What does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to be “saved?” The Bible actually answers those questions in several passages including John 14: 6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Also, in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Once a person accepts Jesus Christ, a relationship with begins. Every relationship with God is extremely personal. Each person is on their own journey. We bring our own experiences into our relationship. We have different amounts of knowledge of Spiritual things.
The important thing is to remember that God meets us where we are, and we must not look at others and feel inadequate or superior. The beauty of God is that He speaks to each of us according to how He made us and how we receive Him. It is a personal relationship, and the emphasis is on personal.
It is easy to compare ourselves to others and to feel intimidated or insecure, but we must fight the urge to measure our walk by looking at others!
There is a passage in 1 John that addresses the concept of growing with God…in stages.
1 John 2: 12-14
I am writing to you who are God's children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. I am writing to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I am writing to you who are young in the faith because you have won your battle with the evil one. I have written to you who are God's children because you know the Father. I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong. God's word lives in your heart and you have won your battle with the evil one.
John is addressing the different groups in the church…or the body of Christ. He doesn’t separate them chronologically by their age, but instead, by their levels of spiritual growth. His purpose for each group is to encourage them no matter where they are on their journey. Let’s all receive this for each other. John is encouraging them to not only continue progressing, but to warn them against the temptations that will surely come. No matter where you are in your walk, that is encouragement.
The NKJV Spirit-Filled Bible explains this verse like this, “when a baby is born, biologically he has everything he needs for adulthood. He just has to grow into it.” Think about it…a baby has legs, but he doesn’t know how to walk. He has a mouth, but he doesn’t know how to chew. He has hands, but he can’t pick up a toy.
The same is true with respect to our spiritual growth. The NKJV Spirit-Filled Bible says, “Godly growth is a providential journey of becoming what we already are.”
When we first accept Christ, we ask Him to live in us. We acknowledge we need a Savior. At that moment, we have everything we need for “spiritual adulthood.”
Leviticus 20: 7 and 8 says, “So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the LORD your God. Keep all my decrees by putting them into practice, for I am the LORD who makes you holy.”
When we become a Christian we become Holy. Being holy means being set a part. Now it does not mean we are holier than thou!” It simply means we are set apart.
The verses in Leviticus are a reference to our spiritual growth…our spiritual walk. Consecrate and holy are from the same root word. Another word that has a similar meaning is “sanctify.” The basic concept expressed in these verses is one of being set aside for God’s use and His use only.
Several Bible translations use the word, “consecrate” instead of “set you apart” in verse 7. Either way, it is a command from God, and He goes on to say in verse 8, “I am the LORD who sanctifies or makes you holy.”
What these verses are saying is, “we can become holy because God has declared us so in Christ and has provided the means for our growth in holiness.”
When we accept Christ, we become set apart by God. We have been called out of the world and placed into the body of Christ. This “calling,” this new position directs us to grow in our relationship with God. And the journey begins.
This experience is individual. It is personal. We walk this journey alone. Others can cheer us on. Others can guide, teach, direct, comfort and pray, but ultimately, our walk with Jesus is for us to walk alone with Jesus!
1 John 2: 12, says “I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name’s sake.”
As infants, or little children, we are excited about the newness of a relationship with God. Like a newborn we feed on the milk. The milk is the Word of God. The Bible!
1 Peter 2: 2 and 3, says, “Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord's kindness.”
So as we feed on the milk, as we feed on the Word of God, we realize that there is a lot more to a life with Christ than just the fact that our sins are forgiven.
Some people say, “Jesus is my Savior, but He is not the Lord of my life.” We first learn, Jesus is our Savior, and our sins are forgiven, but as we read and study the Word of God, as we grow spiritually, as we move beyond our infancy into young adult lives we begin to understand Him in a new way. Ultimately, He will become the Lord of our lives.
1 John 2: 13, “I am writing to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I am writing to you who are young in the faith because you have won your battle with the evil one.”
It is interesting to note that John goes from infants or children and jumps to the fathers. He begins figuratively from those who know God the least and goes directly to those who know God the best.
We all have things to learn regardless of how long you have journeyed in your relationship with God. We will always need further instruction and guidance. We never arrive with respect to our knowledge of the Lord. When you come across someone who looks like they have so much knowledge and experience, remind yourself that that have a lot to learn too!
John then speaks to the young men, those that are in the middle and he says, “Because you have overcome the wicked one.” He says that twice.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says: “This is a wicked one that is continually warring against souls, and particularly against the disciples: but those that are well taught in Christ’s school can handle their arms and conquer the evil one, and those that can conquer him may be called to conquer the world too, which is so great an instrument for the devil…let vigorous Christians show their strength in conquering the world; and the same strength must be exerted in overcoming the world as is employed in overcoming the devil.”
The truth is we are all disciples in Christ. The truth is there IS a wicked one who is continually warring against souls. We see it all around us…he is attacking our families with dissension and divorce, with diseases, with despair and depression. Take heart! Be of good courage…that is what the Bible tells us…and we are going to believe the Bible.
“There is trouble in the world, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world!” John 16: 33 tell us.
“And I who am in you am stronger than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4: 4
The last verse in 1 John 2 that we will look at is verse 14. This is a great goal for our lives!
“I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.”
John says, “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you…”
This is the key to it all. The way we get off the milk and onto the solid food…the way we leave childhood and become Spiritual adults, the way we overcome the wicked one is through the WORD OF GOD. The Bible!
Matthew Henry’s Commentary says:
“The Word of God must abide in the adult disciples; it is the nutriment and supply of strength to them, it is the weapon by which they overcome the wicked one; the sword of the Spirit, whereby they quench his fiery darts: and those in whom the Word of God dwells are well furnished for the conquest of the world.”
Ephesians 6: 10-18:
The Whole Armor of God
“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.”
I want to encourage you to pray these Scriptures for you, for your husband or significant other and for your children…every day. It is a jungle out there, as they say, and it is scary and dangerous, depressing and sometimes disgusting but not for God’s children. It is time to take back what the locusts have eaten. (Joel 2:25) God will help us. We must suit up and put on the whole armor of God.
We also must believe that just like an infant, we have in us right now, already, everything we need for spiritual adulthood. We need to grow into it.