Maturing Through Difficulty
Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin… 1 Peter 4:1 NKJV, emphasis added
A person who has ceased from sin is a perfectly obedient child of God. He is mature, choosing God’s ways and not his own. Just as Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered, we learn obedience through the difficult circumstances we face. This doesn’t sound pleasant, but it’s worth the hardship to grow in the knowledge and likeness of God.
Physical growth is a function of time, and intellectual growth is a function of learning. But spiritual growth is neither a function of time or learning, but rather a function of obedience. When we heed the Word of God spoken by the Holy Spirit in times of conflict and suffering, we mature. Knowledge of Scripture alone is not the key to this growth. Obedience is!
Knowing this, we can understand one reason why there are people in the church who have been Christians for twenty years, can quote verses and chapters of the Bible, have heard a thousand sermons, and have read many books but still wear spiritual diapers. Paul writes of such individuals:
[They are] always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 2 Timothy 3:7 NKJV
Every time these people meet with difficult situations, rather than responding by the Spirit of God, they seek to protect themselves in their own way. They never come to the knowledge of the truth because they do not apply it. But truth must be allowed to have its way in our lives if we are going to grow and mature. It is not enough to give mental assent to it without acting on it.
Is there a gap between your knowledge and your actions? Ask the Holy Spirit to both reveal His truth and to strengthen you by His grace to carrying it out. As we become mature in Christ, we will rise to a level of life that reflects His kingdom and His ways—for His glory!
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