Devotional Reading: Matthew 25:14-29
Lesson Scripture: Philippians 3:12-4:1
Lesson Aims: To understand that spiritual maturity is a process; to recognize that this journey has obstacles; and to remain committed to Christ.
Background: Last week, Paul warned the Philippians about Legalism and Libertinism. The former concentrated on obedience to the Law as the means for a full life. The latter also known as Antinomians, sought to pursue all earthly pleasures while protecting the soul. Paul surmised that all of that was worthless! Remember, he knew about the emptiness of Legalism firsthand. His credentials were without question; however, after Damascus, his life became meaningful because of Christ! Nurturing the relationship with Christ gave him purpose. The trappings of success proved fruitless. His last statement in that lesson was, “That I may know Christ and the power of His resurrection,” he said. Paul was telling them that this is a process that includes study, prayer, self-examination questioning, and a deep commitment to Christ. All of this leads a believer to depend on Him instead of self. A meaningful life is experienced in relationship with Christ and other people!
Lesson: Knowing Christ (spiritual maturity) will not happen overnight and neither does it end. This process begins with Salvation and culminates at death. Even though he hasn’t gotten there yet, he presses on. Hopefully those encouraging words will ignite a spark in the church that keeps them focused. The goals (spiritual maturity and commitment) for which all believers seek takes patience, endurance, and determination. The church has to forget their past (accomplishments and failures) in order to focus on the future. Satan will distract and cause doubt (false doctrines) to prevent maturity. Recognize his tactics and press on, he tells them. Concentrate on God’s requirements for their lives. This means that a believer must know for themselves what the requirements are.
When differences of doctrine occur (and it will), God will clarify it in His own time. The key here is to stay focused and committed. Look for good examples they are told. Paul offers himself as a good model (not a perfect one). Enemies of the cross are destructive caring only for their stomachs and other earthly glories. Shame on them! Regardless of the heresy facing them, Paul reminds them to press on because their permanent residence is in heaven not on earth. The Savior will accomplish all that he promised.
Application: First century believers faced the same issues that present day believers do. False doctrines can be found anywhere including the church. At times they can overwhelm. The immature in a lot of instances will simply give up and walk away. Believers who are growing will dig in and keep going. Paul’s words inspire us today. When the Gospel is twisted, you know the Scriptures – keep going! When the new thought for the day appears to be more compelling than the Gospel – keep going!
When overwhelmed by the new trend – keep going! For this to happen, we must be deeply rooted in Christ. The church should influence the community not the opposite! Our level of commitment will strengthen our proclamation, empower our witness, and give us unspeakable JOY. Keep going!