Bible Stuff That Won't Bore You

Learning from the spiritually mature is difficult, and requires more effort than we think

We are blessed to be surrounded by Christians who write, speak, teach, and evangelize from places of spiritual maturity, and we often try to grow by following their examples, reading their books, listening to their sermons, reading their blogs, etc…, but do we really understand how much work it takes to learn from their experiences or are we just reading their training manuals and calling ourselves athletes without putting in any practice?

It Is Impossible To Teach Spiritual Wisdom To Those Who Are Unwilling To Apply It

While listening to a sermon by one of my favorite authors the other day, I realized, and accepted, how utterly impossible it is to transfer godly wisdom, which is only gained by personally walking with God in obedience, to people who are unwilling to do what it is required to apply it to their lives


Speaking from my own experiences, regardless of how good it may feel in the moment, hearing all the wisdom in the world, from even the most spiritually mature Christians, is totally useless if we do nothing to apply it to our lives in a way that actually has an impact on it

What, who knew?

The goal of Christianity is to be transformed into the image of God’s love and righteousness, not get momentarily pumped up by reading/hearing/watching something inspirational and then continuing on without any life change

James 1:22-25
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does

(Note how James says reading the Bible without acting on it is “deceiving yourselves”, as all the scripture reading in the world is pointless unless we actually do what the verses teach us)

Philippians 4:9
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you

(Paul was the original mega church pastor, and he gave the same instructions of not just listening to his message or observing his lifestyle)

Luke 6:46-49
Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete

(Jesus himself told people off for listening to his teachings without actually applying them to their lives)

I know this point seems incredibly basic, but it is beyond important to keep in mind when reading the Bible and books written by contemporary authors, and when watching or listening to sermons, as the people we get inspired by are communicating to us from a place of spiritual maturity they only reached as the result of, guess what, obeying God and actually doing what the Bible says!

(Blink twice if you saw that one coming!)

Again, who knew!

Also, it is sometimes easy to forget, or just not be aware of in the first place, but the amazing insights we hear from our favorite teachers not only come from their intimate relationship with God, but also as the result of years of hard work–no one gained spiritual maturity, and intimacy with God without serious effort

Christians Typically Under-Estimate The Work Necessary To Achieve The Spiritual Growth Necessary To Be Intimate With God

If you ask any Christian whether they want to become spiritually mature, and have an intimate relationship with God, their answer is, of course, going to be yes

(If that is not your answer, hit alt+f4, or cmd+q, and go ask God what is standing in the way)

However, what is not always understood, is how attaining spiritual growth requires us to put in effort over the entire course of our lives, not just once in a while when we feel temporarily inspired or when it is convenient

The Bible never said walking intimately with God was easy, it comes as the result of consistent obedience, which eventually turns into true love for God’s righteous ways

Psalm 119:4
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed

1 John 5:3
This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome

1 John 2:3
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands

John 14:21
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him

(Note how Jesus, and John are talking to believers, which shows there is a very clear difference in relationship for those who simply proclaim faith in God while continuing to live disobediently, from those who obey God fully as a display of their love for him)

In general, it is no secret Christians have a tendency to get inspired in the heat of a moment, but then fall short when it comes to the long-term perseverance required for spiritual growth

…whoa, what?

Oh come on, you know what I am talking about, all those books we get halfway through, the sermons we only watch half of, the Bible reading plans we abandon after a few days/weeks (how many times now?), the missions trips we never go on, and the service we did once or twice but stopped

Sure, all these things probably started as the result of a sincere desire to push ourselves toward growth, obedience, and/or righteousness, but over time that inspirational spark faded, and because we did not have a true, heartfelt desire to make those things happen at all costs, they were not set as priorities in our lives and eventually faded away

Of course, if we want to see real growth, instead of occasionally picking up a trendy Christian book with the expectation of blasting off into the outer limits of spiritual maturity after reading a few chapters, we should be prepared to follow the godly wisdom of those who have worked hard to achieve the same type of relationship with God we are, hopefully, striving for

1 Corinthians 4:15-16
Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me

Hebrews 6:12
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised

To put this into perspective even further, when one considers the years of work it takes the spiritually mature to get where they are, it is humorously preposterous, and ironically arrogant, to think we can get to an even remotely similar place without putting in a significant amount of effort ourselves

Most Christians Do Not Achieve Their True Growth Potential Because They Love The World More Than God

As discussed earlier, Christianity is about being remade in the image of God’s holy, supernaturally righteous, loving character, which, sadly, is something most Christians struggle with tremendously

At the beginning of the process, God’s character, and standards of righteousness are not always obvious to us at first, but they become increasingly clear as the relationship gets stronger, and as we understand more of the Bible

God will increasingly impress on our hearts the thoughts, and actions that please him, replacing our worldly conscience with the guidance of his spirit within us as we continue to mature–do everything to not ignore your conscience!

