Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious, I Peter 2:1-3.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil, Heb. 5:13-14.
The Apostle John placed believers into three categories, even though he consistently called them his ‘children,’ I John 1:1, 12, 13, 18, 28; I John 3:1, 1, 7, 18; I John 4:4; I John 5:21; II John 1:1, 4. 13; III John 1:4. He referred to them as children, young men, and fathers, I John 2:12-14. However, spiritual maturity will be evident in how we live our lives. Consider just how much a biblically-based worldview changes things. It begins with the new birth, John 3:3 and manifests in a new life, II Cor. 5:17. When you are born again, everything changes. There are other factors that will affect your growth process, i.e. how old you were when you were born again, what was the environment you lived in during your formative years, etc. How dramatic the change will be is often linked to the lifestyle you were living when you were redeemed. Were you properly nourished in your formative years, etc. This is especially true for those who made a commitment to the Lord when they were young, prior to adolescent insanity. However, God is the One who overseers the growth process and we have the clear instruction of the Word concerning how we grow, John 15:1-5, and that God’s children are His good works in progress, Eph. 2:10.
February 8, 2015 – We Grow in Grace
There will always be other growth factors involved in our walk with the Lord, however, the way we will know that we are growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord is going to manifested, first and foremost, in our relationships with others. The most important relationship we have is with our Lord and Savior Messiah Jesus. Everything else is built upon that foundation, i.e. of faith, hope, and love, I Cor. 13:1-13. I consider this chapter of I Corinthians to be one of the most beautiful and informative sections of the entire Word of God. After giving us the working definition for God’s agape love, he finishes with this instruction:
(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love, I Cor. 13:7-13.
Remember, that God’s love fulfills the 613 commandments in the Mosaic Covenant. This should be an enormous source of joy in our lives. This is especially true when we realize that God is the One who empowers us to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, Gal. 5:22-23. In addition to this, walking in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit will prevent us from seeking to gratify our funky flesh: I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, Gal. 5:16.
February 15, 2015 – How Do We Know We are Growing?
Because God’s adopted children are His good works in progress, Eph. 2:10, we are in a process of growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord. So the question should be asked, “How do I know I am growing, what will be the evidence of this? Fear of the Lord is a constant theme of the Word of God. We are told it is the beginning of wisdom, Job. 28:28. This godly fear is a result of His amazing grace and it is clean and everlasting, Ps. 19:9; Ps. 111:10; Pro. 9:10; Pro. 15:33. The fear of the Lord is one of the characteristics of true Holy Spirituality, Isaiah 11:2-3; Rev. 4:5. Proper reverence for who God is, and who we are in His sight, will lead a person to the New Covenant: The secret of the LORD is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant, Ps. 25:14. Only then can you love others with God’s agape (unconditional, sacrificial, intelligent, everlasting) love and accept them the way your heavenly Father accepts you in the Beloved, Messiah Yeshua, Eph. 1:6.
So, how does this proper relationship with God manifest in our relationships with others of like-precious faith? The Apostle Paul set aside an entire section of his letter to the body of believers at Rome for the purpose of instructing them in true Holy Spiritual Maturity. It is preceded by a plea for God’s love to be preeminent in all our actions, considering that we live in the last days, Rom. 13:11-2. It is here that we read the remarkable truth: Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law, Rom. 13:8.
February 22, 2015 – What is the Fruit of God’s Growth Process
It is this overwhelming truth, that the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives fulfills the most important of the commandments of God, to love others as Messiah has loved us; to love God, Deut. 6:4; and to love others, Lev. 19:18, even raising the standard of loving our neighbor to loving our enemies, Matt. 5:43. Yeshua Himself confirmed this truth of the preeminence of love, Matt. 22:34-40, and he lived and died to show us what true love looks like, John 15:12-24.
If we are confident in the Lord, confident in His love and acceptance of us, we will be able to extend this to love and acceptance to others. Romans chapter 14 is a lesson plan for exhibiting true love to others in the body of believers. Let’s examine the highlights of these instructions, Rom. 14:1-23.
- Accept people of weaker faith. Weaker believers cannot discern true guilt from false guilt. True guilt is conviction (by the Holy Spirit) that your behavior is not reflecting your true nature. False guilt is feeling guilty about a thought or deed that the Word of God does not condemn, see verses 1-2, 5-6.
- Do not condemn anyone else for the traditions or customs they follow, i.e. what they eat (or don’t eat) what they drink (or don’t drink), what day they consider the Sabbath (or don’t consider the Sabbath), see verses 4, 10, 13.
- Everyone should be fully convinced concerning their lifestyle and their beliefs concerning the leading of the Lord in their lives. Remember, the more insecure a person is about anything, the more they will argue and become upset if you disagree with them, see verse 5.
- We are not our own, we were bought with a price, we are property of Yeshua, I Cor. 6:18-20.
- We must all stand before the Judgment seat of Messiah, II Cor. 5:10. How we live, what we do with the gifts and talents God has given us, whether or not we are operating in the flesh or in the New Creation will be made known. Remember, the Judgment Seat of Messiah is a judgment of our works for the purposes of reward. This is the fate of God’s adopted children, the fate of those who take part in the First Resurrection, Rev. 20:4-6. The unsaved will appear at the Second Resurrection, the Great White Throne judgment, Rev. 20:11-15, and that judgment concerns their eternal fate, see verse 10.
- Do not allow your freedom in Christ to cause someone else to stumble. Remember, the kingdom is not about food or drink but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, see verse 17.
- Therefore, let us endeavor to work towards peace and mutual edification. Even if you know that people are majoring in the minors, acting like children, we can lead by example. Deny yourself your freedom if that will prevent someone else from stumbling. This is spiritual maturity, see verse 19.
- We cannot judge any of God’s servants, see verse 4.
- Everything that is not of faith is sin, see verse 23.
Romans chapter 14 is the key to understanding spiritual maturity. Christ died to set us free, Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage, Gal. 5:1. We have been set free to love God and our fellow man. Pray that God would make this real in your life. Then all men will see that we are disciples of Yeshua, children of the king, John 13:34-35.