And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. (Luke 9:62)
Picture a newborn baby so small and helpless. We were once just like that baby; then we grew. As we grew, we gained knowledge and experience that made us into the people we are today. While we were growing, we had certain expectations of life and people, and other people had expectations of us. No one expects a newborn to be able to talk or walk, but they do expect those abilities from an adult. Why? Because the adult has grown and should have learned those things.
As Christians, God has expectations of us as well. When we first received Christ as Saviour, we were newborns in God’s family. God did not expect us to immediately know everything about the Bible or to behave perfectly because we were babies. Now, however, if we have been saved for any length of time, God has increased His expectations for us. We are babies no longer.
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Ephesians 4:13-15)
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1 Peter 2:2)
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
Just as in our physical lives, we didn’t remain babies, so in our spiritual lives we can’t remain “babes in Christ.” God commands us to grow. He tells us not to be children but to grow up in Christ. God wants us to desire to know His Word better so that we can grow in our relationship with Him.
A ten-year-old should not look, act, or think like a five-year-old. An adult should not look, act, or think like a teenager; he should be more mature than he once was.
The same holds true in the life of a Christian. On the day a person gets saved, he becomes born again, beginning his new life as a spiritual babe. Five years later, he should not still be at the same spiritual level as he was that first day; at ten years, he should be more spiritually mature than he was at five, and so on. He should have spent time in God’s Word and in church, growing in his relationship with Christ and learning what God would have him do with his life.
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)
When we were born, we were simply born; we had no choice in the matter. We did not get to choose our family, our sex, or our physical features; God lay out everything through DNA.
When we were born again, we did it by choice. We knew full well what we were doing and Whose family we were joining.
After we were born, we had no choice but to grow up; we could not help it. Even today, regardless of what anti-aging measures we use or what refusal to mature we may adopt, we are still getting older.
However, after we were born again, we had to choose whether we were going to grow or not. God gave us the free will to choose to obey Him or not and obeying definitely takes an act of will.
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1)
Just as it would be wrong for a pastor to preach only salvation and no other Bible doctrines, so it is wrong for a Christian to think: “Well, I’m saved, that’s the most important thing; what does it matter if I’m not doing every little thing the Bible tells me? I mean, nobody’s perfect.”
While it is true that accepting Jesus as Saviour is the most important thing, it’s not the only thing. God’s Word tells us to “go on unto perfection.” The Christian life is to be always forward, never stopping, and never backward (Luke 9:62).
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded… (Philippians 3:13-15)
Paul, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, understood that he could not reach a point in his Christian life where he stopped growing; he pushed forward, always desiring to know God better. If we want to be better Christians, we must forget “those things which are behind” –our old lives before salvation or even failures and mistakes since becoming a Christian—and reach for “those things which are before” –our new lives in Christ, constantly growing and thriving in the Lord. Perfection may not be something we can attain, in this life, but we should always be striving for it, striving to be more like Christ.
…Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Paul shows us here that there is a distinct difference between a saved person and an unsaved person. That difference begins in the heart of a person the moment he receives Christ as Saviour. As this baby Christian grows in his relationship with Christ, this inward change becomes a noticeable outward separation from the world. This separation from the world is exactly what God expects from His children; in fact, He commands it:
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18)
Separation from the world is necessary for a right relationship with God; we cannot be obedient children without it.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
Let’s use Strong’s Concordance to understand what God means by using this exact word, peculiar; it might not mean what we think it means. You see, we always think of peculiar meaning different, odd, or strange; however, in this passage, the Greek word for peculiar is periousios, which means “that which is one’s own, belonging to one’s possessions.” God takes ownership of us with this word! Amazing, isn’t it?
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (2 Peter 2:9)
We learn from this passage why God wants us to be peculiar people: “that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you…” What conclusion then can we draw from that statement? People should be able to see an outward difference in our lives. This outward change comes from a heart surrendered to the will of God.
Are we still the “babes in Christ” that we were when we first accepted Jesus as Saviour? Or do we show growth in our Christian lives each day? We should never stop desiring to increase our faith and love for the Lord. Our desire should always be to draw closer to God—this is what He expects from us anyway! Isn’t it time we started meeting God’s expectations for us? Isn’t time we grew up?
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