How can I go deeper in the things of God?
One of the great joys is to find Christians who are longing for a deeper and more meaningful Christian life. We sense that the answer is found with God and that the Bible should be able to tell us how to have a deeper relationship with God. This occurs because the Holy Spirit has placed that passion within every Christian to know God and grow spiritually. Sadly, many find their church to be primarily a social gathering and the preaching shallow or empty. Therefore, how does a Christian dive deeper into spiritual things?
Preparing For A Deeper Relationship With God – Steps 1 & 2
The first step to go deeper in your spiritual life and draw close to God is to confess all known sins to God in prayer. David did this in Psalm 51:4. There we read that he confessed his sin to God and God alone. The Scriptures teach that confession of our sins restores a Christian’s relationship with God.
I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”;
And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
Psalm 32:5 (NASB)
Confession removes the guilt if we believe His promises in Psalm 103:3; Micah 7:18-19; 1 John 1:9.
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19 (NASB)
The first step of confession repairs our sin-damaged relationship with God and prepares us for the second step.
The second step to a deeper relationship with God is to pursue holiness by being obedient to God’s commands. That is, we seek to please Him (Ephesians 5:10; Hebrews 11:5-6). His commands reveal His will for us. 1 Peter 1:14-16 reveals that God wants us to be holy as He is holy. In 2 Timothy 2:22 He urges us to flee sin. The Old and New Testaments provide us with commands, principles and encouragements as to how God wants us to live. Hebrews 12:4-11 teaches us that God will discipline us when we are disobedient. His discipline is designed to motivate us to be holy. He does this because He loves us.
But God has not left us alone in our fight with sin. The Holy Spirit will help us if we have followed step 1, that is, confessed our sins and then asked Him to take control of our lives. Confession not only restores our relationship with God, but it enables the Holy Spirit to fill us or empower us moment-by-moment so that we can live a holy life and know our God deeper. The momentary filling of the Spirit is being “filled with the Spirit” and the repeated filling of the Spirit moment after moment (Ephesians 5:17-18) is called walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). You are encouraged to read the studies “How To Be Filled With The Spirit,” “What are the signs that a person is filled with the Holy Spirit?” and “Holy Spirit Gives Us Victory Over Sin.”
When we are walking in the Spirit, we will be having greater victory over sin and Christ’s promise in John 14:21 will be fulfilled. In that verse Jesus tells us that our sins hinder us from knowing Him more. Or stated positively, obedience helps us understand the deeper truths of Christ.
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. John 14:21
Notice Christ’s promise that if we want to know God more or deeper, we must keep His commands. That is true because then the Holy Spirit has greater freedom to teach spiritual truths.
Pursuing The Deeper Relationship With God – Step 3
If you did not read the first two steps carefully, you are urged to read them before continuing. The third step is to pray, asking God to give you understanding as you read His Word. This is necessary because we cannot understand Scripture without help from the Holy Spirit. Notice in the two following verses that the Spirit does the teaching and we cannot understand without His help.
. . . which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:13-14 (NASB)
Remember that in John 14:21 Jesus said that He would not disclose Himself to us if we are disobedient. Notice the emphasis on teaching in this passage.
Ultimate Step To A Deeper Relationship With God – Steps 4 & 5
The fourth and fifth steps to spiritual growth are to study the Bible and to apply what we learn to ourselves.
Unfortunately, too many Christians view biblical knowledge as being unimportant. One pastor criticized others who referred to Greek words in their teaching. He criticized in depth study of the Bible. His teaching style was to read a passage and then preach about it using emotional stories to motivate the congregation to action. In essence he ignored the words that God used and used his own words to motivate the people to transform themselves.
The call to transformation or to be biblically moral in conduct is often viewed as the all important task of pastors and teachers. The goal of teaching the congregation the meaning of the words that God wrote is now considered less important. Too many Christians have been taught that personal transformation is more important than biblical knowledge. That is, transformation is more important than understanding the words that God so carefully wrote by the Holy Spirit.
Often times when details are provided by teachers of the Word, the information is shallow or wrong. As a result, many Christians are biblically illiterate because our churches are serving them milk. Some teachers are biblically illiterate themselves (Hebrews 5:12-14). You are encouraged to read, “Bible Teaching For Spiritual Maturity.” We learn from the following passage that a consistent and serious study of God’s Word is necessary in order to become spiritually mature.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 (NASB)
Many Christians do not know why Melchizedek is important, and worse yet they are not even interested in studying him. But the Holy Spirit discusses him in Hebrews 5:6-14 and chapter 7 . The Holy Spirit is interested and He rebuked the Christians who were not interested in or could not understand Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:11-14 describes believers who are spiritual infants. This demonstrates that a serious study of the Word of God requires that we want to learn everything in the Word of God, including the difficult parts. As we learn we must be obedient to what we learn. This is the Lord’s will.
In 1 John 2:12-14 the Holy Spirit describes spiritual growth by using the examples of three stages of physical growth. The Holy Spirit starts with the new born Christian who only knows that God loves him or her. The spiritual young man is strong in the faith, having victory over sin (he is applying Scripture) and knows the Word of God. Notice that the spiritually young man knows the Word of God and is obeying it. He or she is learning biblical information that when obeyed of followed results in transformation.
The spiritually mature Christian not only knows the Bible and is applying it, but he or she knows God the Father who is from the beginning (v. 14). Remember that the Spirit says mature Christians must be able to teach others (Hebrews 5:12). This means the mark of a spiritual Christian is that he or she can teach others accurately!
One benefit of Bible study is given in 2 Timothy 3:16-17,
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NASB)
Signs of A Deep Relationship With God
The Words of God contained in the pages of Scripture are needed for correct conduct. But notice another benefit of Bible study.
Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NASB)
The spiritually mature Christian is the one who will ultimately fulfill God’s desire described in this passage and please Him.
How can a Christian go deeper into the things of God? The answer is to confess sin, flee sin, be filled with the Spirit, pray and dig into the Word of God and apply it to yourself. This is the path to becoming a spiritual young man or woman with the ultimate goal of becoming a spiritual father of the faith. This requires a strong grasp of Scripture since the mark of the spiritually mature Christian is that he or she can teach the Bible accurately and apply it. 1 John 2:14 says that the spiritually mature Christian “knows Him who is from the beginning!” Jeremiah 9:23-24 is the goal of the spiritual father of the faith. The spiritual father of the faith is “deep into” God and the things of God.
The basic first steps to digging deeper is to explore a series on basic Bible doctrines such as our discipleship series or Fundamentals of the Faith by John MacArthur and Grace Church. This is the starting point. It is helpful for the new Christian to also add to that study series Robert Lightner’s Handbook of Evangelical Theology. A more advanced step would be to include Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth which was written by Dr. John MacArthur & Dr. Richard Mayhue. This is a systematic theology or you could also use Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.
At the same time, you could be digging into a study about Jesus Christ, such as the Life of Christ at this website. You should add 2-3 commentaries with this study series or any book study. A set of recommended books has been completed for the students of the Word. It is called, Commentaries For Biblical Expositors. It was written by Dr. Rosscup, a former professor at Master’s Seminary, and is available at Grace Books. Masters Seminary has also compiled a list of 850 recommended books.
Suggested Links:How To Be Filled With The Spirit
What are the signs that a person is filled with the Holy Spirit?
Holy Spirit Gives Us Victory Over Sin
I am wanting a closer walk with my Lord.
How can I feel closer to Jesus and feel that I love Him?
God’s Great Passion Is That We Know Him
Life of Christ
Solid Root Series
850 Books for Biblical Expositors