We don’t want to relapse into older sins and go back down a level. We want to stay at our new, higher level. Then, the next time we do a season of fasting and prayer, we’ll start new growth from this higher level and hopefully reach another level even higher than that!
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another post.
Lent is almost over now—this is the last week, and Easter is on Sunday. If you fasted or sacrificed something or not, I pray you enjoyed high-quality Spiritual growth during Lent. Lent is a great opportunity for rapid Spiritual growth and new Spiritual insights. If you didn’t fast this year, I recommend you do next year. Just something to think about.
I’m happy to report I’ve been enjoying quality Spiritual growth during this Lenten season, thanks to God. If only I could enjoy this kind of Spiritual growth all year round! But Lent is a special time when I follow a special routine, and I’m highly focused on growing closer to God. This is a time when Spiritual matters are my main focus. It’s no wonder I experience good Spiritual growth in Lent—God told us that if we draw near to God, He will come closer to us. James 4:8.
(8) Come near to God, and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners. Purify your hearts, you double-minded.James 4:8 (CEB)
I guess there are some times of year when it’s easier than others to seek out God. Again, if only I could have this kind of Spiritual progress all year round!
But anyway. So let’s say we make some good Spiritual progress during Lent. Let’s say we get some good insights, dreams, and revelations too. What then? Because the season of Lent will always come to an end, so what do we do when it’s over?
Well, it’s simple. We take our Spiritual progress and insights and we grow and mature in Him. We take what we learned and reach new levels, getting better all the time. That’s what Jesus wants for us to do.
Spiritual Maturity in Christ
Growing and maturing in Christ is an obligation for us as Christians, because it’s God’s goal for us. This is explained in Ephesians 4:12-16, below.
(12) His purpose was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ (13) until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. (14) As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others. (15) Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, (16) who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part.Ephesians 4:12-16 (CEB)
It’s important to note verse 13 says God wants us to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. So this isn’t physical maturity Ephesians is talking about here. This verse speaks of Spiritual maturity. People can be full-grown adults and not know anything about Christ, or have any kind of Spiritual life at all. The world is full of people like that.
So what is this kind of Spiritual maturity we seek? Among other things, it means becoming more Forgiving, less judgmental, more loving, no hatred, more Spiritual, less materialistic. It means no longer being in love with this temporary, physical world and instead loving and seeking the eternal pleasures of Heaven with Jesus. It means seeking true Humility and taking the last place, knowing that God will exalt the Humble in eternity. It means speaking the truth in love, as verse 15 says.
It means becoming less sinful—though Romans 3:23 tells us the obvious that we can’t achieve Christ’s perfection on this point, if we’re maturing in Christ we should be sinning less. And maturing in Christ also means denying ourselves and what we want more and more, making bigger sacrifices. Denying ourselves, picking up our cross, and following Him.
This kind of Spiritual maturity we seek is to become more like Christ, every day. To the best of our very imperfect human ability. Of course we can never reach His level of perfection. But we can try, and we can work hard to follow the Gospels and try to become more like Him every day. It’s always in our power to read God’s Word, and try our best.
Becoming more like Christ (to the best of our imperfect human ability) every day is how we mature and grow in Christ. But we have no hope of doing this if unless we pray, read God’s Word, and give our best effort to follow Him every day.
Once we start growing, we need to take that momentum and keep going, keep following Him. We need to turn away from the sins of our past (true REPENTANCE!) and stop doing those things. We need to live new lives, being better people than we used to be.
Imagine it like our old sins are back on a lower level of Spiritual growth and progress. We don’t want to go backwards—we want to grow beyond our old sins and put them to death one by one. To stop doing what we used to do.
Although it’s true that being Saved and receiving Baptism make us new people in Christ, it’s also true that Sanctification (this Spiritual growth) is a process. A lifelong process. We always have this work to do. Ephesians 4 doesn’t say there’s any end to this growth, so we best keep at it to see how far we can get.
This is what I mean by take the momentum and keep going. If you, like me, have enjoyed some good Spiritual growth during this season of Lent, we need to keep it. We need to take whatever lessons and insights we’ve learned and keep obeying those, so we can stay at our new, higher level. We don’t want to go backwards.
