UNDERSTANDING NEW CHRISTIANS IN PRISON

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Chapter 8

LEARNING TO GROW IN CHRIST

 

Growing in Christ is like being a child that grows up. Like a child, there will be many obvious changes at first upon asking Jesus Christ into his heart. As the growing process continues the signs of growth become less obvious to the new Christian himself. Others around him, however, will be able to see subtle differences as he grows in Christ.

At first, a child physically goes through the obvious growth stages of crawling, then walking and then talking. A new child of God also has a strong desire to read the Bible and pray to God and fellowship with other Christians. As a child continues to grow, his progress is marked by less obvious achievements like putting his clothes on or tying his shoes.  Many will not even notice this growth, but people close to him like parents to a child will make a big deal out of every one. Loved ones will notice but other new Christians may not since they are also growing in their own way.

As a new Christian grows, others may not see the subtle signs of growth like when he shares with others instead of helping himself first, or having an answer to prayer for another, etc. There will be many changes that may go unnoticed even to the new Christian himself or to some others around him. However, there will be some who notice theses changes and wonder what has happened in his life to create this change of heart.

Prison is a wonderful place for Christian growth. Everything in prison is small spaced and well observed. This is true not only in the physical sense, but also in a personís mental and spiritual state as well. Having so many hours a day to sit and think about things, a man that is seeking God can soar like an eagle. It is the mind and the heart that is the key factor in oneís Christian growth.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what Godís will is, His good, pleasing and perfect will.  (Romans 12:2  NKJV)

There are two types of Christian growth in prison: those who are completely true to God and have given everything to Him and serve Him or those who give up only a part of their life to God. For the former growing in Christ will be a wonderful growth in peace and love through the scriptures and the Holy Spirit. The latter do see changes in their new life in Christ, but are still holding onto many fleshly ways. There may be some times of peace and love, but for the most part, the latter will be filled with guilt and self condemnation because of the fleshly ways they are not willing to give up. Their growth will be sporadic and many doubts will attack their faith. The Holy Spirit who dwells inside a new Christian will push the new Christian to give up those fleshly ways. Itís easy to see which type of new Christian will have the more rewarding life.

So what is the difference between the Christian who gives all to the Lord and the one that is stuck in the flesh? Attitude!! It is his attitude and willingness to change. It is a choice. A choice to stay in the comfortable, familiar lifestyle or venture into a new lifestyle that he has to trust God with, a lifestyle which he has only seen or heard about other Christians experiencing, but never experienced himself yet. The old way has a false security to it because he has known that way his whole life. So many will stay in that lifestyle and try to change parts of it along the way. This prevents the new Christian from really stepping out of the box, stepping out in faith and trusting God with his life. The old

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