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Spiritual Maturity in Christ
Understanding the spiritual maturity of a believer in Christ is very important. Not knowing how to assess spiritual maturity has a direct bearing on the potential for deception. Many in the modern “church” have a shallow understanding of the basic principles of God’s Word that can be used as a “measuring stick” to gauge spiritual maturity. The ability to assess by God's standard the different types of behaviour and conduct ascertains whether someone is truly saved or not.
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. – Hebrews 5:12-14
Without having spiritual discernment, there is no ability to make proper distinctions between what is good and evil in the sight of God, or even comprehend what is a consistent lifestyle free from the bondage of sin. The test of salvation and spiritual maturity comes from understanding the genuine fruit of true faith that brings forth a consistent godly life with good works. It is not “works” in an attempt to earn, or keep salvation, but good works that are result of being born again by God's grace working in you.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:8-10
The good works of Christ is the working of grace in a true believer, not the workings of man.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-15
When someone does not have the grace of Christ working within them they are disqualified from the good works that are only the result of God’s grace. Any attempt of doing “good works" without the power of the Holy Spirit in you is not good works.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10
Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden. – 1 Timothy 5:25
In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility – Titus 2:7
Those who profess to follow Christ, but live in a habitual sinful lifestyle are hypocrites because the power of the Holy Spirit is denied in their lives. A truly born again believer does not practice sin because they have become a new creature in Christ; the Holy Spirit has seared their conscience with the ability not to practice unrighteous behavior. Without the true and genuine grace of Christ working in an individual, there will always be the desire and inclination towards sin. There are many false “Christians” who put on a face of piety and put on a good show in front of others, but their spirit exudes a filthy heart, which betrays Christ.
“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Like 6:43-45
A righteous lifestyle before God is living consistently through the grace of Christ without man-made efforts, or works to attain it. The false “Christian” will accept the false Gospel that abuses grace as an eraser of convenience and justification for sin.
Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? – Romans 6:1-2
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
There are many people in the modern “church” who are not born again as well as those who cannot tell the difference between an immature believer and the false “Christian.”
The immature believe that Scripture must conform to their opinions, assumptions and feelings, instead of conforming to what it says. The hirelings upon the pulpit tickle the immature pew warmers ears with sophistry that appeals to their own desires.
It is impossible for a true believer to remain immature because true growth comes from the power of grace working in that person's life. To remain immature is the result of the negation of the power of the Holy Spirit that is a requirement for growth.
The immature will choke on “meat.” The Holy Spirit is the factor of knowing how to consume and digest it in the right way. If you take a bottle away from an infant and replace it with steak on plate with a knife and fork, it would put the infant in a dangerous situation. Many who are caught up in the modern organized religious "church" system are suckling on milk bottles. When they are confronted and exhorted with the real "meat" of truth, they cannot handle it.
A true believer can initially be immature, but will always be in a state of growth. We know them by their fruit, which means that there must be maturity in their growth cycle. An immature "believer" judges by how something looks, but the primary purpose of a maturing follower of Christ is to bear fruit; therefore, judged by what it produces.The deception is that it is possible for grapes to be stuck on thorn bushes and for figs to be stuck on thistles. From afar, they may appear to be real growing fruit trees to those without discernment. A maturing believer will always be growing and bearing fruit.
The False, Carnal "Believer"
A carnal “believer” is not born again because they are controlled by their animalistic sinful nature. Their minds are of the flesh and they are unable to properly discern what is good and evil. Their minds have not been renewed and set upon the things of God. They do not have the grace of God working in them to free them from their carnal cravings.
Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. – Romans 1:12-14
To truly walk in the Holy Spirit requires the transformation of our minds. It is impossible to become a true minister of God without maturity in Christ. The grace of Christ is the only means of being able to discipline our bodies and have a lifestyle that does not conform to the ways of the world, but glorifies him in genuine righteousness, holiness and obedience.
We will all sin, and make mistakes from time to time, but there is a distinction between a true believer and the professing unsaved "believer." The difference is understanding the difference between the words "if" and "when."
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2
When Christ forgives us of our sins, he also releases us (sets us free) from the enslaving power of sin in our lives. God’s grace is not a "get out of jail free card" to be conveniently used like a credit card. The false “believer” will continually sin and use Christ's blood as a divine eraser of convenience as justification to keep on sinning. The word “if” in the above verse means that something might possibly happen, but most likely won’t. If the word “if” was substituted for the word “when,” the verse would be mean that we would not sin on occasion, but that it will most likely happen. Unfortunately, many interpret “if” for “when,” which makes their understanding of grace a false “Gospel.”
