Seven fundamental principles for spiritual growth

By Pastor P.O. Matesun

To grow spiritually, there are seven steps you must take. If you do not take these steps, whatever else you do, you will be a failure when it comes to spiritual development. These steps are elementary. I call them the seven fundamental principles for spiritual growth.

Brethren, I count myself not have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before. (Philippians 3:13-14)

To grow spiritually, you must do the things Paul suggests in these verses. Notice Paul doesn’t believe he has “arrived yet. He says he is still pressing toward the mark. The person who thinks he has arrived and knows it all will never grow spiritually. Nobody knows it all.
Actually, the more you grow in the Lord and learn about Him, the more you realize how little you know. For example, I don’t know nearly as much as I used to think I knew, the more spiritually immature I was, the more I thought I knew.

Before you can press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. You must take the first step of spiritual development by Phil. 3:13. You will never be a successful Christian unless your “Forgetter” is in good working order. Forget even the blessing of God that are behind, because if you live on the past blessings, you are living on stale manna. If you are satisfied with what has happened in the past, you are not reaching toward the future blessings which God has in store for you.

Smith Wigglesworth said, “I am satisfied only with the dissatisfaction that has to be satisfied again and again”. Wigglesworth meant that no matter what blessings of God he has known, or what spiritual plateau he had attained, he was still dissatisfied. He always wants more of God. Let us never come to the place where we say “I‘m satisfied with my knowledge of God”. Thank God for His blessings and for spiritual experiences we’ve had in the past. But let us be like Wigglesworth, and only be satisfied with the dissatisfaction that has to be satisfied again and again. Otherwise we will stop growing spiritually.

There is another side of learning to forget that is important. You must learn to forget your past mistakes, failures and sins. As long as Satan can keep those past failures before you, he holds you in a position where you will not develop. Spiritually and your prayers and faith will not work. All of us have failed and we are not proud of it. We are not advertising it. But all of us have failed in one way or another more often than we’d like to admit.

As you grow spiritually and look back at times you thought you were doing well, you will discover that you were not doing well as you thought you were. I found this, when I reflect on how well have done as a pastor. When I left the church, often I thought I had done a good job, in some cases, I even thought I had done a superb job. But a year or two years later, with a little more growth and maturity, I almost hid my face so people wouldn’t see me blushing. I was so embarrassed. I found out I had come up short and had even sinned without been realized. We are to confess those sins we know about, but sins we don’t know about or ignorant of are perpetually cleaned by the blood of Jesus as we appropriate the saving grace of His blood in our lives. (I even, I, am he that blotteth out transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Isaiah 43:25). The writer of the book of Hebrews make a similar statement in Hebrews 8:12. The word of God is the cure for sin-consciousness. Hallelujah, He’s forgotten our past sins! No wonder the Bible says this in Hebrews 4:16. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of needs.

John wrote the book of first John to the church, not to the world. He was talking to believers in 1John 1:9. If we confess ours sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Thank God for His promise of forgiveness! That verse doesn’t belong to the sinner. That’s not the confession a sinner can make. A sinner couldn’t remember everything he has done wrong because his whole nature is wrong since his spirit hasn’t been born again. No, John wrote this verse to Christians. God does not want us to sin. But if we do, Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father to plead our case. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not, and if any man sin, we have an advocate with Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for us only, but also for the sin of the whole word. (I John 2:1-2). John is saying that Jesus is the atonement for our sins, as well as for the sins of the whole world. When we put all these scriptures together, they tell us that when we confess our sins, God not only cleanse us from all unrighteousness and forgive us, but He will not remember our sin anymore.

In order to grow spiritually, every believer needs to take advantage of I John1:9 and I John 2:1-2 to receive forgiveness for his sins. However, once a believer confessed his sin, he must make the decision to stop remembering them because God has forget them! So forget what God has forgotten. Forgot what is behind. If you think about it, it will hinder your spiritual progress. It will keep your faith and prayers from working. It can keep you from receiving your healing and other blessings and provision from God.


Step two in spiritual development is closely associated with learning to forget the past. If you want to grow spiritually, you must also learn to forgive. And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32). It’s easy to be kind to those who are kind to you. Its easy to be tenderhearted toward people who are tenderhearted toward you. Its not so easy to be kind to those who treat you badly. But notice Paul said, “Be kind to one another even as God forgave you”. That means you have to forgive fellow believers too.