We don’t want to relapse into older sins and go back down a level. We want to stay at our new, higher level. Then, the next time we do a season of fasting and prayer, we’ll start new growth from this higher level and hopefully reach another level even higher than that! If we can keep this going all our lives, we’ll be truly Spiritually mature by the time our life here is done.
There’s one more thing we must note from this passage in Ephesians 4. And that would be verse 14.
No Longer Infants
If you don’t remember verse 14 from the passage above, here it is. Ephesians 4:14.
(14) As a result, we aren’t supposed to be infants any longer who can be tossed and blown around by every wind that comes from teaching with deceitful scheming and the tricks people play to deliberately mislead others.Ephesians 4:14 (CEB)
In other words, we should have sound doctrine and not be misled by false teachers who try to deceive us. We should be well-versed in God’s Word and able to recognize bad theology when we see it.
For example, Christianity that’s been tainted by New Age beliefs. We can find some examples of that in the Christian world today. But that’s a whole different topic, one I won’t get into. For more about that, I’ll defer to Melissa Dougherty. She’s a Christian YouTuber I featured in a End Times Part 79. She has a video all about this entitled, “How a Christian Can Have New Age Beliefs and Not Even Know it.” Check it out below, if you like.
The point is, a big part of our Spiritual growth and maturity is having sound doctrine, and being able to recognize bad theology when we see it. We know many false teachers will arise in the End Times to deceive anyone they can, including Christians. But when we’re Spiritually mature and read God’s Word every day, we’ll be able to recognize these deceptions. We won’t be tossed about by every new false teacher who pops up, like Ephesians 4:14 says. A Spiritual infant falls for every new false teacher. But we must grow up and be more Spiritually mature than that.
Developing our strong and healthy theology is a vital part of the Spiritual growth Ephesians talks about. That’s why it gets a special mention in verse 14. We need to read God’s Word every day and understand what is and isn’t OK. And we need to stay away from deception in all its forms—even if it appears Christian on the surface.
You Shall Be Changed into My Likeness
In a recent post I talked about Saint Augustine’s famous book, The Confessions of Saint Augustine. It’s a great read and a Christian classic, one which had a major impact on modern Christian theology. I’m still reading through it right now. In the book, Augustine describes a time when he had an experience of almost union with God. And God tells him something about Spiritual growth ….
[…] as if I heard thy voice [God’s voice] from on high: “I am the food of strong men; grow and you shall feed on me; nor shall you change me, like the food of your flesh into yourself, but you shall be changed into my likeness.“Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, Page 117
“Grow and you shall feed on me,” “you shall be changed into my likeness.” The more we follow God and engage with Him, the more we grow. And the more we grow in Him, the more we become like His image. It’s amazing, isn’t it?
But we need to be smart and stay on this path of growth, so we can reach even higher levels later. We can’t quit, and we can’t go backwards. We want to leave the sins and weaknesses from our lower levels back in the past, where they belong.
It’s a great blessing to experience good Spiritual growth and progress. When we stick close to God, He draws near to us too (James 4:8). And Lent is a great season for doing this, of course. But even when Lent ends, we can’t start going backwards once we’ve started on this path of Spiritual growth. If we do go backwards, we’ll undo our hard-earned progress much faster than we gained it.
No quitting, no going backwards. No going back down to lower levels. When we reach a new level, we must let the old sins and weaknesses of that lower level die off. We must let our old selves, full of sins, die off more and more. We must keep moving upward and become new people, taking our good momentum and following God so He can propel us higher than ever. It’s something to be excited about! It’s also one of the great benefits of living a Spiritual, Christian life. But we have to stay focused on God and work hard to do what He commands of us.
Lent may be over soon, but that doesn’t matter. Let’s take our new Spiritual growth and keep this momentum going!! Let’s try our best to keep growing in Christ every day!! The benefits are amazing … and get better and better if we stick with it!!
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Until next time, be strong and do good!
Your new best friend in Christ,
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