Strong Meat: the “Deeper Things” of God

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  (Heb. 5:14)

The mind of Christ is not only knowing the “deeper things” of God but understanding what they mean and how they apply.

“Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches. (Pro 24:3-4)

If knowledge is knowing the deeper things of God, then understanding is realizing their meaning and wisdom is discerning how they apply to us and others.

There is only one source for all three:

“For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6)

No amount of Scripture memorization, writings of great theologians, or modern translations of the Bible can take the place of the Holy Spirit.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor. 2:14)

A very wise old Pastor once told me, “If the Holy Spirit can’t teach you the King James Version, then He can’t teach you any other version.”

The Apostle Paul was on the backside of a Syrian desert when the Lord supernaturally revealed unto Him the same truths that He had spent three years teaching the other disciples.

The Apostle John was imprisoned on the Isle of Patmos when the Holy Spirit revealed unto him The Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Paul talks about a man who was “…caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2Cor. 12:4)

The only way to have the mind of Christ and receive the deeper revelations of the things of God is to first seek after the Holy Spirit. And the only way to receive the Holy Spirit is to ask.

“If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13)

The revelation of the mind of Christ is sometimes manifested in the Church as a gift of the Holy Spirit so that the whole Body can receive edification.

“For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;” (1Cor. 12:8)

“But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” (1Cor. 12:11)

However, every individual who has been born again and received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is a candidate to have the manifestation of the Spirit and the mind of Christ; whether in the Church, during their personal time alone with God, or manifested in ministry to others.

“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry…until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1Cor. 12:7)

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Tim. 2:15)

“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1John 2:27)

How do we know when we have received the revelation knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that is from the Holy Spirit and of the mind of Christ?

First, our born again spirit will bear witness with His Spirit even as the babe leaped in the womb of Martha when she met Mary.

“For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” (Luke 1:44)

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Rom. 8:16)

Secondly, the wisdom from above will always bear the characteristics of the Holy Spirit.

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” (James 3:17)

And thirdly, when we have the mind of Christ there is a boldness and an authority which we possess that is not our own. We know that we know that we know.

“The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (Prov. 28:1)

“The officers answered, Never man spake like this man.” (John 7:46)

“For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Mat. 7:29)

There will be a clarity and understanding that was not possessed before.

It will seem as if the Word of God, its meaning, and its application will “open up” and can be declared with utmost and unwavering certainty.

“And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

We will know within our heart of hearts that we have heard from God and have the mind of Christ.

Having the mind of Christ begins with the attitude of humility and is completed when we have received the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom that belong to the Lord.

“Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (Prov. 24:3-4)

“For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” (Prov. 2:6)

The Bible teaches us that we as individuals, as well as the church body as a whole, are a building built by God, the temple of the Holy Ghost.

“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.” (1Cor. 3:9-10)

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.” (1Cor. 3:11-13)

“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1Cor. 3:14-16)

When God allows us to have the mind of Christ and He reveals unto us the deeper things of God, He does it for a purpose.

First and foremost, He does it so that we might take these deeper revelations of God and apply them in our life. In other words, so that we can be:

“…built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:20-22)

The things that we hear and accept, believe and stand upon, become building blocks that make up our life.

Tomorrow– Endurance and Victory over the “Fiery Trials” of Life

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Knowing God

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”  (Php. 3:10)

In our present earthly mind and body, we are unable to contain the complete understanding of the enormity of God. As long as we are in this body and until the time of our resurrection, our finite minds cannot fathom the immensity and totality of who God is.

“Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” (Isaiah 40:12)

The Bible tells us in Isaiah that all of the oceans and seas would fit in the palm of God’s hand. What we perceive to be the expanse of endless stars and galaxies in the universe is the distance between God’s thumb and little finger.

He knows how much the mountains weigh and how many particles of dust there are.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalm 19:1)

As the chorus declares,

“Our God is an awesome God.

He reigns from Heaven above

With wisdom, power, and love

Our God is an awesome God.”

Moses desired to see the immensity of God:

“And he said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory.” (Exodus 33:18)

Here the Hebrew word for “glory” literally means weight. Moses wanted to see how large or immense God is.

