Staying Babes in Christ – Hebrews 5:11-14

We Are To Mature, Not To Stay Babes In Christ!

11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Spiritual Splendor

The word of God is full of the spiritual meat.  It provides guidance for every aspect of life, in every situation.  And while the word of God does not specifically say, “I want you, <Your Name Here>, to go to such and such a city and get such and such a job and do such and such a ministry…”, it does provide guidance for every area of our lives.

Psalm 119:105 says that the word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path.  There is just enough light to see the cliff, or where to put our next foot.  We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit through faithful and fervent prayer to God to get anything close to a longer-term indication of what we should be doing (further than our next footstep).

In the word of God, as we mature, we begin to understand the deeper truths of walking in step with God in our spiritual life.  God reveals wonderful nuggets of truth that help to transform our lives from merely adoring children into prepared adults, making mature decisions, walking confidently in His guidance and being resources to those who are still maturing in Christ.

Stop Shuffling

Everyone who has been walking with God for more than five years (and for many, perhaps even fewer years…) should begin to mature in Christ.  Paul says something very interesting here.  He gently scolds the Hebrews (and us!) for their passivity in failing to pursue a more complete understanding and comprehension of the spiritual truths of God, and even says, they are no longer even trying.

Many people believe simply that since they are saved, God will take care of their spiritual feeding through divine revelation through the Holy Spirit.  But God says to seek Him with ALL of your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  God greatly desires that we mature, just as parents everywhere, wish that their teenagers WOULD JUST GROW UP ALREADY…

There is a great frustration among parents when they watch their 18, 19, 20, 30 year old children act exactly like that – CHILDREN.  There is an expectation that their children would mature, and then do something productive with their lives, not live in their parent’s basement until they are 50 only eating junk-food, watching TV, and playing video games all night with their friends.  In the same way, God desires that His children mature, stand strong, and do the works that He has prepared for them to do since before the foundation of the world.

Fabulous Feast

The good news is that as we mature, we have a veritable feast available to us to feed upon.  As a child, we grow and develop feeding on the rich milk of our mothers.  But there comes a time when we need additional nourishment in order to grow our bodies.  ONLY drinking milk (or not eating or drinking anything else at all…) will eventually cause malnourishment in our bodies.

In the same way, by feeding upon the “meat of the word”, we become nourished, strong, and able to do the work that we need to do.  Those of God’s people who are not seriously seeking him through prayer, reading his word, and seeking out an understanding of his word (its meaning and application in our lives, as well as implementing it as part of our daily routines) are on the path to spiritual malnourishment, as well as being weakened for the enemy of our souls, to pounce upon us, overpower us, and devour us.

As we feed upon the word of God and pray, we grow strong.  There is an amazing cornucopia of delights as we delve deeper into the word, and our lives are transformed by its principles and guidance.  Cheetos and milk duds may taste good for a snack, but what is better than a ten course meal with all of the trimmings to satisfy your hunger?  The word of God is like a good Amish buffet – wholesome, tasty, satisfying food, always with new varieties, to fill us, tantalize us, and give us strength as it satisfies our hunger.

Delightful Discernment

Those who truly are babes in Christ should feed on milk until they begin to mature, being able to distinguish the difference between what is good and what is evil in the sight of the Lord.  Just as adults don’t exclusively drink milk, we don’t feed steak to a baby that has no teeth!  As we train ourselves, though the transforming and renewing of our minds in the word of God, we are better equipped to understand and implement the deeper truths of the word of God.

We should all seek to want to feed upon the meat of the word, so that God would be able to use us in a greater capacity.  God is able to use anyone in Him in any way that He chooses.  He, however, is more easily able to use those who are mature in greater ways than the infants.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I as mature as I should be for the length of time that I have spent as a child of God?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Thank You for your patience, mercy and grace.  Give me a heart that constantly seeks after You, and greatly desires to grow and mature towards holiness.  Help me to get out of any spiritual ruts that I may be in, and to pursue You as the cheetah pursues its prey.  Provide me with strength, guidance, resources, and good mentors so that I can become who You desire me to be.  Help me to overcome any strongholds in my mind that may be keeping me from seeking to grow.  Help me to turn my eyes more fully upon Jesus, and look full in His wonder face so that the things of this world will grow strangely dim.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Be An Example For Others – Philippians 3:17:-21

Live Your Life As Paul The Apostle Lived His – Wholly Dedicated To Christ

17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Model the Master

Paul led an exemplary life.  Initially hunting down and stoning disciples of Christ to death, his powerful encounter with Christ turned him completely around.  And with the same determination and fervency that he displayed in suppressing the message of Christ, he embarked on preaching Christ and Him crucified.  Jesus indicated that those who have been forgiven much, love much.  And Paul was filled with love.

