More than 90% of the New Testament addresses the spiritual growth and maturity of believers. In his letters to the Galatian Church, Paul addressed believers born again in Christ, exhorting them to spiritual growth.
And to the spiritually-gifted Corinthian Church, he wouldn’t have called them ‘carnal’ and ‘babes in Christ’ if he was impressed with their ability to operate in spiritual gifts.
Paul was emphasising that spiritual maturity is not a given, but must be an intentional pursuit in the life of a true believer.
Oswald Chambers put it this way, ‘Spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of the years, but by obedience to the will of God.’
Immature believers are those governed by the desires of their flesh, and cannot please God because the carnal mind is enmity against God (Romans 8:5,7). John goes so far to say that a believer does not love God if he loves the world or the things in the world (1 John 2:15).
Mature believers are sons (and daughters) of God who willingly submit themselves to the guidance and influence of the Holy Spirit and the Lordship of Christ because they delight to do His will.
Does it mean that those who are spiritually mature will not fall into the wiles of temptation?
Temptation comes from the fact that our nature is not wholly-purged from the roots and fibres of sin and the Fall. However, there’s no sin in temptation until it’s acted upon (James 1:14-15). In the famous words of Martin Luther, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”
At times, we may be more open for various reasons to weakness than at others, and Paul says that the remedy for not having the works of the flesh is to be filled with the fullness of God by the Holy Spirit (Romans 10:9) and the result is having the fruit of the Spirit developed in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Grace with the power to transform yielded lives into the image of Christ.
When we come to the place of a crucified life, that’s when we become spiritually mature. The Cross brings out the life of the Son of God within us. Paul calls this ‘liberty’, and exhorts the Galatian Church to ‘stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage’ (Galatians 5:1).
Spiritual maturity is not an end in itself. The end in view is that every believer would be prepared for the divine purpose and works of God that are predestined before the foundation of the earth.
God is calling us to be positioned for governmental purposes in the ages to come, and only those who are mature sons and daughters qualify to rule and reign.