Scriptural Ways to Grow in Spiritual Maturity
The Bible teaches that we are meant to be a
Church, daily walking in the authority and the victory that Jesus died for us to have. The question is, why aren't most of us living that powerful life, and how do we get there? This article provides some answers to that question.
The purpose of this article is to show you some specific, Scriptural things you can do to grow in spiritual maturity so that you can begin operating in higher levels of victory and authority. This will help you to become more fruitful and effective for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth.
The Connection Between Maturity and Authority
Here's an illustration which helps us see how maturity and authority are connected: My neighbors have no authority to walk into my house and use things that I own, but my four-year-old son
have authority to use things in my house
because he is part of my family.
However, even though he has more authority in my house than my neighbors have, he needs to grow and
before we will allow him to have full freedom with dangerous items such as our scissors, for example. He has a degree of authority in my house that other people do not have, but he is not yet mature enough to fully exercise all of his authority.
The same idea applies in a spiritual sense as well. We all have a certain degree of spiritual authority as children of God that we did not have when we were unbelievers, but God cannot trust us to fully exercise our authority until we begin to grow and to demonstrate spiritual maturity. My four-year-old son knows how to use a pair of scissors, but if I give him complete freedom of authority with the scissors before he is mature enough to handle them then he might hurt himself or others. Similarly, if God gives us complete freedom of authority with His power and spiritual gifts before we are mature enough to handle them then we might end up hurting ourselves or others in some way.
Here's another example: A teenager might have a car, which is the
to drive himself places, but his driver's license is the
to drive himself places. He can get into big trouble if he tries to use that power before he has reached the legal age of maturity and has received that authority, right? My
Healing Training Course
will teach you how to use the
that God has made available to you (for healing the sick), but you need to grow in spiritual maturity before God can trust you with greater levels of
to use His power.
Notice what the apostle Paul said about the connection between maturity and authority:
"What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate." (Galatians 4:1)
Paul said that an heir owns the whole estate, but the heir cannot walk in the fullness of his authority until he grows up. When we receive salvation we become God's children, meaning that we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:15-17). We start off as spiritual infants (1 Corinthians 3:1), and we must begin cooperating with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit so that we grow up and become mature in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16). It is only as we "come up higher" in spiritual maturity that God will be able to trust us with greater levels of spiritual authority.
Maturity Requires Obedience and Self-Control
It is so easy and natural for us to do what
want to do instead of being
to God, but we cannot live worldly lives and then expect God's power to be available to us when we feel like using it (such as laying hands on a sick person, for example). We cannot pick and choose which parts of the Bible we want to obey and which parts we feel like ignoring.
It's really quite simple when you think about it: If God says to do something then we should do it. If God says
to do something then we shouldn't do it. It's that simple! Unfortunately, we all have a "flesh nature" which often keeps us from knowing and doing the will of God. The process of maturing requires us to begin putting our "flesh" to death on a daily basis by making the hard choices that excellence and integrity and obedience demand.
In no particular order, here are some things you can do to demonstrate obedience to the will of God and to begin making great leaps in spiritual maturity:
Get over yourself
I hope that doesn't sound too blunt, but the truth is that we all need to get ourselves off of our minds and just get over ourselves!
As the following passages show, our minds and our feelings are actually
to God and they are continually in conflict with the Holy Spirit. We must be very careful that we are not being led by our reasonings or our feelings, because then we are allowing the godless human nature to be in control rather than allowing the Spirit of God to be in control:
"If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him
[disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests]
take up his cross
and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]." (Matthew 16:24, AMP)
In the passages above, God has some pretty strong things to say about our reasonings and our feelings, and none of them are good!