God would not allow Moses to see Him in all His glory, but placed Moses on a rock and covered him over with His hand. God removed His hand after He had passed, and Moses was only able to see a portion of God from behind as He passed by.

That rock was a symbol of Christ and God’s hand was a symbol of the Holy Ghost that covers and protects us.

God revealing a glimpse of His glory to Moses was a type and shadow of God revealing a portion of His glory to us through the Holy Spirit.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Cor. 2:9)

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” (1Cor. 2:10)

Although we are only able to behold a portion of God’s glory while we are in this earthly body of flesh, He has provided for us to be sure, to know absolutely, and to understand completely that portion which He has chosen to reveal.

This is done by having (or accessing) the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1Cor. 2:11)

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:16)

What does it mean to “…have the mind of Christ”?

The word “have” in the Greek means to access, and the word “mind” in the Greek means the intellect or the understanding.

In other words, to say that we “have the mind of Christ” means that we are able to access the intellect or understanding that Christ has.

We have this access through the Holy Spirit.

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.” (1Cor. 2:11)

Jesus Christ said that He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2:9)

The Bible says that He is the image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15)

Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30) and Jesus said, “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

“For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” (John 3:34)

Even though Christ is the fullness of the Godhead, even though He and the Father are one, even though He is the image of the invisible God and has the full measure of the Spirit, there are still even some things that the Father has not revealed to Him.

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32)

In the same way that there are still some things that the Father has not revealed to the Son, there are some things that the Son will not yet reveal unto us.

But those things that He will reveal, those things of which the Bible says “…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man…” He will make us to know and understand completely “…by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

This is done by us having (accessing) the mind of Christ.

But what exactly is the mind of Christ?

First of all, the mind of Christ is an attitude.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Phillip. 2:5)

The word for “mind” in this verse of Scripture is the Greek word meaning “to be mentally disposed” or “attitude”.

“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phillip. 2:6-8)

Before we can ever access the intellect or knowing of Christ, we must first have the attitude of Christ.

The Bible says,

“Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.” (1Cor. 8:1)

The Bible teaches that having knowledge has the potential to make one proud, and that …God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

Before God will reveal the “deep things” unto us, we must make a decision to do whatever is necessary to be humble before God and man.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” (1Peter 5:5)

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:10)

Being humble is not something that God will do for us. God will not make us humble, but He will help us to be humble when we “humble ourselves” and set our hearts to walk in humility.

It is not something that will happen automatically. Humility will only happen when we crucify the flesh daily and strive to walk in it, especially when the devil begins to tell us how “smart” we are as God begins to reveal His “deeper things” unto us.

Once we have set our heart to walk in humility and having knowledge does not “puff” us up or make us proud, then God will entrust to us the “deeper things”.

We will give God, and not ourselves, all the glory for the revelation of the knowledge of His Word.

Tomorrow– The “Deeper Things” of God

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The Provisions of Salvation

“Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:” (Psalm 78:21-22)

Most of the New Testament is not written about the future, but it is written about what God has already done through Jesus Christ and His atoning work at Calvary.

Purchased with His blood, and made available by His grace, we have access to every spiritual blessing contained in heavenly places, including the mind of Christ.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (Eph. 1:3)

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1Cor. 2:16)

Since much of the Bible pertains to past events, many people believe that it is just an account of things that happened so long ago that it really doesn’t apply to their lives.

However, much like a gift forgotten under the tree on Christmas morning, if we don’t find it and open it, we can never enjoy it.

Many times, God has already provided the things that we think we need and they are waiting to be found, but we are unaware of them due to a lack of knowledge and understanding.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6)

Such was the case of the Israelites in the wilderness.

“Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation:” (Psalm 78:21-22)

The Lord had just delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders. He had divided the Red Sea so they could go through on dry ground and had caused the waters to return and drown the Egyptian army that was following them.

The Lord provided water from the rock for them to drink and manna from heaven for them to eat, but then they complained and questioned whether God was able to give them meat. The Bible says they “…trusted not in his salvation.”

They had no confidence in the love of God and the position of salvation that the Lord had placed them in.

