This week covered the stages of spiritual growth, the basic characteristics and needs of each stage, and key phrases people in each stage may say. This week was very helpful to me in showing that discipleship is a process, and just because someone has yet to mature beyond a certain stage, it doesn’t mean that they do not know Jesus. I also learned where I was in this process, and that even though I may mostly be in one stage, I can still have moments where I may say or do things from a previous stage or even the next stage. I am still a flawed person in the process of growing, changing, and becoming, and just because I grow, it doesn’t mean I won’t have a bad day, or selfish moments, or a bad attitude at times.
We were cautioned to not fall into the trap of comparing levels of spiritual maturity, and also cautioned to not mistake Bible knowledge, years of church attendance, age, education, etc., for spiritual maturity. This is a guide to help me discern where people may be in their process based on a relationship with them, in order to help them continue growing. It’s a tool for growth, not a weapon for judgment.
Stage One: The Spiritually Dead
We were all spiritually dead and separated from God until we received grace through believing in Christ.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. – Ephesians 2:1-5
A person’s actions and lifestyle reveal their spiritual condition. The spiritually dead are characterized by unbelief and rebellion. They want to do things “their way.” They act according to human nature, and are deceived and blind to the truth. They may say things like:
- “I don’t believe there is a God.”
- “The Bible is just a bunch of myths.”
- “God is just a crutch.”
- “I am not a Christian because religion is responsible for most of the wars in history.”
- “There are many ways to get to God.”
- “There is no hell because God is a God of love.”
- “I have been a good person, so I will be okay.”
- “There is no absolute right and wrong.”
- “I’ll take my chances with the man upstairs.”
The spiritually dead need an explanation of the gospel. They need to SEE the gospel lived out. They need answers to their questions about the Bible, God, Christianity, etc. What they DO NOT NEED is my anger, my self-righteousness, or for me to get offended at their lack of knowledge or misplaced beliefs. They need an invitation to know Jesus.
Stage Two: The Spiritual Infant
Stage Three: The Spiritual Child
Stage Four: The Spiritual Young Adult
Stage Five: The Spiritual Parent