What is spiritual immaturity, and how can we recognize it as believers?
1 Peter 2:2: “Like newborn babies desire the milk of the Word of God. It is unmixed milk. So, by drinking it, you will grow and be saved.
Hebrews 5:12-14a: “You had time to become masters! But now, you need to be taught the first truths of God’s teaching again. You are no longer able to eat solid food, you need milk. Anyone who continues to drink milk is a baby. He, therefore cannot discuss what is right. On the other hand, solid food is for adults.
These two texts present to us two important states of the Christian life. First, the Epistle of Peter shows us that when we give our lives to Christ, we are like babies, and we must eat according to this stature. Then, the Epistle to the Hebrews makes us see that there is more than milk, which constitutes the first rudiments of the Word of God. In truth, it is dangerous to be satisfied only with milk. So we have to grow up to be able to eat solid food (deep revelation of the Word). This is where we talk about adulthood or spiritual maturity.
Maturity is the state of what is ripe. Spiritual maturity is the state of complete development of the spiritual elements which constitute the inner man.
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6 Ways to Recognize Spiritual Immaturity
Unfortunately, not all Christians manage to reach this stage, remaining stuck for years in the stage of childhood. This is where we talk about spiritual immaturity. This problem is not limited to young Christians; even people who have sometimes accumulated several years of conversion, fail to develop a solid faith. Unfortunately, this can have consequences for our personal relationship with God. Many signs can detect spiritual immaturity. In this article, we will suggest some of them.
Instability in faith.
The apostle Paul describes as children (immature), all those who are easily carried away by any wind of doctrine. Ephesians 4:14 (KJV): “That we should no longer be children, tossed about and carried away by every wind of doctrine, by the deception of men, by their craftiness in the means of seduction.
Instability in faith is often due to contentment with the minimum, a disinterest in depth. That is to say that you do not seek to develop your knowledge, acquire a deep knowledge of God’s things, and grow in faith. A spiritual immature often approaches spirituality superficially, with no desire to seek depth. As a result, it makes him unstable and susceptible to being seduced by false teachings. This leads him to change assembly at any time. His instability is also due to his dependence on emotions instead of trusting what the Word of God says in difficult times. One who is still a child in the realm of faith will easily be shaken when things go wrong. This is why the apostle Paul instructs us to be firm in the faith.1 Corinthians 16:13 (KJV) “Watch, stand firm in the faith, be men, be strong.
As long as he doesn’t get caught, the immature Christian is fine with leading a double life. He does not realize the harm he is doing to himself by letting sin have a hold on his life. He will be all confused when he is discovered by men, when he should have been from the beginning, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit ( John 16:8 ). This attitude leads to a blockage and prevents spiritual growth. This is why the Bible says, “He who hides his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses them and forsakes them obtains mercy. Proverbs 28:13 ( KJV) Duplicity prevents maturing.
Lack of spiritual autonomy.
Spiritual autonomy is this capacity to be aware of the things to be done as a Christian and to be able to do them, without necessarily being pushed to do them. A spiritually mature person is mainly characterized by his ability to be able to take care of himself spiritually. She doesn’t need to be told what to do for her spiritual health before she does it. She learns to develop an intimate and special relationship with God, without intermediary or assistance; which gives him a spiritual autonomy that will enable him to take care of the others, i.e the new converts and weak in the faith.
However, when we are still immature at the level of the spirit, we will always tend to be pushed from behind to do what we are supposed to do ourselves, on our own. Also, remaining children for a very long time could make us useless as servants in the sight of God.
When your will comes before God’s.
I have always marvelled at Jesus’ mature attitude in the Garden of Gethsemane. While His will in the flesh was not to endure this suffering of the Cross ( Luke 22:41-42a ), He ended up making this powerful statement: “Nevertheless, let not My will be done, but Yours. Luke 22:42b (KJV). Wow, what level of maturity! Therefore, spiritual immaturity is seen as the difficulty in abandoning oneself or submitting easily to the will of God. When we are mature, we put God’s will before our own.
In general, a spiritual immature will only tend to favour his own interests, at the expense of those of the rest of the world. And this will often push him in search of vainglory. However, on many occasions, the Bible encourages us to preach mutual aid, to be also attentive to the needs of others ( Romans 15:1-2, 1 Peter 4:10 ). Not to mention the fact that we are actually blessed, blessed in our turn. This is why the apostle Paul says in Philippians 2:4 (KJV): “Let each one of you, instead of considering his own interests, also consider those of others.
Children often tend to think they are much better than they really are. They brag in front of others, and this makes them important in their own eyes, to the point of believing themselves to be superior to others. But that’s not how God wants us to be. He expects modesty from us, as it is written in Romans 12:3: high opinion, but to put on modest feelings, according to the measure of faith that God has bestowed on each one.
Every Christian has received a gift, a call to serve the Lord. But that doesn’t give him the right to brag about it and belittle others. There is no gift or ministry more prestigious than another. Believing oneself superior to others reflects the pride and spiritual immaturity. This is why the apostle Paul recommends this to us in Philippians 2:3 (KJV): “Do nothing out of partisanship or vainglory, but let humility make you regard others as above yourselves.
Remember this in the end: growing up is a normal thing for all living beings. All born very small, they must grow physically in order to reach a state or a level that will allow them to access things that are only accessible to adults. This principle does not only work in the physical realm. It is also useful and necessary in the spiritual realm of the believer, who needs to continue to grow ( 1 Corinthians 13:11 ). So then, spiritual maturity is not judged by the number of years in faith; it all depends on our way of putting the Word of God into practice, and our capacity to take charge of ourselves spiritually.