Many Christians today are like the Israelites of old. They need to realize that salvation is not a one-time occurrence. It is not a prayer you once prayed or a commitment you once made.

Salvation is a removal from one place or position and an establishment in another. It is a state or condition.

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:” (Col. 1:13)

The Apostle Paul had met the resurrected Jesus on the road to Damascus. He had seen the Lord in His glory and brightness. He received by divine revelation the truths that the other disciples had spent years learning as they walked with Christ.

Many Bible scholars believe that Paul was speaking of himself when he describes a man in Second Corinthians Chapter 12 who was “caught up to the third heaven” and heard “unspeakable words” which are “not lawful for a man to utter.”

Yet after all of this, and after a lifetime of service witnessing the miracles and power of God, he realized that he had only scratched the surface of the knowledge of Christ and His salvation.

That is why as an old man and towards the end of his life, he writes:

“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Philip. 3:10)

It is our prayer that through the next few posts to this blog, and the Scriptures contained therein, we might begin to understand just a little more of what this great salvation has already provided for us; that like a gift overlooked, we might find it, open it, and rejoice in it.

How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” (Heb. 2:3)

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1Cor. 2:14)

The Bible tells us that God knows every possible thing that there is to know about us. He knows our innermost thoughts, dreams, and desires. There is not a thought that can be hid from God.

“Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:2-3)

“For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.” (Psalm 139:4-6)

The Apostle Paul says in the New Testament that:

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” (Acts 17:28)

According to the Apostle Paul, we are enveloped by the Spirit of God. To the same extent that God knows us; the Bible teaches there will come a day when we shall know Him in the same way.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1Cor. 13:12)

Until that time comes, we now “know in part.”

The word “know” in the Greek literally means “to be sure, to understand completely”.

The word “part” in the Greek means “a share, a portion”.

So here the Bible is telling us that although God totally and utterly knows us completely, at this present time He has chosen only to reveal to us a portion about Himself.

However, God wants us to know and understand completely that portion about Himself which He has chosen to reveal.

Tomorrow– Knowing God

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Qualities of Spiritual Maturity

“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  (Heb. 5:14)

The first step to spiritual maturity is what we have already learned from the story of the “prodigal son”, which is to make a decision that we are no longer going to entertain unrighteous thoughts toward others.

It does matter to God when we talk about someone behind their back. It matters to God when we criticize someone’s appearance or actions whether verbally or in our heart. It matters to God when we harbor anger, or resentment, or unforgiveness no matter how justified we feel in doing so.

When we ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and reveal these hidden sins so that we may repent, we have begun to mature in the spirit. We may stumble in our attitude toward others, but when we do if we repent and determine to do better with God’s help, then we will begin to pass from “glory to glory as by the Spirit of the Lord”.

We also grow spiritually when we make a commitment to understand the Word of God for ourselves, not just to believe what others may tell us:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Eph. 4:14)

The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things, but that we must ask in faith. We need to realize that our Bible reading is not just a daily exercise, but an opportunity to hear from the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Whether reading or listening, it takes the Holy Spirit to show us what the true meaning of God’s Word is so that we do not fall prey to error.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.” (James 1:6)

“But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” (1John 2:27)

Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding are signs of spiritual maturity and will build you into a mature (finished) house of God filled with every spiritual blessing:

“Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:” (Prov. 24:3)

“And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.” (Prov. 24:4)

Any type of deceit or untruth is a sign of spiritual immaturity, but he who is spiritually mature determines to be truthful within and without.

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Eph. 4:15)

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;” (Eph. 6:14)

This does not only mean truth between you and others, but also truth between you and God. In other words, not coming to God and making excuses about what you have done or why you did it, not trying to convince God that you are something you are not, but coming to God and totally opening your heart to Him in honesty and truth so that He might search your innermost being and help you in your time of weakness.

Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” (Psalm 62:8)

“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6)

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2Cor. 12:9)

Finally, the Christian who has begun to mature in his spiritual walk has come to a place in his life where he is not ruled by circumstances.

The Bible tells us, and experience shows us, that babies are ruled by their circumstances and needs.

“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:” (Gal. 4:3)

If a baby is hungry, needs changing, or wants something, he cries. If he is tickled, he laughs. If he is rocked or cuddled, he falls asleep.

