Lay The Foundation Of The Basics Before You Move On To Maturity
1 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
Begin with Basics
Paul encourages us to move beyond the basics. We are not to remain babes in Christ, but, like teenagers, move on to maturity. However, we do need to start with the basics. Paul lists several of the basic principles of the Christian faith:
- foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God
- instruction about cleansing rites (they are no longer needed, since Christ has cleansed us with His shed blood)
- the laying on of hands
- the resurrection of the dead
- eternal judgment
Each of these is important, as they are part of the foundation upon which we build with Christ as our cornerstone. Without the cornerstone and basic foundation, the rest of the structure that we build will not be sturdy, straight, and sufficiently load-bearing. Paul used these analogies because the average person at the time of his writing would have understood them and their relation to the spiritual truths he was attempting to convey.
Apprehend your Authority
The next step in this process is to understand who we are in Christ. One of the reasons disciples of Christ in the Western world seem impotent in their endeavors (not all, but many church bodies don’t seem to have the impact that they should) is that we do not understand our authority in Christ.
The average Christian either does not understand or believe all of the verses in the Bible. If we truly believe something, we will act upon it.
“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
This verse is to be tempered by remembering that Christ completely yielded Himself to the Holy Spirit, and only did what the Father was doing, and only said what He heard the Father say:
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us? 6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
“God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.”
7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
We are to be submitted to God. When we are submitted to God, listening to Him, and obeying His commands, whatever we ask will be given us. And the reason it will be given us is that our focus will be upon the Father’s work, and what we ask will be to the Father’s glory:
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Step in Subservience
The only way to successfully walk the walk of being a disciple is to walk in obedience to God. We hear this over and over again. Why? Because it is FOUNDATIONAL to our victory over sin as well as maturing in Christ.
If we were to go out every night and drink ourselves into a stupor, sleep in until the afternoon, and basically do whatever makes us feel good in the moment, people would look at us as though we were children. Only children don’t understand or take hold of responsibility. Only children put up temper-tantrums when they don’t get their way, and refuse to do what they know they need to do because of petulance and self-righteous anger when they don’t get their way.
Until we get to the point where we fall on our knees and say, “Lord Jesus, Thy will be done in my life”, and we truly mean it and seek His will in our life every second of every day, we will be less than optimally effective for Him in our service to Him. Will we ever get there? No. We have a sin nature. Even Paul said he wasn’t there yet:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Possess your Plot
God has assigned to each of us our work to do. We need to seek God and get our marching orders. In the case of the Israelites, they were told to possess the land of Canaan. God went out before them and drove the wicked inhabitants out so that they could claim the land that God had given to them.
In the same way, we are to possess the land that we have been given. We are to conquer the sins that so easily beset us. We are to understand, use, and become proficient with the spiritual gifts that God has given us. We are to plug in and yield ourselves to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to grow in holiness and understanding of the Word of God. We are to become fully mature, do our work, and mentor those who are not as far along as we are. We are to seek others to mentor us. And we are to walk with those who can act as accountability partners.
There is significantly more that we should do. But just like the Israelites, we are to take a little land at a time, inhabit it, fully possess it, and move on to conquer more of the land that God is preparing for us.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Have I matured in Christ?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have provided victory of sin for me in Jesus. You have made it possible to live in righteousness before You. You have given me the opportunity to grow in You. Help me to fully mature in Christ. Help me to be a workman who is well-trained in how to use Your word. Help me to overcome the sin that so easily besets me. Give me victory over my flesh and the enemy of my soul. Bind Satan and his minions that they would be unable to react as I plunder their dominion – to seek the lost and to tell them the Gospel. Grant me victory today, and help me to be fully yielded to the Holy Spirit that I may honor and glorify Your name. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.