Faithlife Sermons

Growing and Maturing in Our Faith

Assured: The Book of 1 John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Christian maturity is not based on age or how long you have been a Christian, but how "knowing" God. The more that we "know" God the more we understand forgiveness, the more we overcome the evil one, the more the Word of God lives in us. Christian maturity grows as our love for God grows beyond our love for the world. As we understand how awesome and complete God is the desires of the world pass away.

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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The tale of a man who ages backwards.
He is born an elderly man in body and appearance, but grow younger as the years go by.
One critic says of the movie “a recurring theme in the film is that age is only a number, and that we as people can choose what we do with our lives, no matter what our age is.”
We all know, to some level, that just ain’t true right?
But there is some truth in that statement when we think in terms of our walk with Christ.
Age has only a small amount do to with spiritual maturity.
I have known young adults with deep spiritual maturity and I have known elderly deacons who were more concerned with keeping the church than following Jesus.
Today John is talking about what it looks like to grow up in the faith, to mature in walk with Christ.
This is

Maturing faith is a mark of authentic faith.

There is an underlying assumption from this passage: If you are a Christian you will mature in your faith.
Christian growth is a mark of true faith
Hebrews 5:12–6:1 ESV
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. 1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Hebrews 5:12-6
Ephesians 4:11–14 ESV
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Ephe 4:11-
Even Jesus primarily uses agricultural analogies to help us understand the life of faith.

Stages of Spiritual Growth

1) New Christian (vs. 12, 13c)

Children- Your sins have been forgiven and you know the Father
This is the place all Christians start, when we come to the understanding that our sin separates us from God and we are in need of a savior.
The Jailer and came to this understanding:
Acts 16:30–31 ESV
30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
When you realize you are a sinner and that Jesus is your only hope for salvation
This is the application of
When we receive Jesus, trust Christ for salvation, we are forgiven and “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins.”
In Jesus your sin has been forgiven, atoned for.
Christ becomes our propitiation (took the punishment of our sin on the cross) and our advocate.
And in Christ you have met the Father through Jesus Christ your advocate.
Romans 8:1 ESV
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
becomes true of us:
Romans 8:1 ESV
1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
And, as New believers in Jesus, we are welcomed into the family of God.
becomes true of us:
Romans 8:15 ESV
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Romans 8:14–17 ESV
14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Roman 8 14-17
This is the place ALL Christians start, but it is the place no Christian should stay.
Children are characteristically immature followers of Jesus:
They don’t know what it means to follow Jesus.
They are unfamiliar with the language and disciple of the faith.
They are “tossed to and fro” by thoughts and ideas, but have a deep desire to learn and understand.
I bought a book on prayer shortly after becoming a believer that was all about “Naming it and claiming it”.
They struggle with sin and confidence in their salvation.
This is a wonderful place to be, but not a place to stay.
We need to teach Children to feed themselves, discipline, and foundational things.
We need to help them walk and help them grow.
If you are a new Christian, don’t feel pressure to know everything and do everything right.
Embrace process, engage more mature Christians, and rest in the truths you are discovering in the Word of God.

2) Growing Christian (vs. 13b, 14b)

Young Men- You have overcome the evil one, you are strong, and God’s Word lives in you.
This is a significant part of the life of a Christian, and often difficult to differentiate from Children or Fathers.
Focus mostly on 14b.
How have they overcome the evil one?
Strength - the have the resolve and the power in the Spirit of God to overcome sin and the evil one.
The Word of God abides in you- they engage in the Word of God.
I didn’t put this in there so I can bang the drum more, John put it in there.
If you want to know how to not listen to the lies of Satan then you better start reading the Word.
Ephesians 6:11 ESV
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11–12 ESV
11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6
eph 6 11-12
There is a war going on for our souls and growing Christians accept this truth and begin to engage in the battle.
Ephesians 6:17 ESV
17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
The only offensive weapon listed.
Jesus exemplifies this in
Satan comes to tempt Jesus and in every temptation Jesus overcomes through the Word of God.
Spiritually maturing Christians live in the Word of God.

3) Mature Christian (vs. 13a, 14a)

Fathers- You know him who is from the beginning.
John focuses here on the word “know”
I sign of maturity is a knowledge of God.
If you could see the souls of these Christians they would be like the calloused hands of a seasoned brick layer.
The way they understand the world is like an experienced working beside an experienced carpenter that makes things seems so simple and effortless.
The word “knowledge” is the Greek word “ginṓskō” meaning a familiarity acquired through experience or association.
This is a knowing that is more than knowing ABOUT Christ, it is a knowing like John spoke about in chapter 1.
John isn’t concerned with how long you have been a Christian, but how well do you know Jesus.
Have you leaned on Him through pain and struggles?
Have you rejoiced in Him through joy and triumphs?
Have you sought Him out in the times of feeling lost, and praised Him when His wisdom and kindness leads you through?
Have you fought with Him in prayer?
Have you shared Him with others as He has given you opportunities?
Have you spent time getting to know Him in His Word?
There are some Fathers here today that know God well and there is something missing in your maturity, the passing down of the faith.
We need more Fathers and Mothers in the faith to pass down the faith to the young and childlike.
Read this weekend and may it challenge you to embrace God’s call to pass down the faith.

Maturing Christians Overcome the World

A distinguishing mark of a maturing Christian is in the direction of their affection.
What we love can be clearly seen in how we live.
John presents to opposing affections: Loving the World or Loving the “Will of God”
How we
The “World” here is defined as “an evil organized earthly system controlled by the power of the evil one that has aligned itself against God and his kingdom” NAC
Akin, D. L. (2001). 1, 2, 3 John (Vol. 38, p. 108). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Everything in the World:

1) Pursuing what feels good

1) Pursuing what feels good.

Lust of the Flesh- Living life dominated by the senses.
What sounds good, tastes good, feels good, or looks good?
What brings me satisfaction or gratification now?
And when that doesn’t satisfy any more I will find the next thing.
That is overstated because most in the room do not live like that wholeheartedly, but a quick examination of your life would likely reveal (as it would mine) that we are daily choosing what feels good now rather than what is true and right.\
Spiritual maturity is embracing the better instead of pursuing the temporal pleasure.

2) Settling for the superficial

the lust of the eyes- settling for what looks good rather than embracing what is true.
We live in a world of advertisements, where everything promises to contentment, entertainment, and delight, yet what you get rarely meets expectations.
That new car, house, boat, pair of shoes…will make you happy.
If only you had…then you could be content.
But the ads ALWAYS oversell, and you are, by nature, a horrible judge of what will truly satisfy.
Spiritual maturity is when we embrace the things of Christ for our joy and contentment and recognize the superficiality of the world.

3) Boasting in having and doing

pride of life- chasing after fame, fortune, comfort, and control.
The worldly measure of a successful life is found in what we can accomplish and/or accumulate.
Anthony Davis was asked this week if he was pursuing money or legacy in wanted to leave the Pelicans. He said “I am all about the legacy. The money comes and goes. When I get done playing or leave this earth, what is my legacy going to be?”
AD chose accomplishment as his measure, I would assume someone like Jeff Bezos would choose accumulation.
They used to put a bunch of gold and jewels in the coffins of the great pharohs in Egypt and build these huge structures to communicate their power to the next generations.
But those graves get robbed and the pharoh’s rotted corpses are on display in museums.
The temples they had built are empty monuments to someone who USED TO BE powerful, but is now just DEAD.
Spiritual maturity is finding our significance and value not in what we can accomplish or accumulate, but in what HE has accomplished and what we received because He chose us to be His Child.

Maturing Christians Love God more than the World.

If you want to mature in your faith then you must run hard after Jesus.
They will know you are my disciples
Know Him, love Him, follow Him, and rest in Him.
John is not calling us to asceticism (to being a bunch of prudish monks that never laugh and spend our day praying and reciting bible passages)
He wants each of us to find TRUE LIFE in LOVING Jesus.
And when we seek to love Jesus more we will grow into maturity in our walk with Him.

Response Time

Where are you in the stages of Christian Growth?
Why are you stagnant?
Un-confessed sin?
Undisciplined life?
Embracing worldliness?
Are you even a child?
Trust Christ today, don’t wait.
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