"the mind of the flesh
[with its carnal thoughts and purposes]
is hostile to God,
submit itself to God's Law; indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh
[catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature]
be acceptable to Him." (Romans 8:7-8, AMP)
"The Lord knows the thoughts
of the [humanly] wise
they are." (1 Corinthians 3:20, AMP)
"walk and live
guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings
desires of the flesh [of human nature without God]. For
the desires of the flesh are opposed to the
Spirit, and the
[desires of the]
Spirit are opposed to the flesh
(godless human nature);
for these are
antagonistic to each other
in conflict with each other]
... And those who belong to Christ Jesus, the Messiah, have
crucified the flesh
(the godless human nature)
with its passions and appetites and desires."
(Galatians 5:16-17,24, AMP)
"I have been
with Christ and
I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me." (Galatians 2:20)
"Those who belong to Christ Jesus have
crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires."
"Put to death,
whatever belongs to your earthly nature:
sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. ... But now
you must rid yourselves
of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since
you have taken off your old self
with its practices and have
put on the new self,
in knowledge in the image of its Creator." (Colossians 3:5-10)
So what are we supposed to do? The above passages tell us to walk and live habitually by the Holy Spirit and to deny, disregard, lose sight of, forget, and put to death our "self" natures. We should try to get ourselves off of our minds by putting our minds on the things of God instead. We should learn to see things from
perspective and learn to listen to our spirits (our hearts, our consciences) for
view on things.
Many of us tend to rely almost exclusively on our own reasoning abilities, or we do what we "feel" like doing, but take another look at the passages above. Our reasonings and our feelings are part of our godless human nature, and we are commanded to
that fleshly human nature. The apostle Paul said in the passages above that our minds are actually
to God and
submit to God and are
in conflict with the Holy Spirit! Our goal should be to live according to our spirits, not according to our "flesh," because we will not make any real progress in spiritual maturity and authority while we are slaves to our "flesh nature."
Every time our "flesh" (our minds, wills, and emotions) starts to rise up within us with feelings like anger, impatience, being judgmental, and so on, we have a choice to make. Are we going to let our flesh rule our lives (perhaps at the unseen urging of some demon), or are we going to take the "higher" road and be obedient to God by putting our flesh to death? When you catch yourself becoming angry or offended or impatient (and so on), try swallowing your pride and taking authority over your flesh by telling yourself something along the lines of:
get offended (or angry or impatient or whatever). I
do what is right just because it is right, whether it makes sense to me or not, whether my flesh likes it or not, whether I feel like it or not, whether it will embarrass me or not, whether it will cost me some pride or some time or some energy, I
do what is right because that honors the Lord! Father, I see this ugly attitude that is rising up in me, and I ask You to 'scoop' it out of me. I turn it over to You in Jesus' Name. I forgive that person for saying those things and I ask You to pour out abundant blessings in his life. I love him and I release him to You, and I praise You and thank You in the Name of Jesus for all the wonderful things You do in my life. You are great and mighty, and I reverence You and worship You and love You with all my heart."
You see, you can take authority over your flesh because your "flesh nature" is not the real you. The real "you" is an eternal spirit who lives
a body and who
a sinful flesh nature (for more on this, please see my article called
How to Hear the Voice of God).
are going to be in control or your
is going to be in control, and God clearly tells us in the Bible that our flesh nature has to die. If you will take authority over your "flesh" (your mind, will, and emotions) every time you feel it trying to rise up within you, then you will grow by leaps and bounds into greater maturity and greater authority in the Kingdom of God. Try it and see what I mean!
Remember, God never said that the Christian life would be easy. In fact, He promised us that we will suffer (and believe me, your flesh will suffer when you start telling it "No"), but He also promised that it would be worth it.
As we learn to get over ourselves and to "disown" ourselves, these fleshly attitudes will begin to have less and less control over us. We will "die" to those unGodly types of reasonings and those negative feelings, and more of our sinful flesh nature will be crucified.
