Introduction: Last week I spoke to you about ‘waking up’. Ironically, that is exactly what the Lord did to me Sunday night / Monday morning.
I sensed His leading into what is now becoming a series I am entitling ‘Moving On Up’.
Funny: If that reminds you of George Jefferson, I’m sorry!
Application: Three more installments, from Waking Up, to Growing Up, to Stepping Up to Standing Up.
Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
- When the New Testament addresses spiritual maturity, it uses the common Greek word teleios, which means “perfect” or “complete.”
- When it is applied to Christian growth, it indicates spiritual maturity in contrast to childlike immaturity as, for example, in this command from Paul: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature (teleioi).” (1 Cor. 14:20; see also 5:13–6:1).
- Sometimes it indicates perfection, as in Jesus’ summary command in the Sermon on the Mount: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect” (5:48).
- Spiritually, it always references solid, biblically informed understanding and conduct in Christ—spiritual adulthood.
Significantly, the job description for pastors is freighted with the responsibility of bringing the church to spiritual maturity, as stated in classic words to the church in Ephesus:
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature [teleion] manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:11–13)
I borrow from Gregory Brow’s: ‘Marks of Spiritual Maturity’.
Greg Brown earned his MA in religion and MA in teaching from Trinity International University, a MRE from Liberty University, and a PhD in theology from Louisiana Baptist University. He has served over fourteen years in pastoral ministry, and currently serves as chaplain and visiting professor at Handong Global University, pastor at Handong International Congregation, and as a Navy Reserve chaplain; His
- A Mature Christian is Marked by Abounding Love.
Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
He also taught that love would be the mark of every true follower of Christ. He said this: “They will know you are my disciples by the way that you love one another” (John 13:35).
- A Mature Christian is Marked by Growing Knowledge
‘And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight’. (Philippians 1:9)
The next mark of a mature Christian is spiritual discernment. This is emphasized twice in verses 9 and 10. He prays for the church’s love to grow in knowledge and “depth of insight.”
Depth of insight in verse 9 can also be translated discernment or judgment (NASB, KJV).
Discernment is again mentioned in verse 10. Hendricks adds this about the addition of the phrase “depth of insight.”
The word “discern” in verse 10 can be translated “approve” or “examine.” It was used of a metallurgist testing metals or coins to determine their purity or genuineness.
- The Knowledge of Scripture
- The Knowledge of God
‘But, those who are mature can not only discern between good and bad but also between what is good and what is best. The spiritually mature are marked by testing everything and choosing what is best—choosing what is best for others and choosing what is best for their spiritual lives’.
Transition:The 3rd Mark of Spiritual Maturity is Spiritual Integrity.
- A Mature Christian is Marked by Spiritual Integrity.
The word “sincere” carries the idea of testing something by sunlight. Our English word “sincere” comes from the Latin word “sin cere,” “without wax.”
In ancient Rome those who made pottery often covered cracks with wax to deceive those who purchased them. However, one could discern if the pot was “sin cere” by lifting the pot to the sun and allowing the light to shine through it.
When Paul was praying for the Christians to be sincere, he was not praying for perfection. He knows they will not be perfect until Christ comes. He was praying for them to be free of hypocrisy—to not cover the flaws in their life with wax.
Application: One of the problems in the church today is wax—pretense. We put on the wax of church attendance. We put on the wax of “everything is OK,” and therefore, we often never share our issues with anybody. We would rather act like everything is perfect than admit our flaws before one another and even God. There is a lot of hypocrisy in the church.
One of the consequences of sin in the Garden of Eden was that man began to hide from both God and man. Adam and Eve ate of the tree and then hid from one another and from God. There was no transparency. That is how the world is. They hide their insecurities and pain behind nice cars, nice clothes, nice jobs, etc.
Transition:The 4th Mark…
- A Mature Christian is Marked by Good Works
In fact, it is the one of the reasons that God created us. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- Mature Christians are bearing fruits that God prepared in adv
- ‘ Fruit always bears the mark of the tree it came from’.
Transition: The 5th mark…..
- A Mature Christian is Marked by Glorifying God
‘filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God’. (Philippians 1:11)
‘This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples’. (John 15:8)
‘In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven’. (Matthew 5:16)
Conclusion: What are some of the possible indicators of spiritual growth?
- Are we more patient than we used to be? Or any other area of development we know changed in our character (anger, greedy, etc.)?
Application Question: In what ways has God called you to demonstrate love towards someone when you didn’t feel like loving him or her?
- Do I tend to be more biblically-mindful in my decision making? (WWJD)
- Is what I attempt to do really for the glory of God?