As it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual.

When we are babes in Christ, our prayer life is filled with constantly asking God for the things we need or want, much like a baby crying. The things happening around us and to us consume our thoughts and efforts.

We seem to jump from emergency to emergency, constantly asking God for His help or deliverance without much communication or communion with Him in between.

But just as most children begin to grow and trust that their parents love them and will take care of them, God wants his spiritual children to grow and trust in the love of their Heavenly Father.

“Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” (Matt. 6:8)

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” (Matt. 6:31)

“(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” (Matt. 6:32)

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,” (Rom. 8:38)

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:39)

The Bible says:

Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.” (Psalm 32:9)

When we first become Christians, our Heavenly Father will allow circumstances to come into our lives that will drive us to prayer so we may learn that God hears and answers our prayers.

In the same way that the bit and bridle direct the horse, these circumstances direct us to put our trust in God. But as we grow and see God supply our need and answer our prayers, He does not want us to be driven by these things any longer.

He has a better way and a higher calling.

“I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.” (Psalm 32:8)

God wants us to grow up in Christ to a point where the circumstances around us are not directing our decisions nor are they having to drive us to prayer crying for God to intervene.

God wants to direct us with his eye, but the only way that can happen is if we are looking at Him instead of looking at circumstances.

In the Gospel of Matthew we read of the time that Peter walked on the water:

“And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.” (Matt. 14:28)

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” (Matt. 14:29)

“But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matt. 14:30)

As long as Peter was looking at Jesus, he walked on the water. It wasn’t until he turned his eyes to look at the wind and waves (his circumstances) that he began to sink.

Just as someone can direct us to the right or left by glancing in that direction if we are looking at their face, God wants to direct us if we are looking at Him.

Whether we are reading the Bible, in prayer, in worship, or even in our daily routine, the mature Christian is always looking to Jesus.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb. 12:2)

In conclusion, walking in the son-ship of Jesus Christ, walking in spiritual maturity, is setting your heart to walk as Jesus walked:

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:5)

To be like Christ is not in the amount or degree of religious activity, but in love for your fellow man.

To be like Christ is to not be moved by adversity or circumstance, but to know the love of the Father and trust in him.

To be like Christ is to deny self, to be humble, and say “Thy will not mine be done.”

To be like Christ is to be a mature son led by the Holy Spirit.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14)

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How do I Know if I’m Spiritually Immature?

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1Cor. 3:1)

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1Cor. 3:3)

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the story of a rich man that has two sons. One of the sons asks for his inheritance, takes it, and squanders it, but his father forgives him. On the surface it seems like the simple story of a life wasted, repentance, and forgiveness.

But it is actually a story about spiritual growth. We see this as we read what Jesus had to say about the elder son and the words the Bible used in referring to this “son” in the story.

To fully understand the lesson that Jesus was teaching that day we need to understand it the same way that the early Church did. This is done by knowing the original Greek words that were used in writing the New Testament and translated into the words “son” or “sons” in the King James Version.

“Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.” (Luke 15:25)

“And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.” (Luke 15:26)

“And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.” (Luke 15:27)

“And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.” (Luke 15:28)

“And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:” (Luke 15:29)

“But as soon as this thy son (Greek word hwee-os) was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.” (Luke 15:30)

“And he said unto him, Son (Greek word tek-non), thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” (Luke 15:31)

The first step to becoming a spiritually mature son of God is in recognizing and acknowledging the current spiritual condition we are in.

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Prov. 28:13)

“And he was angry, and would not go in… thou never gavest me a kid… But as soon as this thy son (Greek word hwee-os’ for mature son) was come… And he (the father) said unto him, Son (Greek word tek-non for little child) thou art ever with me…” (Luke 15:28-31)

Throughout the time that the younger son demanded his inheritance, wasted it with riotous living, joined himself to the heathen, and ended up in the pig sty, the original Greek Scriptures used the word hwee-os’ for mature son in reference to him.

No matter what mistakes the younger son had made, the father never changed his opinion of him. The father always considered him to be the same son that was worthy to receive his inheritance.

