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Peter's Epistles part 016

Peter's Epistles part 016

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Published by rdlugi01
Peter's Epistles: a verse by verse exposition of the Petrine epistles, expounding the teachings contained therein and relating them to the Bible as a whole. Special emphasis is given to the issue of Christian suffering in order to provide spiritual help and encouragement in our own personal tribulations.
Peter's Epistles: a verse by verse exposition of the Petrine epistles, expounding the teachings contained therein and relating them to the Bible as a whole. Special emphasis is given to the issue of Christian suffering in order to provide spiritual help and encouragement in our own personal tribulations.

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Published by: rdlugi01 on Aug 31, 2009
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Peter’s Epistles #16Leadership of the Holy Spirit
(also available on-line at www.ICHTHYS.com) by Dr. Robert D. Luginbill
Reviewing Spiritual Growth:
We find ourselves in the midst of an important digression on thesubject of spiritual growth. This study was occasioned by Peter's wish for all believers toexperience an increase of grace and peace from God (1Pet.1:2). As we noted at the time we firststudied this passage, spiritual growth is the only means, the only path to any fulfillment of thiswish in our daily lives. Experiencing the power of God's grace and love, and the joy that fills theheart when we are truly focused on Him requires the steady growth of our 
inner person
(Eph.3:16). Spiritual growth is both the prerequisite for and the means to obtaining the increase of God's blessing to which Peter refers.We should not, however, think of such blessing in primarily material terms. This is not to saythat God never pours forth material blessings upon believers (we need only to think of Abrahamor Joseph). Nevertheless, it is true that the New Testament in particular warns us of thehardships and sufferings which accompany spiritual progress (1Pet.4:12-19). We would,therefore, be well advised to think of the blessings attendant upon spiritual growth likewise inspiritual terms. These are the sorts of blessings which attend spiritual growth and whichtranscend material gain in this world (Matt.6:19-21):to know the true happiness of putting Christ at the center of our lives (Phil.3:8-11).to fulfill the potential of production to which we have been called (Matt.13:23; Lk.8:15).to anticipate God's approval of our lives as a job well done (Matt.25:21).
Principles of Spiritual Growth:
When we first began talking about spiritual growth, we spent agood deal of time on the parable of the sower (Matt.13; Mk.4; Lk.8). The plant which springsfrom the seed of the Word of God represents us, our faith and spiritual life. Those who do "takeroot" (actually conceiving a saving faith in Jesus Christ) have two problematic growth phases tocontend with before they can "bear fruit" or be productive in God's plan:1) they must
send their roots down
deep enough to gather sufficient moisture towithstand the heat of the sun (that is, they must take in and retain by faith enough truth or "spiritual nutrition" to build up their faith so as to withstand the times of testing which come intothe lives of all believers in Jesus Christ).2) they must
rise above
the earthly “weeds” that will otherwise choke their growth and prevent them from bearing fruit (that is, they must not only hold on to their faith in times of testing, but must learn to apply what they have learned to life, subordinating earthly concerns
2and desires to their heavenly hope and persevering in the unique production God has given toeach believer despite the pressures of life).Overcoming life's testing requires much biblical "ammunition", distilled into principles of truthand stored in the heart by faith. To weather the constant storm of life, however, requires morethan an emergency procedure of accessible principles; it requires a whole new approach to life, awhole new way of thinking. We shall call this approach "virtue thinking".
Introduction to Virtue Thinking:
When we become Christians, things change dramatically for us (2Cor.5:17). Though still residing here in the devil's world throughout our earthly life, wehave nevertheless been delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God(Col.1:13). Our status has completely changed, and now our manner of thinking must change aswell. Our spiritual growth depends upon us laying claim to our "new man" status by actively"
making ourselves new through spiritual thinking 
