Spiritual Maturity - A Definition
Spiritual maturity is a process that begins when a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior. He or she is born again of the Holy Spirit and then chooses to live "in Christ." The Apostle Paul said that spiritual growth is an ongoing process. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:12-14). Even the Apostle Paul had not arrived, yet he continually pressed toward the prize.
Therefore, in order for Christian maturity to develop in your life, you must make a choice to learn God's Word, allow God to renew your mind, and then be obedient to what you learn. Romans 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."
Spiritual Maturity - Accomplishing Growth
What are the marks of spiritual maturity? Spiritual maturity is learning how to walk in obedience to God. It is making the choice to live by God's viewpoint rather than your human viewpoint. Galatians 5:16 and 25 give the key, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." The word "walk" in verse 16 is from the Greek word peripateo, which means "to walk with a purpose in view." The word "walk" in verse 25 is translated from another Greek word stoicheo and it means "step by step, one step at a time." It is learning to walk under the instruction of another. That person is the Holy Spirit. Since believers are indwelt by the Spirit, they should also walk under His control.
How can you learn to walk in the Holy Spirit's control? You study God's Word! 2 Timothy 2:15; 3:16-17 instructs us, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth…All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." This is good practical instruction on how you become spiritually mature. It is not done by osmosis, but it is done by choosing to apply God's Word in everyday circumstances. As you walk step-by-step, applying God's Word to your life, you will grow spiritually.
Spiritual maturity should be a priority for you. "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil" (Hebrews 5:13-14). As a believer, you are not to be milk-fed. Instead, you are called to chew on the "meat" of God's Word. Discover God's truth by in-depth Bible study and feed yourself spiritually. Then apply that sustenance to your life as you walk in the Holy Spirit.
Spiritual Maturity - Living In Christ
In order to experience spiritual maturity, you must also understand that growth comes by grace and it is God alone who is your resource. 2 Peter 1:3-9 reminds you that God is the source. "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins."
When you became a child of God, you were given all you need "in Christ" to become a spiritually maturing believer. However, you are responsible to make a choice! Will you choose to use and apply God's principles to your life? The wonderful thing about being in submission to God's maturing process is that you will be changed! You don't have to worry about becoming mature. God does the changing! He will conform you to the image of Jesus Christ as you humbly surrender to His Holy Spirit and learn His Word.
Hebrews 13:20-21 says, "May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen."
Growing in spiritual maturity includes serving others in love. If you feel called to sponsor a child through a truly effective Christian charity, please visit our friends at Compassion International.