Growing Into Spiritual Maturity

In your pursuit of living a holy life, you should understand by now that this is a growing process.  The moment you were saved, the Holy Spirit set you apart from the world and made you holy in Christ, but you have to grow spiritually in order to live a holy life day by day.  This is how you perfect the holiness of God in your life. As you may recall, the Apostle Paul referred to this, when he wrote:
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”  2 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV.
In this Scripture, perfecting holiness means to mature in holiness.  It means you have to mature spiritually in order to live a holy life.
Spiritual growth develops in three stages, much like the physical body.  You can see these three stages in the following verse:
“Brethren, do not be CHILDREN in your understanding; however, in malice be BABES, but in understanding be MATURE.” 1 Corinthians14:20 NKJV (emphasis mine).
Here the Apostle Paul wrote that these believers had to learn to grow up spiritually.   They had to stop being children and become mature in their understanding.  When it came to malice however, he wanted them to remain as innocent as babes. From this we can see three distinct levels of spiritual growth: the babyhood stage, the childhood stage and the adulthood stage. It is the same process as found in your physical growth.
Now as you know, no one is born a full-grown adult.  We all have to go through these three stages of physical growth.  The same is true when it comes to spiritual growth.  We start out as a babe in Christ, then we grow up into full maturity by going through the childhood stage.
This is certainly true when it comes to growing up in holiness. No one lives a perfectly holy life the moment they are born into the family of God. In fact, as a babe in Christ, we tend to still be very carnal –  constantly motivated by the flesh, according to what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch. This can be seen this in the following verse:
“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to those who are spiritual people but as to carnal, even as to babes in Christ.” 1 Corinthians 3:1 NKJV.
Notice that the Apostle Paul refers to spiritual babes as those who are carnal – in other words, those who are still governed by the desires of the flesh.  This means that when you are a babe in Christ, you are still largely moved by the things that you perceive with your physical senses.  As a result, if a babe in Christ feels that God loves him, he feels spiritually secure.  However, if he feels God is mad at him, he feels very insecure, and may wonder if he is even saved.  Have you ever felt that way?  Have you ever struggled with your relationship with God?  We have all felt that way at one time or another, because we are still learning to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh.
The Apostle Paul gave the solution to this spiritual dilemma, when he wrote:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you will not fulfill the lust (or, the desires) of the flesh.”  Galatians 5:16 NKJV.
Now let me ask you:  When is a child no longer considered a baby?  The answer is:  When he becomes a toddler and starts to walk on his own.  The same is true in the spiritual realm.  You grow spiritually by learning to walk in the Spirit.  This is when you enter the childhood stage of your spiritual growth and development!
Those who are carnal are ruled by their flesh, according to what they perceive with their physical senses.   Those who are spiritual are ruled by their spirit, according to what has been revealed to them by the Holy Spirit.  They know that they are accepted and loved by God because they have the revelation of this reality in their spirit, through the Holy Spirit. As a result, they are not moved by what they see or hear, or even by what they feel.  They are only moved by what they know in their spirit.  This is spiritual maturity.  This is where you ultimately want to be as a saint.
The Apostle Paul mentioned this inner knowing, which we have through the Holy Spirit, when he wrote:
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might KNOW the things freely given to us by God. ” 1 Corinthians 2:12 NKJV (emphasis mine).
As a believer, you no longer have the spirit of this world ruling over your life.  You now have the Holy Spirit, and He is the One who reveals who you are and what you have in Christ.  By walking according to this knowledge, you will walk in the full security of who you are in Christ.
Those who are carnal are babes in Christ.  By contrast, those who are spiritual are those who have grown into full maturity.  Spiritual growth then, is growing from being a carnal saint who is ruled by his or her physical senses, to a spiritual saint who is ruled by his or her spiritual senses.  Does that make sense to you?
The writer of Hebrews explained it this way, when he wrote:
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.   But solid food belongs to those who are of full age (or, full maturity), that is, those who by reason of use have their (spiritual) senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  Hebrews 5:13-14 NKJV.
Spiritual growth, from a babe to full spiritual maturity, is therefore a growth in the use of your spiritual senses – the ability to discern what is of the Holy Spirit and what is not.  What is of the Holy Spirit is good, and what is of the spirit of this world is evil. Now you know why you have to grow up spiritually, in order to perfect the holiness of God in your life.
You are holy, dear saint.
Steve Smith
This is Day Twenty-five of a 31 day devotional on The Life Of A Saint
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