Paul was taken under Christ’s wing for three years and discipled just as the other Apostles were discipled.  He was then able to join them in their holy appointed quest to spread the word of salvation to all the world.  Paul lived with a singular purpose in mind – to honor and glorify his Savior, Jesus Christ.

In the same way that we are to follow Christ, when we see a fellow disciple leading a righteous life, we are to model how they are living out that righteousness as a living example to us.  And in doing so, we become the next generation of those who will used by God as models of righteousness for His people.

Traitors of Truth

Paul warns us that there are many who live as enemies to the cross of Christ.  Their god is their stomach.  They live to please the flesh, and not our God.  These people go beyond being carnal Christians – they are Christians In Name Only.  They present a front of false piety and, like wolves in sheep’s clothing, they are hungry for their prey.  Many know they what they are, and either don’t care, or actually enjoy it.  We must be on our guard against the leaven of these people.

God has charged us, through Paul, to judge amongst the body.  We are to gently, in love, help our brothers and sisters when they are in sin to come out of it.  We are to encourage them, pray for them, and uplift them in their time of difficulty.  This applies to disciples who respond to correction and mourn over their sin.  We are to restore them once they have overcome.  But we are NOT to judge those who are not of God.  That is His purview, and His alone.  The Law of God judges them.  We are ONLY to judge the fruit of those inside the ekklEsian – the called-out ones of Christ.  So, if someone claims to be a disciple, we have the right to look at their fruit and encourage them in pursuing righteousness.  If a disciple says, “You have no right to judge me!”, they may not understand what the scriptures say.

And when we judge, let us make absolutely certain that we have removed the plank of wood in our own eye before we point out the splinter of wood in our fellow disciple’s eye.  We are to judge in love, with gentle correction.  For those who enjoy seeking and correcting the body, carefully go before God, and ask Him to reveal the source of your joy in this endeavor.  Be sure to be open to His leading, and follow Him in whatever He directs you to do.

And if you are certain it is God who is directing you, find two or three other men (preferably elders in the church) and ask them to pray to God for wisdom, and confirm what God has told you.  If you can’t find two or three men who are living righteous lives in the church, ask yourself if you are in the right place, and if your heart is in the right place.   For it is with great and laboring prayer that we should seek the will of God in all things.

Earthly Enlightenment

The hallmark of those who are enemies of Christ is that they delight in the pleasures of the flesh to their ruination.   God gave us the world to enjoy, but we are to place the enjoyment of His provision in its proper place.  When we desire to fulfill worldly desires more than to listen to our Savior, we have been sucked into a deep well that requires us to seek out someone who can help us back out.

There are some who have an appearance of righteousness on the outside but are full of rot and decay on the inside.  Many of the cult leaders in the past appeared to live wholesome lives on the surface, but inside were corrupted:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

Anticipate His Appearance

Rather than dwelling on the here and now, we should keep our eyes on our true citizenship – for we are citizens of Heaven as the children of God.  When we do that, we should eagerly keep watch for our Savior, who will be coming soon.  God is not slow in keeping His promises, but in everything, He has perfect timing.  We need to be patient for His timing, because as His word has shown, time and time again, His timing is perfect, and everything that He does is executed to be in alignment with His perfect, sovereign will.  Let us not be caught sleeping when we should be working.  As we put our backs to the plow, let us always look forward at our goal to make sure we are plowing in as straight a line as possible.

Tremendous Transformation

And as we work, let us remember that God will transform our bodies from the corruptible into the incorruptible, to His glory and praise.  Eagerly desire this, for it will be the end of sin, temptation, sorrow, pain, tears, and misery.  But we should also keep in mind that when God does execute his righteous judgment upon all the Earth, that those who remain and refused to bow their knee to the King of kings and Lord of lords will be judged at the white throne seat of judgment, to their everlasting imprisonment in the lake of fire.

