March 29, 2022
One of the great tragedies in life is for one to claim a longstanding relationship with Christ and yet be very immature spiritually. This is something that should not be. It is comparable to a baby who fails to thrive. When a baby doesn’t grow physically, we know that something is very wrong. In the same way, if we examine our own lives and see that we have not grown spiritually, we should be very alarmed. Something is very wrong. Sometimes Christians go through life with the same fleshly attitudes and behaviors that we had before we came into Jesus. Very little changes. Little to no fruit is produced. Christ seems to have little impact. On the other hand, we all know brothers and sisters in the Lord who have changed completely since meeting Jesus. They grow and bear fruit and are a blessing to those around them. The question is, why do some go on to maturity and some do not?
If we are going to mature in the Lord, we must be feeding on the word of God. Just as a baby will not grow without milk, so a Christian will not grow without feeding upon the word. Peter writes, “…like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation…” (1 Peter 2:2, NASB) If you and I are not feeding on the word, there will be no growth.
If we are going to mature in the Lord, we must be practicing righteousness. There will be no growth if we only talk about the things of the Lord but do not practice them. As we see in Hebrews chapter five, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:14, NASB) Practice brings the ability to discern good and evil, and this is a mark of spiritual maturity.
Finally, if we are going to mature in the Lord, we must take opportunities to grow through trials. Those who are mature have allowed the Lord to mold and shape them in the fires of suffering. As James says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NASB) Trials, if endured with a God-centered, joyful attitude, will lead us to be perfect (mature), and complete.
Let us examine our own lives and, with God’s help, press on to greater spiritual maturity.
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Posted by Scott Colvin
March 30, 2018
The cross of Jesus refers to his crucifixion by the Romans, his burial in a rich man’s previously unused tomb, and his resurrection from the dead. Christians look back on this once for all event as permanently dealing with sins and gaining the victory over death. But Paul also uses the cross as a model for our lives as Christians.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)
This daily crucifixion is a putting to death of myself so that Christ may live in me. The voluntary death to self is motivated by the great love that Christ and the Father have for us.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24, ESV)
The above passage from Paul lets us know that this crucifixion of ourselves also has to do the flesh. Flesh in Paul is defined well by the descriptive phrase that follows “with its passions and desires.” In other words, it is a putting to death of sinful desires in our life. It is a life lived by faith (Gal. 2:16), “through the Spirit, by faith” (Gal 5:5), and involves faith working through love (Gal. 5:6). Although we may be engaged in an inner moral struggle for Christian maturity, it is love that motivates us and the Spirit who strengthens us (Romans 8:13, Ephesians 3:16). It is not an unaided struggle.
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14, ESV)
The model of the cross is also a model for putting to death the world on a daily basis. Paul’s use of “world” is not to evoke the beauty of creation around us. Rather it is the world system that is hostile to God. My death to self is to result in a new creation (Gal. 6:15). It will be because I’m walking by the Spirit which is the opposite of gratifying the desires of the flesh (i.e., worldly, sinful desires). I’m to be led by the Spirit (Gal. 5:18) which will produce the fruit of the Spirit, which is a very different lifestyle from the one lived by worldly values. And Paul offers a challenge to us: “let us also keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).We must pay attention to what it means to let Christ live in us. We must be vigilant that we are not slipping back into worldliness for the new creation is in Christ, it is not in the world.
As you ponder the cross of Christ, also consider your daily crucifixion of self. The cross of Christ is to be a transforming cross.
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Posted by Russell Holden