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Chapter 11 - The Process of Christian Maturity
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: - Ephesians 4:14-15
We have seen that the process of dying to self and selfishness starts with the perception of the truth of who God is and in contrast, who we are.
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: - Matthew 3:11
The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. - Matthew 8:8
We can see that the only honest reaction to truth is humility. It is at this point where God is able to work in us with his grace.
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. - James 4:6
The grace of God is often only thought of as the initial saving faith we have to first trust in Jesus. We need to consider how critical this continuing grace is to live the Christian life.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; - Titus 2:11-12
As we are guided by the Holy Spirit and surrender ourselves to his work in us, we should begin to see some of the change that happens as the flesh is no longer fed. One way to measure the degree to which we have achieved selflessness is to measure the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. - Galatians 5:22-23
The work of the Spirit in us is hindered by the free reign we give to our flesh;
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would - Galatians 5:16-17
Dying to self is hindered by that of the flesh to which we hold. It can be helpful to inventory those things to which we cling that hinder (or quench) the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
Christian maturity can sometimes parallel physical maturity. Those who are young often have enthusiasm and ambition that propel them into various learning experiences. As the years pass stability becomes a more prominent feature. With age a gradual disconnection from striving and contention precedes the culmination of a life. Sometimes the surrender of self only occurs when it becomes obvious that self cannot continue.
A life lived in selfless love concludes with earthly emptiness, but heavenly rewards.
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