Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Born to Grow

When a baby is born it begins to grow and mature. Actually it has been growing from conception, nine months earlier.

 

Why does a baby grow?  Is it because it decides to grow?  Of course not.  It does not even understand the concept of growth. Because the baby is alive, it hungers for milk and later solid food. It has no awareness of growth as an infant, and yet it grows and develops and eventually comes to maturity.

 

So Christians grow; not because they decide to grow or help themselves grow. They grow spiritually because they hunger for and feed on the Word of God.  Growth happens because we feed on God’s Word and obey what we understand.

 

What are evidences of spiritual maturity in any Christian?

 

The first evidence of spiritual maturity is found in Philippians 3:10-11. It’s an insatiable hunger to know God through reading and meditating on His Word.  It’s not just an intellectual hunger to know Him. It’s far more than that. It’s a hunger to know the power of His resurrection in our lives.  It’s a hunger for true holiness, even to the degree of being conformed to His image.

 

We’re thankful for His imputed righteousness through God’s act of  justification. We know we stand perfect in His sight.  But we want far more than that.   We hunger for His imparted righteousness, the truth of sanctification.  Yes, Christ is our sanctification, but we crave more than this intellectual understanding.  We long to see it worked out in our lives.  We long to love righteousness as Christ loves it.  We long to hate sin as God hates it.   As verse 11 states, we long to attain that practical holiness and perfection we will have when we rise from the dead.  We can’t wait until we attain that perfection.  We long for it now.

 

The second evidence of spiritual growth is found in Philippians 3:12-15. That second evidence always follows the first evidence.   It is a holy dissatisfaction with our present attainments.

 

Yes, we’re satisfied with Christ and our righteousness in Him.   But we’re not satisfied with ourselves nor our spiritual attainment.  We trust Christ for what He is doing in us, but we don’t trust ourselves. We despise our sinful self-nature.  As Philippians 3:3 teaches, we have no confidence in our self -nature.  It is no sign of spiritual maturity to be self confident in our spiritual attainments. In fact, that is a danger sign.  “Let him that thinks he stands beware lest he falls.” I Corinthians 10:12

 

Rather, we ought to have a holy dissatisfaction and hatred of our sinful self nature.  Paul, one of the greatest and most victorious Christians who ever lived describes in Romans 7:12-24 his hatred and struggle with his sinful self nature.

 

That’s why Paul in Philippians 3  and the writer of Hebrews 12 describe the Christian life as a race.  Every Christian is in this race.  The finish line is the moment we enter Heaven.  We have not yet reached the finish line in our present fleshly bodies on this earth. I’ve met and you will no doubt meet some Christians who think they have already crossed the finish line and have attained perfection in this life, but I John 1:8-10 makes it clear that they are deceiving themselves and making God a liar.

 

So to recap, the two evidences of spiritual maturity are:

1. An insatiable hunger for righteousness and to be like Jesus.

2. A clear understanding that we have not and will not attain that perfection until we are in Heaven.

 

Many churches today do not teach holy living. They may focus on evangelism and leading people to Christ. That is certainly a part of the Great Commission and a church is failing if that is ignored.

 

They may focus on teaching the doctrines of the Faith. That also is an essential responsibility of a church.  But if a church is not modeling holiness and teaching it, they are failing as a church.  If a pastor is simply known as a great Bible teacher, but is not modeling holiness nor teaching it,  he is failing.

 

The spirit of this age is to despise such preaching, calling it legalism.  Christians do not want to feel guilty.  They want to feel good about themselves, as so they avoid any preacher or church that deals  with their sins.

 

Why is spiritual growth so essential?  Why must it be our goal?

 

1. Christ-likeness glorifies God.  Ephesians 1:12  “That we should BE to the praise of His glory.  

 

2. Christ-likeness evidences that we have been born again. Understand, that Christ-likeness is not the way to be saved. Faith in Christ alone saves, but Christ-likeness evidences that regenerated life.  Remember, we are not talking about perfection here.  That comes in Heaven.  One can be Christ-like in this life and not be perfect.

 

3. Christ-likeness adorns the Gospel we preach.  Titus 2:10   There is nothing so ugly as a preacher or a church that preaches the Gospel and lives like the devil.  When we adorn the Gospel we preach, it makes it attractive to the lost.   Christ-likeness enhances our witness to the lost  and thus promotes true evangelism.

 

Remember, perfection is a goal and a pursuit; not an achievement in this life, though it is our position in Christ.  The only option to spiritual growth is a defeated, wasted life. That should be an intolerable option to every true Christian. 

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November 6, 2009 - Posted by | Philippians

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