| LEVELS OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY
As Christians, we often wonder if we are reaching a level of maturity or are we lagging behind. As in all things we can go to the Bible for the answer.
1 John 2:12-13
I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
When we are first "Born Again" we are as infants and must grow and mature much as we do in the flesh. Lets take each level one at a time:
1: Babe in the Greek is "Brephos", this is a fetus in the womb or a new born infant.
1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby..
These babies need a lot of love and assurance. They get their feelings hurt if no one shakes their hand or speaks to them, causing doubts to set in.
Their basic need is "assurance", needing to hear messages of their righteousness in God. They need to learn to push past this basic need or they will not mature.
2: Little Child in the Greek is "Nepios", which is one without the power of speach or unskilled in speach. God is beginning to instruct them in how to speak.
Rom 2:20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
These are spiritual toddlers and need to learn "discerning", the major danger being "deception". The threat of falling into error and pit falls is a major concern at this level. They need to learn to apply discerning to break the bondages, being set free. This is not the gift of discerning, but knowing what is truth and what is false. We learn this by studying the Word of God and sitting under a good teacher.
3: Young Child in the Greek is "Paidon", which is a young child, or a teenager, learning to trust God.
Heb 2:13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
Here we learn to apply the self-discipline of God, without which we can never be holy or mature. We learn patience, and faith in God. This is the time of much correction and chastening. It's important that we learn to take this with out rebellion and self-pity, learning to press on to the mark, not giving up. We learn at this time about grace and knowledge as we leave the need for discerning the truths of God, going onto a more strict training.
One thing that is important to remember: Those of us with a higher calling have to learn to walk a stricter walk. Moses was not allowed to go into the Promised Land, while the others were free to enter in. there was a much higher demand on Moses then those of his followers.
Luke 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
4: Young man in the Greek is "Neaniskos", which is a young man in his prime, raw material that God has to work with. God wants to make a mature man out if him. Women are called to be "men" of God as well as our brethren.
The young man said, I have observed all these from my youth; what still do I lack? Jesus answered him, If you would be perfect [that is, have that spiritual maturity which accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come, be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me].
Obedience to God is a major issue to learn at this stage.
5: Son of God in the Greek is "Huios". At this stage we have the character and developed into a useful servant for God.
This person has a strong drive for victory, needing to be involved in ministering for God. He needs to see the answers to his prayers right now! The need here is to stand in faith no matter how long it takes.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus
Jonah 2:8 They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy
1 Tim 1:2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
Timothy is Pastoring this church and is an example of a Huios.
The largest threat at this stage is giving up in frustration when not used mightily. This is the time to grow in area's God is dealing with us on. There are intensive tests and teachings during this time. At this stage we learn to be led continually by the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
If a person doesn't have this need to be used then they haven't yet reached this stage of maturity.
6: Men in the Greek is "Telios", perfect or, of a ripe age, mature.
Phil 3:15 So let those [of us] who are spiritually mature and full-grown have this mind and hold these convictions; and if in any respect you have a different attitude of mind, God will make that clear to you also.
At this stage we are moving toward the mark of perfection.
James 1:25 But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience).
This is the maturing stage. At this point, we need to be open to change. This is the stage the army of God will be when we stand as one body before the throne of God. We are to be of one mind and one desire in order to flow together.
At this stage we must learn to stop arguing whether one is right or not. It's important to learn to give facts then leave it to the other person to accept or reject, without arguing about it. We need to give others the respect to go their own way. We are not the Holy Spirit to convict others.
7: Fathers in the Greek is "Pater", which is nourisher, protector, upholder.
1Cor 4:15 After all, though you should have ten thousand teachers (guides to direct you) in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the glad tidings (the Gospel).
This person is a Spiritual parent, teaching and exhorting the younger ones to follow his footsteps in following the leading of the Lord.
1 Cor 4:16 So I urge and implore you, be imitators of me.
Not everyone is a father or mother in the Spirit. His need is to see others go beyond what he accomplished, being quick to point out his own mistakes in hopes the younger one will side step it. He is the example of how to walk in Christ.
John 5:19 So Jesus answered them by saying, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, the Son is able to do nothing of Himself (of His own accord); but He is able to do only what He sees the Father doing, for whatever the Father does is what the Son does in the same way [in His turn].
He feels a major responsibility to others in that he:
1) Gives his life to help others mature
2) He is a nurisher
3) A protector
4) An up holder
5) He is a disciplinarian
The true Spiritual parent must do these things in order to be successful.
He must be able to delegate to others.. such as prayer, not doing everything himself, encouraging others to think things out for themselves. His charges learn by doing things for themselves.
John 5:20 The Father dearly loves the Son and discloses to (shows) Him everything that He Himself does. And He will disclose to Him (let Him see) greater things yet than these, so that you may marvel and be full of wonder and astonishment.
John 5:21 Just as the Father raises up the dead and gives them life [makes them live on], even so the Son also gives life to whomever He wills and is pleased to give it.
John 5:22 Even the Father judges no one, for He has given all judgment (the last judgment and the whole business of judging) entirely into the hands of the Son,
The parent cannot do all the thinking for the younger one. The real danger at this stage is apathy, which is loosing interest. It's important for the spiritual parent to stay on fire for the Lord and to know he is important to those around him. Again, change is an important thing to be able to accept.
Well here it is, I hope you find this of some help and encouragement in your walk. The way to maturity is not an easy or quick one, but we each must keep pushing on never stopping. The victory is ours if we'll keep pressing in.
May our Lord bless each of you as you walk in His light.