Real Growth in Christ or False?
Growing in Christ can be a really tricky proposition. Sometimes we can even trick ourselves into thinking that good healthy growth is happening when it is not.
What if I think I'm growing, but I am not laying aside sin? It's false growth. Growth in one area but lacking in another doesn't necessitate growth in either. Engaging in ongoing sin while being in the Word means you're gaining head knowledge of the Word but not applying it to your heart and life, so it is fraudulent. It should be a wake up call for us. The concurrent combination of saying no to sin and yes to Jesus brings real growth and evident progress.
You can't say yes to sin and yes to the Word of God and grow. You will first be in conflict and then your heart will get calloused to the Word of God. You can't say yes to sin and no to the Word of God and not get messed up by it. And if you say no to sin and no to the Word of God you will become a moralistic practical atheist. The only good option is to say no to sin, reject sin; and yes to Jesus, yes to his Word. Yes to his authority, yes to his Lordship, yes to his will.
When Paul was instructing Timothy he said to have nothing to do with myths and other useless words that do not edify. He said that he should take pains in the things of God, say no to sin and yes to the Word of God, so that progress would be made and others would see the growth.
If you think you're going along just fine, because God hasn't zapped you or anything, but you know you are engaging in ongoing sinful practices, and the Holy Spirit or believers in the body have addressed this with you, there is only one appropriate thing for you to do: drop to your knees and confess (admit) your sin and repent (turn from the sin) from the bottom of your heart. Yes, it is a spiritual U-turn.
Repentance means you turn from sin and towards God. And this is actually exactly what 1 Peter 2:1-3 is talking about! Lay aside sin that hurts others and yourself, and go fervently for God's Word, meaning God himself and everything he has to say and his eternal, inerrant, infallible, objective Word that he has provided, preserved, and uses powerfully in our lives.
Anything that you are struggling with or maybe you haven't struggled with, but you have invited or coddled or encouraged in your life; any sin that is present in your life that might not feel really really bad (because you are deceived) but is really really bad; you are to actively, energetically, decisively, lay aside. Put away from you. Rid yourself of. If your heart and life has become infested with the vermin of sin, you must take decisive steps to rid your heart and life of such sin.
It might be the toughest thing you've ever had to do. It might be completely counterintuitive to how you feel about it. It might even feel right. But if God's Word says it's wrong, it is wrong. The sins listed in 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 1 have to do with not loving your brothers and sisters in Christ, which we were just commanded to do in 1 Peter chapter 1.
Seen in this light, it should all make perfect sense. But seen in the heat of the moment, when you are by yourself or with someone else, you might not see it. Which is why you need your brothers and sisters in Christ to help you see, and the light of the Word of God to illumine your path and expose the darkness.
Weeds can be mistaken for wheat, grass, and flowers. But in the end wood, hay, and stubble will burn. You want good fruit that remains. You want to be building with precious materials. You want to hear God say "well done". You want eternally significant growth in Christ to the glory and praise of God.