Friday, December 3, 2021
As you are reading this I am either preparing for surgery, in surgery, or recovering from surgery to repair the meniscus in my right knee. I appreciate your prayers as you read.
Do you remember the Bible passage that started this whole study on the behavior of mature Christians? Yes, this is a test. Do you remember? Did you take the Word of God into your heart and meditate on it? Have devotions become just an exercise in pleasing the pastor because you can say you read them or is it a true time of spiritual growth and development? I believe for most of you it is the latter, and that you do remember the passage from Ephesians 4 that goes like this:
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
As we have studied, we have grown. We have become more mature by being hearers and doers of the Word of God. We have taken on the personal responsibility of growth in the Lord. Growth is a choice for each of us.
1 Peter 2:2 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation…”
2 Peter 3:18 “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
As we bring this particular study to a close, let’s focus on the progressive nature of our maturity. We have been given an indescribable gift – the gift of the indwelling presence and power of God Almighty in the Person of the Holy Spirit through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Savior. We have been spiritually born again, and in that context we are justified and sanctified – declared “not guilty” and made perfect forever. But our flesh is in conflict with our spirit. It is very important that you read Romans 8:1-14 as Paul describes this conflict:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you… Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation – but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.“
My main point for today is this – we are all a work in progress: a work that is able to be accomplished by the Spirit of God in us. He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Other than for purely selfish motives, there is no reason to remain in your sin and let it continue to control you. Bring it under the control of the Spirit of God and put it to death, and your mortal – your physical body – will have life.
Each of us is personally responsible for whether we live according to the standards of the flesh or the victory of the Spirit. Every day is an adventure in learning that. Every day is a part of the process of maturing and growing into Christ-likeness. Make the most of this day. May it be said of your life as Paul said to the church a Thessalonica. “Your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.”