The only time the word for son changes to tek-non, meaning a little child, is when the father speaks to the elder son in the 31st verse of Luke.

It was not the outward sin, the transgression, the stumbling that revealed spiritual immaturity, but it was the hidden condition of the heart revealed by the jealous and hateful words of the elder son that caused the father to refer to him as a “little child”.

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1Cor. 3:1)

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” (1Cor. 3:2)

“For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1Cor. 3:3)

Envy, strife, and division are what God considers when determining if we are a “babe in Christ”.

ENVY: “…thou never gavest me a kid…”

STRIFE: “…And he was angry…”

DIVISION: “…would not go in…”

“But as soon as this thy son was come…” the elder, supposedly more mature son, wouldn’t even call him “brother”, but referred to him as “thy son”.

Often we as Christians think that if we can ever get to the place in our life where we never stumble, never transgress, and never sin, then we have become like Jesus and are a mature son of God.

However, the Bible says:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1John 1:8)

As long as we are in this body of flesh we will always be susceptible to temptation, failure, and sin. To think otherwise is a dangerous place to be as a Christian.

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1Cor. 10:12)

Knowing this, the devil takes advantage of our misplaced hope of perfection, and by emphasizing our repeated stumbling in our Christian walk, tries to make us believe that we are a failure and will never be a mature son of God.

Even as the prodigal son said, “I am no more worthy to be called thy son, make me as one of thy hired servants.” However, because of his mercy and compassion, the father always saw him as the mature son in spite of his failure and did not hesitate to restore him to his full place of authority.

On the other hand, it was the elder son that appeared to be faithful by staying at home and managing the affairs of the household who the father referred to as childish, immature, and irresponsible when once the secret condition of his heart toward his brother was revealed.

The older son boasted of his faithfulness and righteousness and complained that the father was not being fair:

“And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:” (Luke 15:29)

Many times Christians who have served the Lord for a period of time become prideful concerning the changes they have made in their lifestyle, especially when they see others who seem to fall short of the mark.

Sometimes without realizing it, we compare our lives and accomplishments with those of others. We see others who we feel need to improve and we look down upon them, or we see those who seem to have obtained or been given more in their Christian walk and we envy them. We forget the admonition from the Word of God:

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2Cor. 10:12)

We as Christians have to be careful not to allow our Christian practices (church attendance, Bible reading, time in prayer, ministry, etc.) to become benchmarks or points of accomplishments that we use to prove our spiritual maturity.

The only benchmarks that God looks at to determine spiritual maturity or immaturity are the unbridled feelings we harbor in our hearts toward others.

We could be the Pastor of a congregation or the head of a ministry, have attended Bible School, given tremendous sermons, and done mighty works for God, but if we harbor in our heart judgment and criticism, if we are envious and jealous, if we murmur and complain, if we gossip and backbite, then in God’s eyes we are a babe in Christ and spiritually immature.

The father told the older son:

“And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” (Luke 15:31)

The elder son had received his inheritance. He had everything that the father had to give. He could have killed the fatted calf and made merry with his friends any time he chose. He could have set his heart on being with the father and enjoying all that the father had given him, instead of filling his heart with jealousy and ill will toward his brother.

He could have made the decision to be as the father, to put away feelings of hurt and betrayal, and simply love his brother and hope for his return.

He could have chosen to be the hwee-os’, the mature son of the father, instead of refusing to grow up spiritually and remaining the tek-non, the little child.

We have seen what God considers to be spiritual immaturity, to be a babe in Christ. But what does God consider to be spiritual maturity, to “grow up in Him”? (Eph. 4:15)

Tomorrow– The Benchmarks of Spiritual Maturity

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The Choice to “Put Away Childish Things” and “Grow Up” in Christ

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  (1Cor. 13:11)

The Holy Spirit reveals to us through the Word of God and by His convicting power the things which we need to change in our lives so that we may grow and become holy (set apart) unto God. In other words, what is “right” and what is “wrong” about our lives.

Next, God provides you with a choice: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely…” (Rev. 22:17), “…choose you this day whom ye will serve…” (Joshua 24:15).

