Mention spiritual maturity to some, and they will react as though you’ve happened upon a sinister and taboo topic. Others consider spiritual maturity a topic for the elders of the church, the evangelists and the preachers, those in leadership, in any case, not for them. In order to achieve spiritual maturity, sacrifice is required of the individual, and too many consider that throwing some loose change in the offering plate every service is sacrifice enough. Contrary to popular belief, spiritual maturity is not reserved only for the select few in leadership, but is a requirement and necessity for every individual who has yoked themselves to Christ, and began their journey toward perfection, sanctification, and the deeper mysteries of God. Just as growing and maturing physically is a natural process of this present life, so is growing and maturing spiritually. When one remains in a state of spiritual infancy, he becomes easy prey for the wolves and the enemy that roam about, looking for their next victim, the next soul they can corrupt, and the next heart they can defile.
The Word continually encourages us to grow, to pursue the deeper things, to ascend from grace to grace, and from glory to glory. Our journey is a process, wherein we are weaned off milk, and begin to consume solid food, and we begin to hear the voice of God for ourselves, understand the Word for ourselves, and eventually stop relying on surrogates to nourish us spiritually.
Many a soul should be further along in their spiritual maturity than they are, and the constant reaffirmations by some in Christian leadership that growth is not necessary, is largely to blame for this spiritually underdeveloped generation.
In his letter to the Hebrews, apostle Paul addressed just such a deficiency and lack of spiritual maturity. He reproved them for their lack of growth, and for their need to continue consuming milk rather than solid food.
Hebrews 5:12, “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.”
Childhood is beautiful. The carefree days spent doing trivial things, the wonder of it all as we discover the world beyond our front door, the excitement of the first day of school, the rush of our first schoolyard tussle. The list goes on and on, the memories growing more vivid the further along we came into maturity, the sense that each new day was a new chapter, which held a new discovery, a new experience, something worth looking forward to.
As all things temporal must, the season of our childhood passes. We are children for a blink of an eye, then comes the part time job, then the full time job, marriage, mortgages, car loans, pension plans and family doctors. A child cannot remain a child forever. One cannot be forever young, forever carefree, forever absent of responsibility or maturity. If one remains in a constant state of infancy, eventually the parents grow worried, concerned, perturbed, and seek help realizing something is very wrong. The child that should have grown hasn’t grown, he is not maturing at the same rate and speed as the others are, and this is a reason for concern for most parents.
Discipleship is necessary but if its time passes, and the disciple does not become skilled, if he is not well on his way to mastering his skill, it is all in vain, an exercise in futility. We are Disciples of Christ, because our desire is to one day be like Him. The desire of every true believer is to one day be like His master. We are daily formed, daily molded, daily chiseled, and daily matured, allowing the nature of Christ to take hold, to shine in us and through us.
This present life requires growth, whether physical or spiritual. It is necessary, mandatory, and a natural law. If growth and progress are not found, if we become bogged down in a state of static existence, wherein we are not moving forward in our faith, we can no longer hope to ascend to the greater things of God. Only by spiritual growth are we entrusted with greater responsibility, greater power, greater revelation, and greater intimacy. A spiritually mature man or woman realizes the true value of their relationship with God, and they nurture it, they protect it, being watchful not to allow any stumbling blocks to stand in the way.
A spiritually mature soul has gone beyond the first principles of the oracles of God. They have laid the foundation, and now they are building the temple. One must learn the first principles, first, but always strive go grow beyond the first principles of the oracles of God. One cannot bypass the first principles, and hope to gain instant understanding of the deeper mysteries of God. As the old adage states, first things, always come first.
In many instances we can view our spiritual growth as a ladder. One cannot climb to the top of the ladder, unless he has started out on the bottom rung. Each rung of the ladder has its own relevance, its own importance, because with each step we take we ascend higher to our desired goal. Many souls climb the first few rungs, and then settle comfortably, thinking there are no more rungs to the ladder. Three feet off the grown, and some already believe they’ve ascended to the highest highs of God’s wisdom, knowledge and glory.
By adopting the mindset that we have already attained, when we have not attained, that we have already achieved when we have not achieved, we grow complacent, stagnant, indifferent, and great only in our own minds. When such a mindset worms its way into a heart, it quickly becomes unreachable, for one who already believes he knows all there is to know, can no longer be taught.
It becomes a chain reaction of events, that lead up to the sin of pride springing up in the heart, and we become blinded by our own self proclaimed genius, no longer willing to take direction even if that direction happens to come directly from the Word of God.
Though many ought to be teachers by now, their own self-destructive tendencies and the pride they allowed to take root in their hearts make them need milk once more rather than solid food, and makes it necessary for them to reacquaint themselves with the basic principles, and first oracles of God.
A spiritual walk has its own natural progression. Spiritual growth comes about naturally when we humble ourselves and strive to grow in God. It is the Father’s good pleasure to see us grow and mature, to see constancy in our spiritual journey. In order to attain what He has for us, we must become what He desires us to be.
