THE MARKS OF A MATURING CHRISTIAN
Intro: According to verses 11-13, God gave the church her spiritual leaders
for the sole purpose of promoting spiritual growth within the body of Christ.
The reason why growth is needed is obvious. The Bible is clear when it tells
us that every Christian is a baby when they are saved. Hence, the process
is called "The New Birth", John 3:3, 7; 1 Pet. 1:23.
Just as every parent in the world is delighted when they see their
children growing and maturing, God is blessed when He sees His children
making the transition from babyhood into adulthood in a spiritual sense.
God wants us to move from the spiritual nursery to the spiritual battlefield.
He wants us to leave the realm of milk, bibs and diapers and He wants us
to enter the realm of meat, battles and devotion, v. 13; 1 Cot. 3:1-3; 2
Pet. 3:18; 1 John 2:12-14. God's plan for every one of His children is to
see them all reach spiritual maturity! He just wants us to grow up!
A few do, some never will and others reach for that goal daily. I am not
going to be preaching to those who have already arrived today. It would be
of no use since you a re already confident in your achievements, proud of
your humility and so sure of your advanced spiritual standing that mere fools
like myself could not possibly have anything to say to someone like you
Neither will I be speaking to those who are satisfied just to be saved.
You, like the Lord's disciples, have merely entered the gate of His garden.
From where you sit, the world and the things of God are both within easy
reach. You are content to be saved and you do not wish to be bothered.
Never fear, I will not disturb your slumber.
The people to whom I am preaching today are those who are genuinely
saved by grace. You know Jesus is your Savior and you know you are
headed to Heaven. You know you are far from what you should be, but
there is a genuine desire in your heart to be all the Lord has saved you to
be. Your life is filled with ups and downs, with the struggles of the flesh and
the spirit. You are not self-righteous, self-confident or self-reliant. You
merely want to grow! It is with you, those who fight the same battles I face,
that I share this message. The verses we have read contain information we
need to make our desire to grow a reality. These verses point out very
clearly The Marks Of A Maturing Christian. All I ask you to do today is lay
your life alongside the Bible. This passage will tell you whether you are
growing or not. If you are interested in growing, then notice with me The
Marks Of A Maturing Christian.
I. V. 14-16 THEY ARE MARKED BY CALM STEADFASTNESS
(Ill. These verses point out three areas where the growing believer is
found to be steadfast and stable.)
A. V. 14 They Are Steadfast In Their Doctrine - They are not
constantly being taken in by the false teachings in the world around
them. The maturing believer is one who knows what they believe
and why they believe. They are pending time in the Word of God
and are not deceived by the lies, tricks and traps of the enemy! (Ill. 2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17)
B. V. 15 They Are Steadfast In Their Development - The growing
believer has a deep attraction to the truth of God. They are
constantly adapting their lives to the teachings of the Bible. They
take the time to find out what God wants from their lives and they
change whatever it takes to line up with His will. (1 John 2:3-4; 5:3)
they do this because obedience the to word of God produces
genuine Christlikeness in their lives! (Note: Just as many children
want to grow up to be just like their mom or dad, the growing
believer wants to grow up to be just like Jesus.) The growing
believer is steadily progressing in his growth relationship!
C. V. 16 They Are Steadfast In Their Devotion - Just as our human
bodies are knitted together in a wonderful way, so the body of Christ
has been carefully "compacted" together. Each member in the
place that pleased the Lord, 1 Cor. 12:12-27. The growing believer
wants to find his place in the body and fulfill that place to the best of
his ability. It is a sign of spiritual maturity when a believer does
his/her best to carry out the assignments they have been given by
the Father above. (Note: When a part of these physical bodies
doesn't live up to its assignment, it causes problems for the whole
body. When one part fails, the whole body suffers! The same is
true in the church. When every person participates and does what
they have been assigned to do, things function smoothly when they
do not do what they are supposed to do, the whole church suffers as
a result!) In short, you can count on a maturing believer!
II. V. 17-24 THEY ARE MARKED BY CLEAR SEPARATION
(Ill. A maturing believer is easily identified because he/she is so different
from the world around them. These verses speak to that issue.)
