Grow to Spiritual Maturity (1 Peter 1-2)
Grow to Spiritual Maturity Message Introduction
Today, we’re continuing our message series called “Bondservant.” Every believer or disciple of Jesus Christ, is His bondservant. He is the master, we are His slaves, according to the Bible. As master, Jesus is not a cruel tyrant, but a loving master.
In this series, we are going to discover how we can grow as disciples or bondservants of Jesus. We want to learn how to more useful to the master. God created you for a purpose. When you believe in Jesus and are saved, you begin a journey to fulfill that plan and purpose.
Today, our message is entitled “Grow to Spiritual Maturity.” Let’s think about physical growth for a minute. Physical life begins at conception. That tiny baby grows in its mother’s womb for 9 months and then is born into the world. That baby then grows, learns to walk, talk and do many other things. The baby becomes a child and begins its education, as it continues to learn and grow. Ultimately, the child becomes a mature adult, becoming a productive part of society.
In the same way, when a person becomes a believer in Jesus, the Bible tells us that they are born again and saved. That new believer, whether they are 8 years old or eighty begins their spiritual life as a spiritual infant. The new believer must than experience spiritual growth until they become a mature, spiritually productive disciple of Jesus.
What are the differences between a baby and a mature adult, both physically and spiritually? A baby is dependent on others in many ways and must constantly be cared for. A baby isn’t productive, it is primarily a taker rather than a giver or contributor. A mature adult, on the other hand, is independent, he can take care of himself. An adult is a contributor and can help the young. A mature adult is able to reproduce himself.
Although physical growth is relatively automatic as a function of time, spiritual growth is not automatic. Just because someone has been a believer for ten years or even 20 years, does not meant that spiritual maturity has been achieved. Spiritual maturity comes through learning and obedience.
Ephesians 4:11-14 (NIV) [Christ] gave some to be … pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, … until we all … become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants,
As you learn about what God wants you to do, as you put into practice what you’ve learned in works of service, you grow to spiritual maturity, you will no longer be a spiritual infant. Discipleship is the process of growing to maturity.
This week, we have Valentine’s Day coming up. Do you want to know the most important secret to keeping your marriage strong? If both spouses are growing in God, if both spouses are growing spiritually closer to Jesus, they will be growing closer to one another. Every marriage problem, every relationship issue, every divorce can be traced to one or both spouses failing to grow to spiritual spiritual maturity.
So, let’s learn how to grow to spiritual maturity.
Prepare your minds for action
1 Peter 1:13 (NIV) Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
First step in growing in spiritual maturity is making a decision that you want to grow. If you don’t want to grow, it’s not going to happen. In order to achieve any goal in life, including spiritual growth, you need to be self-controlled. In this case, it means that you make spiritual growth a focus and priority in life. Ultimately, spiritual growth is preparing you for faithful service until Jesus Christ returns.
Certain things can sabotage spiritual growth, therefore …
Do not conform to evil desires
1 Peter 1:14 (NIV) As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
A child who wants to grow to maturity, obeys his parents, in this case, his heavenly father. The world of unbelievers around us is living in ignorance, slaves to evil desires. Before we were saved, we also were slaves to these desires, now we are bondservants of Jesus.
The world continually tries to squeeze you into it’s mold, to conform to what everybody else is doing. You want to grow to becoming a world changer, don’t conform, be a non-conformist, go against the flow.
Be holy in all you do
1 Peter 1:15-16 (NIV) But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
What does it mean to be holy? To be holy is not just to avoid evil desires. To be holy is to be set apart for God’s service. God is completely holy, there is no evil in Him at all. He calls you to the same lifestyle. A lifestyle of commitment to His training program for your life. He wants your life to be radically different than the world around you. A life of holiness will lead to dramatic spiritual growth.
This morning, where are you at? Have you made a commitment of yourself to spiritual growth? God wants you to prepare your mind for action. To become dissatisfied with where you’re at spiritually and begin to seek Him to help you grow.
Once you’ve made that commitment to spiritual growth, God desires for you to set some new priorities in your life. That means that some of things you used to spend time on, you’re going to stop. Why? Because they move you further from God, not closer.
Secondly, God wants you to make some new priorities for your life that will help you to grow to spiritual maturity. Wherever you are at in your spiritual growth journey, God wants to take you deeper.
Now, let’s look at one of the most important elements of spiritual growth.
Obey the truth of God’s Word
1 Peter 1:22a (NIV) Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth …
God’s Word is an essential component of spiritual growth. God’s Word is the truth that combats the falsehood that is all around us. The truth of God’s Word is not just something to be learned. Knowing God’s Word is the first step, but does not actually lead to spiritual growth. Spiritual growth happens as you choose to obey and apply God’s Word to your life. When you obey God’s Word, something about your thoughts and actions will change.
In this verse, it speaks of purifying yourselves by obeying God’s Word. Obedience is a means to holiness, which we’ve already seen is essential to growing to spiritual maturity. What truth is Peter talking about here?
