Summary: It is the study, application and expression of the Word of God that leads to a Christ-centered life. In general, the Christian church, even though growing in number, is shrinking in depth of Spiritual Comprehension and Discernment.
We’ve looked at the need for every Believer to "earnestly contend for the Faith, once for all delivered to the Saints". To do so, we need to recognize and resist false doctrine.
Unless we can recognize and do resist false doctrine, it will not be long until we, ourselves, will be caught-up in the some form of false doctrine. Once we are involved with false doctrine in one way or another, we cannot follow the command to "earnestly contend for the Faith once for all delivered to the Saints".
Being able to both recognize false doctrine and contend for true doctrine is part of the process known as, among other terms, Christian Maturity. There are MANY traits needed, in the life of a Christian, to bring about Christian Maturity.
It always scares me when I make a list of Spiritual qualities, for several reasons…
(1) Some may think that the list is complete and there is nothing more to add
(2) Some may think that those items on the list are of greater or lesser importance, depending on where they appear in the list
(3) Some may have a different understanding or definition of the terms used
However, the teaching benefits of a "list" outweigh the downsides. So here goes another list…
Please keep in mind that none of these "traits" of Spiritual Maturity are static. Nor do you achieve any one of these traits by a single act. You can lose any one of these qualities, so fast that it will make your head spin, unless you are in a constant state of using them and experiencing them in balance with each other.
Hebrews 5:11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
If I were to (and I will) name and number these traits of Spiritual Maturity, the ability to recognize false doctrine and contend for true doctrine could be termed as…
(1) Spiritual Understanding and Comprehension
In our study, we also looked at another trait of Spiritual Maturity and that trait could be called…
(2) Spiritual Discernment
A person can be very knowledgeable in the human realm and have great discernment of physical and business matters, and yet have very little, if any, Spiritual Comprehension or Discernment, and the opposite is also true.
To acquire these traits, in the human realm, involves training, experience and the development of an expertise in these matters, along with many other things. That process is ALSO needed in the Spiritual realm. That is why I’ve put comprehension and understanding of Spiritual matters at the first of the list.
There is a very low possibility of developing any of the other traits of Christian Maturity, unless we have a overall understanding of the truths of the Word of God. As a matter of fact, it requires even more that a "simple" understanding of the Biblical facts.
There must be a "comprehension" of those facts and how those facts fit and are integrated into God’s eternal plan. We could look at a number of passages indicating the NEED of such a process. The passage in Hebrews 5 , that we just looked at, is one of those passages. For our study, let’s expand the context of the passage a little.
Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He (God the Father) who said to Him: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You." 6 As He (God the Father) also says in another place: "You (Christ) are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"; 7 who, in the days of His (Christ) flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him (God the Father) who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, 8 though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, 10 called by God as High Priest "according to the order of Melchizedek," 11 of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing…