This topic came to mind while I was examining my thoughts about why I do the things I do. At one time or another, every believer must have wondered if their thoughts and actions truly represent one who follows Christ. If you have ever had thoughts like that, it means you are on the right path and I believe that you will find answers if you remain truthful down those train of thoughts. There is so much happening around us and we find ourselves extra busy with obligations, family, relationships, education, social media, and pursuit of wealth. These social constructs plague us so much that we begin to forget the purpose of our lives, and the real reason we were created. We plan our earthly lives so well that we forget to plan for eternity. We spend our time perfecting the exterior but forget the interior. It is in these moments that the Holy Spirit (teacher, helper and guardian) cautions us to slow down and examine our lives.
How often do we spend time with God? Does God occupy every part of our lives or just the parts we want him to take? Can we account for our lifestyle? Have we spent time gaining insight into the word of God? Are we spiritually mature? I focus a lot on living life according to the precepts of God because our generation no longer has a reverential fear of God (Proverbs 3:7). We replace the wisdom of God for earthly wisdom and have become rebellious in our thinking because we seek the love and confidence only the world provides. Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. Our Lord Jesus died to reconcile us back to him, he continuously pleads on our behalf or else the wrath of God visits us sooner (1 John 2: 2). Yet we take our lives for granted, we believe the world that tells us to make our own destinies and be who we want to be, we reject God’s teachings and stick blindly to our own beliefs and we forget that God is almighty and holy.
If we say we are true believers, then we must begin to exhibit spiritual maturity. The bible defines a spiritually mature person as one who has come to know Jesus Christ through the truth of God’s words and by habitually following his teachings (2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 John 2:3). If we say we know Jesus, we must treasure his message with all our hearts in its entirety, we must give up our own ideas of what life is or should be and listen to him, we should let go of the pride that only sees things our way and is bent on pleasing the flesh. 1 John 2:6 tells us that living in Christ means we are to honour God by our conducts of morality and integrity just as Christ did. God is our source and only he can give us the grace and power to walk in obedience to him.
2 Peter 1:3-9 says “For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has bestowed on us His precious and magnificent promises [of inexpressible value], so that by them you may escape from the immoral freedom that is in the world because of disreputable desire, and become sharers of the divine nature. For this very reason, applying your diligence [to the divine promises, make every effort] in [exercising] your faith to, develop moral excellence, and in moral excellence, knowledge (insight, understanding), and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, steadfastness, and in your steadfastness, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly affection, and in your brotherly affection, [develop Christian] love [that is, learn to unselfishly seek the best for others and to do things for their benefit]. For as these qualities are yours and are increasing [in you as you grow toward spiritual maturity], they will keep you from being useless and unproductive in regard to the true knowledge and greater understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is blind—short-sighted [closing his spiritual eyes to the truth], having become oblivious to the fact that he was cleansed from his old sins”.
Spiritual maturity is an enduring process, so we should continue to work at it. Paul says in Philippians 3:12-14 “Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christ like] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. It doesn’t get any easier because each time you press forward, that is when Satan’s attack is at its greatest but do not give up.
How does spiritual maturity die?
When we neglect the word of God: Many times we read the word of God just so we have the knowledge but we find it difficult to put them into practice, and we do not allow it to change us. Sometimes the struggles we have had to endure, as is my case can sometimes hinder our willingness to apply the word of God. The consequences of this are that one becomes ineffective in the things of God and your spirit man starts to dwindle. So we must choose to study the word, allow it to renew our minds and then be obedient to it (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:15; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
When pride becomes the centre: Satan lost his place in the heavens because he allowed pride in his being. 1 John 2:15-16 says “Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things] —these do not come from the Father, but are from the world”.
In the above verse, we read that pride of life is defined as pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things. Why was the word pretentious used? Cambridge dictionary defines pretentious as trying to or appear important than what one truly is. So a prideful person is a pretentious person and as such finds it hard to obey the Holy Spirit. It makes sense now that I write it because it is so easy to fall under the influence of pride and this can easily quench the spirit of God within us and also blind our eyes to spiritual insights. We should strive to walk day by day under the instructions of the Holy Spirit so that we can clearly discern what the true will of God is for us (Galatians 5:16).
Idolatry: Have you ever replaced God in any way? Idolatry extends from worship of idols to exciting veneration of something or someone or excessive admiration of self. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, we have always battled identity crisis because everyone wants to be recognised in one way or another. We are drawn by the idea of self-love because it makes us powerful and it is this desire that gives Satan the ammunition he needs. When we replace God with our own ideologies, self-importance or material things, we begin to lose that spirit essence that makes us unique in the sight of God. If your spirit is obedient to God, your flesh has no choice but to obey (Colossians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 10:7).
Rebellion/stubbornness: I must say this is a weakness that God is constantly dealing with me on. I am a stubborn person and I know this because it took so long before I finally agreed to the calling of God on my life. In general, I find it difficult to change my mind about something. Whenever I get stubborn I find it hard to connect to the word of God and everything just feels off. I could never understand why. I believe God had enough of it and he told me I was operating under the spirit of witchcraft. Before you lose your minds, let me show you what the scripture says.
I was so prideful to think I had never been affected by such because when I hear witchcraft, I think of evil people or native doctors in their shrines killing people (also true). I began to search the scriptures and found 1 Samuel 15:23 which say “For rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft and stubbornness (disobedience) as bad as false religion and worshipping idols”. Well, isn’t that interesting? Ok before you say I have never been affected, let me ask you, have you ever neglected a warning about a particular sin lifestyle because it comes off as disturbance or judgemental to you? Have you ever manipulated someone (by actions or words) into doing exactly what you want? Have you ever told lies or half-truths against someone in order to gather pity or allies? God does not take pleasure in rebellion or disobedience because not only are we hurting ourselves but also luring other people into it (Romans 1:32). As an example; when we disobey God’s teachings and chose to live in immorality, we not only dishonour God, we dishonour ourselves and lure others (children and adults) into the sin of pornography, lust and other sexual perversions. What world are we creating for our unborn children?
Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we are not immediately punished like King Nebuchadnezzar or dethroned like King Saul. Jesus took the fall so that we can all come back to him in newness of heart and not lose anyone of us to Satan. When we willingly submit ourselves to God, he takes it on himself to get you to maturity (conform you to the image of Jesus Christ) (Hebrews 5:13-14). So it is time to do away with pride, idolatry, rebellion and all these external labels that give us pretentious security because they are the death of spiritual maturity. Tomorrow is promised to no one, so in whatever you do; seek to please God above all. “Amen”.