How did God say He forgives? In Isaiah 43:25 He said, “I will blot out your transgressions and I will not remember your sins anymore”. To forgive as God forgives means you are not to remember any wrong a fellow Christian might have done to you. I’ve seen people got sick and stayed in sickness because they didn’t practice this verse of the scripture. By refusing to be kind and tenderhearted, they become hard-hearted and unforgiving, and it poisoned their physical body. On the other hand, I’ve seen people get healed just as soon as they made an adjustment by choosing to forgive others. They didn’t even need prayer for their healing.

Jesus gave us the classic text on Gods forgiveness in Matthew 18. This is Gods law of forgiveness. I’ve had people say to me ‘yes, but you don’t know what so and so did to me! It doesn’t matter what anyone has done to any of us. It couldn’t come close to the debt we own the Lord for forgiving our sins. How much more should we be willing to have pity on others, especially on our brothers and sisters in Christ. When you learn God’s law of forgiveness you will grow spiritually.


You cannot grow spiritually and be a success in your Christian walk without developing a prayer life. A successful prayer life must be built upon the word of God. If ye abide in me and my word abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7). If you took part of that verse out of its setting and read,”….ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you”. You would say, “Goody, goody! Isn’t that wonderful? He said I could ask whatever I want, and it would be done for me. Lord, I want this and Lord I want that. And I will get it because I’ve asked.

But wait a minute, that’s not what Jesus said. Don’t run off with just a part of that verse and begin asking God for everything you can think of. Asking what you will and having it done for you is conditional on the rest of the verse. “If ye abide in me”.. To abide in Jesus means not only to be born again, but to walk in continual fellowship with Him. Look at the other conditional part of that verse…… and my words abide in you”. You’ll never be successful in your prayer life if you don’t know Gods word. God’s word must abide or live in your heart.

When people ask me to agree in prayer with them about something, I ask them if they know what the word of God says on the matter. Then I ask them if they are standing in faith for the situation. I ask “what scriptures are you standing on?”. Too often they reply, “Not any in particular”, I tell them, well, then, that’s what you’ll get- nothing in particular! You will only receive only receive answers to your prayers when your prayer life is built on the word of God. So when you have a need, find scriptures that promise you on what you are praying about. Then you will have a solid foundation for your faith.

I will be honest with you; certain needs have arisen in my life, in my family, and my ministry that I didn’t pray about right away. Sometimes I didn’t pray about them for several days. I wanted to pray in faith about the matter and have it settled once and for all. So I took time to get into the word of God first and build a solid foundation for my faith. Even though I already knew what the word said on the subject, I took time too once again establish the word in my heart so I would have a solid foundation for my faith.

God already told me in His word that the answer to my prayer is part of my inheritance in Christ. Therefore, I knew I didn’t have to come to prayer with an “if”. The answer is already belonged to me! I could just pray, ask Him for that need to be met, and then keep praising Him for the answer until the manifestation comes. If you cannot find a specific scripture that promise to meet your need, then ask God to talk to you about your situation. The bible promise promises, “for as many that are led by the spirit of God” Romans 8:14. As you wait on God in faith, the Holy Spirit will minister Gods wisdom to you from His word about your situation. Of course, the Holy Spirit’s guidance will always be in line with the word. Once you have a foundation for faith in the word, and then pray according to the scriptural guidelines that Jesus gave us for New Testament prayer. That’s part of allowing Gods word to abide in you. John 16:23-24.

Pray to the Father in the name of Jesus, that is the divine order for New Testament prayer. It’s only as you build your prayer life solidly on the word of God that you can grow spiritually. 


Step four in spiritual development is closely associated with learning to pray. You must also learn to believe God and His word. The prayer of faith just won’t work unless you believe. How do you believe? Its simple, Jesus said in Mark 11:24, Therefore I say unto you, that what things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

We often fail to receive what we have asked for because we walk by sight instead of by faith in the promises of God. We say “when it comes to pass, when I can see and have it, I will believe it”. But that’s Thomas kind of faith. John 20:25.
On the other hand, we can walk by the Abraham kind of faith. Romans 4:18-19. Abraham considered not the natural circumstances. He believes he had received Gods promises many years before he actually saw the answer to his prayer and his wife bore him a son. Believe that you receive when you pray and you will have it, it’s the most difficult thing in the world to make people understand, because they are usually so bound up in the sense realm with human reasoning. Most people want to have their answer first and then they will believe they have received it.

Surprisingly, born again, spirit filled, consecrated and dedicated people are often not motivated by biblical faith-walking by the promises in Gods word. Jesus is the one who said in Mark 11:24, I didn’t write that verse, I just believe it! Why add to or take away from the word of God? Why not just take it for what it says? Believing according to the word requires a conscious decision to live beyond your five senses. Faith is a sixth sense, so to speak, faith is believing Gods word your heart or spirit. That’s what Jesus said in Mark 11:23. Believe where? In his heart.