A. V. 17-19 They Are Separated From The Works Of Darkness -
Paul makes a distinction between how the lost man lives and how
the saved man lives. When a person receives Jesus as their
personal Savior and is born again, they literally receive a brand new
life. They can no longer walk as they once walk. They can no
longer live as they once lived. You see, the lost man lives like he
does because he is blind to the causes and consequences of his
actions. He doesn't know where he is headed and he doesn't see
the need to be different than he is. The maturing believer, on the
other hand, is no longer in darkness. The lights have been turned
on in his soul! The old manner of living is not good enough any
longer. There is a new desire to walk in the path the Lord lays out.
Life has ceased to be about "self-will" (Note: "greediness" - v. 19)
and has become all about "God's will". That is why the Bible
identifies the believer as "a new creature", 2 Cor. 5:17.
B. V. 20-24 They Are Separated From A Walk Of Darkness - The
believer has received a change of life that results in a change in his
walk. We are called upon to "put off", once for all, the ways of the
old man who is just growing worse day by day. (Note: The words "is
corrupt" are present tense and speak of a corpse that lies rotting in
the sun. Each day brings with it more evidence that the corpse is
dead!) We are called upon to "put on", once for all, the new man,
who had been created in righteousness and holiness. When the
new believer comes to faith in Jesus, he learns a new way of life, v.
19-20! He has experienced a change of heart that results in a
profound change of mind, v. 23! God puts a new desire within His
children that makes them want to live differently than they used to
live! The bottom line is this: the maturing believer looks different,
acts different, walks different and thinks different than he did before!
III. V. 25-32 THEY ARE MARKED BY CHRISTLIKE STANDARDS
(Ill. As we enter this section of the passage, Paul begins to talk about
the maturing believer's day to day walk. He focuses primarily on how he
acts, reacts and interacts with, around and to his fellow believer. What
I want you to notice is this: for the maturing believer, the emphasis in life
is removed from "self" and is focused on "others", Ill. V. 19! The word
"greediness" comes from a word that always translated
"covetousness". In other words, the lost man lives like he does
because he is selfish! The baby Christian also lives this kind of self-centered, selfish existence. But, the maturing Christian has come to
understand that the world is bigger than him. He cares about the lives
of others and this shows in his relationships with other believers!
Remember what Jesus said about His people. The single defining trait
by which Jesus said His people could be identified was that they would
love one another, John 13:35. The maturing believer has that figured
A. V. 28 They Are Christlike In How They Act - Instead of taking what
belongs to another to satisfy personal lusts, the believer is
challenged to go to work so he can make money to help others. The
whole point here is that self ceases to be great motivator in life!
Others grow in their importance to us. The maturing Christian is one
who has begun to look beyond self, Phil. 2:4, to see the needs of
B. V. 26-27, 31-32 They Are Christlike In How They React - These
four verses all talk about the same thing. They speak of learning to
control your anger when you are offended and of learning to offer
forgiveness when you have been hurt! The maturing believer does
not allow the hurts they suffer at the hands of others to cause them
spiritual problems! V. 27 tells us to be angry without sinning. How
is this possible? It can only happen when you are angry only about
the things that anger God! He is talking about righteous indignation!
Any other kind of anger opens a beachhead in your life from which
the devil can attack you, v. 28. And, if you give him and inch, he'll
become your ruler! Verses 31-32 tell us that we are to refrain from
getting even and lashing out at others. We are to forgiven them to
the same extent that we ourselves have been forgiven! We are to
do so even if they don't make it right with us!
C. V. 25, 29-30 They Are Christlike In How They Interact - These
verses talk about how we relate one to another. We are to always
speak the truth, v. 25. When we lie to a fellow believer, we are lying
to the body of Christ and to ourselves! We are to watch the evil
speech that try to pour from our mouths. When we speak it should
be to edify, or build up someone else! Anything else grieves the
Spirit of God and hinders the church! The mature believer knows
this and seeks to control his tongue, James 1:26; 3:1-12. Whereas
the foolish speak and demonstrate their ignorance, Eccl. 5:3. It is
better to be quiet and allow people to think you are a fool than
to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
Conc: When you were growing up, did your parents ever say to you, "I wish
you would grow up!"? You know what they meant, don't you? They
wanted you to act more mature than you had been acting. I wonder if God
looks down at His church and says "I wish they would grow up!"? Well,
some people never mature! I have a friend in his late thirties and he acts
like he did when he was 15. Good guy, he just never will mature. The same
should never be said about a Christian. Every one in this room who is
saved ought to be moving steadily toward maturity in the Lord with each
passing day. Are you maturing? Do you possess the marks of a maturing
Christian? There is help for your need in this altar!