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The Solution to Self-Deception

There is nothing special about walking.

We all do it. Walking isn’t as exciting as a sprint or as explosive as a long jump. Yet, it is one of the more common metaphors in Scripture for the Christian life. That’s because, like walking, Christians grow one step at a time, one plodding day at a time.

Growth in grace and godliness is a process, not an event or a crisis experience. This is the biblical perspective on the Christian life. And this biblical perspective should inform my expectations for each day as I preach the gospel to myself and seek to apply the gospel. This biblical perspective makes all the difference. Author David Powlison explains why:

Just as we don’t change all at once so we don’t swallow all of truth in one gulp. We are simple people.

That sentence is one to rinse and repeat. Read it again.

We are simple people. We don’t change all at once. We don’t swallow all of the truth in one gulp. I don’t. Neither do you. But this doesn’t stop us from trying.

David is seeking to protect us from unwise and unrealistic expectations when we read our Bible or hear a sermon or read a book or whatever means of grace we are using for the purpose of growing in our knowledge of and obedience to God. Actually, David is just passing along these wise words from Charles Spurgeon:

One bit of Bible prayed over, and bedewed with the Spirit, and made alive, though it be only a short sentence of six words, will profit you more than a hundred chapters without the Spirit.

This advice is the secret sauce for growth in godliness. This counsel can make a huge difference in your life beginning, like, immediately. (And, when is the last time you heard someone say, “bedewed”?) David goes on to explain and apply these wise words from Spurgeon:

“One bit of Bible, bedewed with the Spirit,” comes to life in one bit of life. You can’t deal with it all at once. Scripture never does. Life goes one step at a time. In a nutshell, connect one bit of Scripture to one bit of life.

Friends, this is so very wise and so very liberating.

Because we are simple people who don’t change all at once or swallow all of the truth in one gulp, we should think specifically and strategically. What one verse of Scripture can we, by the grace of God, apply to one area of our lives so that, by the grace of God, we make progress in our knowledge of God and pursuit of godliness?

I know this advice will serve you because it has served me:

  • This approach has tempered my tendency to create a lengthy list of all the ways I want and need to grow.
  • This approach has protected me from unrealistic expectations for my growth.
  • And this approach has resulted in discernible, incremental growth in my life,

all by the grace of God, of course. And that gives me hope for future growth.

So rather, than survey your life today and mentally compile a list of all the ways you need to grow, instead, consider how you might connect one verse of Scripture to one area of your life. Because we are simple people and “life goes one step at a time” for us all.

This post is adapted from a sermon I preached this past Sunday at Sovereign Grace Church of Louisville from James 1:22-25 entitled, “The Solution to Self-Deception.”