(In fact, the real meaning of “grace” in the NT means “through favor, receiving God’s divine influence on the heart”, that is amazing!)

As part of this process where we learn more about God, then learn to apply it as we mature, James spoke about the importance of perseverance, while Peter outlined the stages of growth we experience:

James 1:4
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything

2 Peter 1:5-9
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins

Note how Peter says Christianity starts with “faith”, then evolves from there as we start aspiring to a level of “goodness” that is higher than the world’s standards, then as we gain more “knowledge” of righteousness, we learn to start exercising “self-control” as we use “perseverance” to continuously push ourselves towards “godliness”, and eventually “love”

Gaining spiritual maturity is the simple process of learning the knowledge of the truth, then applying it to our lives with consistent determination

Even though it is not the most comfortable, the key to successfully pursuing spiritual maturity is being prepared, and willing, to let go of sinful behavior that does not conform to God’s character

What is challenging for many Christians, and the biggest limiter of our growth, is that during the maturation process, as God’s influence on our hearts increases and we understand his standards of righteousness with increasing measure, we are constantly faced with areas of our lives we feel convicted about, even if we previously did not feel they were bad or we tolerated them without thinking too much

This is where almost every Christian stunts their own growth, as we frequently choose to hold onto areas of sin God is actively showing us we need to repent of, and walk away from, but we often willingly refuse God’s instructions out of preference for sin

Paul warned Christians that we can ignore God’s grace (“influence on the heart”) to the point of receiving it in vain, can you imagine being told by your pastor you are receiving God’s grace in vain due to your lifestyle?

2 Corinthians 6:1
As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain

Also, many Christians feel the way they deal with little sins is less important than ones they view as big, obvious sins, but it is mastering all sin that separates those with “faith” and “goodness”, from those who truly love God by obeying everything he commanded

For example, imagine we are achieving great growth by learning to forgive others, seeking God in praise, giving to the poor, and all sorts of other areas, but then we come up against something we are not so eager to get rid of or learn, we choose to rebel against God instead

Maybe it is a selfish attitude towards money, a non-Christian relationship we do not want to give up, alcohol abuse, porn, music or movies that have inappropriate content, or whatever it is, but it is on these sticking points where we openly say to God through our actions:

“God, you have taught me so much about who you are as we have gotten closer, and even though I know this is wrong, I love this more than I love you, so I am going to do it anyway”

Um, yuck!

Can you imagine what that is like for God, having us grow more and more mature as we learn to embrace his character, and enjoy an intimate, vibrant relationship, only to have us stop on particular sins because we just do not want to let them go—talk about frustrating!

I mean honestly, what in the world would make us think we can disobey God over anything for the sake of temporary, earthly pleasures of any kind, that is the worst display of gratitude of his blessings we can possibly show

Rebellion against God’s will makes his righteous influence powerless as we need to honor it through obedience and action

God is not the limiting factor in our journey towards righteousness, we are, so we should have a humble, consistently determined attitude when it comes to pursuing God, as we cannot presume to know better than him about anything, especially about morals

If a Biblical teaching does not seem “right” to us at first, give God the benefit of a doubt and honor it in faith anyway, you will be amazed at the growth that follows, and be rewarded for being obedient

Isaiah 55:9
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts

Even Peter, who was not exactly new to the Bible or a stranger to deep theological truth, told people how Paul wrote with the wisdom God had given him, but openly stated that what Paul wrote was so hard hitting it was sometimes difficult to understand–pretty humbling when we realize we are reading the same things!

2 Peter 3:14-16
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction

Keep these points in mind the next time you feel inspired to pick up a new book, read the Bible, listen to a sermon, etc…, and make sure you are doing so with the intent of eagerly applying God’s life-saving Word to your life, rather than just looking for an inspirational boost you will forget a few minutes later

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