Spiritual Maturity: The Process to Christ's Likeness
Spiritual maturity is not the norm in our society today. Many believers do not manifest in their lives, the marks of spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity is marked by knowing how to handle problems and apply right principles from the Bible to every circumstance of life. We have three great enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. They seek to hinder us from glorifying God. These enemies do not want us to apply truth to our lives. They desire to enslave us to the circumstances of life and prevent our spiritual growth. We overcome these enemies as we maintain our fellowship with God, through daily operating in His power. When we are living in God’s power we think as Christ thought. When we’re tested to go independently of God, we value what Christ valued (the Father’s will). When tempted to fear, we handle problems as Christ handled problems, with confidence and obedience.
Spiritual maturity is an aspect of the believer’s sanctification called experiential sanctification, in which the believer becomes more set-apart unto God daily.  How do we reach spiritual maturity? How do we accomplish the mission set before us in the plan of God? How do we glorify God in every area of our lives and reap great blessings? How do we break from our old way of thinking and how we do things to God’s way of thinking? We are in the devil’s world to glorify our Savior.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden…Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Farther who is in heaven (Mat 5:14a, Mat 5:16).
It should be the daily aim of every believer to advance to spiritual maturity whereby he begins to manifest Christ’s character in any and every circumstance of life. When those around us see that we respond to trials with confidence in God, and temptations with obedience, God is glorified. When God is glorified in every circumstance of our lives we reap fantastic blessing in time and eternity (1Co. 2:9). Spiritual maturity is not something that happens instantly the moment we trust Christ as savior. Because of the world, the indwelling sin-nature, and the devil, it is a daily gradual process of development. It is daily depending on the provisions that God has made available.
The two power options God has given believers to fulfill his plan is the power of the Holy Spirit, and the power of the Word of God. There are many ideas and methodologies on how we obtain spiritual maturity. Are these ideas and methodologies Biblical?
In this study, we will examine tools that God has made available for every believer to fulfill His plan for their lives. This study is important because if we do not operate in God’s power we will not reach the goal of spiritual maturity. Thus, we will not glorify God in time and we will miss out on fantastic blessings.
The Process to Spiritual Maturity
Salvation- The Potential for Growth
The moment an unbeliever puts his entire trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as his savior he is born again. The Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer and bring about a new creation in the believer (2Co 5:17). He has been brought into a family relationship with God (Gal 3:26) and now has the power and potential to reach spiritual maturity.
Divine Power for Spiritual Growth
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit after His coming on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). This is not an emotional experience. Every believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit whether you feel like you do or not. The word of God teaches that every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and not just a selective few (Joh 7:37-39; Act 11:16-17; Rom. 5:5; 1Co. 2:12; 2Co. 5:5). It is a gift from God and not because of works. So no matter if you have sinned as a believer you are still indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Charles Ryrie says:
“The acid test of whether or not the Spirit indwells all believers is whether or not He lives in sinning Christians. Clearly He does. 1Co 6:19 was written to a very spiritually mixed group, some fine, spiritual group, but many who were carnal and worldly; yet Paul did not say that only the spiritual group were indwelt by the Spirit.” “
All believers have the potential to grow to spiritual maturity and manifest Christ like character in any and every circumstance. We must allow the Holy Spirit to control our lives in order to grow to spiritual maturity.
Therefore putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (1Pe 2:2 NASB).
We put aside sins in our lives by naming those sins unto God. The promise for forgiveness is found in 1 John 1:9. Once God cleans us of sin the Holy Spirit then controls us and helps us understand and apply the Word of God. Spiritual maturity is not easy, it’s a discipline. The believer must resist the temptation to think, do, and say things that do not bring God glory.
The Battle for control
The Filling of the Holy Spirit
The filling of the Holy Spirit is the opposite of drunkenness. When a person is drunk with wine he is under its influence and makes bad decisions. The Holy Spirit helps you concentrate and give you mental focus as you seek to learn and apply the Word of God. The believer is to be:
Two Facets of the Filling of the Holy Spirit
There seems to be two facets to Spirit filling. The first may be described as a sovereign act of God whereby He possesses someone for special activity. It occurs in Luk 1:15 (John the Baptist), Luk 1:41(Elizabeth), Luk 1:67 (Zacharias); Act 2:4 (the group on the Day of Pentecost); (Peter), Luk 1:31 (the believers); Luk 9:17 (Paul); and Luk 13:9 (Paul). The second facet of the Spirit filling may be described as the extensive influence and control of the Spirit in a believer’s life. It evidences an abiding state of fullness rather than the specific event. It produces a certain character of life and seems to be a close synonym to spirituality. It is indicated by the Greek word plere or pleroo pneumatos agiou. It occurs in Luke 4:1 (Christ); Act 6:3, 6:5 (the first helpers of the apostles); (Stephen); Act 11:24 (Barnabas); Act 13:42 (the disciples); and in Eph 5:18 (believers). 
God’s objective for the believer’s life after salvation is that he advances to spiritual maturity. It is through the Word of God learned, believed, and applied that we advance to spiritual maturity. Peter writes:
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. (2Pe 3:18 NASB)
Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation (1Pe 2:2a NASB).
