time became part of God’s plan after Adam and Eve sinned. Time allows for the process of redemption and healing from sin.

  • Spiritual growth involves more than just intellectual learning. It requires experiencing God’s love and grace deep in our hearts. This takes time.

  • Forgiveness and grace are unnatural to us and thus take more time to really sink in.

  • Growth requires repeated exposure and practice for lessons to fully take root in our character. We have many parts to our soul that grow at different paces.

  • We often resist truth and need time to become safe enough to face difficult realities about ourselves.

  • Facilitators of growth groups should not feel guilty if people aren’t instantly matured. Time is required for the process to happen. Stay patient and focused on the elements of growth.

  • Growth takes time. We often want quick fixes but real change is a long process.

  • Work on both internal (heart) and external (behavior) change, but focus primarily on the internal. External change without internal change is superficial.

  • Severity of issues, early onset, lack of resources, and spiritual poverty all tend to lengthen the time needed. Those with deep hunger for God will grow faster.

  • Unresolved issues mean part of us is stuck in the past. We must bring these hurt parts into present healing relationships.

  • We don’t literally relive the past. We work in the present, but may need to understand past origins of struggles.

  • The past is formative but not fully determinative. Our character was shaped but not permanently set by the past. God can always bring change.

  • Bring past injuries to God for his perspective and healing, not to wallow in anger over them. Look at the past through the lens of God’s sovereignty.

  • Stay in community, as isolation keeps past wounds alive. Community brings healing. Time and processing in safe relationships are key.

  • Spiritual, emotional, and relational issues usually have a history. Understanding someone’s past helps with empathy, spotting patterns, and enabling forgiveness.

  • Trauma can resurface in growth contexts as flashbacks. This needs specialized care to turn the memories into healed parts of the past.

  • Growth happens through a process over time, not instantly. Key aspects include:

  1. Recognizing a need for God or a struggle to resolve.

  2. A relational arena for growth through vulnerable relationships.

  3. Identifying core issues driving outward symptoms.

  4. Taking ownership of one’s issues and life.

  5. Rebuilding tasks like exercising injured parts through practice and risk.

  6. Forgiveness, grief, and letting go of the past.

  7. Good fruit - better emotions, relationships, God connection.

  • Time allows growth from intellectual knowing to heart knowing. Facilitators should give perspective on the growth process and why it takes time for each person. Stay away from “time heals all” passivity. Use time responsibly without perfectionism.

My friend, focusing on growth and becoming who God designed you to be is a noble goal. However, comparing yourself to others or putting unrealistic expectations on yourself can lead to discouragement. The healthiest growth happens gradually, at your own pace, as you seek God and invest in your relationships. I encourage you to be patient with yourself, trust God’s timing, and celebrate progress along the way.

  • Eternal life comes through faith in Christ (59)

  • God created the universe (35, 145, 194, 348)

  • We should evaluate our behavior against God’s standards (53-54)

  • Evil exists, but Christ has authority over it (87-88)

  • Experience is important, not just intellectual learning (349)

  • We will face failure, but can accept it and move forward (342-44)

  • Growth comes through grace and truth (77-78, 159)

  • Guilt can be resolved by understanding its source and accepting God’s forgiveness (163-65, 169, 181-82)

  • Healing comes from God (38, 58) and through prayer (113-14)

  • We need humility and openness to grow (83-84)

  • Obedience to God brings growth (283-84)

  • Pain can produce growth (206-11)

  • Pride is an obstacle to growth (307)

  • Scripture reveals truth for growth (319)

  • Sin impedes growth, repentance enables it (255, 288)

Here is a summary of the book How People Grow by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend:

The book explains that spiritual and emotional growth is a process that requires effort and takes time. Growth is difficult and doesn’t happen automatically. Understanding God’s grace, following Christ’s example, and relying on the Holy Spirit are key to growth. People, acceptance, forgiveness, and community create the right “climate” for growth. Tools for growth include reading the Bible, facing suffering and grief, developing righteousness, embracing discipline, overcoming spiritual poverty, practicing obedience, resisting sin and temptation, seeking truth, taking action, and being patient. Growth is a lifelong journey ofobedience, relationship with God, and transformation into Christlikeness. The process requires perseverance through struggles but leads to increasing maturity and fruitfulness.

Author Photo

About Matheus Puppe