4 Stages of Christian Life: Are You Growing Spiritually?

The moment of conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ, when you are really born again, the Holy Spirit invades your spirit making you a spiritual infant. This is phase one of the Christian experience. Like physical birth you are "a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!" [2 Cor 5:17 AMP]

Now we understand that there are four phases of spiritual life from 1 John, chapter 2. And John describes this first spiritual state with these words, "I am writing to you, little children, because for His name's sake your sins are forgiven {pardoned through His name and on account of confessing His name}." [1 John 2:12 AMP]

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PHASE ONE: THE NEWBORN SPIRITUAL INFANT

"Little children" is translated from the Greek word for infant, showing the parallel to the natural birth stage of a person. The new baby is alive but weak and totally dependent upon his parents to survive. A new spiritual baby is forgiven, but spiritually ignorant and helpless just like a new born baby. This is where the church family is required to "make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you..." [Matt 28:19-20 AMP] The parents nurture and teach their child everything about life, and the spiritual church family nurtures and teaches all the commands of Christ to their spiritual babies.

PHASE TWO: THE SPIRITUALLY IMMATURE CHILD

The next stage of life for the Christian is the immature, child stage. John describes this group of saints like this, "I write to you, boys (lads), because you have come to know (recognize and be aware) of the Father." [1 John 2:13 AMP] The toddler through teenage years are times of great change, learning, and development, but they are still years of immaturity.

The difference that is experienced by the believer in this phase, compared to the infant stage is stated to be "because you have come to know the Father." Again John explains it this way, "Here's how we can be sure that we know God in the right way: Keep his commandments." [1 John 2:3 (from THE MESSAGE)] Development and school are a part of the toddler to teen years and so it is to be the same in spiritual maturity.

Peter warns these years are hard spiritually, just like growing up can be challenging. He warns, "Don't lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn't know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God's life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, 'I am holy; you be holy.'" [1 Peter 1:14-16 (from THE MESSAGE)] And Paul explains graduating from school is a lot of hard work, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." [2 Cor 10:5-6 KJV]

PHASE THREE: THE MATURE SERVANT OF GOD

Every parent wants the best for their kids! They need to graduate, get trained, get a good job, and change the world for good, etc. And Your heavenly Father wants you to do the same. You can see phase three in John's words, "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one." [1 John 2:14 KJV] Three clearly defined things must be achieved to be considered mature according to John. In everyday life, the strong and vigorous young men and women finish school and join the work force, commit to military duty, or enter college for specific training to accomplish their dreams and goals. In a similar manner, strength of character comes from long exposure to God's commands, until they are forged into your nature, and you can be described as not just knowing the words of God's commands, but you live them! God has plans for your future!

Next, the success of every believer is determined as "the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts)." [1 John 2:14 AMP] The importance of this in non-optional. To graduate from God's school of obedience and live successfully is founded on this fact. The Lord promised in the Old Testament, "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." [Josh 1:8 KJV] Don't be lazy, or you will never succeed!

Just like Christ withstood the temptations of the devil, using God's Word that filled His mind and heart, God's will is for you to be mature in your faith so that you also withstand the enemies attacks, and not fall! When Peter explains the seven steps of obedience to climb to spiritual maturity he proclaims, "For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one). For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [spiritually] shortsighted, seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins. Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall." [2 Peter 1:8-10 AMP] Your success is vital, and Paul reinforces this in his letter to the Ephesians, as he explains the preparation and training necessary to withstand temptation. "Put on God's whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil." [Eph 6:11 AMP]

After Jesus withstood the evil day of great temptations, He then began His ministry. Therefore, we can understand then, to graduate from phase two, the school of immaturity, is to begin phase three, which is to follow our Lord's example and serve our Lord. God uses the strong and vigorous, truth filled saints because "the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds..." [2 Cor 10:4 AMP]

The work required to see hardened sinners converted, the church healthy and strong, and the culture and communities transformed is a spiritual task beyond any human plan or effort. Remember the immature disciples were unable to help people who were strongly controlled by the enemy. At that point, the Lord Jesus "said unto them, 'This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.'" [Mark 9:29 KJV] Paul adds, "For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere." [Eph 6:12 AMP] The eternal destiny of your world is no joke, and it takes strong, dedicated believers to serve the King of Kings, relying on God's power to fulfill His mission.

PHASE FOUR: THE EXPERIENCED TEACHER OR MENTOR

Finally, as time and experience take their course God intends for every believer to move into the final phase of their maturity. Spiritual grandfathers and grandmothers are essential to the stability and future of the church. John used a word for phase three Christians, "young men," that in normal usage then described a man up to forty years old. Then a new phase of life was entered.

In the same fashion God expects the battle hardened veteran to slow down and pass on the legacy of the faith to others. John uses the words, "fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be conscious of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning." [1 John 2:14 AMP] The understanding and wisdom of the faithful servant must be passed on to the next generation or the church weakens and fails to be the testimony of Christ Jesus.

Let these words sink into your heart, "By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves..." [Heb 5:12 (from THE MESSAGE)] Time, not a special calling, is clearly voiced as the reason to become a teacher in the church. This is the reason you find in Acts the church leaders are called, elders, with teaching responsibility. This is why Paul ordered Titus to teach to the end that "the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service... They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble, so that they will wisely train the young women..." [Titus 2:3-4 AMP

Now that you understand the four phases of spiritual life, you need to know what God requires of you to grow spiritually and please your Lord. We are not left to our own opinions for this, but God's Word provides clear steps of action for every Christian to take. This is covered in the Seven Steps of Obedience To Spiritual Maturity found in 2 Peter 1. Do you love the Lord? Are you willing to grow up and serve Him? I pray that you do!

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KingdomWarrior 2 years ago

Great article on spiritual growth stages. Gotta keep fighting! Thanks.

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