I write a lot about spiritual growth and spiritual maturity. The Bible makes it clear that we can grow in our faith and in holiness. It is not a linear path, where we are continually helpless and have no part to play. God tells us we can make steps forward towards Him, as He is always calling us closer, deeper into His ways.
Growing closer to God is the most important thing you can do in this lifetime. This is more important than reaching your dreams and even fulfilling your calling. Everything you do in life flows from everything you are in Christ.
There are many areas that go into maturity in Christ, but here are five key signs you are growing mature in Christ.
1. Mature Christians receive the truths of the Gospel as it was passed down to them.
A faithful follower of Christ doesn’t add to or take away from the Word of God. You are not the Message, and you play no part in the Message. You are simply the messenger. In the words of Greg Laurie, “you are simply God’s paperboy,” delivering the newspaper that declares the Message about Christ and His ways.
The Apostle Paul goes so far as to say, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 1:8).
Paul is literally saying that even if he himself strays from the pure message of Christ and His teaching, stop listening to Him! Clearly, he desired to pass on the Message of Christ in all its purity, as that is where the power is.
We see this with denominations that are moving away from core aspects of the gospel; for instance, those who say that it is okay to live in sin and not repent. Their adherents implode within just a few years because, when you take away the core of the Message, this takes away the power of the Holy Spirit to change hearts and lives.
There is Holy Spirit power when we preach the Gospel, as it was passed down to us through the Scriptures.
2. Mature Christians stop pointing out everyone else's sins, and start confessing their own.
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Alvin Reid says, “I know I am experiencing a fresh touch of God when I stop confessing everyone else’s sins and start confessing my own sins.”
Jesus taught us, “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. You will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
Mature Christians come to a place where they finally see their own glaring sins and continually focus on repenting in their own lives, and stop trying to be the watchdogs of the world. They understand the weakness of their own flesh.
There are moments to speak truth to others and to the world, but those should be much fewer and far between, as we focus on our own hearts foremost.
3. Mature Christians watch their words, and know when not to speak.
Immature Christians can’t help but speak their opinions on everything and everyone around them and those who go the wrong way.
In the Bible, James informs us that, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way” (James 3:2).
This passage is extremely sobering. First, because James calls it as it is; we all make way more mistakes than we care to admit.
Secondly, spiritual maturity comes through being more careful about the words we say.
If you long to mature in your faith in Christ, live in these verses. Pass everything else that you do in your Christian life through them. Walk in humility, gentleness and patience for others. Keep a careful guard over your mouth and your online posts.
4. Mature Christians are less dependent on themselves, and increasingly dependent on Christ.
Mature Christians do not make much of themselves and their good works and progress. They make much of Jesus. Even while mature Christians are growing in faith and holiness, they do not grow more dependent on themselves, as they know their growth comes through abiding in Christ, dependency on Christ alone and obedience to His command to love God and love others. Mature Christians don’t take credit for themselves, they humbly follow Jesus.
5. Mature Christians make every effort to build on their faith.
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As I said at the beginning of this article, we need to guard ourselves against a fatalistic attitude in our faith. The Bible says that we can grow and take steps closer to Christ.
The good news is that as we take steps closer to God, we experience His goodness, grace and glory in our lives in new ways.
The Apostle Peter tells us: “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, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, 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 whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9).
6. Lastly, these are qualities for which mature Christians strive:
Faith, goodness, knowledge of God from His Word, self-control, perseverance through hardships, Godliness (imitating Christ), mutual affection for other believers and for the Church and to make strides to love other people (both Christians and non-Christians).
Mature Christians don’t sit idle in their faith and assume that God will do all the work inside them when God has clearly called them to draw near to Him.