Spiritual Maturity

The birth of a baby is a wonderful thing.  If it is a normal child, we wonder at the perfection of a tiny human being – hands, feet, legs, eyes, ears, mouth, ten fingers and ten toes – a beautiful child.  But that baby is completely helpless; he needs his mother and father to take care of him so that he can grow and mature into an adult.  Soon after birth, he is hungry and cries to be fed.  He soon learns to hunger for the milk that fills him up.  He grows rapidly and soon he is crawling and then walking.  He now eats solid food that gives him nourishment.  But such a child cannot make decisions for himself; he needs his parents to teach him and train him.  As he gets older, he learns to make good decisions.  Through the help of his parents and instruction in school, he learns many things about the world and how to live and act among other people.  Over time, he grows to be an adult, and even has children of his own.

We observe and understand the growth and maturation of children.  But there is also a similar process in the spiritual realm.  Jesus taught us that we must be born again.  John 3:5-7 “Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’’”  For you to enter the kingdom of God, you must die to you old sinful life and be born again spiritually.  Then you should desire the milk of the word, the Bible, in order to grow spiritually.  1 Peter 2:1-3 “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,  if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.”  You must lay aside the old sinful life to include malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and evil speaking.  But that is not enough.  As a spiritual child, you must also desire the milk of the word in the Bible.  There should be a hunger to know God and His righteousness so that you can grow and mature spiritually.  Your motivation to lay aside the old sinful life and to grow spiritually is that you have seen and tasted the grace of the Lord.  He has forgiven you of your sins; He blesses you with all spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3); He has given you eternal life; He has prepared a heavenly home for you.  You should have a strong desire to grow and mature spiritually and please your Father in Heaven.

If you saw a fifteen year old child still living on milk and in diapers, you would think that something was seriously wrong.  In the same way, if you saw a spiritually immature Christian who was not growing or maturing, you would also think that something was wrong.  One of the most obvious signs of an immature Christian is that they still have their carnal or fleshly nature.  1 Corinthians 3:1-3 “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”  For the Corinthian church, the carnal signs of spiritual immaturity were envy, strive and divisions.  For you, it could be a continual love for the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16).  Are you looking lustfully at another person; do you have a strong desire for the possessions and pleasures of the world?  Is most of your free time spent on these things?  These are indications of spiritual immaturity.

We have more instruction about spiritual immaturity from the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 5:12-6:3 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.  Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  And this we will do if God permits.”  As a mature Christian, you must go beyond the teachings of repentance, faith, baptism, laying on of hands, the resurrection and eternal judgment.  These are important, but there are other important teachings that you need to understand and follow.  You also must become skilled in righteousness and discern between things that are good and things that are evil.

The Apostle Paul had additional teaching about spiritual maturity in Ephesians 4:14-16 “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ —  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”  Here the apostle teaches us to be sound in our understanding of Christian doctrine and not be naïve and deceived by false teachings.  One of the duties of the body of Christ, the church, is to help the spiritually immature to grow and mature.

What does a mature Christian look like?  Galatians 4:19 “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you.”  When you have Christ formed in you, when you demonstrate His spirit, His love and His actions in your life, then you are spiritually mature.  Seek and set your mind on those things that are above.  Colossians 3:1-2 “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”  My encouragement to you is to be spiritually mature. hading;\ls