Lesson 3 book of james – Growing to Spiritual Maturity
Lesson 3 Book of James – Growing to Spiritual Maturity means growing to be like Christ. In Lesson 2 from the Book of James we saw James lay out a sequential path of growing to spiritual maturity. He carefully laid out 10 points which would lead us to our goal of being like Christ. Peter has a very similar list which leads to spiritual growth.
2 Peter 1:2-9
“I wish you a full measure of grace and peace as you grow in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need to experience life and to reflect God’s true nature through the knowledge of the One who called us by His glory and virtue. Through these things, we have received God’s great and valuable promises, so we might escape the corruption of worldly desires and share in the divine nature.
To achieve this, you will need to add virtue to your faith, and then knowledge to your virtue; to knowledge, add discipline; to discipline, add godliness; to godliness, add affection for others as sisters and brothers; and to affection, at last, add love.
For if you possess these traits and multiply them, then you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with our Lord Jesus the Anointed; but if you don’t have these qualities, then you will be nearsighted and blind, forgetting what your past sins have been washed away.”
2 Peter 1:2-9 The Voice
Knowledge of God leads to Spiritual Maturity
Peter’s desire is that we would ‘grow in the knowledge of God and Jesus and our Lord.’ And, that as we do that, we would obtain a full measure of peace and grace in our lives. This is the process of spiritual maturity. It is the process which women in ministry are living and assisting others toward.
James’ list includes embracing and finding joy in hardships, letting pressure and endurance build your faith and patience, having a single-minded faith that allows you to grow and ask for wisdom.
Growing to Spiritual Maturity is Required to Participate in God’s Divine Power
James started by telling us that we can be mature, complete and wanting nothing. Peter tells us that God’s divine power has given us everything we need to experience life and reflect God’s true nature. He goes as far as to say that we can share in God’s divine nature. What an amazing process
- How would you define “divine nature?”
- Did you realize that you already have God’s divine power?
- Now that you know this, how can you apply it in your life?
Peter starts with the same base as James – faith. He is assuming that you already have this and tells you to add virtue. Now that you have faith, demonstrate it with high moral standards or virtue. Next is knowledge – the knowledge of God. As Paul said, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and [f]the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; ” Philippians 3:10 NASB
How Can You Know God?
What is required to know God? The only way to get to know someone is to spend time with them, talk to them, do things with them, and let them get to know you. How do you do that? Start by talking to Him – praying. Be still and listen. By reading about Him. Talk to others about Him and read His Word. It is a lifelong process. Opening our heart to Him and giving Him all is the first step. Then, you learn to live together! What helps you do that? Peter tells you next.
The next addition is discipline or self-control which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Discipline is orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior or training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character. Discipline is acquired and maintained through practice. As we have seen, faith is a living and active thing. It does things. As we learn and grow, we discipline our hearts, minds, bodies, and spirits. We are conforming ourselves to the image of Christ. Growing to spiritual maturity requires the application of discipline.
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” Romans 8:29 NASB
- What are the areas of discipline you need to work on?
- The Word is also specific about transformed by the renewing of our minds which is the opposite of being conformed to the world? Do you have thoughts that need to be transformed?
- How would you do this? Perhaps learning how to pray is one way. Join a Bible Study group online or with a local group.
Next is godliness. What does that mean? The KJV Dictionary defines it this way: Piety; belief in God, and reverence for his character and laws. A religious life; a careful observance of the laws of God and performance of religious duties, proceeding from love and reverence for the divine character and commands; christian obedience.
When we respect someone, we follow their rules. God’s rules are actually our safeguards. If there is something He does not want us to do, it is because He is protecting us, not depriving us. If He asks us to do something differently, it is also because He is protecting us. Our obedience is completely voluntary because we have free will. We can choose to do what is harmful to us but God’s desire is that we follow Him into all the good and wonderful things He has prepared for us. We choose to be godly.