A Christian who has remained in a state of spiritual infancy, is not troubled by the sin in his life. He has as yet not come to realize the dangers of sin, just as a baby has not realized the dangers of touching a hot stove, or sticking its fingers in the wall socket. There are certain things we perceive only when we are older, just as there are spiritual matters we perceive only when we have matured spiritually.
One lacking spiritual maturity is readily adamant in defending his doctrine, or theology, even if it contradicts the Scripture. Pride does not allow him to see the truth, and so he presses on in his ignorance attempting to bring others to his way of thinking.
The telltale signs of an immature Christian are plentiful and easy to detect if one knows what they are looking for.
The life of an immature Christian is a life of defeats, absent of peace, absent of balance, and absent of joy. An immature Christian cannot overcome, for he trusts in his own strength. He has as yet, not surrendered himself in his entirety to the will of God, and inevitably suffers the consequences of disobedience.
Romans 7:20, “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.”
One, who is spiritually immature, does not possess the fruit of the Spirit. He is a barren tree, producing no fruit. The spiritually immature soul is always aided, and learning from others, never coming to the knowledge of truth on his own. There are always crutches, security blankets, surrogates, for he is unable to consume solid food.
Another telltale sign of an immature Christian is that he is always suspicious. An immature Christian is always in pursuit of his own self-interests. He is in constant search of vainglory and chooses not to see the good or the nobility in others. His desire is only for himself, his own honor and his own praise.
The life of an immature Christian is also formalistic and hypocritical. Rather than serve God, he uses God, as though He were some benevolent genie ready to grant every wish and desire of the heart. His interest is not in establishing a relationship, or intimacy with the heavenly Father, but to profit from the acquaintance, feigning worship only inasmuch as it will aid him in achieving his desired result.
What I find interesting is that in his epistle to the Hebrews Paul’s first warning was concerning dangers of neglect, his second warning concerning the dangers of unbelief, and his third and final warning concerning the danger of not maturing. Once the have passed the first two hurdles in their spiritual journey, many souls succumb to the third, remaining in a state of spiritual infancy whereby they are unable to enter into the blessings of God. It is not enough to give earnest heed to the things we have heard, nor is it enough to believe, we must also grow in God, mature spiritually that we may ascend from being mere babes in Christ, to being soldiers for Christ.
To know the nature of Christ, both physical and spiritual is considered a first principle, a truth, which we learn in the beginning of our walk with Him. To know him as our great High Priest, perpetually merciful and faithful, is a deeper truth we come to know only as we grow in God.
There are many believers who are satisfied with the fact that they have received forgiveness of sins, that their conduct is somewhat better than those of the world, and that they have access to the eternal. What more could a soul want? Is this not enough? When we adopt the mentality that we can be satisfied in the knowledge we already retain, that we have traveled far enough wherein we can afford to take a break, to slumber a little, to rest of our weariness, we run the risk of losing everything.
To me, the book of Hebrews is a cautionary tale; a warning to all who have spiritual ears to hear, that we ought not grow lazy, slothful, indifferent, or satisfied, that we ought not neglect so great a salvation. Ever onward should be our battle cry, and as faithful servants we ought not allow anything to keep us from growing in Christ.
Only by growing in knowledge and understanding can we perceive the beauty that is the deeper mystery of God. Only then can we begin to understand the full work of Christ’s blood not only on earth, but that it opened the doorway to heaven, to the eternal, wherein we can dwell in the holy place, in constant fellowship with Him.
It is lamentable that having so much accumulated knowledge in our present generation, concerning all that encompasses the Word, spirituality, theology, doctrine, the work of the Holy Spirit, and anything having to do with God, we still remain so ignorant concerning the greater things of God. It’s not a lack of materials we suffer from, nor is it the lack of the Word, for it is plentiful, it is lack of true desire and purpose to know the fullness of He who redeemed us from darkness and death.
Yes, by now we ought to be teachers, we ought to be ambassadors, we ought to have the ability and desire to passionately tell others of the saving grace that is found in Christ Jesus. It is the duty of every believer to become a teacher, a confessor, a light, a testimony, to be salt, an emissary of Christ here on earth. When the love of Christ fills a heart, it does so to overflowing. It is tragic that so rarely do we see the overflow in the lives of believers, that so many are content with the status quo, and so few desire more of God in their lives.
It saddens God to see so many of His children dependent, waiting to be fed, and so few feeding others. It is a state of sickly infancy, of spiritual immaturity, and it is not beneficial to anyone. Most often this condition is allowed to perpetuate itself due to the false beliefs so many have concerning salvation, considering it only a selfish means of security, covering their bases just in case. They never grow to know God in the intimate way He desires to be known, they never pursue or desire spiritual gifts, because all they really wanted was to know they were getting into heaven. They raised their hand, said the sinner’s prayer, and for far too many, this is sufficient, it is enough, no more labor or sacrifice needed. If our only reason for coming to God, was to escape eternal punishment, if love does not overflow in our hearts, and we feel no empathy for those who are lost in the world, we are still babes in Christ, in need of being taught again, the first principles of the oracles of God.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.