Why this is important: I started out strong. I imagine you did too. And then …Something happens. Or several things. We went off to college to newfound freedom. A parent dies and we feel lost. Our marriage didn’t turn out like we thought it would.
It could be the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness the superficial pleasures and delight of riches choke the word of Jesus out of us. And it yields no fruit. We stop growing.
And then … BOOM we “backslide”. We wander off the reservation.
Disciples of Jesus must deal with the issue of maturity. Our walk with Jesus requires a radical reordering of our priorities, changing over from pleasing ourselves to pleasing God and learning to obey God and King Jesus. It is not easy. Jesus warned us it would not be easy.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
The key to maturity is consistency, perseverance in doing those things we know will bring us closer to God. These practices are referred to as the spiritual disciplines and include things such as Bible reading/study, prayer, fellowship, service, and stewardship.
Immaturity — Is that the cause of backsliding?
No matter how hard we might work on those things, however, none of this is possible without the enabling of the Holy Spirit within us. Galatians 5:16 tells us that we’re to “walk by the Spirit.” The Greek word used here for “walk” actually means “to walk with a purpose in view.”
Later in the same chapter, Paul tells us again that we’re to “walk by the Spirit.” Here, the word translated “walk” has the idea of taking things “step by step, one step at a time.” It is learning to walk under the instruction of another—the Holy Spirit. When we first learned how to walk, we could not go far and fell a lot. What did we do? We got up and began walking some more. We matured and learned our lessons.
Being filled with the Spirit means I walk under the Spirit’s control. As I submit more and more to the Spirit’s control, I will also see an increase in the fruit of the Spirit in my life (Galatians 5:22–23). This is characteristic of spiritual maturity. I want this.
- Matthew 13:20–21 — “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.”
- Galatians 4:8–9 — However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 7:13–14). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
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