Are You Spiritually Malnourished?

Josh Buice

The Christian life is a long and arduous journey rather than a short swift sprint.  During the journey of faith, we will often face periods of intense struggle.  At one point, Jesus reminded Peter that Satan had asked to sift him as wheat (Luke 22:31).  In short, the Christian life is not easy.  There will be times where we feel weak and anemic in the faith.  Have you ever left church feeling as if you’re not growing in your faith?  Is that your pastor’s fault?  Is that your church’s fault?  Can we blame Satan?  Who is to blame for your spiritual condition?  When you feel malnourished spiritually, you should take time to evaluate your spiritual life and ask yourself three very important questions.

Am I serving too much in my local church?

Every local church has needs and if we’re not careful, we will sign up for another area of service simply to fill a vacancy.  That may be alright for a short while, but in the long run, the whole church cannot rest upon the shoulders of one or two people.  The church is called to share the load, spread out the responsibilities, and help one another as a family, a team, and specifically as we see in Scripture—as a church.

Perhaps you need to learn to use a specific vocabulary word that’s often frowned upon.  That word is—no.  We must all learn to use that word at times and in certain circumstances we should not feel guilt for turning down a service role in the church.  If you are already serving in various areas of the church, is it going to make you more or less healthy to take on another responsibility?  Will this new role remove you from the life of the church?  Will you be forced to miss the prayer meeting of the church?  When you add up the number of Sunday morning services that you miss, what percentage of the year does it total?

It’s essential for you to recognize that you’re not Superman (or Wonder Woman) spiritually.  You need the church.  You need to gather with the church, pray with the church, sing with the church, and to be served by the church too.  Don’t over serve in the local church.

What effort am I putting into the study of God’s Word?

Where do you sit in church?  Are you sitting near the back?  Not always, but many times people choose to sit near the back in order to be less involved and more disconnected from the preaching of God’s Word.  That might not be why you’re sitting near the back, but it could be one evidence of your disconnect.

Do you know what your pastor is preaching on right now on Sunday mornings?  If your church gathers for evening worship, what series is being preached on Sunday evenings?  Supposing that those are expository studies, have you been reading through those particular books of the Bible and spending time in prayer?  Have you requested any resources from your pastors on those biblical passages or topics in order to deepen your faith and understanding?

When I was preparing to begin my seminary classes, I remember an older pastor explaining to me that it wasn’t about what school that I attended that would make the ultimate difference with me through my seminary years.  He explained that it was all about what effort I put into my studies.  You can find the best local church in your town, but if you’re not putting effort into learning the Word, knowing God, and progressing in your faith—you will continue to remain malnourished even in a good local church.  You cannot grow in grace by accident.  It requires work.  The greatest athletes don’t become great by accident.  The same thing is true for Christians.

When people come to me and want to talk about how they feel disconnected from the church or that they’re not growing at the rate they feel they should, one of the most basic questions I ask them is focused on their church attendance.  How can a baseball player expect to improve his game if he never shows up for practice?  Can we honestly expect a football player to make progress if he never dresses out and shows up on the field for practice?  Why would we expect Christians to grow in their walk with God if they’re constantly absent from the life of the church?

Am I under a spiritual attack?

The ministry of Satan is to deceive, destroy, and to discourage.  We often underestimate our enemy.  That’s why Paul commands us to put on the whole armor of God as we enter the spiritual battlefield (Eph. 6:11).  It’s very probable that your malnourishment is due to a wound you’ve received from your enemy because you didn’t have the shield of faith or you were going out to battle without the breastplate of righteousness.  Attacks come with great intensity at times, but they also come when you least expect it.

If you’re blaming your pastors, your church, your Sunday school class, or other aspects of your church for your spiritual condition—could it be that you are over worked in your church and that you haven’t been putting forth any effort to grow spiritually?  Could it be that Satan is attacking you and your church and you can’t see it?  Could it be that Satan’s ministry of division is playing itself out in your life and the life of your church?

Don’t blame others for your spiritual weakness.  If you have a lack of passion for God’s Word, a lazy spirit for evangelism, a lack of desire for God, or perhaps a lack of love for your pastors who serve you or your church as a whole—you’re either not a Christian or you’re standing in desperate need of revival.  Don’t play the blame game.  The problem might not be your church—it might be you.

If you feel spiritually sick, go to Jesus Christ who can change your heart, renew your spirit, revive your soul and bring you out of a state of spiritual malnourishment.  Find your hope and joy in God through Jesus Christ.  Spend time contemplating the great grace that’s yours in Jesus and how you can can find true meaning in life and purpose as a Christian through your local church.  Don’t remain in a state of spiritual lethargy.  Healing and renewal is much closer than you think.

In his excellent book, For the Love of God, D.A. Carson writes:

People do not drift toward holiness.

Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.

We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. [1]

  1.  D.A. Carson, For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1999), 23.
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Author Are You Spiritually Malnourished?

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.