God will always give you the freedom of choice. That is why Jesus came to break the bondage of the sin nature (Rom. 6:14). Now we are free to choose whether to do right or wrong, whether to grow and mature or to remain spiritually childish.

If we make the choice to change and grow, then God will give us the grace to do it.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2Cor. 12:9)

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” (2Cor. 9:8)

Once we make the choice to lay aside the weights and sin, God gives us grace and strength through the Holy Spirit to effect the needed changes, until we realize that once again we have grown a little more into the image of Christ.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,” (Heb. 12:1)

It does not happen overnight. Spiritual maturity is a growth, a step-by-step process.

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18)

But it first begins with knowledge: by understanding where we are now in our spiritual growth and what we need to change.

Most often we do not realize what stage of our spiritual life we are in: whether infancy, childhood, adolescence, or maturity.

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.” (Prov. 21:2)

That is why it takes the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to reveal our hearts unto us.

One of the best examples of this is the story of “the prodigal son”.

In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the story of a rich man that has two sons. One of the sons asks for his inheritance, takes it, and squanders it, but his father forgives him. On the surface it seems like the simple story of a life wasted, repentance, and forgiveness.

However, to fully understand the lesson that Jesus was teaching that day we need to understand it the same way that the early Church did. This is done by knowing the original Greek words that were used in writing the New Testament and translated into the words “son” or “sons” in the King James Version.

The story in Luke begins:

“And he said, A certain man had two sons:” (Luke 15:11)

Here the Greek word translated “sons” is the word pronounced hwee-os’. It means a son that has come to the age of maturity or responsibility. The Bible always uses the word hwee-os’ in the New Testament when referring to Jesus as the Son of God.

Even in the Old Testament, the prophetic Scriptures concerning Christ refer to Him as the One with responsibility or control.

“A Psalm of David. The LORD (Heb. word for Jehovah) said unto my Lord (Heb. word meaning “divine controller”), Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

Jesus is always the mature son. Jesus is always in control.

The story continues in Luke:

“And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.” (Luke 15:12)

Here the word for “younger” actually indicates a son who might be in the age range of a teenager to a young adult, whereas the word for “elder” used later in the story to describe the other son indicates a senior or someone far along into manhood. This is important to know in understanding the deeper meaning of the story.

It is also important to notice something else in the Scripture that is often overlooked by many. The Bible says that “he divided unto them his living.”

We often emphasize the young man demanding his inheritance when in reality the father not only gave the younger son his inheritance, but at the same time he also gave the elder son his inheritance.

In these two verses of Scripture we begin to see the parallel between the two sons of the rich man and the believers in Christ.

They were both sons who were of the age of responsibility. We become “responsible” when we hear and understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

They both received their inheritance, although each of them chose very different paths concerning that inheritance. We receive our spiritual inheritance when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and then it is our choice as to what we do with it.

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” (Luke 15:13)

Here the Bible says, “And not many days after…” showing us that for a short period of time both sons were managing their inheritance with their father. But soon the younger son took his portion, left, and acted irresponsibly by wasting it.

The story goes on to tell us that the younger son, having spent all, joined himself with the heathen of the land and ended up feeding swine.

When he found himself desiring to eat the very swill that he was feeding the swine, he repented of his sins and rose up from the pig sty to return to his father.

The younger son said:

“I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,” (Luke 15:18)

“And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.” (Luke 15:19)

The young son arose and went home to his father, and again we see the parallel to the Christian.

Instead of finding a father ready to judge and condemn him for his actions and decisions, he found that his father had been waiting for his return all along and was ready to rejoice at his homecoming.

“But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:” (Luke 15:22)

“And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:” (Luke 15:23)

“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:24)

The Bible tells us that just like the father in the story, our Heavenly Father is not as concerned about our bad judgments and transgressions as He is about our repentance and restoration.

“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” (Prov. 24:16)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Up to this point in the story we see the wonderful message of sin, repentance, and forgiveness, but as we continue we begin to see the deeper message of spiritual maturity.

“Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing.” (Luke 15:25)

“And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.” (Luke 15:26)

“And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.” (Luke 15:27)

“And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him.” (Luke 15:28)

“And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:” (Luke 15:29)

“But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.” (Luke 15:30)

“And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.” (Luke 15:31)

The first step to becoming a spiritually mature son of God is in recognizing and acknowledging the current spiritual condition we are in.

