Five Reasons Why You Might Be Experiencing a Spiritual Plateau

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Sooner or later in your pursuit of Christ, you will hit a plateau. You will reach a state where you are experiencing little to no change after a time of activity or progress. There could be many reasons for this, but in today’s article, I will list five reasons why you might be experiencing a spiritual plateau.

1. You are not watching over your heart with all diligence.

Solomon said, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23).

Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21-23).

Notice carefully all that proceeds from the heart: evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness.

Like your car’s check engine light, a flood of thoughts in a specific area usually indicates something needs to be fixed in the engine of your heart. Why? Because Jesus said that thoughts proceed from the heart. If your mind is bombarded with thoughts of pride, doubt, anxiety, coveting, lust, bitterness, guilt, shame, or condemnation, it’s likely because you have a heart issue.

If you can’t stop thinking about something, it usually means a belief has been forged in your heart and the fruit of this belief is an onslaught of thoughts in your mind.

If you are experiencing this, it’s likely you are believing a lie that must be confronted and expelled by the truth of God’s Word.

This means watching over your heart diligently is essential if you want Christ to dwell there.

Without this circumspect posture, it’s likely pride, lust, doubt, unbelief, greed, jealousy, envy, judgment, or criticism will subtly creep in and defile your heart. No matter how much the Lord loves you, Christ will not compete with your other lovers, gods, and idols, including the idol of self.

The Holy Spirit jealously yearns to cleanse your heart from all defilement of the flesh and replace it with the fullness of Christ’s uncreated life. Don’t allow anything of the fallen nature to fill your heart, keeping Christ’s life in your spirit suppressed and imprisoned.

Let the Spirit dig deep into your heart and make it the permanent dwelling place of Christ in fullness.

2. You lack faith that Christ can dwell in your heart.

In Ephesians 3:14-17, Paul said, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (emphasis mine).

Notice carefully that Christ only dwells in your heart through faith. Building upon the last point, faith is an issue of the heart, for with the heart a person believes (Rom. 10:10).

Without faith, Christ cannot dwell in your heart and live His life through you. If your heart is filled with doubt and unbelief, even though Christ dwells in your spirit, His life will remain suppressed and dormant within you.

It takes faith for the life of Christ in your spirit to be released. As Paul said, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:17, ESV). The entire Christian life, from beginning to end, is a journey of living by grace through faith.

Paul underscored this when he said, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him” (Col. 2:6). How did you initially receive Christ Jesus the Lord? By grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).

Faith in Jesus Christ and the work He finished on the cross released God’s grace into your life and saved you. You could not save yourself, so helplessly, you prayed to God, trusting Him to do what only He could do. He then saved you, not by your works, merit, or obedience, but by His grace alone.

The same way you were saved—by grace through faith—is the same way you are to live every moment of your Christian life. The same way you received salvation—by grace through faith—is the same way you receive every blessing in the Christian life.

Honestly ask yourself whether you have faith that Christ can dwell in your heart and live His life in you and through.

3. You are not accessing the spiritual blessings available to you in Christ.

Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

Notice carefully these blessings are spiritual, located in heaven, and found in the person of Christ, who is enthroned at God’s right hand.

Studying Paul’s writings, these blessings include your death to sin, self, and the law; your spiritual resurrection, enabling you to live by Christ’s indestructible, divine life; your spiritual ascension in Christ far above all demonic rule and authority; a victorious life over the world, the flesh, and the devil; and becoming a partaker of the divine nature, having everything you need for life and godliness.

This means, in Christ, you have been crucified, resurrected, ascended, and enthroned. In Christ, you are victorious, righteous, and have everything you need to become like Him in this world.

The question is how do you access these blessings, live in these blessings, and be transformed by these blessings?

Since these are spiritual blessings, you can’t receive these directly in the mind, will, emotions, or five senses. Because these blessings are spiritual, these can only be received by your spirit, as the indwelling Spirit transmits these from Christ in heaven directly to your spirit. Then, after your spirit receives the Spirit’s transmission of grace, these blessings can be released from your spirit outward to your heart, soul, and body.

But here’s what you must grasp: Faith is the key to receiving the Spirit’s transmission of grace to your spirit, enabling you to receive these spiritual blessings.

Without faith, you can never walk in these spiritual blessings, even though these are available to you. Faith, therefore, is like a debit card that withdraws spiritual wealth from the bank account of your spirit, where the treasure of Christ resides.

