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Building up believers and the New Testament church

Spiritual Maturity


For the very character and nature of Christ to be formed in us, we must persevere in responding to the discipline of the Holy Spirit long enough for it to happen. Apart from this, our lives will never come to a place of stability. It is not that we can ever get to a place where we do not need the direction of the Holy Spirit--we must always have that. But our vessels of clay must be formed into the image of Christ. The Galatian believers were led astray by false teachers because they were not grounded in truth. To be grounded in truth is not only believing the right thing (we must do that), but being exercised in the truth so that Christ is formed in us. To say it another way, the Word (Christ) must become flesh in us. We must "eat" the Word (obey Christ) until it becomes part of us and we become living expressions of the Word. "Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you have no life in yourself" (John 6:53). This is continually responding to Christ in a consistent manner over a period of time.

It is here that we so often fail. We get excited for a short time, and we do obey. But we do not respond for long enough to see a permanent change in our thinking or behavior, and we soon fall back into our old patterns of behavior. We flip back and forth again and again, driven by every wind of doctrine and circumstance of life until the day we face the big test, and because we have not allowed our lives to be disciplined, we fail the test and often never recover. God does not keep us from being tested; instead He prepares us for the test. If we respond to God and allow our lives to be disciplined, we will go through the test and glorify God. It is in the fire that God is revealed and the witness of His reality goes forth to the world. The witness that God is looking for is the reality of Christ formed in our lives so that we can stand the test by the power of an endless life.

We see the same truth held before us in Romans 5:3-5: "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." If we do not persevere in the trials of our lives, responding to God, the character of God will not be built. Without the character of God being formed in us, we do not have a hope, because the trials of life will overthrow our faith. We may think we will stand, but if we do not respond to God in the small things of life, why do we think we will respond in the big things? We are being proven in our everyday lives. This is "the trial of our faith."

Are we concerned about this? Are we being diligent in adding perseverance to self-control? If we want to grow up in God so that we can stand in the day of adversity, we need to give utmost attention to this in our faith relationship with God.

Next: Godliness