by Steven Chan
Being spiritually strong does not mean that we are “perfect” or “sinless”.
We all stumble. The Bible says in James 3:2: “For we all stumble in many things.” 1 John 1:8: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Having been born gain, we are “not to continue in sin” (Rom 6:1-2) But if we do fall into sin, we ought to repent, confess our sins and plead to God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9) as we have “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”(1 John 2:1-2) and God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:9)
Being spiritually strong means that we are able to discern good and evil; we are not enslaved to sin; we are ‘more than conquerors’ over the challenges to our faith, ‘through Him who loved us’ (Rom 8:37) and we bear much fruit to glorify God (John 15:8)
- The ability to discern ‘good and evil’ is a mark of spiritual maturity. According to Heb 5:12-14, those who are spiritually mature are skilled in the ‘word of righteousness’ and ‘by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.’
- Please note the knowledge required and the practice thereof; and not just merely the acquisition of knowledge as that would ‘puffs one up’(1 Cor 8:1)
- So, the Bible exhorts all who have been baptized and are born again as a ‘new creature’ (2 Cor 5:17; 1 Pet 1:22-23), to “lay aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious”.(1 Peter 2:1-3)
One must “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”( 2 Tim 2:15, KJV). The Bible exhorts us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”(2 Peter 3:18) so that we may not “fall from our own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Peter 3:17)
We need to be mature in our understanding: “Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.”(1 Cor 14:20).
Indeed spiritual weakness due to the lack of knowledge of God’s Word leads to spiritual destruction; God declared: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”(Hosea 4:6)
- How often brethren are “divided” over different views of what is ‘good or evil’ because of the lack of maturity in their understanding of the truth. Instead of making every effort to seek a more perfect or mature understanding of God’s Word, some have declared that it impossible to be of ‘one mind’ in our understanding of God’s Word notwithstanding the exhortation of 1 Cor 1:10 and the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21.
- Brethren, if anyone has become “dull of hearing” God’s teachings (Heb 5:11) and continue to think or act like “mere men” or “carnal/worldly men” (I Cor 3:1-4), then one needs to resolve to re-set one’s mind on the ‘things above’ (Col 3:1-3; Rom 12:1-2) ‘for to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.’(Rom 8:6-7)
- A spiritually strong Christian is one who is no longer ‘enslaved to sin’ and is useful to God.
The Bible says in Rom 6:12-18: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
The spiritually strong Christian is one who no longer walks to satisfy his fleshly desires. Rather, he lives to be used by God as instruments of righteousness. He is able to ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us’ (Heb 12:1; 1Pet 2:1).
As a spiritually clean person he can be used by God as His instruments of righteousness: “Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”(2 Tim 2:21).
- A spiritually strong Christian is able to overcome challenges to his faith by relying upon God’s grace (Rom 8:28-39).
He “commits his way to the LORD, and trust in Him that He shall bring it to pass” for he knows that God will work out all things for good to them who love Him (Psa 37:5; Rom 8:28). He is fully committed to trusting God in his life: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”(Gal 2:20)
He is ‘more than conqueror’, triumphing over all the challenges he may face in this life, drawing strength from God by trusting and obeying God (Heb 4:15-16).
When he is faced with temptations and trials, he prays to God for a way of out (1 Cor 10:13). He knows that his spirit may be willing but his flesh is weak, and so he is diligent to “watch and pray, lest he enters into temptation.’(Matt 26:41; 1 Cor 10:12).
When he is faced with personal pain and distress, he prays to God who has assured that “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Cor 12:9).
When he is under financial pressure, he finds assurance in God’s promise: “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6).
He knows the Lord is his shepherd (Psa 23; John 10:11). So, he is “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might as he puts on the whole armour of God that he may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:10-11). He knows that God ‘is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us’ (Eph 3:20). He knows that God “gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”(Isa 40:29-31)
- A spiritually strong Christian will bear much fruit for God’s glory. Jesus said in John 15:8: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” Jesus commanded in Matt 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” In the parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus explained that “he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matt 13:23). The seed, which is the Word of God, produces ‘believers’ or Christians (Luke 8:11; 1 Pet 1:23; John 8:31-32) when one obeys the gospel (Rom 1:16; Mark 16:16; Acts 11:26; Rom 6:17).
The apostle Paul understood the need to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) and he also understood the need to bear much fruit by saving more souls when he wrote in 1 Cor 9:16: “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”. So, He said “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”(1 Cor 9:22). So Paul endeavoured to live in such a way that he “gave no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as he also pleased all men in all things, not seeking his own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”(1 Cor 10:32-33)
Let us resolve to be spiritually strong so that we can be effective servants of God to do His will, as instruments of righteousness.