I see two opposite dangers Christians face when thinking about growth in godliness. These tendencies are like ditches on the side of the road. Many veer into one because they are so concerned to avoid the other.

On one side is the dreamy danger. These Christians idolize their heroes. They are idealistic about how fast they’ll grow. They underestimate the reality of indwelling sin and are unrealistic about how maturity actually takes root. They expect too much too soon and feel too spiritual for effort.

On the other side of the road is the disbelieving danger. These Christians have no heroes. They are cynical about growth in godliness. They underestimate the reality of the Holy Spirit and figure the use of appointed means is a waste of time. They expect nothing of the Bible, prayer, and the Spirit’s sanctifying work, and nothing is what they get.

In contrast to these two dangers, those on the path of holiness realize that growth is possible and it is also hard work. Sanctification is God’s power working through our exertion–rooted in knowledge, sustained by hope, made possible by faith.

Update: If you want to hear more on this topic, I recently preached three sermons on godliness from 2 Peter 1 that may be helpful: The Power for Godliness, The Pattern for Godliness, and The Premise for Godliness.