You see your head will fight you, if it hasn’t been renewed sufficiently with the word of God. Your own mental thinking will try to keep you in the natural realm. But if you will just persist in believing Gods word in your heart, you will grow strong in faith. And no matter what your head tells you, you will get results. The bible said it and I know from experience. I have proven the word to be so time after time in the midst of tremendous opposition. If you want to grow spiritually, you must learn to believe in God’s word regardless of natural circumstances.


In John 4, Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a spirit and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24). Hallelujah, that means you don’t have to be in a particular place to worship God. A lot of people think you can’t worship God unless you are in a church building. God doesn’t dwell in buildings anymore. Under the old covenant, He used to dwell in the Holy of Holies in the temple. But under the new covenant He dwells in us. Our body (not some brick and mortal building) have become the temple of the living God (I Cor. 3:16). So learn to worship God with your spirit, not in some dead, formal way with your mental faculties or your soul.

The Lord has enabled us to worship Him in spirit and in truth because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Also by speaking in tongues, we have a supernatural means of communicating with Him (I Cor. 14:2). He is talking of divine secret in the spirit. Thanks God for this wonderful means of communicating with the Father! We need time of prayer when we get alone with God and worship Him in other tongue.

However, you may use the entire adjective at your disposal in your native language to tell God how wonderful He is, but your words will not suffice. But when you begin to fellowship with Him in that supernatural language, some way or another, your heart finds satisfaction. Your spirit is in direct contact with the Father of spirits, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and your spirit is able to express your deepest thoughts and feelings. Take time to worship God. Learning to worship Him will help you to grow spiritually.


Step six in spiritual development is to learn the secret of giving. The church needs a general overhaul on this subject to keep from becoming unbalanced. Some people have gone to an extreme in their giving. They only give because they feel it’s their duty or obligation (which of course, it is) because that’s the only reason they give into the kingdom of God. They miss the blessing that giving can bring to their lives. You should give to the Lord because you love Him, worship Him, and adore Him. And you need to add faith to your giving. Tell the Lord you are mixing faith with your giving, and remind Him of the scripture. Give and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. (Luke 6:38).

On the other hand, you can go to other extreme. You can give selfishly just to get a return, and you won’t get one. Some people hear a faith teacher relate how he gave away an automobile and God gave him another one. Then they give theirs away and think; now God is going to give me a new car. But He won’t. you see, their motive is wrong. Its selfish, and its based on another persons experience, not on the word. You’ve got to examine your motives for giving and keep your motives right. You can do the right thing with the wrong motive, and it won’t work.

Certainly, I expect God to keep His word when I give, and He will too if I fulfill my part of the obligation. But I am not going to give away my automobile just because someone else did it. I will only give it away if the Lord told me to, and because I obeyed God, He would bless my obedience. We need balance in this area of giving. If we will keep our motives pure and give according to the word and the Holy Spirit’s leading, we will be blessed in our own lives and grow in our Christian walk.

Step seven in spiritual development is to learn to witness for the Lord. Jesus said that, the believers were to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit so they could be witnessing for Him, that’s one of the purpose of the endowment of power from on high. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8).
I am thoroughly convinced that the greatest witness you can be to the world is to live a life that’s sold out to the Lord. Like the old proverb says, “what you are, speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you say”. I believe in personal witnessing to people, of course, I think we should witness as the need arises. But I don’t think we should go around trying to push the gospel off on everyone. I think we should be led by the Holy spirit, where or when to witness to other people about the Lord. Otherwise, we will waste our time and they won’t be open what where are saying.

Smith Wigglesworth purposed to lead mat least one soul to God everyday. In those days he was working as a plumber in a large city. But during his lunch hour, he would stand on a street corner and pray, “Lord, lead me to the right person”. He would wait for the leading of the spirit, when Wigglesworth sensed the Holy spirit nudge he would always win the person to the Lord. You see the Lord knows who is open to the gospel and who is not. If you don’t wait for His leading, you will do a lot of laboring and never win anyone to the Lord. And many people won’t appreciate your efforts. You might even do more harm than good.
I believe the greatest witnessing tool is a life really lived for the Lord. So learn to witness as you are led by the Holy Spirit. But first and foremost, be a witness. It’s important to your spiritual growth.

So, apply yourself to learn these seven fundamental principles for spiritual growth and don’t be frustrated, because you won’t grow up overnight. Just take a step at a time, as you learn to forget, to forgive, to pray, to believe, to worship, to give, and to witness. You will be well on your way to spiritual maturity!     

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