Maturing in Christ

Our Father knows we have sin dwelling in us, and that it remains in us even after we are born into His kingdom. He also knows we begin as babes and grow to maturity. So He begins by feeding us with the milk of the word. When we reach our years of accountability, He begins to introduce us to the meat of the word. Through it all, He does not abandon us. However, we abandon Him if we don’t submit to His discipline.

From the very beginning, He endeavors to teach us obedience, so that we might learn to obey Him. If we follow the example of Jesus and humble ourselves, and learn to obey the Father, we will grow to maturity in Christ, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ, holy and without blemish.

Consider this:  God sent Jesus in the form of an infant and trained Him in the way He should go, and Jesus learned obedience from the things which He suffered, leaving us an example to follow in His steps.

And here is the example He left for us to follow:

In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered, Hebrews 5:7-8.

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed,” 1 Peter 2:21-24.

His wounds were more than what He endured on His final day; they were also the wounds of being reviled, ridiculed, and disrespected throughout His ministry. Notice that Jesus bore our sins so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. In other words, He made it possible for us to be born anew into the kingdom of God, wherein we walk by the Spirit and do not carry out the desire of the flesh, Galatians 5:16. 

This is the healing referred to in “by His wounds you were healed”. As Isaiah said, 

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
            He was crushed for our iniquities;
            The chastening for our well-being [peace] fell upon Him,
            And by His scourging we are healed.

He endured all this so that we could be healed by being crucified with Him, buried with Him, and raised up with Him into newness of life,  a new creation, one that is dead to sin and alive to righteousness. We are now A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light; for we once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now we are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; we had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now we have RECEIVED MERCY.

We are urged as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul. We are to keep our behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander us as evildoers, they may on account of our good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation, 1 Peter 2:9-11.

Peter also tells us:  And, “Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God,” 1 Peter 4:1-2.

Many today believe it is not possible to live without sinning, but the word of God says it is possible in several places, as you can see.

You may ask, “How is it possible?” It is the result of submitting to the Father’s admonitions and learning obedience from all that we suffer. In doing this, we condition ourselves to accept the Lord’s help in every temptation we encounter, and we obediently take the way of escape.

As the word of God says,

For since He [Jesus] Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted, Hebrews 2:18.

Also, no temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

If we ignore the Father’s admonitions to learn obedience and refuse to suffer through temptation, but instead give in to it, His word tells us we are illegitimate children, and not sons, Hebrews 12:8.

“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons,” Hebrews 12:4-8.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked,” 1 John 2:1-2; 2:4-6.

Please understand that to say we will continue sinning until we die is equivalent to saying Jesus is incapable of coming to our aid when we are tempted, and God is incapable of providing a way of escape from every temptation common to man. Those who say these things are calling God a liar and are themselves, illegitimate children, at least, according to the word of God, 1 John 5:10; Hebrews 12:8.

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God, so do not take His discipline lightly.

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES, Hebrews 10:26-27.

Jon David Banks, God’s most unworthy servant

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.