Spiritual Formation and the Deeper Life: Partnering with Grace

In this episode, Johnathan Arnold and Michael Avery discuss holiness, spiritual formation, and the deeper life.


  • “Spiritual formation is very simply a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.” (Avery)
  • “Behavior modification basically rests on your own human energy–what you can put into it or what someone else can threaten you to put into it. But spiritual formation comes from a very different approach. It is Spirit-enabled. We can only be formed into the image of Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit as we partner with the grace of God.” (Avery)
  • “Justification is by faith and faith alone. It’s not performance-based, it’s not what we can do or can’t do. It is strictly by faith.” (Avery)
  • “Sanctification is a process. We engage it. Paul said, ‘Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.’ We are partnering with God’s grace, but we are truly partnering. We are initiating effort on behalf of being conformed into the image of Christ.” (Avery)
  • “Even in the ways that we initiative growth in sanctification, that itself is a response to what God has already initiated by saving us.” (Arnold)
  • “We pursue holiness because of what God has done for us. It’s a responsive love, not a burden.” (Arnold)
  • “Justification is not an isolated work alone. It is coupled with adoption and regeneration or initial sanctification. Born into the heart of every truly justified believer is a desire to be thoroughly good. They don’t even know what to call it, maybe, but planted in our hearts through faith is this desire to be all that God wants us to be.” (Avery)
  • “The quest, hunger, and pursuit to live a holy life grows out of the new appetite that God gives us in the new birth.” (Avery)

The quest, hunger, and pursuit to live a holy life grows out of the new appetite that God gives us in the new birth.

  • “Union with Christ includes communion with Christ: that intimate relationship we have with Christ when we have experienced the new birth.” (Avery)
  • “All of the spiritual energy that I have flows from him and through him and by him as I am united with him.” (Avery)
  • “Spiritual formation is the natural outworking and outflowing of Christ in us. We can hinder or help the growth by getting involved and cooperating with the Holy Spirit.” (Arnold)
  • “Ceasing from sin is not a matter of me screwing up my courage and saying, ‘This is gonna stop’ in my own energy, because it won’t happen. The only way to break deep, sinful habits in our life is through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Avery)
  • “There is clearly a learning curve for new believers. There may have been a time in our culture when our culture was so aware and knowledgable of Judeo-Christian values that a new convert immediately knew, ‘I shouldn’t be doing some of these things, these are bad.’ I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.” (Avery)
  • “Through the power of the Holy Spirit in me, he can help me to be victorious over anything he doesn’t want in my life.” (Avery)
  • “Because our context is increasingly similar to the one in which Paul wrote, we need to be increasingly sensitive to the way Paul frames moral issues.” (Arnold)
  • “If we jump from Romans 1 to Romans 12 and don’t understand the ‘therefore,’ we’re calling people to present their bodies a living sacrifice and to be transformed without a foundation.” (Arnold)
  • “Paul brings his converts to a deep understanding of who Jesus is and what it means to be united to him, and then there’s a big therefore.” (Arnold)
  • “We want people to obey out of a motive of love for what God has had and what he’s doing in my life.” (Avery)
  • “The concept of the ‘higher life’ or the ‘deeper life’—those are old terms that have been tossed around for a long time, they are just broad terms used to describe those who actively embrace an aggressive sanctification process.” (Avery)
  • “Ultimately everything is of grace and by grace. But I also believe, as Dallas Willard coined the phrase, ‘Grace is not opposed to effort; it’s opposed to earning.'” (Avery)
  • “We can either cooperate with the grace of God or we can resist it. And I believe cooperating’s the best way to go.” (Avery)
Michael Avery
Michael Averyhttps://livethedeeperlife.org/
Dr. Michael R. Avery is the President of Deeper Life Ministries and was named Chancellor of God’s Bible School & College in 2017 after serving as its President for 22 years.