Having experienced the loving grace of our Lord, we understand what God has done for us and how our lives were filled with sin before we knew Christ. It is an awakening or awareness we never had before, which is a wonderful thing. Along with this new awareness comes a desire to follow God’s will and commandments, but the problem is we are still human. We still live in a society that has a completely different set of values than what we read about in our Bibles. This transformation in our thoughts, actions and words is very real once we come to know Christ, however it is something that needs to be cultivated and developed. Turning from our old ways and becoming a mature Christian is not an automatic process and only happens through prayer, studying the Bible and a true commitment to our Lord.
We may have a desire to do the right thing all the time, however it is unrealistic and in our desire to please the Lord, it is easy to feel guilty, thinking we have let Him down. However, go back to the very foundation of our belief. Christ died on the cross because we are sinners. He knows we are weak and I believe He even expects us to fail. In 1John 3:19-20 it talks about how we can be assured that we belong to the truth and put our hearts at rest, because our hearts will condemn us from time to time since we are still sinners. We understand that occasionally we will let God down and we feel remorse, just as those in biblical times did when they failed. However, in these verses it clearly tells us God is greater than our feelings and He knows the intentions of our hearts. In other words, we may have a heavy heart because of our actions, but God knows when we are trying our best and will judge us by the true intentions and desires.
It is truly amazing how God set up this whole process of maturing in faith. He offers us salvation and forgiveness of our sins, gives us new eyes to see and the power to turn from our old sinful ways. Then because He continues to allow us to make our own choices in life, He is always standing beside us to give guidance as we navigate through life. God gives us all the tools we need, but the progress we make through the journey of maturing faith is up to us.
In Ephesians, Paul likens this process to a battle against the spiritual forces of evil and even though he puts it into these terms, it is the tools we are given to mature.
• Belt of truth – Meaning we have been given the knowledge and awareness of what God has done for us and are able to distinguish between right and wrong.
• Breastplate of righteousness – Our sins have been forgiven and we are righteous in the eyes of the Lord.
• Feet are fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace – As we go out into the world, go forward with peace and spread the Word of God by your words, thoughts and actions.
• Shield of faith – Because we still live in this world, the logic of this world will confuse us and we will fall on occasion. Rely on your faith to bring you back to what you now know as the way of the Lord. Draw on your faith to stand firm against the ways of society and turn from evil.
• Helmet of salvation – Once you are armed, you know you can fight the good fight because of the saving grace you have received from our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and that we will live with Him for eternity.
We will not always do the right thing but God is standing ready to forgive us, pick us up and send us on down the narrow path toward maturing faith.
Steve Childers is the author of Catholic or Protestant: What our Churches Should Be Teaching. Visit www.CatholicOrProtestant.com
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