I. WHAT IS NOT THE GROWTH OF LIFE?
A. The Improvement of Behavior
Though we need much improvement, improvement of behavior may not be of life. [The improvement of behavior means the changing of a person’s behavior from bad to good, from evil to virtuous. For example, a man formerly was very proud; now he is humble. He often used to hate others; now he loves others. He was habitually quick-tempered and easily angered; now his temperament has become slow, and he is no longer quick-tempered. All these can be considered the improvement of behavior. When a man’s behavior is thus improved, is this the growth of life? No!] Why? [Just as evil is not life, so also is good not life. Thus in the Bible, good and evil are not two trees, but one tree; life is another tree, being something of another world, another kingdom (Gen. 2:9). Thus a man, by his own determination and effort, can improve considerably in behavior and yet still be very immature and weak in the life of God. This is because his improvement is entirely apart from life; it is of his own work and not of life. Besides, what he has improved is not the result of his growth in life. Therefore, growth of life is not the improvement of behavior.] Nearly all religions, ethical teachings, as well as psychiatrists try to help people to improve their behavior. Only Christ comes into us to be our life.
B. The Increase in Knowledge
Though we need to know more about the Lord through His word, yet knowledge may not be life. [Though the increase of a believer’s spiritual knowledge through hearing more messages, knowing more truths, understanding more of the Bible, and comprehending more spiritual terms, etc., is a kind of growth, yet it is not growth of life. The increase of such knowledge only causes his mind to become improved and more thoroughly versed and his head to have more comprehension or more ability to comprehend. It is not that the Holy Spirit has given greater revelation within him or that life has gained more ground within him so that he has growth in the real knowledge and experience of Christ as life. The increase of such knowledge alone simply causes men to be puffed up (1 Cor. 8:1). It is nothing before God (1 Cor. 13:2) and has no value in life. Thus, growth of life is not the increase of knowledge.]
II. WHAT IS THE GROWTH OF LIFE?
A. The Increase of the Element of God
[The increase of the element of God means that more of God Himself is blended into us, is gained by us, and has become our element. We have said that life is God Himself, and to experience life is to experience God; therefore, the growth of life is the increase of the element of God in us, until all that is of the Godhead is completely formed in us that we may be filled unto all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).]
B. The Increase of the Stature of Christ
[While life is God Himself, God being our life is Christ; therefore the Bible says that Christ is our life. We can say that when we are regenerated, it is Christ being born again within us to be our life. But when we first receive it, this life is still very young and immature, which means that the stature of Christ within us is very small. When we love Christ, seek Christ, and allow Christ to live in us more and thereby gain us, the stature of Christ gradually increases within us. This is the growth of life. Since this life is Christ who lives in us, the growth of this life is therefore the increase of the stature of Christ within us.]
(Lesson Book, Level 4: Life—Knowing and Experiencing Life, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)