The next addition is love – love for our brothers and sister. This is the brotherly love expressed in other passages – phileo. Then Peter tells us to add love. This is agape love. It is the kind of love which is active. God gave His only begotten Son because of love. It is love that acts for the good of someone else even if the action is painful to you personally. Jesus is the personification of agape love. It is undeserved and unconditional. He did not want to go to the cross but He did – for us. He endured so that we could be reconciled to the Father. Peter is asking that we not only love each other with brother affection but that we also love with His love which is extended to everyone.
So, here is Peter’s list: And James’ list:
- Faith Faith
- Virtue Embracing and finding joy in hardships
- Knowledge Enduring pressure to allow your faith to blossom
- Discipline Patience
- Godliness Finishing the race
- Brotherly love Single-minded devotion
- Agape Love Leaning on God’s wisdom and not your own
To end, Peter tells us what we can have if we develop these qualities in our lives and what we can have if we fail to do so.
What Does it Mean to Grow to Spiritual Maturity?
If we develop these seven qualities, Peter says this is the result: For if you possess these traits and multiply them, then you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with our Lord Jesus the Anointed;
Read that again carefully. We are being told that we will never be ineffective or unproductive in our relationship with Christ! What an incredible promise. Have you ever felt unproductive and ineffective? I have. There have been times in my life when I felt like a total failure as a Christian, a Mother, a Wife, a Friend, or as a person. What we have to remember is that the truth of this statement is not based on our feelings. That is very hard at times because emotions can land like a tornado on our hearts and minds. A tornado is very hard to ignore! There is no requirement to ignore them. What we have to do is avoid being led by them. We are to led by the Holy Spirit.
“Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.” Romans 8:5 Living Bible
Applying Discipline to our Emotions
That’s where the discipline comes in. We have emotions, feelings, and they are unpredictable. There is no sin in having them. Our problem comes when we allow them to control us. It requires building up your spiritual muscles and endurance. There are circumstances in which emotions may be temporarily overwhelming. I have experienced that with grief as have many others. For a time, the intensity of it overwhelmed me. It was temporary.
It was also productive and effective. I learned some of the most beautiful things in my life through grief. While I felt unproductive and ineffective in the grief, in the end, I found a new level of productivity and effectiveness. There will be times when we simply have to move forward by faith and keep the emotions under control. It is not enough to talk about being disciplined – discipline is action. We must be willing to take action and discipline ourselves. And, women in ministry must be willing to discipline their own lives as an example to others.
The Promises of God
This passage in Peter gives us amazing promises – sharing in God’s power and divine nature, reflecting His true nature, obtaining His promises, escaping the corruption of the world and being effective and productive in our relationship with Christ.
James gave us some of the same incredible promises. We will be mature, complete and wanting nothing! We will have all the wisdom we need because God gives lavishly.
Inward Change Shows Up in Outward Acts of Maturity
As you consider all of this, I pray that is gives you hope. The majority of the work and change that take place for us is inward. We don’t suddenly have halo over our head along with wings and white robe. Others may not see some of the changes. We change our minds and hearts. It may take time for those inner changes to manifest on the outside. There are some that others may never see. Growing to spiritual maturity is primarily an invisible process.
I have always battled fear. Inexplicable, sudden feelings of fear where I tried and tried to find the root cause and could not. No one else saw the battle. Many times it happened at night when I would wake up suddenly afraid. It never reached the level of a panic attack. Over and over I fought it and am now much more able to end it very quickly. However, this is an invisible battle. No one else feels what I feel in the dark. But, I know and am assured that I am productive in dealing with my fear. I have learned how to fight spiritual battles that no one else sees.
There will be areas which others will see or experience. Perhaps you will lay aside a destructive habit. Or you will control your tongue and stop hurting others with careless words. It could be that there will be a new level of kindness and demonstrations of it to your family and others. It can be so many things but you have every reason for hope and faith.
Reread these passages from James and Peter and see what the Holy Spirit says to you about them.
Be blessed as you grow in faith and hope in Christ our Lord.