Here's something else to keep in mind: God often uses the school of life to burn these fleshly attitudes and behaviors out of us. God will sometimes bring annoying people or circumstances into our lives to act as "sandpaper" on us, then He will watch to see if we are
to crucify our fleshly attitudes. These irritating circumstances will help smooth out our rough edges
we allow them to. If we don't pass the test then we will possibly have to take it again later, in some form or another, just as the Israelites had to keep wandering around and around in the wilderness due to their constant grumbling and complaining. When you are going through difficult, irritating, or annoying circumstances and you don't understand why God is taking so long to deliver you from them, they are probably tests. Simply maintain a good attitude and give praise and thanksgiving to the Lord in spite of your circumstances so that you pass these tests. Each time you make the choice to put your flesh nature to death when it rises up within you, it helps you move higher and higher up the ladder of spiritual maturity.
The apostle Paul prayed that we would be nothing but bodies wholly filled and flooded with God (Ephesians 3:19, AMP), but we can't be
with God until we are first
of ourselves. Let's try to let go of our pride and being led by our reasonings and our feelings. Let's try to get over ourselves and get ourselves off of our minds. This will help us become humble vessels fit for God's use.
Quit grumbling, murmuring, complaining, gossiping, and fault-finding
If you really want to move up in the things of God and begin operating in the power and authority that Jesus died for you to have, then you need to get control over your mouth!
God has a
to say in the Bible about the way we use our mouths. Try looking in a concordance or a topical Bible for all of the occurrences of words such as "tongue," "lips," "mouth," "speak," "confess," "words," and so on, and you will probably be amazed at all of the things that the Bible says about how to properly use our mouths. For example, take a close look at how God feels about grumbling, murmuring, complaining, gossiping, and fault-finding:
do not grumble,
as some of them did--and were
by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us,
on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come." (1 Corinthians 10:10-11)
We can see that God does not want any grumbling, murmuring, slandering, lying, judging, fault-finding, gossiping, complaining, etc., to come out of our mouths. We should always use our mouths in pure and holy ways, because we are told to be pure and holy just as God is pure and holy (see 1 John 3:2-3 and 1 Peter 1:15-16, for example).
or arguing" (Philippians 2:14)
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to
mind your own business
and to work with your hands, just as we told you" (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
"Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also
gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to."
(1 Timothy 5:13)
"Don't grumble against each other,
brothers, or you will be
The Judge is standing at the door!" (James 5:9)
"These men are
grumblers and faultfinders;
they follow their own
desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage." (Jude 1:16)
Notice that Jesus was very careful about how He used His mouth:
"He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so
he did not open his mouth."
(Isaiah 53:7. Also see Acts 8:32-35)
Even though Jesus was ruthlessly tortured and was led to a cruel and brutal death, He did not allow any complaining, grumbling, and so on, to come out of His mouth, and we are commanded to follow His example:
"Those who say they live in God
should live their lives as Christ did"
(1 John 2:6, NLT)
Consider that the Bible says that the stories about the Israelites were written down as examples for us (see 1 Corinthians 10:10-11, above). The Israelites started out with Moses on an 11-day journey to the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:2), and they were still on this journey 40 years later. Why? Because they were grumblers and complainers and were disobedient to God (see Hebrews 3:8-11 and Numbers 21:1-7, for example). The Bible says that if we consider ourselves religious but we don't control our tongues then our religion is worthless! (James 1:26). We are told that our tongues steer the course of our lives (James 3:3-6) and that we must keep watch over our lips, resolving that our mouths will not sin nor grumble nor complain nor find fault with others (see Psalms 141:3, 17:3, 1 Corinthians 10:10-11, James 5:9, Jude 1:16, for example).
In chapter 12 of the book of Numbers, Aaron and Miriam began talking against Moses. They were grumbling, murmuring, complaining, gossiping, fault-finding, and being rebellious against authority. God's anger burned against them and He sharply rebuked them, and Miriam became leprous. If you don't like your job or your boss, if you're not happy in your home situation, if your finances are not where you would like them to be, you are only hurting yourself when you grumble and complain against these things!
Try never to say anything about anyone unless it would make that person proud to hear it, and resolve to speak only good things out of your mouth, things that line up with the Word of God (especially when you are in the midst of trials and tests - see James 1:2-4). Then you will be putting yourself in a position for God to radically and outrageously bless you. You will be demonstrating the kind of maturity that God is watching for, and God will bring you into new levels of victory and new levels of authority to use the power that He has made available to you.
Submit to every authority
We have seen that we must not be grumblers and fault-finders, but in particular we must not grumble against those who are in authority over us. The person who is in a position of authority over you (your pastor, your boss, the leader of your country, etc.) might not always do things which cause you to respect him or her, yet the Bible says that you need to respect that office which he or she occupies:
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities,
for there is
authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by God.
he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted,
and those who do so will
bring judgment on themselves."
As we can see in the above passages, the Bible commands us to submit ourselves for the Lord's sake to
authority, otherwise we are rebelling against what God has instituted and we will bring judgment on ourselves. However, we need to be careful so that our obedience does not cause us to sin, and so that we don't fall under the influence of false prophets, false teachers, false apostles, false Christs, and so on:
"Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient,
to be ready to do whatever is good" (Titus 3:1)
"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.
They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you." (Hebrews 13:17)
"Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men:
whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
Show proper respect to everyone:
Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king." (1 Peter 2:13-17)
Matthew 24:24: "For
will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible."
But how do we know whether or not we are being taught properly by pastors, Bible teachers, etc.? Here are some ways to help protect yourself from false teachings, false movements, and so on:
Romans 16:17: "I urge you, brothers,
to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them."
Romans 16:18: "For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people."
Romans 16:19: "Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to
be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil."
2 Corinthians 11:13: "For such men are
deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ."
2 Corinthians 11:14: "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."
2 Corinthians 11:15: "It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve."
1 Timothy 6:3: "If anyone teaches
and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,"
1 Timothy 6:4: "he is conceited and understands nothing. He has
an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions"
1 Timothy 6:5: "and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and
who think that godliness is a means to financial gain."
2 Peter 2:1: "But there were also
among the people, just as there will be
among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves."
2 Peter 2:2: "Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute."
2 Peter 2:3: "In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping."
1 John 4:1:
"Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."
Revelation 16:13: "Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and
out of the mouth of the false prophet."
Revelation 19:20: "But the beast was captured, and with him
the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs
on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur."
There might be times when we disagree with our leaders' policies, but if we use legal methods for changing those policies then we are remaining properly submitted to authority. There might even be times when obeying God involves disobeying our earthly leaders, as in these examples:
Learn how to be led by the Holy Spirit in order to grow in spiritual discernment. For some help in this area, you might take a look at my article called
How to Hear the Voice of God.
Learn what the Bible really says about the various Christian doctrines so that you can recognize false teachings. For some help in learning how to study the Bible, you might take a look at my article called
Are You Sure You Believe what the Bible Says?,
and then read my article called
How Do You Study the Bible?.
Learn how to recognize the signs of spiritual abuse, which is the controlling, manipulating, or dominating of people (usually through fear, legalistic rules, etc.) by spiritual leaders. Try Googling "spiritual abuse" to learn some of the signs to watch out for, but keep in mind that if you don't like everything that your pastor says or does, this does not necessarily mean that you are experiencing spiritual abuse.
Acts 4:18: "Then they [the Jewish leaders] called them [the apostles] in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus."
So wherever we go we should obey the appropriate authorities, and we should obey every law and every sign (such as speed limits, stop signs, and so on), except where it would cause us to sin or to come under spiritual abuse. We must be people of honesty, integrity, and excellence, living such good and honorable lives that it silences the ignorant talk of those who try to speak out against us (1 Peter 2:15, above). God says that we will be given authority over much (Luke 19:17), but
if we prove faithful and obedient in the little things of everyday life. It is not enough to be faithful and obedient to God in public, we must also be faithful and obedient in the privacy of our own homes and hearts where no-one will ever see it.
Acts 4:19: "But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God."
Acts 4:20: "For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.""
Acts 5:27: "Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest."
Acts 5:28: ""We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name," he said. "Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man's blood.""
Acts 5:29: "Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men!"
Acts 5:40: "His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go."
Acts 5:41: "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name."
Acts 5:42: "Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ."
As the apostle Paul said, an heir has authority over the whole estate, but he must grow and mature before he is released to walk in the fullness of that authority (Galatians 4:1). As we grow and mature in the area of obedience to authority (rather than grumbling, murmuring, and complaining) we will see abundant blessings poured out on us and we will walk in increasing levels of authority, victory, and power through the Holy Spirit.
Be thankful and joyful in every situation
Here are some of the things that God says about being joyful and thankful in
"Be joyful always;
give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Notice that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (above) tells us to give thanks "in" all circumstances, not "because of" all circumstances. In fact, the more we understand the principle that our trials are tests which God uses to help us grow up, the more we can consider it pure joy when we are tested (see James 1:2-4, above). We should always look at what we
not at what we
have, and we should continually thank God for the blessings that He has given us.
"Consider it pure joy,
whenever you face trials of many kinds,
because you know that
the testing of your faith
develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4)
"In this [hope] you
though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in
all kinds of trials.
These have come
so that your faith
--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--
may be proved genuine
and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7)
in the Lord
I will say it again:
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything,
by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:4-6)
There is always something we can be thankful about, in every situation. For example, my wife and four-year-old son and I were driving home from an out-of-town trip recently when one of our tires blew out. It was dark outside, we were far from home, on a small, lonely highway, with no street lights or houses or businesses anywhere nearby. It would have been so easy for me to grumble and murmur and complain and ask God why this had to happen to us and what did we do to deserve these miserable circumstances. It is our natural human tendency to get upset and angry when things don't go the way we want them to, right? But God had recently been teaching my wife and me about these principles of spiritual maturity, and I knew that when God teaches us new things He often begins to give us tests to check us out on our progress. So I thanked Him that the traffic was light and that I was able to pull over safely. I thanked Him that it wasn't raining. I thanked Him that we had a spare tire (one of those tiny tires) and that it was inflated. I thanked Him that this didn't catch Him by surprise, and I told Him I trusted that He had some way for us to get out of this safely because of our faith in Him. I thanked Him that I was able to change the tire and get back on the road safely. The point here is that it is always possible to look at the good things we
rather than focusing on the things we
have, and it is possible to maintain a good attitude and to give praise to God even in the midst of trials. It was getting late by this time, yet miraculously the first gas station we came to was a full-service station, and it had our exact tire in stock, and for some reason the off-duty mechanic was still hanging around the shop! God is so good.
Always find things to be thankful for when you are faced with trials, and always maintain a good attitude and speak good things out of your mouth no matter what the circumstances might be. And when things are going great and you are not in the midst of any trials, don't forget to
being thankful and full of praise and joy, because in times of plenty we often begin to take God's great blessings for granted!
Now that you are learning some of these principles of spiritual maturity, you can expect to be tested in the school of life, so don't be surprised at the tests that will begin coming your way (see James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 1:6-7 above, for example). If you resolve to look at every situation in life, good or bad, as a test and begin putting these principles to work and passing these tests, then you will grow by leaps and bounds in spiritual maturity!
Every farmer knows that he must sow some seed if he wants to reap a harvest. God is the One who invented the principle of seed-time and harvest-time, and this is a principle which affects every area of our lives if we will simply seek to understand it and to apply it properly:
"Give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and
will be poured into your lap.
For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
The entire Bible teaches the principle of seed-time and harvest-time. You won't get a harvest unless you sow some seed, which is something that every farmer knows.
"If we have
sown spiritual seed
among you, is it too much if we
reap a material harvest
from you?" (1 Corinthians 9:11)
"Remember this: Whoever
(2 Corinthians 9:6)
he who supplies seed to the sower
and bread for food
will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
You will be made
rich in every way
so that you can be
generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." (2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
more blessed to give
than to receive" (Acts 20:35)
"Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows.
The one who
to please his sinful nature, from that nature will
destruction; the one who
to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will
eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for
at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
in peace raise a
of righteousness." (James 3:18)
2 Corinthians 9:10 (above) says that God supplies the seed, but notice that He supplies it to the
Are you a sower? Sow generously and reap generously! (2 Corinthians 9:6, above). Remember, "at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9, above), so keep believing for the harvest that you need (bills paid off, family members saved, etc.), but don't dictate to God where your harvest must come from. You might sow money or time or energy into your church, for example, and God might give you a bountiful harvest from some other place. Keep in mind that your job is not your source and people are not your source. Only
is your true source!
After you sow your seed, sometimes it helps to keep reading and speaking Scripture passages on sowing and reaping (such as the ones above) every day. This is similar to a farmer tending his crop every day, and it helps keep your faith at a high level for your harvest.
In fact, let
you do be a seed sown in the Name of Jesus, and then keep believing for awesome harvests, giving thanks to God:
whether in word or deed,
in the name of the Lord Jesus,
to God the Father through him." (Colossians 3:17)
Walk in love
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
Jesus said that the
commandment of all is that we love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and He said that the
command is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:30-31). Therefore, there is no commandment greater than these. The apostle Paul said that if we have spiritual gifts but we do not have love, then we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). James, the half-brother of Jesus, said that if we do not love our neighbors then we are sinning and are guilty of breaking the entire law (James 2:8-10). The apostle John said that if we do not love our brothers and sisters in Christ (in actions, not just in words) then we are not children of God (1 John 3:10-18). John also said that if we say that we love God but we do not walk in love toward our brothers and sisters then we are liars, because if we do not love them (whom we can see) then we cannot love God (whom we have not seen) (1 John 4:20).
law is summed up in a
"Love your neighbor as yourself.""
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity,
let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers." (Galatians 6:9-10)
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient,
bearing with one another in love."
We can see that we are commanded in the strongest possible words to walk in love toward
around us, no matter how "loveable" they may be. It is wise to pray frequently for God's help in manifesting the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, and notice that the very first one that is mentioned is love:
"But the fruit of the Spirit is
joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23)
The only way that we can walk in God's unconditional love towards the annoying, frustrating, unlovely people around us is to be completely submitted to God and to pray for His help! When we consciously resolve to develop the fruit of the Spirit listed in the above passage and we yield and submit ourselves to God's will, then resisting the devil is much easier:
"Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
yourselves, then, to God.
the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:6-7)
When we humble ourselves enough to walk in complete and unconditional love towards those around us, then the devil is less able to get a foothold in our lives. We are commanded to be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate for protection (1 Thessalonians 5:8), and we are commanded to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), and we are commanded to express our faith through love (Galatians 5:6). Therefore, love is spiritual warfare! As we walk in greater and greater degrees of love, which requires greater and greater degrees of self-discipline and "dying to self," then we will be better able to operate in greater and greater levels of authority against everything that the enemy tries to bring against us.
Study and soak up the Scriptures that talk about love, and resolve to aggressively work on your unconditional love toward others!
Spend quality time with Jesus
There is a well-known principle which says that we tend to take on and manifest the qualities and the characteristics of those with whom we spend the most time (see Proverbs 13:20). In other words, if we spend a lot of time with worldly people then we will begin to take on some of their characteristics and begin to use some of their language, and bit by bit we will become more like them and less like God. If we hang out with soap operas and sitcoms and R-rated movies then we will become more and more desensitized to the worldly and unGodly messages, behaviors, and language that we are feeding our spirits from these shows, and we risk taking on many of those wrong characteristics and attitudes. None of these things can bring us any closer to Godly maturity and holiness.
If we want to be like Jesus (as the Bible tells us to be) then we need to hang out with Him. We need to spend time in His Word so that we get to know Him, and in getting to know Him we will become more and more like Him. We also need to spend quality time alone with Him, soaking in His presence and drawing closer into an intimate relationship with Him. This will help us walk in maturity and victory and love. Remember, God is love (1 John 4:8), so spend time with Him every day and absorb His love!
