New Year Sermon - 6 steps to spiritual maturity in year 2014

Introduction

My parents take great pleasure in looking at photographs taken at my infancy. I think those old pictures remind them of lovely memories attached to the early days of my life. Just imagine, I never reached maturity but remained a baby for the past 32 years or suddenly stopped growing. Do you think my parents will feel the same?

Like wise God also wants his children to mature, spiritually. He doesn’t take pleasure in children that remain in the same level of maturity they were many years ago or even in year 2013. So how shall we take a step further in year 2014? St. Paul exhorts us to follow not just one but 6 powerful steps.

Read Philippians 3:1-21

1. Rejoice in the Lord

Read Philippians 3:1

A. The epistle to the church in Philippi was written from a prison cell. The author apostle Paul was a prisoner awaiting trial.

B. My degree of spiritual maturity is measured by how I respond to circumstances in life not by  my knowledge of scripture or ministerial experience.

C. The first step to spiritual maturity is to know that God is as real as my circumstances and choosing to  rejoice in Him.

2. Live by the Spirit

Read Philippians 3:2-3

A. Paul was angry  because Judaizers insisted that Gentile believers needed to be circumcised and observe other Jewish customs in order to be justified before God.

B. Circumcision was the physical sign of being in covenant with God which is no longer necessary because of Christ’s mass.

C. The second step to spiritual maturity requires a life led by the Spirit. It’s the source of true maturity. Not my external appearance or compliance with religious rituals. (For more on living by the Spirit see: How to walk in the Spirit?)

3. Live sacrificially

Read Philippians 3:4-11

A. Paul possessed excellent credentials. Yet he says his credentials are useless rubbish when compared to his calling.

B. Spiritual maturity means knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, sharing his sufferings and being like him in his death. Not ministerial, professional or educational achievements.

C. The third step to spiritual maturity is, to live in a cruciform way—that is, dead to the world’s values and concerns but alive to God’s. (For more on “sacrificial living” see: Our spiritual act of worship)

4. Persevere

Read Philippians 3:12-16

A. Although Paul was a very mature Christian leader, he did not become complacent or distracted because he knew he wasn’t fully matured yet.

B. Paul knew fullness of maturity is achieved only when he goes to be with Christ and he must thrive for it while on this earth. Some however believed differently. A clear sign of immaturity.

C. The forth step to spiritual maturity is to persevere to grow in Christ without becoming spiritually complacent or get distracted by the affairs of this life.

5. Imitate the godly

Read Philippians 3:17-19

A. Paul regularly charged his disciples to imitate him—and with good reason. His life modeled the type of loving service and sacrifice of Christ.

B. One strategic way I can pursue God’s prize and grow to Christian maturity is through the influence of other believers.

C. Then the fifth step to spiritual maturity is to cultivate a teachable attitude and follow the example of the other godly Christians.

6. Long for perfection

Read Philippians 3:20-21

A. Probably Philippians had never been to Rome. Still, they lived in a way that advanced the interests of the state.

B. Spiritual maturity is not only spiritual but physical also, in what we reach the fullness of Christ likeness when he transforms our lowly bodies.

C. The final step to spiritual maturity is to live life in a way that it advances the interests of God even though I am inhabiting the earth right now.

Conclusion

Some Christians never grow because they always do the opposite of everything I told you before. It hinders their spiritual growth. Today even as we have stepped into a brand new year let us examine our life against these 6 steps pray for God’s grace and courage so that we will be able to grow in which ever area we need to grow.

Image courtesy: Thomas Hawk

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