Growth in Grace
There is a growth in grace and many confuse this growth with the experience of Sanctification. In order to obtain Sanctification you must meet God’s requirements, just as you did when seeking pardon from sin. You were forgiven and made a new creature in Christ. You cannot save yourself or grow into Salvation. Neither can you grow into Sanctification. You must prepare your vessel to meet the approval of God, and He will sanctify you. You must be holy before you can grow. Just as a person who goes swimming cannot swim into the water, but must first be in the water before he can swim. A growth in grace is necessary.
A fitting example is found in the thinning of apples: The apples that have defects — worms, scales. etc. — must be picked off and destroyed when the fruit first comes on the tree. The apples that remain on the tree are perfect looking; but they are small, have very little juice, have no color and are sour. Nevertheless, they are perfect and uniform in size.
As time goes on, they grow in size and the juice comes in; then color and sweetness come until they are full matured. They are then ready for picking. If the defective apples were left on the tree to grow to maturity, they would never grow to perfection. They would grow in size, but the defects would grow worse. The apples would probably drop off the tree or not be fit for human consumption.
It would be the same way with a Christian trying to grow into Sanctification. One must be pure and holy in order to grow. There is no growth into Sanctification, but rather growth in grace to maturity.
“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not my self to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things)” — Philippians 3:12-19.
This portion of Scripture explains that there is no place in the Christian’s life where he feels he has attained everything and can stop. It lets him know he is not to act as if he either has already attained or were already perfect. We must keep pressing on and reaching forward to those things which are before (growing in grace) . This is going on to perfection, which is full maturity in the stature of Christ. Paul says here that as many as be perfect, be thus minded. As you are pressing toward full maturity, you are perfect all along the way. He said in essence, ….. not looking back, not stumbling or falling, but pressing always forward, walking in the light as He is in the light.”
A Christian grows in wisdom, knowledge, patience and faith; just as Christ grew in wisdom, knowledge and in favor with God and man. Sanctification is not an idea out of the mind of man, nor does it come by chance to a Christian. We must seek to find it. Knock on its door and it will be open to you. You and I are the recipients.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord” — Psalm 118:19.