" (Eph.4:23; cf. Ps.16:8 and the Psalms ingeneral).The development of spiritual or "virtue" thinking is a necessary part of the process of "sanctification in time" (see Pet.#13 for a complete treatment of the doctrine of sanctification).As we have seen, "sanctification in Christ" and "sanctification in eternity" are immediatedevelopments accomplished by God for us and require no sustained effort on our part. However,attempting to fulfill the mandate to be holy as God is holy (1Pet.1:16), involves more thanavoiding negative behavior. It also require positive progress in God's plan through our active pursuit of the goal of spiritual maturity. "When I was a child", the apostle Paul says, "I thoughtand reasoned as a child, but when I became a man, I did away with childish things(1Cor.13:11)." Just as we must eventually adopt a mature outlook as adults in the secular realmof life, so after we become believers we must change our pattern of thinking to reach spiritualmaturity.
The Nature of Man:
All human beings possess a dichotomous nature, that is to say we are allcomposed of spirit as well as body (Heb.12:9):And the Lord God formed the man [i.e., Adam’s body] from the dust of the ground, then blew into his nostrils the life-giving breath [i.e., his spirit], and [thus] the man became aliving person.
Genesis 2:7
The first man, Adam, had a material part, a body, which the Lord made out of earth, and animmaterial part (called here "the breath of life"), which the Lord placed into his body. As aresult, man became a living being. The word translated "being" in the NIV is the Hebrew
(often translated "soul" and for which the Greek equivalent is
). As a result of God's creative act, the first man became a whole, complete, living
. It was only after Adam received the immaterial, life-giving part that complemented his material part that he became complete. Like Adam, we are now and, through resurrection, shall ever be body andspirit. But in these present bodies of corruption, our thinking is naturally drawn to conform moreto the evil world around us than to the spiritual side of our makeup (Rom.7:18).
The Heart:
Human thought is a product of what the Bible often calls the "heart" (i.e., the
inner person, comprising all thoughts, emotions, etc.). According to the system of psychology inthe Bible, the heart is the place where body and spirit interact, a place strictly distinct from thespiritual part of our nature (1Cor.2:12; 14:14). Everything starts with the heart. Proverbs 23:7states "as a man purposes in his heart, so he is". From a biblical point of view, the heart is "whowe are". It is here, in our "heart", a place in biblical terms not at all divorced from our emotions,that we fight our most important spiritual battles. The heart is the place where we honor God,and also the place from which "proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts,false witness, and slanders” (Matt.15:18-19).Therefore the "natural" thinking which held sway in our minds before salvation was heavilyinfluenced by the lusts, desires, fears, and other emotions generated by the sin nature(1Cor.2:14). Now that we are believers, we are no longer "natural" (i.e. oriented toward thefleshly part of our nature), but "spiritual" (i.e. oriented toward the spiritual part of our nature,1Cor.2:15). Nevertheless, even as believers, we are not now miraculously exempt from the same powerful influences to worldly thought which led us astray before we were saved. To freeourselves from slavery to our old, pre-salvation ways, and to transform our lives into a pattern of  positive growth and service for God requires a transformation of our thinking as well:Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the revitalization of your thinking,so that you may be able to discover what God's will is, that is, what is good,well-pleasing, and mature (in His sight).
Romans 12:2
The transformation of life referred to here is a spiritual one, a growing away from the old andinto the new. It can only be accomplished by a new or virtuous pattern of thinking whichemphasizes the spiritual side of our being and stands in stark contrast to the carnal pattern of worldly thinking which surrounds us. So we need to think differently than we did, but what doesthat mean?
Transforming our Thinking:
As believers, we do in fact have the means to accomplish thetask given us by God of transforming our thinking. Consider some of the tools God has providedfor this essential task:We have the Holy Spirit who helps us understand the spiritual truths that feed our growth(1Cor.2:10-16.), and indeed who empowers all our Christian acts (1Cor.12:3).We have the right to approach God in prayer to ask for help and wisdom, as well as tocommune with Him (Eph.3:18).We have teachers and pastors to help us understand and remember principles of truth(Eph.4:11-16; 2Pet.1:13).And we have the Bible, God's Word, to be our source of daily meditation and instruction(Ps.1:1-3).
Full-Time Virtue Thinking:
To be effective as believers, however, and to accomplish our common objective of spiritual growth, we need to be spiritual all the time, not merely during the

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