Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Path of Spiritual Maturity

If our goal is spiritual maturity, how can we reach it? Many start well, but wander off the path of maturity. Let's look at our goal and work backwards toward the beginning.

Unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3,13; Romans 15:5-6; John 10:30, 17:20)

This is the highest expression of spiritual maturity. When we love one another and glorify God with one heart, the nations will see God's love and believe the Gospel. There are two kinds of unity: intimacy and harmony. As we grow intimate with God, we grow in unity with other believers. As we learn to work with God, we also work in harmony with each other.

Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)

Unity is only possible if we all have the fruit of the Spirit. This is the very character of God: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. As we grow in the fruit of the Spirit, we become more like Him. We love as God loves, hate as he hates. When God weeps, we weep; when He rejoices, we rejoice.

Walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16,18,25)

Many seek love, joy, and peace, but they do not find. We cannot produce our own fruit. The Fruit of the Spirit is a result of obeying God. The more we follow God's will, the more fruit He produces in our lives; transforming us into His image. The daily routine of finding and doing God's will is called Walking in the Spirit.

Filling of the Spirit (Eph 5:18, Acts 13:52)

Walking in the Spirit is difficult. We need God's guidance to know his will, just as Jesus did. We need God's power to do his will, just as Jesus did. Obedience is often costly, so we need God's comfort, just as Jesus did. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, God gives us comfort, guidance and power to obey Him.

Conviction of the Spirit (John 16:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:4)

All Christians have the Holy Spirit, but our sin-fullness prevents our being Spirit-filled. The Holy Spirit came to convict the world of sin, not only for salvation, but also for the perfecting of the saints. He shows us our guilt and motivates us to repent. Conviction of the Spirit is the beginning of salvation and an ever present need on the path to maturity.