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Spiritual Maturity

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Loyal
John 19:30; Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

When Jesus died on the cross a lot of things were finished. Satan was no ruler the ruler of this world.
We no longer had to have earthly priests sacrifice animals to atone for our sins. We no longer had to be
under the law. We no longer had to do this walk on our own power but have access to the Holy Spirit to
help us.

Jesus definitely finished His part.

But there is a part we are supposed to play also. There is a journey we have to walk. There are obstacles
we have to overcome. There are risks we have to take.

Rarely (if anywhere) did anyone in the Bible suddenly become a Christian and have it all figured out.
It's easy for us to look back at people in the Bible and laugh at their mistakes and say to ourselves...
"well if I would have been there I wouldn't have done that".. but how many times have you made your
own mistakes since you became a Christian?

Early in Paul's ministry he didn't consider himself "already in heaven" or "already perfect" or even "already
saved".

Php 3:10; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
Php 3:11; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Php 3:12; Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on [h]so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Php 3:13; Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
Php 3:14; I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We are saved by grace... "through" faith. Without the faith, we aren't saved even though God has grace.
But faith has to be tested and tried and proven.

Paul tells the Corinthian church, you may be believers... but you still have some things you need to take care of.

1 Cor 3:1; And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
1 Cor 3:2; I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
1 Cor 3:3; for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

He says you might be "men" in the flesh, but you are mere infants in Christ. You are supposed to be growing
and maturing. I had to give you "milk" instead of solid food because you aren't ready for it yet.
He says ... "even now".. you still aren't able.

1 Cor 14:20; Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature.

We need to "grow up". Grow in our faith. We can be innocent children in the ways of evil, but we need
to be spiritually mature.

There is this idea in some churches.. that because God doesn't have to live inside the rules of time, neither do we. This is a false teaching. God created this physical world, with it's physical laws of nature and physics, (including time) that we have to live in during this current life. Time may not apply to God, but it certainly applies to us. It takes time to grow. If you don't believe it, watch grass grow.. or corn, or wheat or just about anything.

John also speaks about the levels of spiritual maturity.

1 Jn 2:12; I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake.
1 Jn 2:13; I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
1 Jn 2:14; I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

Little children are just people who's sins have been forgiven and know who Jesus is.
Young men are Christians who "the word of God abides in" and they have overcome the evil one.
They may not be perfect, but they now have the strength (through the Holy Spirit) to resist the evil one.
If you've never had the strength to resist sin... most likely you are still an infant.
Fathers are those who have persevered.. they have been tested, they have run the race. They have passed
the tests.

Much later on in Paul's ministry... he speaks differently about himself. Paul has been in the ministry at least fourteen years by the time he is writing the letters to Timothy. This is what he says about himself.

2 Tim 4:6; For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
2 Tim 4:7; I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;
2 Tim 4:8; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

I have fought the good fight, I have run the good race. I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.
Wow!! What a testimony. He says "in the future" (not now already) I will be rewarded on
"that day". It seems "that day" had not already happened in Paul's life yet.

How long have you been a Christian? Are you an infant, a young man, or a father? Or you drinking
spiritual milk, or are you ready for solid food yet?
 
Loyal
Heb 5:11; Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
Heb 5:12; For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Heb 5:13; For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Heb 5:14; But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

There is period of time.... it's likely different for different people, but at some point... you should be past "the elementary" principles.
Elementary school is beginning school, it's where the younger children go to learn the basics. They generally don't teach quantum
theory trigonometry and advanced chemistry to elementary children. Usually this comes later in middle school or high school.
Some even go on the college level... often this is so they can teach others. Their are people who have never "been to school" so to speak, and have only even taken milk. yet they try to speak like mature Christians. They think they have already "arrived".

It's easy to spot these people.. as Paul says.. the mature have had their senses "practiced" to discern good and evil".
Some Christians don't really know good from evil yet. They don't have this discernment yet. They have never practiced it.
Like growing grass... practice takes time,.. and it also takes effort.

1 Pet 2:1; Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,
1 Pet 2:2; like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
1 Pet 2:3; if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
 
Loyal
One of the ways we grow.. (and know) where our faith is... is when we face tests (and trials)

Heb 11:6; And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

The word "faith" here is pistus in the greek. It has many meanings, but one of them is "conviction or truth in a creedence". Thayers takes this little further and says "you believe in it to the point of being willing to take a risk".

This could possibly be re-written as "without taking a risk, it is impossible to please God".
What if Peter would have never stepped out of the boat? What if Paul never went "the street called straight".
What if Noah never built an ark? What if Abraham never went to Canaan? What if Moses continued on being
the son of the Pharaoh's daughter? What if Joshua never marched around Jericho? What if Rahab never hid the spies?
What if David never killed Goliath?

We says we have faith, but has it been tested? Have you taken a risk because of your faith?

1 Pet 1:6; In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various [trials,
1 Pet 1:7; so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
1 Pet 1:8; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
1 Pet 1:9; obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.

Will you pass the test of faith? Will you receive "the outcome of your faith"... which is... the salvation of your soul.
 
