What is spiritual maturity? Simply put, it’s the opposite of carnality. A spiritually mature person has Christlike character and is able to lead others to obtain it as well. Sadly, carnality is prevalent in many churches because spiritual maturity is not encouraged or enabled. There are 8 steps to spiritual maturity. The journey begins with a desire to grow in godliness, and a willingness to obey God’s word.
The apostle Paul gave a scathing rebuke to the church at Corinth over their carnal behavior. In 1Corinthians chapter 3, he describes them as babes in Christ because they were given to envy, strife, and division, walking as if they were still lost sinners. This gives us clues as to what spiritual immaturity is, and what to avoid if we want to be mature Christians.
Some key elements of spiritual growth are faith, humility, obedience, a teachable spirit, and submission to God’s authority. If those qualities are absent from our hearts, then spiritual growth will be impossible. The prideful person will remain a childish Christian.
Unlike physical growth, spiritual growth doesn’t just happen naturally. We have to take intentional steps to spiritual maturity.
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Characteristics of Spiritual Maturity
Oswald Chambers said that “spiritual maturity is not reached by the passing of years, but by obedience to the will of God.” In other words, it doesn’t matter how long you have been saved, if you don’t obey God’s will, then you’re not going to grow into a spiritually mature Christian.
God’s will is laid out in His Word. Soak up the scriptures and put them to practice, and you will grow. The many Bible verses about growing spiritually show the emphasis God places on our spiritual growth. He accepts us where we are in life at salvation, but wants us to progress toward Christ-likeness. Not remain immature babes in Christ.
7 Signs of Spiritual Maturity
So how do we know we are growing in the Lord? There are ways to tell the spiritually mature from the immature. We should examine our lives to see where we are with our growth in godliness. And we should look for these qualities in the Christians we fellowship with and follow as spiritual mentors.
7 Signs of Spiritual Maturity:
- Fruitful. A spiritually mature person has the fruit of the Spirit evident in their life. The immature person’s life is full of the works of the flesh. Galatians 5:19-23
- Faithful. Faithfulness is a sign of spiritual maturity because it proves loyalty to Christ that withstands the test of time and trials.
- Filtered mind and mouth. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:11 that “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Marks of maturity seen in this verse are discernment and discretion. Where our mind goes, our mouth speaks. To have filtered words we have to filter our thoughts.
- Faith-filled. A spiritually mature person is not just faithful, but also faith-filled. They overflow with strong faith that inspires and encourages others to trust God.
- Forgives freely. Withholding forgiveness and harboring bitterness is a trademark of the immature Christian. But a sign of spiritual maturity is forgiving even when the hurt runs deep.
- Focuses on the eternal. Instead of concentrating on the things that are seen and temporary, a spiritually mature person has an eternal perspective. They understand that this world is not all there is, and they live with eternity in mind.
- Feeds others the Word of God. A spiritually mature person invests in others and constantly points people to the truth found in the Bible. They know that a biblical worldview is essential to spiritual growth. And they encourage others to get in the Word for themselves and take steps to spiritual maturity.
8 Steps to Spiritual Maturity
Are you curious about how to grow in spiritual maturity? There are some specific steps to take to develop Christlike character and be a mature Christian. These are basic disciplines of our faith that when consistently applied boost our spiritual growth and develop wisdom.
If one is missing from your life, your spiritual growth will be stunted!
Here are 8 steps to spiritual maturity.
- Study the Bible.
- Be an active member of a local church.
- Discover and use your spiritual gifts.
- Disciple others.
- Fellowship with mature believers.
- Abide in Christ.
- Study the Bible – 2 Timothy 2:15 Reading the Bible is absolutely essential to our spiritual growth. The Word of God renews our minds and transforms us from babes in Christ to those that can handle the meaty doctrines. (Romans 12:1-2, Hebrews 5:11-14) But just reading and processing the Word isn’t enough to really mature us. Studying the Bible is necessary for us to understand deep doctrine so that we can teach it to others, thereby growing in spiritual maturity.
