Growing to Maturity

Unity of Faith
Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we are all part of one body, and each part does not have the same function, but we are all necessary, no matter our part.

There are some people within the body of Christ whose gifts and whose roles (parts) serve specifically to equip the saints of God for service to their Lord, though not all who serve in these capacities actually do that. Many people who serve in these roles (functions) today are not leading their people to be followers and servants of the Lord, but rather they are leading them to be followers and servants of man, and of human organizations.

And, some of them do this because they are not actually part of the body of Christ, but they are thieves and robbers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, who have come into the sheep fold by a door other than through Jesus Christ, and they are there only to kill, to steal and to destroy the church, not to help her to grow to maturity in Christ Jesus. So, be wise, and be discerning.

We Will Grow Up
Ephesians 4:14-16 NIV

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

When we have leaders within the church who truly equip the saints of God for service to the Lord, led by the Lord, as God has assigned each of us specific roles he wants us to fill, then the body functions as it ought to. Then, each part is able to do its work within the body of Christ so that we all reach unity with Christ, in faith, and we all become mature followers of Christ, who listen to him, and who do what he says to do.

So much of today’s church, though, is all lopsided, with Christ not given the honor due him as the head, but with man serving as head, and with the Word of God not used as the sole authority for the teaching in the church, but with teachings of humans being used as the authority, oftentimes, even if their teachings contradict God’s Word, in many cases.

And, instead of allowing Christ to gift and assign roles within the church, business techniques and marketing schemes are oftentimes determining the roles in the church and who fills those roles, based on human thinking, and based on humans’ desire to attract the world to the church.

So, the gatherings of the church are often filled with the ungodly or with infantile Christians who never grow to maturity in Christ because what they are being fed is often more of the world than it is of Christ, and it is often contrary to the teachings of scripture, in many cases, so that those who attend many of these church services are being tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

And, if those who have been gifted of God to fill their God-given roles, speak the truth in love to Christ’s body, so that they are not being led astray by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming, and so that they can grow up in Christ, who is the true head of his church, then it is likely that they will be cast aside, for they don’t fit in with man’s business plans and marketing schemes. But, this doesn’t mean we give up trying.

Futility of Thinking
Ephesians 4:17-24 NIV

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

If we want to reach maturity in Christ, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ, so that we are no longer infants being tossed back and forth by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming, then we must understand and follow the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, plain and simple. This is the essence of the message of the gospel of our salvation. There is no other truth that we must follow. Paul, when called of Jesus Christ to be a minister of the gospel, was called to open spiritually blinded eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ. So, it is out with the old; in with the new.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, with childlike faith, which is divinely persuaded as to God’s will for our lives, we don’t keep living like we did before. Our lives are radically changed of the Spirit of God. Our sin is put to death and we are given new lives in Christ to be lived to his righteousness (See: Rom. 6:1-23). This is what it means to be “born again.” We start life anew, with a new lease on life, of the Spirit of God. And, now our desire is for our Lord, to please him with our lives.

Nonetheless, we still live in flesh bodies, and we are still tempted to sin, and we still have the propensity to sin. But, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, he made the way for us, not only to be delivered from the curse of sin, but also from our enslavement to sin so that we can now become slaves of His righteousness (See: Rom. 6:1-23). Now we are free from the control of sin over our lives and we are free to live godly and holy lives, pleasing to God, all in the power and working of His Spirit now living within us, and all to the glory of God. Amen! This is the GOOD NEWS!

Put off Lies / Put on Truth
Ephesians 4:25-32 NIV

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Our salvation from sin is a process of sanctification in our lives, of the Spirit of God, as we cooperate with God’s work of grace in our lives. We are saved (past), we are being saved (present), and we will be saved (future) when Christ returns. So, part of that process involves daily dying to sin and self, and by the Spirit putting to death the misdeeds of our flesh, and putting on daily the armor of God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 6:10-20).

So, in the power of the Spirit within us, we put off lies, and we make it our practice to tell the truth. When we feel anger over a situation, we deal with it. We recognize why we are angry, and we pray for the Lord to show us what action he wants us to take – to show us what needs changed in our own hearts, and/or what good purpose he wants to fulfill through us.

If we have been taking from others, out of selfishness, we need to stop doing that, and we need to start being those who give of ourselves, our time, our talents and our resources to help meet the legitimate needs of others. And, instead of making it our practice to gossip about others and to judge them unfairly, by our human standards, or hypocritically, we need to say about them and to them what is beneficial for them, what is for their good, and what will help to bring them to maturity in Christ.

And, we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit. How is he grieved? He is grieved in the same way a spouse is grieved over an unfaithful partner. He is grieved when our hearts wander to follow after the gods of this world, or when our hearts pursue what is ungodly and unholy, and what is immoral and impure, rather than pursuing God’s righteousness and holiness with our lives.

The Holy Spirit is also grieved when we treat one another with hate, disdain, bitterness of spirit, jealousy (envy), rage, slander, and every form of malice. Instead, we are to be kind and compassionate toward one another, forgiving one another, just as in Christ God forgave us. If God, who is holy and pure, could forgive us everything, who are we to withhold forgiveness from another who has sinned against us?

Shine Jesus Shine / Graham Kendrick

Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth You now bring us…

Lord, I come into Your awesome presence
From the shadows into Your radiance
By the blood I may enter Your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me…

Friday, May 11, 2018, 7:05 a.m. – Yes, Jesus, shine on us, and remove from us all that hinders our walks of faith, so that we can walk in your holiness.


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