Loyal
We are all somewhere on this walk, this journey. We are all at different places. Most of us are like Paul at the beginning of his journey.
He wasn't perfect yet, he didn't consider that he had already attained the resurrection. he knew he had to be tested.
He knew he had to fight the good fight, run the good race, and finish the course. Most of us are like him, we are in the process
of "being" saved.

1 Cor 1:18; For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
2 Cor 2:15; For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;
 
Loyal
The bottom line here is becoming mature and strong enough to overcome.
There are people who never reach this level in their walk.

2 Pet 2:18; For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,
2 Pet 2:19; promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
2 Pet 2:20; For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
2 Pet 2:21; For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
2 Pet 2:22; It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

There are "teachers" out there promising freedom. freedom from everything, freedom from the law, freedom from the rules,
freedom from religion... and yet they themselves are slaves. They have never "overcome". In fact they themselves have been
overcome by sin and corruption. They have again become slaves. They once escaped the defilements of the world... "through
the knowledge of Jesus Christ". These aren't people who never knew Jesus.
But whatever reason they have allowed the defilements of the world to overtake them. overcome them.
They are like dogs that have returned to their vomit, or pigs that have returned to their old pig sty.

Who is doing the overcoming in your walk? We can't do it on our own. We need the Spirit to help us.
But who are you letting win?

1 Jn 2:13; I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father.
1 Jn 2:14; I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.
 
Active
Think of all the stuff Paul had to go through...being put in jail, being beaten up, in a shipwreck, being persecuted...all for the gospel

He didnt just stay at home and twiddle his thumbs and sit round having a cup of tea. The christian life isnt easy or comfortable..if people think that, they are following some other gospel...or gone back to the world.
 
Loyal
Oh, but we must sometimes grow away from the acceptable selfishness of the spiritual child to the overflowing wonder of being filled with things that in the beginning we understood not at all.

But, even those who have grown and moved up from the milk sometimes have slipped as our friend @B-A-C has already said. This is because there is no stopping place for us unless Jesus stops. When He moves, we must move. Remember the "pillar of fire" by night and "pillar of cloud" by day that led the Israelites through the wilderness. When the cloud moved they had to pack up and move after it. When the cloud stopped, they took their rest until the next movement.

Do we see clearly enough to follow Him when He goes and to stop with Him when He stops. Give us a better vision O Lord!
 
Loyal
Oh, but we must sometimes grow away from the acceptable selfishness of the spiritual child to the overflowing wonder of being filled with things that in the beginning we understood not at all.

But, even those who have grown and moved up from the milk sometimes have slipped as our friend @B-A-C has already said. This is because there is no stopping place for us unless Jesus stops. When He moves, we must move. Remember the "pillar of fire" by night and "pillar of cloud" by day that led the Israelites through the wilderness. When the cloud moved they had to pack up and move after it. When the cloud stopped, they took their rest until the next movement.

Do we see clearly enough to follow Him when He goes and to stop with Him when He stops. Give us a better vision O Lord!
Good thoughts! Yes, we must move when he moves, and rest when he says to rest, and trust him in all things and in all ways. Interesting topic here. The Lord Jesus has had this song "Lord, Move Me" (one he gave me to write in 2011) going through my head most of the day today while we were out getting driver's licenses and transferring our car title and registration to our new location. I know the Lord moved us here for a purpose, and that he will reveal that purpose when the time is right, but I believe he is preparing my heart now for what will be coming next. He has also had the song "I Just Want to Be Where You Are" (Don Moen) and the song ... oh, I can't think of its name ... going through my head nearly all day, and the second one nearly daily since we moved here this past Saturday. The one I can't remember the title has to do with wanting Jesus more than the treasures of this life, but it is not "I'd Rather have Jesus" or "More Precious Than Silver," I don't think, though along those same lines. He keeps putting this song in my head that has to do with willingly forfeiting the things of this world and longing for Jesus. When I hear it again in my head, I will post it on here. Anyway, here is "Lord, Move Me."

Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
Teach me to love You; adore You always.
Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
I am so grateful that You set me free.
Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
And I will live with You for eternity.

 
Loyal
Oh, I found it! It is:

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Thomas O. Chisholm / W. J. Kirkpatrick

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

 
Member
I think a large part of our faith is the willingness to be totally abandoned to God, to His will and His purposes. When I accepted Jesus I was 19 years old and really did not understand the concept of giving "ownership" of my life over to Him. It was and is a journey, however about 10 years in, I realized that I did not "own" myself or my life any longer. I had given "ownership" over to Jesus and that meant He was to be in control.

Honestly, that revelation was the most freeing thing I have ever experienced. The world at large looks down on people who are "dependent" on anyone or anything, they make "independence" a sort of idol. Yet, Jesus wants us to be completely dependent upon Him, to look to Him for guidance, decision making etc. This life in Christ is more "freeing" than it is restrictive and when we are able to see that the "rules" God has in place are for our good, it makes following Him a deep desire in our heart, not just obedience out of fear.

As for the "meat" of the word, we will die of starvation spiritually without it. His word will be written in and on our hearts as we apply ourselves to reading it and contemplating it. Scripture says that His word is "living", to comprehend that His word can be living within us is truly a marvelous thing!
 
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