Sent: Monday, January 21, 2002 12:

Subject: Steps to Christian Maturity

Good Morning Ethan & Emily:

Ephesians 2: 8 – 9 makes it very clear that we are saved by God’s grace and not works.  But this doesn’t mean that once saved, we are to lie back and set our lives on autopilot.  In fact, as we have studied in previous devotions, if we have by faith received God’s gift of grace through Jesus Christ by faith, then as we grow and mature as Christians, our lives will produce good works, reflecting outwardly what has happened on the inside.

The Book of James if very clear about this…read it carefully, and don’t let anyone mislead you about “works” having any part in our salvation!  If that were true, Jesus died in vain and we strip Him of His deity.  Moreover, this exalt the power and authority of man to save Himself…which is a slap in God’s face.

But although we are saved by grace, living the Christian life day by day requires hard work and conscious application of the truths God has revealed to us.  Peter gives clear emphasis to this when he tells the early church Christians:  “So, dear friends, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen.”  (2 Peter 1: 10) 

Earlier in this passage, in referring to all that Jesus has given us when we believe, he summarized:  “So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life.” (v. 5)

What promises are he talking about?  These were described in the previous paragraph:  “As we know Jesus better, His divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life…And by that same mighty power, He has given us all of His rich and wonderful promises.  He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in His divine nature.”  (vv 3 – 4)

Did you catch that?  That we will escape from evil and share His divine nature!  Now that’s something worth working for!

Peter then goes on to say that as we “make every effort” to allow His power to work in and through us, “your faith will produce a life of moral excellence.” (v. 5)  This doesn’t just “happen”…it takes “every effort” and “hard work,” but it is worth it.  Just follow the progression here that follows our efforts to apply our faith daily:

1.  Your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. (2 Peter 1: 5)   “Cleaning up” our lives definitely takes work…it doesn’t just happen….but this is the first step after faith in starting your Christian growth.

2.  A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. (v. 5)  We will never get to know God better if is our lives are a moral “mess.”  

3.  Knowing God leads to self-control (v. 6)  We all want to know how to resist sinning.  The secret?…get to know God better and the problem will take care of itself.

4. Self-control leads to patient endurance (v. 6)  This will help you as you learn to “wait patiently” for God to show you what He is doing in your life.

5.  And patient endurance leads to godliness (v. 6)  No one could compliment you more that to say you are a godly man or woman!   And with godliness come many blessings!

6.  Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and (v. 7)

7.  You will grow to have genuine love for everyone. (v 7)  And thereby, we share and understand better the love of God for us.

8.  The more you grow like this, the more you will become productive and useful in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (v. 8)  So, now you know how to make your life “count” for Christ and have major impact on those around you!

9.  You will never stumble or fall away (v. 10)  Something definitely to be avoided.  It is the “stumbling” and “falling” caused by our sinning that causes so much grief and pain in our lives.

10.  And God will open wide the gates of heaven for you to enter into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (v. 11)   The ultimate and best destination in all the universe…and it’s prepared for you!

With God the Holy Spirit as your guide and with the power He provides…take your life off autopilot, get your hands on the steering wheel of your life, and start making decisions and taking action that will take you on the road to Christian maturity.

Have a wonderful day.