Faith is like a password on an iPhone that gives you access to the apps of God’s grace. Faith is like a conduit through which grace flows unhindered into your life. Faith is like a key that opens the door to the storehouse of grace. And finally, faith is like a magnet that attracts God’s unending grace in your spirit, drawing it out until it transforms every part of you.

Paul expressed this same concept when he said, “We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (Rom. 5:2, NKJV).

Observe closely that we have access by faith into grace. Again, faith is the debit card, password, conduit, key, and magnet that draws out and releases the wealth, power, and enablement of God’s amazing, abundant, and overflowing grace.

If you feel like you have hit a spiritual plateau, begin to draw on the spiritual blessings available to you in Christ by exercising your faith.

4. You are not aligning yourself with the law of faith.

This is similar to the last point. If you live by human reasoning or by how you feel, you will violate the law of faith.

Paul said, “Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith” (Rom. 3:27).

The law of faith cannot be neglected or violated if you want to live by Christ’s indwelling life.

If you think about it, you are justified by faith, sanctified by faith, and live from your spirit by faith.

Faith draws the life of the Spirit out of your spirit into your heart, soul, body, and actions. And like the law of the Spirit, the law of faith is immutable. Like the unchanging law of gravity, operating by the law of faith is always required to live from your spirit by the power of the indwelling Spirit.

No matter how nice, good, or kind you are, doubt and unbelief in your heart will keep Christ’s indwelling life suppressed, dormant, and inoperative within you.

If you don’t live by the law of faith, and instead live by self-effort, this always neutralizes the effects of grace, places you under the law, and subjects you to the lower law of sin and death at work in the body (Rom. 8:2).

When Paul learned the Galatians had exchanged the law of faith for the law of works, he was outraged. The Galatian believers, who were justified by faith, began to strive in self-effort to be sanctified. Frustrated with the godly jealousy of a spiritual father, Paul said to them, “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? . . . Does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Gal. 3:2-5).

The Spirit-led life only operates by faith. Just as you received the Spirit by hearing with faith, you walk by the Spirit by hearing with faith. You will never graduate from the law of faith. To live by Christ’s indwelling life is to live every moment by grace through faith. Thus, the law of faith can never be violated or neglected if you want to live from your spirit.

Here’s a quick summary of the law of faith. You will ultimately think and act upon what you believe in your heart, and this will establish your character and your destiny.

Heart beliefs work like autopilot in a plane or an electric car. For example, take an electric car on autopilot. You will arrive at whatever destination you program into Google Maps or Apple Maps. The only way to change your destination is to enter a different address.

In the same way, whatever you believe in your heart will put you into autopilot mode, determining your thoughts, action, character, and ultimately, your destiny.

You can never rise above what you believe in your heart. This is the law of faith that God has designed into the human heart.

5. You are living by your own self-effort and strength.

The prophet Habakkuk, whom Paul quoted in Romans 1:17, said, “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4).

You have a choice to live by pride (the self-life) or to live by faith (Christ’s life). If you choose to live by your own strength and effort—trying to please God with moral behavior, self-righteous works, and living for God in the power of the soul, even though appearing godly—you have chosen the way of pride.

On the other hand, if you simply let go, relax, and trust the indwelling Spirit to live the life of Christ in you and through you, you have chosen the way of faith.

This brings me to an important point. Many believe the opposite of faith is doubt and unbelief, but Habakkuk revealed it goes even deeper. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Habakkuk declared that pride, which is living by your own strength, determination, wisdom, opinions, power, and self-righteous attempts to please God, is the true opposite of faith.

Have you ever considered that doing religious works for God, trying to gain His approval, is a subtle form of pride?

When you use your own strength to try and keep God’s commandments, attempting to live a holy life in self-determination rather than depending moment-by-moment on the Holy Spirit’s power, this self-reliance is a form of pride that inhibits faith and neutralizes grace.

On the other hand, when you realize you cannot obey God’s commandments in your own power and simply trust the Holy Spirit to live His life in you and through you, you begin to walk in faith. Thus, faith is trusting Christ in you to live His life through you while pride is a self-reliant attempt to live the Christian life by willpower, discipline, human wisdom, and self-righteous works.

Breaking Through Your Spiritual Plateau

If you’ve hit a plateau in your pursuit of Christ, it could be related to one or more of these five reasons. If so, don’t just read this article. Do this article. Like James said, don’t just hear the Word of God. Do the Word of God.

More Information

If you want to hear more about these five plateaus, you can watch my recent message Renewing the Mind – Part 3.

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Bryan Kessler