Spiritual maturity, or spiritual formation, is God’s call to every believer (Ephesians 4:11-16). We are “no longer to be children,” but are to “grow up in all aspects into him who is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-15).
Five key areas are essential to the development of spiritual maturity:
First, biblical knowledge. No verse better sums up the reason we need to know Scripture than II Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”. Based upon that verse, we find our charge as Christians in II Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”
Second, godly character. In chapters such as Matthew 5-7, I Corinthians 13, and Romans 12, we find entire dissertations on the nature of a godly life. Yet Galatians 5:22-23 captures the whole: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Third, sanctified mind. As we work out our salvation, it touches all parts of us, and the mind is key. Colossians 3:2 states simply, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” And Romans 12:2 exhorts us to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Fourth, spiritual discernment. In I Thessalonians 5:21-22, we find these closing words: “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” And again in Hebrews 5:14, we find spiritual maturity linked to discernment: “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
Fifth, willing obedience. Jesus stated simply in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
These points can be summed up further: spiritual maturity is living a life characterized by right teaching and right living. The truth of the Bible should be demonstrated in every area of our lives: in our thoughts, our speech, our hearts, and our actions. When we do so, we will truly achieve “the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).