Here are some more things to consider which will help you grow in spiritual maturity:
We all need to get the sin out of our lives. This is especially true when it comes to sexual sins and greed, because the devil really seems to be attacking Christians more and more in these areas. We need to yank the slack out of our lives, and truly repent and turn from these areas of sin and compromise, and act with integrity, excellence, and obedience in all things.
Jesus said that if we do not forgive others then God won't forgive us (Matthew 6:14-15), but keep in mind that forgiveness is not a "feeling," it is a
Maturity is all about the choices and decisions that we make each and every day, and these choices have nothing to do with how we feel. Don't wait until you "feel" like forgiving people who have hurt you, but instead make the
to forgive them!
The Bible is food for our spirits just as bread is food for our bodies, and it is important for us to feed our spirits daily on the Word of God.
Everyone has their own personal set of Christian views, but how many Christians have actually read the entire New Testament? How many Christians have prayerfully and thoroughly and objectively studied what God really says concerning the various Christian doctrines? If you are like most Christians, you might be surprised to discover that your views did not really come from the Bible! To see what I mean, and to discover where most of your views probably came from, I invite you to see my article called
Are You Sure You Believe what the Bible Says?.
The Bible tells us that we need to be
of the Word of God and not just be readers or hearers of it (James 1:22-25). This article describes some specific things that the Bible tells us to do, but we have also been given the Great Commission, which is part of our "job description" (so to speak) as New Testament disciples of Jesus Christ. I invite you to see my
Healing Training Course
and discover what the Great Commission
We all tend to believe that
church or denomination has the most Scripturally-accurate views, right? Otherwise, wouldn't we switch to a different church? Yet how many of us have honestly asked God which church
wants us to go to? In other words, if the Holy Spirit did not specifically tell you to go to your current church, then maybe you're not supposed to be there! Maybe you are not being taught what God wants you to be taught. The problem is that most of us choose our churches based on our feelings or our reasonings. We tend to go to the same church or denomination that our family or friends go to, or we choose a church because we like the pastor, or we like the programs that the church has, or we like the music that they play, or we choose our church based on some other human criteria. But notice that none of these things really matters if we have chosen a church which God does not want us to be going to. Get with God and make sure that you are going to the church that
wants you to go to so that you are being taught what
wants you to be taught!
The Bible tells us that Christians need to be baptized in water. Different denominations have different views concerning water baptism, but we should seek
views on the subject. I invite you to prayerfully evaluate the Scriptural evidence in my article called
Is Baptism Required for Salvation?.
Different denominations also have different views on the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but we should seek
views on the subject. I invite you to prayerfully evaluate the Scriptural evidence in my article called
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Pray about everything, and pray continually, as the apostle Paul tells us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Many of us tend to neglect praise and worship in our everyday lives. For help in this area, I invite you to see my article called
Loving and Praising Jesus
We live in a world which says, "I'll believe it when I see it," but the Bible tells us to
we will see the answers to our prayers (Mark 11:22-24). As the apostle Paul said, "We live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).
In order to be mature and obedient to the Lord, we need to learn how to discern the leadings and the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I invite you to read my article called
How to Hear the Voice of God
for some practical guidance on learning how to hear God's voice.
Scripture commands us to "pray in the Spirit," but there is a lot of confusion in the body of Christ about what this really means. I invite you to prayerfully evaluate the Scriptural evidence in my article called
Praying in the Spirit Involves Speaking in Tongues,
which examines every New Testament passage on speaking in tongues. That article explains why "praying in tongues" in the Holy Spirit and "praying in the Spirit" are simply two ways of saying the same thing, and it points out that there are actually
different forms of speaking in tongues in the New Testament. Since many of us are not aware of this, we have formed certain opinions based on an inadequate understanding of tongues. Praying in tongues is much more important than most of us realize, and many of us have been robbed of this communication with God simply because of a lack of proper teaching on the subject.
May the Lord pour out radical blessings in your life as you continue to walk in radical obedience to His commands!