Sunday, February 26, 2012

SIGNS of a MATURING CHRISTIAN: Spiritual Growth Series: Learn to Discern

 SIGNS OF A MATURING CHRISTIAN
Spiritual Growth Series Lesson 1: Learn to Discern
* Updated 2015

When you meet someone who claims to be spiritual, do as the Apostle Paul instructed to "test and weigh everything" (1 Thess 5:12; 1 Cor 14:29; 1 John 4:6). Look for Spiritual fruit in their life (as in Galatians chapter 5).You may also use these scriptures to test yourself as well.

Question 1: "Is this person   ________?" & "Am I  ________?"

1) Are they/we... LED BY AND FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD? Or are they/we living by rash and fleshly impulses?
Exodus 35:31 And He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship;"
Micah 3:8 On the other hand I am filled with power— With the Spirit of the LORD— And with justice and courage To make known to Jacob his rebellious act, Even to Israel his sin."
Luke 1:15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb." 
Luke 4:17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the [f]book and found the place where it was written,18 “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, 19 TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD."
Romans 8:14 "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God."
Galatians 5:18 "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."
Luke 1:67 "And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied," 
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.
Acts 9:17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “ Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,"

2)  Are they/we... BEARING THE FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT?  Or are they/we exhibiting hatred, malice, selfishness, and rage?

Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who [k]belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
 Galatians 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Luke 6:43 "For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, [z]on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they pick grapes from a briar bush. 45 The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart."

John 15:8 "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples."



                                Question 2: "Does this person  ________?" & "Do I  ________?"


3) Do they/we... SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD before their (MY) own interests? Or are they/we self centered?

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
Luke 9:23 "Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."
Colossians 3:2 "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things."


4) Do they/we... BOAST IN THE LORD rather in themselves/ourselves?

  1. Psalm 20:7 "Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God."
  2. Psalm 34:2 "My soul will make its boast in the LORD; The humble will hear it and rejoice.

5) Do they/we... PRESENT THEIR/OUR LIVES TO GOD?
Do they/we truly submit to God and His Word, the Bible?

Romans 12:1 "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."

Romans 6:13 "Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness."

1 Corinthians 6:20 "...you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies."


6) Do they/we... CORRECTLY HANDLE THE WORD OF TRUTH? 
Do they/we want to receive revelation and wisdom from God to interpret His Word correctly?

2 TIMOTHY 2:15 "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."   

John 8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “ If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;"
Acts 17:11 "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

1 Corinthians 14:29 "Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said."


7) Do they/we... HAVE CHRIST'S CHARACTER or not?  Note: Spiritual fruit is evidence of holy character in the inner man.

Philippians 2:1 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,… 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

8) Are they/we... PRESSING ON TO THE NEXT STEP IN THEIR (MY) SPIRITUAL JOURNEY or stuck in apathy?
Philipians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 4:15 "…but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,"

Hebrews 12:11 "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;"

Hebrews 6: 1 "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do, if God permits."


Conclusion 1: The Holy Spirit can give us "discernment" as Paul wrote, and help us "know them by their fruits" (Matt 7:16) as Jesus said.

1 Cor 12:7-11 "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits…All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines."


Conclusion 2: Sometimes the Lord simply reveals to us whether someone is trustworthy or not, or in "truth or error" (1 John 4:6)  through a gift or through proper examining as to how they handle truth.

1 John 4:6 "We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."

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