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Moving Toward Maturity - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
May 28, 2024 12:00 am

Moving Toward Maturity - Part 1

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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May 28, 2024 12:00 am

How we do judge, test, and gauge our growth as Christians?

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Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Tuesday, May 28th. Once you become a Christian by grace through faith, the next phase is the lifelong process of moving toward maturity. Here's part two in the series on the path of spiritual maturity. When a child is born, you expect that child to grow. And after a few weeks maybe, or a few months, and you think something's wrong, this child's not growing.

Because it's natural for them to grow. When you were born again as a child of God, you became just that, a child of God. And likewise, you and I are expected to grow. Now, being born again means that God has forgiven us of our sins and He's brought us into a personal relationship with Him. That's salvation. That's being born again. So, being born again, we as believers, if we don't grow, there's something wrong with us.

Because God intends for us to grow and to grow and to grow till the day we die. We have to grow spiritually. And it's interesting in First John, those five chapters. Thirteen times, John identifies Christians, believers, as my little children. And so, God sees us as that. And we walk years and years and years with Him. We become adults, always a child in our spirit, yielding to Him and recognizing Him as our Father. But to grow. And I wonder if you feel today that you're growing in your Christian life.

Or would you be one of those persons who said, Well, you know, I grew for a while, but then I thought I've grown enough. I know a little bit about the Bible. I can quote some Scripture. I know where Exodus is. I know where Leviticus is.

And if you know where that is, you know where everything is. And so, you know, I think I'm okay. No, you're not. You're not okay. What it says is that you're backsliding.

You say, Well, I don't drink and I don't do this. Listen, He says we're to grow. Grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you're not growing in your Christian life, there's something wrong.

You say, Well, how will I know? If you listen carefully to this message, you're going to find out how to judge yourself, test yourself, gauge yourself as to if you're growing as a Christian or if you're stagnating. Well, somebody says, Well, maybe I'm just stagnating. I'm staying where I am.

No. If you stagnate, you don't stay there. If you drift further and further and further away from God, if you are not growing. And I want to show you the warnings that He tells us here in Second Peter. And in the first chapter, He begins by reminding His readers that God has given everything we need to be the persons He wants us to be.

The second chapter, He reminds us of the false doctrine that's floating around, causing people not to grow and leading them astray. Then when He comes to this third chapter, He tells us about all the things that are happening and will happen. And He comes to this last verse and I will just read just a few verses here. And let's go to the seventeenth verse. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, that is the difficult times are coming, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard, so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.

And then He makes this statement, is where I'm coming to. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and to the day of eternity.

Amen. Now, look at that verse. He says, but grow.

That's an imperative. And it happens to be in a Greek tense that says this, grow and keep on growing and keep on growing and keep on growing. Not just grow to a point, but just keep on growing in your Christian life. And that's what He's saying to us here. So, when we think about that, we think about why we should grow and think about what does it mean to grow in His grace?

Well, His grace, of course, is His love and His undeserved love and favor toward us. And we need to be growing in that continually. So, we want to answer the question, first of all, why should we endeavor to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Why should we do it?

And so, there are three reasons primarily. The first one is that He has predestined, predetermined before you were saved, before you were saved, He predetermined that you would grow. That's the will of God. That's the will of God and plan for your life. So, He says in Romans chapter eight, that twenty-ninth verse, that He predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son. If I'm becoming more and more in the likeness of His Son, I am changing in my conversation my conduct, my character, I'm growing. He said, you want to know my will?

My will is you become more and more like my Son till the day I call you home. So, ask yourself the question, is that happening in your life or is it not? A second reason He wants us to grow is in order to protect us. To protect us from false ideas, false prophets as He said. So, I want to give you a few verses of Scripture that sound just like our society.

Today, and He says one of the reasons you need to keep growing is to protect you in this kind of environment. So, let's look, if you will, in that second Peter. Look in the second chapter beginning in the first verse. He said, but false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master, that is Jesus, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. In the fourteenth verse He says, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children.

The eighteenth verse He says of the seventeenth verse, these are springs without water, misdriven by a storm for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity, they entice by fleshly desires and by sensuality those who barely escape from the ones who live in error. One of the reasons we're to keep growing is if we're not growing, we're going to be misled. Because there are many ideologies and many religions and many ideas and concepts and so forth and false doctrines floating around everywhere.

