How Do We Grow Spiritually To Adulthood?
"Through God we will do valiantly, for it is HE who shall tread down our enemies." Psalm 60:12 Do you have a weakness, an "enemy" that you have tried and tried and tried to overcome, but cannot? Does it seem like the New Year's resolutions you may have made in the past, you started out with a bang but could only keep them for a short while? When it comes to our weakness concerning sin, we can do no more than with our New Year's resolutions. We see it in ourselves and we determine to overcome it, but we find that we cannot. That's because we were BORN in a fallen human nature. We are PRONE to sin. One may be most weak in a certain area, another in something else, but we are all in the same boat. We are sinners, and we do not have the ability to win over the sin in ourselves. Add to the mix an enemy who knows our weaknesses and who takes advantage of them and drives us with strong temptation ...and we fall. Again, and again, and again. All of us. So what does one do? Is one doomed in his sin forever? Indeed the apostle Paul spoke of this: "For I know that in me - that is, in my flesh - NOTHING GOOD DWELLS; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." Romans 7:18-19 Even the great apostle had the same struggle we all have. No one is exempt. Paul cries out: vs 24: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" And then he comes to the answer: vs 25: "I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" It's the same answer as in the Psalm quoted above: "...for it is HE who shall tread down our enemies." The born again person starts out in all his weakness, and only gradually does he overcome and become adult in his faith. It is the Spirit of God within, not the self effort, that provides the growth. The truly born-again person has surrendered everything to his Lord. And his Lord will be found faithful who will grow him up to adulthood as one who, as he grows, has less and less interest in the carnal things that ruled in him when he began. A baby demands his way. But a loving son matures and gladly depends on his father for everything. It's a process, everything in its time, according to the wisdom of the Father. Does that remove the guilt of sin? Does our inability to overcome our weaknesses justify our sin? No. We are guilty from day one. A young child having a temper tantrum can cause a lot of grief to the father. But the father knows that with proper love and discipline the child will grow out of his childishness, and he looks to the day when maturity will come. And so it is with us. When one is born again, the Lord has his eye on the day when we grow out of our temper tantrums and all the weaknesses and sins that make up our lives. In the meantime, our sins are forgiven because Jesus Christ bore the judgment due them - in our place. Forgiveness is instant: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9 Be quick to confess your sins. Be quick to acknowledge your weaknesses. Be a cooperative child, pleasing the Father as you submit to all the corrections he applies as you grow. Stop the temper tantrums. Stop the demands. Stop trying to get your Father to do what YOU want. If you surrender all to him and COOPERATE with all he sends your way, you will be pleasing to him even when you haven't yet reached maturity. It is the attitude of the heart he's looking for, the attitude of total surrender to the wisest of all Fathers, the attitude of complete faith, the attitude of willing cooperation and repentance as he shows you your sins. THEN you will be a joy to him even in your immaturity.