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Prov. 28:13)

Even though he is the “elder son”, we begin to see the signs of “spiritual immaturity” in him.

Tomorrow– The Benchmarks of Spiritual Immaturity

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Growing Into Christ: From Spiritual Babe to Spiritual Maturity

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Eph. 4:15)

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (1John 3:2)

The Bible tells us that when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and invite Him into our hearts, several things happen concerning the relationship between us and God.

First, the Bible tells us that we are saved.

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)

We are saved from sin. The Bible tells us that sin shall not have dominion over us any longer. (Rom. 6:14)

We are saved from the enemy of our soul, the devil. Jesus says that He gives us power over all the power of the enemy. (Luke 10:19)

We are saved from eternal damnation and punishment:

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)

The Bible also tells us that we have become “born again”. One translation translates it as being “born from above”.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Nicodemus, the man Jesus was speaking to, couldn’t understand how a person could be born a second time. Jesus explained that it is a spiritual birth.

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)

In the same way that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and miraculously conceived in her a physical seed that was to become the only begotten Son of God, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside of us and He conceives the spiritual seed of our new nature so that we become an adopted son of God.

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” (1Peter 1:23)

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Rom. 8:15)

However, as it is in the natural, so it is in the spiritual. We are not “born again” as a mature spiritual son of God, but we are born as an infant. And although this is the place from which we must begin if we are to enter the kingdom of God, this is not the condition to remain in if we are to inherit the kingdom of God.

“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Eph. 4:15)

In the next few Blog posts we are going to do an in-depth examination of spiritual growth: what it is and how to achieve it. We are going to see what God determines to be the signs of spiritual maturity and the signs of spiritual childishness.

Unlike physical growth which is inevitable, it is our choice whether we decide to grow spiritually or not. However, if we determine to do whatever is necessary to become a mature child of God:

“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matt. 25:21)

“Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” (1Cor. 14:20)

Before we can see what spiritual growth is, we first have to see what it is not.

Spiritual growth is not determined by how long we have been a Christian. Although length of time is necessary and fundamental in physical growth, it has nothing to do with growing spiritually.

It is entirely possible for an individual to remain spiritually immature their entire Christian life. Growing spiritually is a choice.

Spiritual growth is not determined by our faithfulness in church attendance, Bible reading, or Scripture memorization. Although all of these things can aid in our spiritual growth, they cannot be substituted for it.

Your spiritual growth has nothing to do with a particular Church affiliation or Denomination.

The method by which you were baptized, the day you choose to attend services, or the manner in which you worship are all personal choices that you must make based upon your knowledge of the Word of God and your conscience toward Him, but unless you are continuing in a manner contrary to God’s Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they do not affect your spiritual growth.

How does one grow spiritually? How does a Christian pass from spiritual childhood, to adolescence, to maturity in the Spirit?

“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.” (2Peter 3:18)

“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2Cor. 3:18)

The answer to spiritual growth is KNOWLEDGE, CHOICE, GRACE, and CHANGE as by the SPIRIT OF THE LORD.

The Bible says:

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;” (1Peter 1:15)

“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (1Peter 1:16)

The Bible also says:

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Heb. 12:14)

Holiness and spiritual growth are parallel. Holiness and spiritual maturity are virtually one and the same.

It is not so much an achievement as it is a lifestyle and a goal.

The word “holiness” in the Greek literally means “sanctification of the heart and life”, in other words, to “sanctify” or “set apart” your heart and life to God.

The word “holy” in the Greek means “physically pure” or “morally blameless”, so we might say that to strive to grow spiritually and become spiritually mature is to set apart our hearts and lives to be physically pure and morally blameless to God.

What seems like an impossible task, the Bible calls “our reasonable service”.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Rom. 12:1)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:2)

To do this on our own is indeed an impossible task. But that is why Jesus came, to give us a new birth, that the Holy Spirit might come and live inside of us and empower us to become holy.

This is done first by knowledge: the “renewing of your mind”.

Tomorrow– Choosing to Grow Spiritually

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