Everywhere you turn somebody's got something new. And when you bring up the Bible, they despise the Word of God. And they decide right now, you know, I don't want to talk about the Bible, I want to talk about something new I've discovered. Well, if something new you've discovered contradicts the Word of God, whatever you've discovered is not good, it's erroneous and it will lead you away from God. And so, one of the reasons we keep growing is because God wants us to keep protected from that. He says He's predestined us to be confirmed to the likeness of His Son, and He wants to protect us in the society in which you and I live. And the third reason, He says our love for Jesus and our knowledge of Him.

And so, God is very, very interested in our relationship to Him. And His will is that you and I are growing. Now, nobody knows whether you're growing but yourself.

But probably other people who watch you, they can tell by your conversation, by your attitude, by what you do, by what you talk about, all these things, it indicates that somebody's either growing or not, they're not growing. You say, well, I don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't commit a delta, I don't do all these things. We're not talking about what you don't do, we're talking about who you are as a person. Growing in likeness to Jesus Christ, you say, but He was absolutely sinless as He was. And that doesn't mean that you and I are going to reach a stage of being sinless, but He says He predestined us to become like His Son, conform to Him.

That is, as much likeness as we can possibly be. And in a few moments when I give you a list of things, it doesn't mean that every single one of these things is going to be true of you, and that you have to do every single one of these things to be growing, because we all come from different backgrounds, we were saved early and later in life, we all have different responsibilities, and we grew up with different attitudes, but in this list, you're going to be able to discover whether you personally are growing or not. And if you're not growing, more than likely, listen carefully, there's something you're holding onto that you shouldn't be holding onto. People do not become born again by the grace of God, changed, had name written in the Lamb's Book of Life, sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise who lives within them.

And one does not grow unless that person is holding onto something in their life that's keeping them from growing. So, I'd ask you a question. What just came to your mind as soon as I mentioned that?

Because it did. Somebody says, Well, I think I'm doing pretty good. Okay, sir? If you had on an absolute white suit, beautiful white suit, or ma'am, you had on a beautiful white wedding dress, and we said, Well, we're going down into this coal mine.

You think you're going to come out white? No, because it's going to rub off on you. We're living in a society where sin, whether it's through the television where people go, what they buy, what they look at, what they see, what they do, our lives are easily unclean if we are not careful. And the Bible talks about sanctification. A sanctified life is a life that is continually growing in holiness, righteousness, and obedience to God. It doesn't mean that you'll not sin, but here's what it means.

If you're growing in Him, you deal with it right then. And so, God has intended that you grow and you are saved to grow and to live in righteousness. And so, you and I live in a world that doesn't give much attention to that whatsoever, and the world defends itself by, you know what, you Christians think everybody's got to be perfect. We've never said that. You Christians have your own set of ideas? No, we don't.

We only have the Word of God. And think about this, God is not someone who's just trying to deprive us of having fun or enjoying life. We don't want to experience those things that ultimately destroy a person's life. But listen, when the truth is really told, you remember this, whoever you are, whatever you're doing, whatever you're involved in, remember this, there is a principle you cannot change. No matter what you think, you cannot change it.

You are not an exception to this rule. This is God's rule, you reap what you sow, more than you sow, later than you sow, but reap you will. It is the will of God that you and I walk wholly and righteously before Him. And if we do not, we suffer the consequences. And you think about all the ills that people suffer today and all the stuff that's going on, just horrible things that are going on. Most of it, people bring upon themselves. God is a good God.

He's a God of loving kindness and forgiveness and desires the best for us. It does not mean that we'll not have any troubles, heartaches or burdens because we're saved. But I'll show you in a few moments how you know when those things come, whether you're growing or not.

So, let's just think about it for a moment. Why do we fail to grow spiritually? Well, first of all, we get, some people get no instruction whatsoever. I remember when I was saved, nobody told me to read the Bible.

It took it for granted. Nobody told me to read the Bible, to pray, to come to church. I came anyway. Nobody told me I should share my faith.

I did that. Nobody told me to do it. And when I think about how little people learn, and many people walk church aisles, whatever it may be, and ever have they join the church, oftentimes they get no instruction. Secondly, when you neglect to read the Bible and you neglect to pray and you neglect to attend church under the teaching of the Word of God, you're not going to grow. Because the Word of God is like your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And so, you don't eat right, you won't be healthy.