Love one another deeply
1 Peter 1:22 (NIV) Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.
Everyone who is a believer has a sincere love for other believers, here referred to as brothers. Obviously, if you love someone, you want and need to be around them. That is why being part of a church family, is not only essential to spiritual growth, it is a sign that someone actually is a believer.
Here, the apostle Peter is encouraging believers to grow from a sincere love to loving deeply, from the heart. In other words, to let their love for other believers grow deeper. We’ll talk in a minute about why relationships with other believers in a church family is another essential part of spiritual growth.
You are born again by God’s Word
1 Peter 1:23 (NIV) For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
God’s Word is the seed of truth, that when accepted and believed, causes the life of God to be birthed in the believer’s heart. In other words, believers are born again.
Your first birth was your physical birth. Your second birth, when you are born again, is when you choose to believe the truth of God’s Word and put your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. So, God’s Word both begins your spiritual life and it is essential to your subsequent spiritual growth.
How do you practically use God’s Word to grow to spiritual maturity? God’s Word shows us three main ways to grow through God’s Word.
First of all, you need to read the Bible daily by yourself. Spend at least 15 minutes reading God’s Word and praying about applying to your life. If you don’t think you have 15 minutes a day to read God’s Word, something else needs to go. In your bulletins, we have a daily reading chart which can help you keep on track with your Bible reading. Start in the New Testament first to get off to a good start.
Secondly, you need to learn from a pastor-teacher in a church family, someone who has committed their life to studying and training others in the Word of God. The most important aspect of a godly pastor is not that they are an entertainer, it is that they help you learn and apply God’s Word for yourself and your family.
The third way to grow through God’s Word is to participate in our weekly Life Group Bible studies. In these groups, you’ll get to discuss, ask questions, get answers and have accountability to others in the group.
Participating in all of these ways of using God’s Word is essential in growing to spiritual maturity.
Get rid of sinful attitudes
1 Peter 2:1 (NIV) Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
When we look at this list of sins, what do they all have in common? These sins are really attitudes that get in the way of relationships in the church family. These attitudes are the exact opposite of loving your brothers and sisters in the church from your heart.
God’s Word tells you to rid yourself of these sinful attitudes. How do you do that? First, you repent, you acknowledge that you have sinned in one or more of these ways, then you ask for God’s forgiveness and make a commitment to change your attitudes with God’s help. Then, we must …
Crave the spiritual milk of God’s Word
1 Peter 2:2a (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, …
Crave means to long for, to deeply desire, to have great affection for. What happens when a newborn baby is hungry for milk? They begin to cry and if the milk doesn’t come, they cry louder until it comes.
In the same way, as disciples of Jesus, we must crave the spiritual milk of God’s Word. We must desire it above the other things that take our time and lure us away from spending time reading God’s Word on a daily basis.
Why is it so hard for many people to read their Bible’s every day? Seems like such a simple thing. We do a lot of things every day, many of which are not required. Yet, our enemy, Satan, finds many ways to cause us to waste time and forget about God and His Word.
Ask God to help you to begin to crave the spiritual food of God’s Word, so that …
Grow up in your salvation
1 Peter 2:2-3 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Why crave God’s Word? Because just as a baby needs milk to grow, so as a believer, we need the spiritual milk of the Bible in order to grow up to maturity. If you don’t get the milk of God’s Word in adequate supply, your spiritual growth will be stunted and unfortunately, many people’s growth has been stunted.
Your salvation is something that you need to grow up in. You need to grow in your salvation, so that you can reproduce yourself. As you grow to maturity, God can better use you to lead others to become born again. You grow to being a giver of the truth of God’s Word, not simply a receiver.
I recently read a story about Jason Brown. Jason was pro football’s highest paid center the St. Louis Rams cut him from the squad in 2012. His agent got him opportunities to try out for three other teams, but Jason turned them down, left football and moved to North Carolina.
What was Jason’s story? Jason was a professing Christian, but he and his way Tay were headed for divorce. He began to realize that he was consumed with football and money. Jesus was simply his ticket to forgiveness and heaven, but nothing else.
Jason realized that something was amiss with his life, so he decided to make a change and follow God’s plan for his life. He bought a farm in North Carolina and named it First Fruits Farm. The farm supplies food to needy families, shares Jesus’ love and seeks to boost Bible literacy. When Jason was asked what made him make such a radical change in his life, he answered with one word, “Obedience.”
God’s Word when applied to our lives in obedience leads to growth and change, radical change.
We all have plans for 2015. Hopefully the plans we have are not just our plans, but plans that God has given us. God’s plan for each person here includes spiritual growth. For some of you, God’s plan is that you become a believer and disciple of Jesus Christ for the first time. For those who are believers, spiritual growth in 2015 won’t just happen without your cooperation.
Prepare your mind for action in 2015, making a commitment to growing spiritually. Get rid of the attitudes and behaviors that are hindering your growth. Make God’s Word a priority, in your personal life, on Sunday mornings and in a Life Group. God has wonderful blessings for us as we grow to maturity. Let’s press in to God in a new way in 2015.