Sins in the believer’s life whether in thought, word, or deed hinder the growth process. You can not learn the Word of God without the power to do so. The Holy Spirit is the teacher of truth. Our Lord Jesus Christ said:
But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. (Joh 14:26 NASB)
Therefore the Apostle Paul writes:
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:30)
The Word of God
The mind for Spiritual Growth
The first priority in the Christian life is to find a pastor who is fully trained to teach doctrine. In The pastor’s job is to give instruction, principles, and procedures from the Word of God for living the spiritual life. In order for use to really be effective in our witnessing to the world we must know Christ and. In In every aspect of life, knowledge comes before service, action or production. The coach can’t expect his players to work effectively without first teaching them the basics of the game. The pastor’s job is to give instruction, principles, and procedures from the Word ofGod for living the spiritual life. To really be effective in our witnessing to the world we most know Christ and His work on the cross. God provides the gift of pastor-teacher, the power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and the local church so believers can grow in grace and represent our Savior.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (2Ti 3:16-17).
The Word of God was given to us by God for our profit. This verse tells us in what ways the whole ream of God’s Word is beneficial:
We are to learn the Word of God in the Power of the Holy Spirit. Then we will learn how to think in any and every circumstance.
“The goal of Bible Study is not simply to determine what it says and what it means, but to apply it to one’s life. Bible Study is an intellectual pursuit in which we seek understanding of what God says. But Bible study must go beyond that to include spiritual discipline, in which we seek to put into practice what we read and understand. Heart appropriation, not merely head apprehension, is the true goal of Bible study. Only in this way can believers grow spiritually. Spiritual maturity, in which we become more like Christ, comes not just from knowing more about the Bible. It comes from knowing more about the Bible and applying it to our spiritual needs.”
When our Lord Jesus Christ was tempted by the devil to act independently of His father these were His Words:
It is written, “Man Shall NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVER WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD” (Mat. 4:4).
Likewise, when we are tempted to act independent of God and disobey Him we need to think the Word of God and apply it to experience. The issue in spiritual growth is humility. Humility is a way of thinking that is free from arrogance. It is the way of life which submits to legitimate authority and responds to the Word of God obeying its commands. Paul writes:
Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves (Rom. 13:1-2).
Governing authorities can be your parents, your boss, police officers, pastor- teachers, and the highest authority which is the God of the Bible. Authority has the right to give you a command. We are not to obey any authority that tries to organize us to go against the Word of God. We understand from the Word of God that we are to obey those in authority. Our Lord Jesus Christ obeyed the authority of His parents when they found Him in the temple (Luk 2:51). God’s plan for our lives is that we be like Him in every facet of our being (thought, words, actions).
The believer who obeys the Word of God in all circumstances is growing to spiritual maturity and is a humble person. He is growing in His commitment to God.
But prove yourselves doers of the Word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (Jam 1:22)
But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does (Jam 1:25).
Apostle Paul gives us an example of application of the mind of Christ when he wrote:
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY, says the Lord. BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS UPON HIS HEAD. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:19-21).
We understand from the word of God that even if someone wrongs us, we are not to take matters in our own hands. God sees everything. When someone wrongs us it is an opportunity to follow Christ’s example. He prayed for those who crucified him (Luk 23:34). Stephen followed Christ’s example while being put to death:
Lord do not hold this sin against them! (Act 7:60)
The Apostle John writes:
We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or with tongue, but in deed and truth (1Jo 3:16-18).
Many believers are ignorant of doctrine. They go to churches that tickle their ears (2Ti. 4:3). Among those few who teach sound doctrine, there is little application. Some doctrinal Churches are missing application and not knowledge of scripture. Many know much about the Bible but apply so little of it. The Christian church needs to focus more on a personal relationship with God whereby we cherish His word and seek to apply it to every area of our lives. Knowledge of your responsibilities as a Christian is not what produces spiritual maturity but making the choice to apply the Word of God to life situations.
In conclusion, we see that it is God’s power that produces spiritually mature Christians. God makes the provisions for spiritual growth and our part is to utilize what he has provided. God has provided a local church, pastor- teachers, the Bible, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The believer needs not to depend on any system that leaves the dependence on the Holy Spirit and the Word of God out. The believer in Jesus Christ is to maintain the filling of the Holy Spirit and think the Word of God in all circumstances of life, and; apply its truths to the problem. This is the true process to spiritual maturity.
 Experiential sanctification is a process by which the Holy Spirit is conforming the believer more and more to the likeness of Jesus Christ.
 The sin-nature is the corrupt nature passed to mankind genetically through Adam that tempts us to commit personal sin. Sin comes in three categories: thought, word, and deed. We all were born sinners because we all have the sin-nature at birth. The sin-nature tries to prevent spiritual growth.
 Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology, (1999)
 Carnal is from, the Greek sarx, meaning flesh. It is the opposite of being spiritual. Sarx covers that domain of our fallen nature made subject to vanity in which sin springs up (Rom. 7:18). The believer is carnal when he sins and does not confess His sin. His deprave nature controls him.
 Ryrie, Charles C. Basic Theology, (1999)pp.434
 Lexical Aid to the New Testament, Compiled and edited by Spiros Zodhiates, NASB Hebrew- Greek Key Word Study Bible (Chattanooga, AMG)
8 Gene Cunningham, The Basics, ( Hot Springs: Basic Training Bible Ministries), 1988-89) pp.54,55
 Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation, (Colorado Springs: Victor, 1991) pp.13