Summary: Maturity is the goal for every believer, but these common myths may keep us from attaining it!
COLOSSIANS 3: 9-14
1. Illus. of game called “Sweetlicks.”
• Big console with 15-20 holes. At random times, a cartoon character head would pop us out of the hole for a second or two. Object of the game was to use foam rubber bat to knock them back down again.
• Problem was, while you were knocking one head back down, two others would pop up, etc.
• Finally gave up trying to play. It was just too aggravating!
2. Does it ever seem to you that the Christian life is like that? We decide we need to work on one aspect of it, like, “I’ll be more humble next week.” The problem is, while we are working on humility, two or three areas pop up over here that we thought we had under control! When we leave humility to work on those, two other old areas of self rear their ugly head! If that’s ever happened to you, I want you to listen carefully today. Paul is going to tell us about one thing we can focus on that will correct a whole slue of problem areas in our lives!
3. Last week we talked about some of the old habits we are to put off. This week let’s talk about the new habits and attitudes the well dressed Christian is to put on. Let me make some general statements about these new habits and attitudes:
They can be divided into 4 categories: how to relate to others, how to see ourselves, how to act when others wrong you, the attitude of the disciple.
Jesus is the ultimate example of what these new habits and attitudes look like. Jesus acted exactly like this!
God does not want you to say, “well today I’m going to kind, humble, meek, longsuffering, etc.” Why? It won’t work! Try it tomorrow with your spouse. I’ll guarantee you’ll be sleeping in separate beds tomorrow night!
Instead, God wants you to focus on becoming Christlike. As you do, you will automatically become more kind, humble, meek, longsuffering etc. See vs 10. Key
4. What I want to talk about is spiritual growth (or Christlikeness, or sanctification, or spiritual maturity). The only way we will become more like the text is to become more like Jesus!
5. Thesis: The reason many Christians are not growing spiritually is that they don’t understand how to measure spiritual growth. Because they are evaluating themselves with the wrong measuring stick, they mistakenly think they are growing when in reality they are not!
6. What are some of these misunderstandings about spiritual growth that may actually keep us from growing spiritually? Let’s talk about three of them.
MISUNDERSTANDING #1: SPIRITUAL GROWTH IS MEASURED BY HOW LONG YOU’VE BEEN A CHRISTIAN
1. Misunderstanding: “I have been saved for several years. Since I have been a Christian for so long, I must be spiritually mature by this time.”
2. What the Bible says: See Colossians 3:10. IF we are not doing those things that cause us to be renewed according to the image of the one who created us, we are not going to grow in Christ.
3. Folks, the Bible teaches it is entirely possible to be saved for years, and be no more spiritually mature (like Jesus) than you were the day you were saved!
4. Illus. of General Tom Thumb
• Charles Stratton was born in Bridgeport Connecticut in 1838. At first, he appeared to be a small but normal baby. After a short while, it became apparent that something was horribly amiss. You see, he just stopped growing! By the time he was in his late teens he was 2’ 1” tall, and weighed only 17 pounds.
• Fearing he would never be able to make a living in a normal way, Charles joined the P.T. Barnum circus.
• Barnum billed him as General Tom Thumb, the world’s smallest human.
• The Bible indicates that it is possible to be a spiritual Tom Thumb. You can be born into the Kingdom, and appear at first to be a normal spiritual baby. Yet shortly after salvation, you just stop growing. Although many years may pass, you are no bigger spiritually than when you were first saved.
5. Truth: Spiritual growth is intentional. You have to want to grow, you want to decide to grow, and you have to develop the habits that will produce spiritual growth!
6. What kind of habits will produce spiritual growth for the Christian? Let’s look at the infant church, and see the habits they practiced that produced such phenomenal spiritual growth. See Acts 2:42, 46. (Note the words stedfastly…daily…)
A habit of Bible teaching and personal Bible study (apostle’s doctrine).
A habit of corporate and private prayer (prayers).