Our growth as believers is a continuous process. This is underscored by the frequent use of Greek present-tense verbs that denote continuous action. In the verse above, 2 Corinthians 3:18, and in Romans 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” the word translated as “transformed,” literally means, “be continually being transformed.” Likewise, we are to be “renewed [continually] in the spirit of our mind” (Eph. 4:23; see also Col. 3:10).
Moreover, our present outward life, which C.K. Barrett has described as “subject to a thousand troubles and under sentence of death,”2 may be trending downward, but our inner person is designed to continually grow. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16 NIV).
God’s design for our continuous spiritual growth can be both encouraging and challenging. On the one hand, it is encouraging to know that though our physical bodies are going through wear and tear, our spiritual life can still go from strength to strength. On the other hand, this is a challenge, because it does not allow any excuse for complacency or neglect or being “too old” to make any spiritual progress.
The growth of believers as a continuous process is also underscored by Scripture’s use of the imagery of “journey.” A journey is more than developing a good road map or having knowledge to navigate the way, that is, it’s more than constructing a philosophy or theology of life. It is the actual travel on the road, the living of this new life. A journey is more than its destination. As Derek Kidner put it, the “path of life” (Ps. 16:11) is so called, “not only because of its goal but because to walk that way is to live, in the true sense of the word, already.”3
In the ancient world, especially among nomadic people, life was lived on foot. They walked step by step along a “path” or “way” in search of food and water for their flocks and herds. As a result, walking became a metaphor for the journey of life. We are called “to live [our lives] before God in such a way that every single step is made with reference to [him] and every day experiences him close at hand.”4 To each of us, God says as He did to Abraham centuries ago, “Walk before me” (Gen. 17:1).
Walking, however, is never simply walking per se. It is always walking along a particular way. We can walk along “the way of the Lord” (Gen. 18:19) – “the way of the righteous” (Ps. 1:6; cf. Prov. 8:20; 2 Peter 2:21), “the path of life” (Ps. 16:11; Prov. 10:17), “the good way” (Jer. 6:16), and “the way of the truth” (2 Peter 2:2). Or we can tread the alternative route – “the way of the wicked” (Pss. 1:6;146:9), the “dark and slippery” way (Ps. 35:6), and “the false way” (Ps. 119:104, 128).
The point is that each one of us is on our own spiritual journey, always walking, always stepping, always moving along a path. One path is like the “light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day” (Prov. 4:18), while the other is a path of pain and grief and ultimately final destruction (Ps. 1:6). Thus we need to pray with the psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23–24).
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