How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith?

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,” Jude 1:20

How are we to build ourselves up in the the faith? We talk a lot about God building us up. The Spirit working monergistically in us and on us. How are we to build ourselves up in the faith?

One way in which I believe Jude, the author of this short letter, has in mind that we build ourselves up is by understanding that their are false teachers whose desire is to destroy our faith. We build ourselves in the faith as we not only understand their teaching and why it is false, but when we grow in our understanding of our own faith. We will never guard against false teaching if we do not know our own faith.

Knowing our own faith is where many Americans, and Christians, struggle. Many are not able to answer simple questions like, “What is the gospel? Who is God? How were Old Testament saints saved?” We must, however, have a simple understanding of the Bible, its doctrine and theology. We must know how to answer our critics and why a particular teacher’s teaching is false. If we don’t, we open ourselves up to deception.

Christian, build yourself up in the faith!

Sin is deceitful. We need one another.

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13)

We need one another. Not just to help with physical matters, but to help us grow spiritually. Sin can be deceitful. It can trick us into believing that our thoughts and actions are right and good when in reality they are sinful. We need others who are willing to speak into our life to point out our wrong thinking and wrong doing.

Spiritual growth occurs in community. If we are not in community with other believers, we hinder our own spiritual growth. As believers we should want to grow to be more like Christ. He is the One who has provided us with salvation after all. He is the One who provides us with rest.

If you are not prioritizing Christian community, you need to make it a point to do so. You need to plug in with a solid Bible believing, gospel-centered church in your area and begin fostering community.

Sin is deceitful. We need one another.

If you want to grow in Christ, you need others

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thess 5:14)

It is our responsibility to care for one another. We are to admonish, encourage, and help one another with patience. We can’t and we won’t grow in our faith, hope, love, and holiness without another speaking into our lives.

There are no Lone Ranger Christians. We can’t grow into maturity by just getting alone with Jesus and our Bible. Of course, we need time in the Word and prayer, but we need more. We need one another.

As we move out into the world, we need to make sure we have other brothers and sisters who are willing to speak into our lives, holding us accountable and encouraging us in the faith. If we don’t, we will remain stagnant and even begin to regress. If you want to grow in Christ, you need others.

Spiritual growth comes through faith not works

“Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3)

How do we grow as a Christian? Is it through ascetic practices, being more disciplined than we once were, or by keeping the Law to a greater extent?

Salvation comes through faith not by works. We are justified in God’s sight through the work of Christ on our behalf when we exercise faith in Jesus’ work on our behalf.

If we are saved/justified by faith, we are also sanctified by faith. We don’t come to Christ through faith, then grow in righteousness through our works. No, we grow as a believer, putting off the old and putting on the new through faith in Jesus’ work on our behalf and the Spirit’s work in our life.

It is the Spirit who works in us to bring to mind our sin. He also works to change our desires so that over time, or in some instances in a moment, no longer desire the things of the world. We live for and long for the things of God.

Beating our body into submission through ascetic practices will not work. The desires of our flesh is strong. For thousands of years, the law didn’t work to make man righteous. We need Jesus’ justifying work and we need the Spirit’s sanctifying work in order to grow in righteousness.

Self Denial is the Result of the Spirit’s Work in Your Life

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Luke 9:23

Jesus calls us to daily deny ourselves to follow Him. You can’t live half in and half out. You must be all in. You must be willing to die to your own self-interest and live life fully for Christ if you are going to be a follower of Jesus.

Thinking about Jesus’ call reveals our need for Him. We can’t live for Jesus in a self-denying way without Him first changing our desires. The change in desire from self to Jesus reveals the work of God in our life and assures us of our salvation.

Do you see self-denial and Christ-centric living in your life? Do you put Jesus before all other things? Are you willing to give up all for Jesus? If so, you can be assured of your salvation. You would and can only do those things because the Spirit is at work in you.

Does Your Awe and Need of the Cross Grow or Diminish Over Time?

In 1 Timothy 1:12-16, Paul recounts his testimony to Timothy in order to differentiate himself from the false teachers, and give Timothy a reason why he can be trusted over and against them. After recounting his testimony, Paul breaks out into spontaneous worship of God. In verse 17 we read,

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Ti 1:17)

At the thought of God’s grace and his salvation, Paul can’t help but worship God, praising and magnifying Him for who He is.

Likewise, when we think about how God’s grace and mercy worked in our life to provide us with salvation, we should be driven to worship God as well. Our awe and worship of Him should only grow as we grow in Christ.

For some, however, that is not the case. Their awe and need diminishes over time instead of grows. So we don’t make this mistake, it’s important we explore these two mindsets. Let’s start with the negative before moving to the positive.

Awe and Need Diminishes Over Time


As you can see in the diagram above, the cross starts out big, but then it gets smaller over time. This is how some people see their Christian walk. They see a need for Jesus at the beginning, but as time goes on, they don’t believe they need Him or His grace as much. As a result, they start to believe that they can handle most things on their own, and they might even get to a point where they think they are good enough to secure their own salvation.

The above, however, is far from the biblical idea of salvation and our need for God’s grace. We always need Jesus, and He is the One who always sustains our salvation.

Even though that is true, some still go down this path. You know they have gone down that path because this type of thinking produces people whose awe of God and His grace diminishes instead of grows over time, which results in someone who is proud, arrogant, and self-righteous. Someone who isn’t willing to admit they are a sinner or even talk about their sin. As well as it produces someone who thinks they don’t need the church, God’s Word, or prayer.

All this ends with someone who doesn’t worship God as they should. Instead of giving God the glory, they give themselves the glory, patting themselves on the back for what they have accomplished instead of for what God has accomplished through them.

Awe and Need Grows Over Time

While the above represents those whose awe and need diminishes over time, this next diagram represents those for whom awe and need grows over time.


As you can see, for this person the cross grows bigger and bigger as they grow in Christ. The crosses growth is a result of this person gaining a clearer picture of who they are — an unwise sinner who desperately needs God’s grace and wisdom. Coming to that recognition, they lean on God more and more instead of less and less.

This type of thinking produces people who are humble, who have a sense of unworthiness, who live in awe of God and are driven to worship Him. As well as it produces people whose prayer life is robust, and those who see a need for the church and God’s Word in their lives.

True Christians Grow In Awe and Need

If we are true Christians, the second diagram will represent us. The cross won’t grow smaller in our lives, instead it will grow bigger.

As the cross grows, we won’t hesitate to say with Paul, “I am the chief of sinners.” Neither will we hesitate to break out in worship when we think of our salvation, and the grace that God continues to pour out in our lives. We won’t hesitate to humble ourselves and praise God because we know our salvation and continued acceptance isn’t based on our work, but God’s work. He is the One who saved us, He is the One who continues to sanctify us, and He is the one who will glorify us.

When we recognize what God has done and continues to do, and when we are willing to admit that we are the chief of sinners, and praise God for His salvation, we know that the gospel has changed us. We know we are God’s children because only someone who has been changed by the gospel will recognize and admit their need for a Savior, and will humbly praise God for their salvation, leaning more and more on Him as time goes by.

Question for Reflection

  1. Which diagram represents you?



Post developed from my sermon How do we become someone who is used by God for His service?

Ideas are mine, but the diagrams were originally seen in this sermon