- Pray – Philippians 4:6-7 Worry can hinder our spiritual growth, because it indicates a lack of faith. The spiritually mature Christian has strong confidence in the Lord’s ability to work all things out together for good. So to grow in spiritual maturity, believers must pray about everything and worry about nothing. It won’t be easy, because worry is a natural response to difficulties, but consistency is key. The more you let go and let God take over, the more you grow in faith and become spiritually mature.
- Be an active member of a local church – Ephesians 4:11-16 There are some great parachurch organizations out there. In fact, I love the Revive Our Hearts ministry, led by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, and listen to her podcast regularly. But that’s in addition to my regular church attendance. Being an active member of the local church provides accountability, structure, fellowship, ministry opportunities, and teaching. It’s where you will be edified and equipped, inspired and instructed in the ways of the Lord. Not just attending though. To advance your spiritual maturity, you have to take that step of commitment and become a member. A member with a servant’s heart. Someone who takes steps to spiritual maturity and doesn’t come to church with a consumer mentality. But rather, looks for a way to help in a ministry of the church and gets involved.
- Discipleship – 2 Timothy 2:2, Titus 2:3-5 Biblical discipleship is a major step to spiritual maturity. This is where we submit ourselves to the authority of a mature Christian, who helps us learn and apply the word of God. We grow spiritually by following their example of spiritual maturity. Many times discipleship happens through involvement in your local church ministries and classes.
- Discover and use your spiritual gifts – Ephesians 4:11-16 At salvation, God gave each one of us a spiritual gift. That is the unique way the Holy Spirit works in and through us, by the grace of God. When we discover our spiritual gifts and use them to edify the body of Christ, then we grow in faith, character, and wisdom. The spiritually mature Christian will humbly exercise their spiritual gifts for the good and growth of others, and for the glory of God, not with selfish or prideful motives.
- Disciple others – 2 Timothy 2:2, Titus 2:3-5 Not only do we grow when we learn from a more mature Christian, but we also develop the character of Christ as we take younger believers under our wing and teach them biblical principles. Discipling others is such a blessing. It is just delightful to see younger believers walking in victory and growing in their faith because someone intentionally invested in them, through discipleship.
- Fellowship with mature believers – 2 Corinthians 6:14, Ephesians 5:11 When we have fellowship with mature believers we are inspired to be more mature ourselves. If we desire spiritual growth, then we have to surround ourselves with people who will help us be more like Jesus, instead of those who drag us down or cause us to drift away.
- Abide in Christ – John 15:4-5 Jesus tells us that if we want to be fruitful (reach spiritual maturity), then we must abide in Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing, but with Jesus, we can do anything! That includes making choices that cultivate Christlikeness, instead of choosing things that contribute to carnality. Abiding in Christ is cleaving to Him, staying in His presence, walking in His will, and following His ways. This is an essential step to spiritual maturity.
What Steps to Spiritual Maturity Are You Taking?
Spiritual maturity is attainable, but it takes action on our part. It’s not a passive thing. We have to be intentional to invest in our spiritual growth on a daily basis. That requires diligence and discipline.
Our decisions either spur our spiritual growth or squelch it. Let’s choose to take these steps to spiritual maturity, today! Just to recap, they are: study the bible, pray, be an active member of a local church, discipleship, discover and use your spiritual gifts, disciple others, fellowship with mature believers, and abide in Christ.
Are there more than these 8 steps to spiritual maturity you would add to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Use this FREE printable 8 Steps to Spiritual Maturity Checklist to guage your progress in growing as a disciple of Christ. Record your thoughts and plans of action in the Notes section.
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And if you’re looking for more premium resources for Bible study and encouragement, you might like to check out the Bible study worksheets and other resources we have on Etsy!
About the Author – Annie McGuire
Annie is the writer behind Daily His Disciple, where she encourages women to walk in the wisdom of God’s Word daily. Despite her battle with chronic pain and illness, Annie is a Bible teacher and ministry leader. She is also a pastor’s wife, mom of four, and “Granny” to two.