Because we know these things, we are now responsible for telling everyone about it, and giving them every chance that they could possibly have to give their lives to Christ.  Let it not be said that God had appointed us to tell someone about Him and we refused.  For if that is the case, their final destination will be, in part, due to our sin of omission – not doing what we know we should have done.

And now a word of encouragement from Paul the Apostle, author of this epistle:

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I living a life that others would desire to imitate because they see it lived in righteousness?

A short prayer of preparation:

Lord God Almighty, You are holy, holy, holy.  Abba, none can stand before You and see Your face or they will die.  You greatly desire for us to live out the righteousness that you placed upon us that came from the perfect life of Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Give me strength today to live a life worthy of the calling that You have placed upon my life.   Give me wisdom, discernment, and guide my ways so that You would be shown to be holy and righteous.  Help me to live an exemplary life dedicated to You.  Show me how to do this in Your word, and help me get the lessons that I have learned from my head to my heart through practicing what I have learned.  Show me new and wonderful things in Your word, for You constantly amaze me.  This I ask in the precious and holy name of your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Sanctification by God – Matthew 7:1-2

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

When we are first saved, we are like Lazarus coming out of the tomb – we still have our grave-clothes on.  Our stinking, smelly rags that cover the fresh aroma of Christ.  We have been made alive in Christ, and yet our outer appearance is that of a dead man.  Immediately, we begin to change.  Attitudes, likes and dislikes are moving in different directions, and we may not even be aware of them until we realize that we no longer do or say certain things, and begin to desire other things.  As the “grave-clothes” are removed, we begin to look different as our changed nature becomes more apparent.

But there are some grave-clothes that just seem to stick with us for a very long time.  In the culture of this age, in the United States of America, one of these is being critically judgmental.  Oswald Chambers says in “My Utmost for His Highest” that this attitude makes it impossible to enter into communion with our Creator because of how hard it makes us and where it places us – as superior to others.  It would appear that everyone wants to be right; and as we judge others, we fail to rightly judge ourselves.

The brain is interesting.  When we develop patterns of thought, it creates real grooves in our brain that direct thought patterns.  And we need to fight against that to create new grooves in our brain (transformation through the renewing of our mind by repeated exposure to the Word of God).  The problem is, that like a scratched vinyl record (does anyone remember those?), the needle may stay in the same groove.  We need to force the needle – the thought process- of our brain into a different area so that a new groove can be made.

When there is something in our lives that is deeply ingrained, it may seem impossible for us to change it.  That is when we need to confess this to God, and ask Him to supernaturally address the issue.  God generally does this in one of two ways:

  • He supernaturally and instantaneously removes the desire from us
    • Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!  You are delivered!  Now walk in that deliverance…
  • He consistently and repeatedly puts us in situations where we can practice creating a new groove in our brain (a new pattern of thought and action) to replace the one we want expunged (He disciplines us).
    • This is never fun.  It is also why many seasoned Christians will warn younger Christians to give careful consideration to the consequences of praying for patience.
    • Be careful what you pray for – you might just get it!
    • If you ever pray for patience, you should expect that God will send the meanest, nastiest, angriest, rudest, most irritating, most ignorant, verbally violent, and socially unpalatable people into your life to help you to put on Christ (love) in the form of patience.
    • Just because something is difficult doesn’t mean that we don’t need it or shouldn’t ask for it.  Once we are disciplined, it will bring a great harvest of righteousness.

So let’s ask the question:  are we critically judgmental of others?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I thank You today for the love that You show me when You discipline me.  Please do not discipline me in Your anger.  You are able to rightly discern my innermost thoughts and motivations.  Show me the true nature of what I am doing.  Search my heart, Lord, and see if there is anything displeasing to You in it.  Purge me from it, for my desire is to live this life in righteous obedience to You and Your Word.  Give me strength to endure the trials necessary to sanctify my mind.  Remove from me those desires and attitudes that in any way interfere with my walk with You.  Guard me on all sides, and may Your righteousness show through me that others will be attracted to You.  Bring glory to Your name, and help me to be humble when You shine.  This I ask in the name of Your Most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?