Friday, July 30, 2010

The Biblical Guide to Spiritual Maturity:

My husband Eddie has a new two part study on his website,, about spiritual maturity. Following is the beginning of it; please click on the links to read the entire study.

The Biblical Guide to Spiritual Maturity (Part One)
The Biblical Guide to Spiritual Maturity (Part Two)

The Biblical Guide to Spiritual Maturity (Part 1)

Spiritual maturity shouldn’t be a mystery, yet anyone who has spent time in the church has likely noticed varying levels of spiritual growth among the members. Some grow slowly, some grow quickly, and some never grow at all. Why is it that so many never mature beyond spiritual infancy? I have yet to hear anyone declare, “I don’t want to grow closer to the Lord.” But I’ve heard many testify their desire to know him deeper. Sometimes those who make such a declaration begin growing, but many times they find themselves in the same position of stagnated growth year after year. The Bible warns that there will be many who are ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This is not unique to our time, for the Apostle Paul scolded the members of one of his churches by saying, “By now you ought to be teachers, but you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.”

Why is this such a problem in the church? Why do many Christians get stuck in the cycle of learning the basics, and yet never get beyond the need to learn the basics again. I believe the Bible gives us the answers. I also am confident that if you apply these things, you will not be left in spiritual immaturity. In fact, the Bible promises that if you follow specific principles, you will be fruitful and find the doors of heaven wide open. We’ll look at the passages which teach this shortly, but let’s begin with the words of Jesus which hit at the heart of the problem.

Hear, and take heed
Look at Mark 4:23-25
23 "If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear."
24 Then He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.
25 "For whoever has, to him more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him."

I’ve seen this passage applied incorrectly to various doctrines, but if we examine it in context, there is only one meaning to Jesus’ words. He begins by declaring, “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus often made this declaration before giving truth to the people. In Matthew 13, Jesus begins with this statement, then teaches many truths, and quotes the Bible’s warning: hearing the people shall hear, but not understand. Do you have ears to hear? The hearing is our response to the word of God.

What separates those who understand from those who do not? Let’s look at this in greater detail through the scriptures of Matthew 13:10-15
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?"
11 He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
12 "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.
13 "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
14 "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.'

This is a similar passage to the one in Mark above, but it adds some details that are also relevant to our topic here. What was the difference between the disciples who were given understanding, and those who were given hardness of heart? It is the response to the gospel. God indeed hardened them (see Romans 9:18), but it is to give them what they desire in their hearts. This passage says, “Their eyes they have closed.” In Romans 1, God gives people over to their own corruption after they suppress the truth in their hearts. Judgment begins with the words, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions.” A similar declaration is found in 2 Thessalonians 2. “Because they did not receive the love of the truth…God will send them a strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.”

When people close their eyes to hide themselves from the truth, God gives them the lie they have chosen. To close one’s eyes is to choose the lie. The lie could be a desire for a particular sin, but more times that not, it is the false belief in our own wisdom. When I think my ways are above God’s, I am in rejection of truth. Without faith it is impossible to please God. When I choose my ways over God’s, I will close my eyes to the truth by turning away from seeing the word. Thus, I am declaring my disbelief in His word, and faith in my flesh.

This is not only the line that divides the unredeemed from the Christian, but it is also the dividing line between the mature in faith and the one who flounders in their search for truth. I’ve heard people declare their desire to grow, but when invited to be a part of discipleship, they decline by not following through. Compare this to the disciples whom Jesus said, “To you it is given to know…but to those without, it is not given.” The disciples heard the word, and then came to the Lord seeking understanding. Those on the outside heard the word, nodded their heads, and walked away. It didn’t change their life. They found very little value in truth and didn’t bother following through, or seeking to understand what they had heard. Some respond with apathy, while others don’t want to face God’s call to surrender their lives.

That’s the danger of the word. You can’t receive it without your life changing. The word convicts, rebukes, corrects, and teaches the right way to go. Since the flesh is contrary to the word, those who love their lives in the flesh are forced to close their eyes to the word. It is a deceptive rejection of truth. I can close my eyes and convince myself that I’m not rejecting the truth, but it’s still rejection. The word never goes out without accomplishing its purpose. It is either life-changing, or heart-hardening.


Moonshadow said...

"This is not only the line that divides the redeemed from the Christian, but "

There's a distinction between "redeemed" and "Christian?" He doesn't explain his terms.

Jennie said...

I think that's a typo. I'll show it to Eddie.

Jennie said...

Eddie said it should be 'unredeemed'. I'll change it on here, and he'll change it on his website asap. Thanks Teresa!

Moonshadow said...

Alright, thank you.