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Growing Spiritually
By Tom Brown

The Bible equates spiritual growth with natural growth. Just like a person is born a baby, so we are born again a spiritual baby. For you have been born again (1 Pet 1:23). Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation (1 Pet 2:2).

No one is born a full grown adult. The same is true spiritually: no one is born again as a mature Christian. It takes time to grow. The way you grow is through the spiritual milk of Godís Word. The more you feed on it the more you will grow.

The Bible teaches us that there are basically three stages of spiritual development. Paul mentions them in 1 Corinthians 14:20:

Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

Notice the three levels of growth: infants, children and adultsóthat pretty much summarizes human growth as well. Just like in the natural, certain age groups generally behave in a certain way. I have noticed that there are typical characteristics of Christians within their spiritual age group. Baby Christians act one way, children behave in another way, and spiritual adults do other things. Of course, our goal is to be a spiritual adult.

until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. (Eph 4:13-14)

Where are You?

A map shows you how to get to your destination, but before you know where to go, you have to find out where you are located. I think it would help you in your spiritual growth to find out what stage of spiritual development you are in. Once you know, then you will know what direction and improvements you need to make to get you where God wants you.

Here are some characteristics of a baby Christian. The first two distinctive qualities of a babe in Christ are quite positiveóhunger and growth.

I remember when I first got saved I devoured the Bible; I gobbled it up. I was so hungry to learn everything I could from the Word of God. Of course, since I did not know anything, everything I read was new. I learned something fresh every time I read the Bible. The growth in my life at that time was tremendous. I can honestly say that I grew more in the first two years of my walk with God than at any other time. That is normal.

The physical growth of babies is enormous the first few years, but they slow up as they get older. Some Christians feel frustrated when they get older in the Lord, because when they read the Bible, they donít seem to get as much out of it as they used to. Well, if you are looking to learn more new things than you first did, then you are expecting too much. How can you learn more by reading something over again? When you first read a book everything is new, but when you reread it, you get some new things, but not everything is new. You canít expect to continue to learn as much as you used to. But at the same time, you should cultivate a hunger for the Word of God.

Feed your spirit the Word even if you think you have read that passage before or already heard the teaching. You do not stop eating your favorite foods just because you ate it once. No, you keep eating it. The same is true with the Word: you need to keep feeding your faith with a good, solid diet of balance teaching.

A well balance diet is a key phrase in nutrition. You canít live off of proteins alone. You need vegetables, good carbohydrates, and other minerals and vitamins. You need to get a good solid teaching of the Word in every area. You need teaching on faith, healing and financesÖbut you also need to learn about prophecy, holiness, and the cults. There are other equally important subjects to learn as wellófrom family living to being a better employee. The Bible covers these things. You canít expect to be a healthy Christian living only on particular subjects.

I have seen many believers who have been a Christian for a very long time, and sometimes, I can sense they have received an unbalanced diet. For example some are overbalance in deliverance. Of course, I am known for that ministry, but believers who concentrate on demons too much trouble me. They are always looking to get delivered from something. They seem obsessed with curses. Now, I understand the reality of demons and curses and the need for deliverance. I have just written a book on this subjectóbecause it is needed and neglected by so manyóbut I have also learned that some abuse this subject and get unbalance. They may be a Christian for a long time, but I see very little spiritual growth in their lives. They are still a baby wanting someone else to feed them, pray over them, and basically become their spiritual parent. There must come a time when they grow up and take authority over the devil and start praying for others instead of concentrating on themselves and their problems.

Put everything in their mouths

Not every quality of a baby Christian is positive. There are some negative traits to be wary of as well. For example, babies have a tendency to put everything in their mouths. If they see a spider or bug they will try to grab it and put it into their mouths. They think everything belongs in their mouths. Their hunger for food and curiosity about things puts them at risks. This is why Paul warned infants in Christ about false teaching. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

Newborns in the Lord are often gullible. They think that everyone who says they believe in the Bible is teaching the truth. They donít realize many twist the scriptures or deny certain parts of the Bibleólike tongues, miracles and healing. You need to be cautious about what you put into your spiritual stomach. Donít receive everything. Test the teaching to see if it lines up with the Word of God.

There are sectarians who try to draw away people from the body of Christ with scare tactics. They warn you that unless you are part of their group, you may not be saved. They tell you unless they baptize you that you will not be saved. Forget those folks. They donít know what they are talking about.

Then there are teachers who try to divide the body of Christ. They will warn you to stay away from certain ministers. Yet, they are overly judgmental. I call them heresy hunters. The truth is we are never going to agree on everything, but God wants us to come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God. We will not become united in our personalities.

We all have distinctive personalities. Churches have distinctive personalities too, but these differences should not cause division. When you have teachers who try to exploit these differences then be warned.

I get email from people all the time accusing me of teaching heresy, because overly critical people will take certain teachings and exploit the differences of my beliefs with others and exaggerate the teachings to bring division.

You must be careful of those who are overly judgmental. If you are not careful they will impart to you their judgmental attitudes and you will have a difficult time getting along with other sincere believers.

The greatest characteristic of a mature believer is their love for others. If you want to reach maturity in the Lord, then you will have to feed your spirit good, solid teaching from biblical balanced and loving ministers.

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