You won't grow right. Then there's a negative influence of others. This person said to me, here's what I think I'm going to do. And they were doing something, they were absolutely right what they were doing and living a godly life. And they looked at what some other folks were doing. And the next thing I know, that young man is in deep, deep trouble. He was going to church, he was doing the right thing, but somebody told him what a good time they were having over here and how much fun they were having. And they ought to join this fraternity or that, and they ought to do all of these things.

And what happens? Down he went. Doesn't take long to go down if you start listening to other people and neglect the Word of God. So, I would say to you who are parents, it's your responsibility to train up your children as the Bible says, and the way you should go. But if you're going to do that, you've got to be an example.

You can send them to church, send them to Sunday school, send them to this camp, send them to that camp. It's a matter of your example to them. Then, of course, people not sure of what they believe. If you're not sure of what you believe, listen, you know what? You're open to all kinds of false doctrine, all kinds of false ideas.

The world is full of it. Listen, your belief system is the compass of your life. In other words, how do you make decisions on the basis of what you believe?

What do you believe? What you've been taught, what you've seen, what you've picked up, what you've imitated. And so, as a result of that, people wreck and ruin their lives because they watch and look to other people instead of getting their mind in the Word of God because there's something very important about reading the Word of God, getting it in your brain, in your mind.

Then it becomes a part of you. So, I would say the lure of the world system, look what's around us. Everywhere you turn, you'll find it. There is alcoholism, there are drugs, two killers.

There are all kinds of immorality, different kinds of immorality, nudity of all kinds, profanity of all kinds, violence, all kinds of acceptable sins. That's the world we live in. And it's not the best picture. And when you think about it, if you watch the television, you have to be careful what to keep off. You can pull up your computer.

Sometimes I'm working on a message and I'll look up to define a word or something and here comes a whole strip of things over here that they want me to buy this, that and the other and so forth. And I'm thinking, that has nothing to do with what I'm looking at. So, you have to be careful to guard your mind and guard your eyes or the devil will step right in there to do it. Then what happens is you begin to doubt God. When people begin to doubt God, here's what happens.

No matter how strong you are, when you begin to doubt God, down you go. Because what happens is you take over your life. You begin to make decisions. You decide what's good, bad and indifferent. You decide what you're going to do. And when you start disobeying God, you digress in your Christian life. You don't stagnate and stay there.

You get further and further away from Him. And that's one of the primary reasons. And then, of course, many people are defeated in a given area of temptation. It could be finances. It could be sex. It could be relationships.

It could be most anything. And so, you have to ask yourself the question, God, is there anything in my life I'm holding on to that you do not want in my life? Because listen, you know what that's like?

That's like a thousand pounds over here and you trying to pull away from it. If you don't cut the cord, you're going to still be there. And trusting God and repenting of sin is the way you get rid of it. And many people say, well, you know, I go to church and I give and I do this and I do that. That doesn't make you grow.

It can. But if you're holding on to some sin in your life, listen, you are not growing and you're not staying in one place, you're moving further and further and further away from God. Now, one of these days, we're all going to die.

So, I'm going to ask you a question. Do you want to die facing the Lord knowing that you've given it your best? Or do you want to die facing the Lord, and let's just say you live to be sixty, seventy, eighty, ninety years of age or whatever it might be. And you got saved when you were a teenager or maybe your twenties or thirties. And you went to church, you got baptized, you even started giving God some money. And after a while, for some reason, you can't put your finger on it, you just sort of drifted away.

And then the last thirty years, you've just been doing it your way. You don't want to meet Jesus like that. Does that mean you're going to be lost? No, you lose reward. Well, but think about it.

You just don't want to be that kind of person. He said grow, it's a command. Grow in the grace and knowledge that is His undeserved love and favor and grow in your knowledge of Him. And my goal is to teach the Word of God in such a fashion that you have one more reason to walk a little closer, that you learn something else and look at something else a little different so you understand how important your relationship to Jesus Christ is. Thank you for listening to Moving Toward Maturity. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or InTouch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of InTouch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-28 02:53:14 / 2024-05-28 03:01:26 / 8

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