Those who profess Christ who are still slaves to their sin are not saved at all. They still behave like the lost sinners of the world who live in a carnal and fleshly lifestyle.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ – Matthew 7:21-23
The Mature Believer
The mature believer has a sound understanding of the simple, elementary and core principles of the doctrine of the Gospel of Christ. They have become quite familiar with the basic doctrine of the faith and can demonstrate it to others clearly. If someone does not have a clear understanding of core doctrine they are immature.
There are many in the modern “church” who may seem spiritual, but are immature in conveying and demonstrating the reasoning of why and what they believe. They may have a clear understanding of what their denomination believes, but have a hard time supporting their doctrine with the standard of Scripture. When they are tested, they react to the truth as if is foreign to them. They do not understand why the Bible is the sole source of doctrine that is used to measure and weigh and test what is genuine and true versus what is tradition.
True theology comes from Scripture; it is not filtered through denominational identification.
For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you.Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? – 1 Corinthians 1:11-13
Those who point out their denomination are self-labelled and consider themselves better, or superior to other groups by their statements of faith derived from the traditions of man.
The Unsaved "Minister"
There are many unsaved “ministers” in the modern “church” who lead unsaved and immature "believers" in their congregation. They do not have the grace of God working in them and do not have the means of knowing, or testing genuine salvation. They are merchants of business who try to sell the free gift of salvation; they have no place as part of the ekklesia.
And He spoke a parable to them: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher. – Luke 9:39-40
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. – James 3:1
There are many immature and unsaved "believers" in the modern church system who are in leadership positions who are unable to minister the truth of God’s Word for the maturing of the saints. The "sheeple" cannot think for themselves because they have given their devotion to men instead of God.
Many over-esteemed men undermine the faith of many by using extra Biblical standards of authority to lord over, and manipulate others. They will promote themselves, experiences, denomination, traditions, etc.., apart from Scripture. They will avoid and suppress any challenges, questions, and discussions that would undermine their carnal “ministries” and the potential gains from the wares that they sell. Instead, they require uncritical allegiance by making you dependent on them. Any independence, or outside thoughts are considered divisive.
These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. – Acts 17:11
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. – John 14:26
Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to follow men, or a certain man’s interpretation. Christ said to simply follow Him.
The Modern "Church"
The modern “church” system is for the child-like, weak minded individuals who want others to do it for them. The salaried leaders manipulate the masses to believe in a works based “salvation,” or "salvation" from their own "special" knowledge. They make you believe that there is no need to think, or move outside of the “four walls” because they can give you all the answers that are packaged nicely for you at a price.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11
The modern “church's" purpose is to tell others how to speak, think, reason, and be good “church” members through their traditions. If you do not tithe, or empty your wallet into their coffers, or buy their wares, you are punished directly, or indirectly for it. Failing to conform to the “box” mentality results in being ignored, shunned, or even banishment.
It is important to understand that all the hype, inspiration, excitement, music, special speakers, etc.., rarely brings true and genuine life change, or spiritual maturity because it all has come at a price. It is the monetary that drives these things, not the Holy Spirit. It is only the free gift of grace that frees us from the bondage of sin, and brings us into intimacy with God. We are only able to live righteously and holy before Him by His working in us. Anything that attempts to add to the Gospel has no power because they are dead “works,” which are the products of the traditions of man that says that they can do the Gospel better.
The modern “church's” are starving the masses with hype that promotes self-centredness that feeds off of excitement, personal experiences and fulfillment that comes from pulpit sophistry and self-help programs. Man’s personal opinions and agendas have superseded consulting with God who is the one who truly determines our standards and goals of the true follower of Christ.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. – 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Just like when we were once in our physical infancy, in the same manner, we also can be a spiritual infant. As we continue to grow and mature Christ, we become free from the bonds of our self-centred carnal nature by the working of God's grace within us. It is of utmost importance to understand the distinctions between those who do, and do not have the maturity of God within them. Professing believers are judged by the standard of maturity that Christ has set in God's Word, not the traditions of man. Understanding spiritual growth and maturity is essential to the true faith.
- The Mere Professing of Faith
The “church” is filled with people who outwardly declare their beliefs, but do not adhere and practice the standard of Scripture. They are the “professing Christian.”
- Defining Grace
There are two types of grace, one is counterfeit, the other is genuine. Genuine grace can only be applied if there is sin, but counterfeit grace is applied when there is sin. There is a distinction.
- Giving God a Makeover to Fit Our Selfish Needs
Apostle Paul warned the followers of Jesus Christ that apostasy would be within the Church. Many do not understand the very concept of the word because the truths of Scripture have not been emphasized clearly enough.
- Church: Carnival Rides, Games and Sideshows
The modern apostate "church" has given God a makeover to fit the image and traditions of man. The feel good church carnival atmosphere caters to amuse the masses rather than sound Biblical doctrine.