Maturity in Christ
Sunday, October 8, 2017
One of the aims of the Christian is maturity (Phil. 3:13-14; II Pet. 1:5-8). How do we accomplish spiritual growth?
First, we must be “born again” (John 1:3). Without spiritual birth there can be no spiritual maturity. One cannot grow in Christ until he gets in Christ (Gal. 3:27). This rebirth is brought about by obedience to the Word of God (I Pet. 1:22-23).
Second, we must honestly examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word. James compares the word of God to a mirror (James 1:22ff). As we study the word of God we are looking into this divine mirror. If we expect to profit from this we must be honest about what we see, and not merely glance at the image and walk away. Paul tells us, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves“ (II Cor. 12:5a). Failure to do this honestly leads to stunted spiritual growth.
Third, we must obey what God teaches regardless of the cost involved. We must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). Self-deception will prevent spiritual growth and maturity. The blessing does not come from studying the word, but in doing the word (James 1:25). When we study we must be like Ezra: “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it” (Ezra 7:10).
Fourth, we must be prepared to face some extra hard trials and testing. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12 NKJV). Whenever we are serious about spiritual growth, the enemy gets serious about opposing us. Peter warns, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). Patience is something to be desired by every Christian. But if you desire patience, you should expect to face some trials (James 1:3). However in the end it will be worth it. “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).
Finally, we must measure our spiritual growth by the word of God. We do not measure spiritual growth by comparing ourselves with other Christians. “For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (II Cor. 10:12). Instead, let us compare ourselves with the Son of God, and measure our growth by His Word. After all is said and done, we are going to be judged by His Word (John 12:48).
How about you? Are you growing and maturing as a Christian? This is a lifetime commitment! Mature Christians are happy Christians despite the trials they face. Mature Christians are useful Christians overcoming the temptations that cross their path. And mature Christians are those who help encourage others and strengthen the congregation.
Paul M. Wilmoth