7. Why is the immature Christian who fails to exert himself to grow up spiritually in a dangerous position?
7 The immature Christian who fails to exert himself to become firm in faith, progressing no farther than the elementary things of God’s Word, stands in grave danger. He does not really have the strength to resist the pressure of error and false worldly reasoning and therefore may be “tossed about as by waves” and carried to a disastrous end. (Eph. 4:14;
ATTAINING SPIRITUAL MATURITY
8. How does the attaining of spiritual maturity differ from gaining physical maturity?
8 But how can one cease to be a “fleshly” man and attain spiritual maturity? Unlike physical maturity, which is automatic, spiritual adulthood is attained through sincere effort. It requires humility and a genuine desire to conform one’s life to the pattern outlined for Christians in God’s Word. It involves study and meditation to acquire a deep understanding of God’s will and purpose, learning to rely on him instead of on human reasoning. Have you thus applied yourself with a view to spiritual growth? Are you acting in accord with the Scriptural counsel to “stay awake, stand firm in the faith, carry on as men, grow mighty”?—1 Cor. 16:13; Heb. 5:14.
9. What effect does study and application of God’s Word have on the Christian “babe”?
9 As the Christian “babe” continues studying the Scriptures and applies what he learns, his advancement in appreciation of God’s truth and more difficult doctrines is accompanied by a corresponding growth in his spiritual outlook and Christian personality. Changes take place in his thinking, in his viewpoint, and in his life. He finds that his interests and motivations are becoming related to spiritual matters, for God’s truth is having a profound and beneficial effect on his life. He is following the exhortation from God’s Word to “quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Rom. 12:2.
10. What changes take place as the maturing Christian ‘makes his mind over’?
10 This ‘making over of the mind’ has a profound effect on the personality of the maturing Christian. The worldly outlook, with its reasonings, its emphasis on material things and worldly pleasures, is progressively replaced with an interest in spiritual matters and in doing the will of Jehovah God. In place of the works of the flesh, the fruitage of God’s spirit—love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control—becomes more and more apparent. A new force or dominant spirit is at work within him. He is heeding the Bible’s counsel: “Put away the old personality which conforms to your former course of conduct and which is being corrupted according to his deceptive desires; but . . . you should be made new in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was created according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”—Eph. 4:22-24; Gal. 5:19-23.
11. What is the “force” actuating the mind of a mature Christian, and how does it cause him to react to situations calling for moral decisions?
11 When the old personality is put away and a new force or dominant spirit is actuating the mind, the Christian has attained maturity. Formerly the force actuating his mind was the one that had resulted from the things taught and experienced in the world. These things fed into the mind developed in him certain patterns of thinking and heart motivation. Thus, when he heard a matter requiring a moral decision, this force within his mind directed him in a worldly direction. But, as a mature Christian, he has a new force or spirit impelling him to act. As a result of his regular, prayerful study of God’s Word of truth and the operation of God’s spirit, this actuating force inclines him in a righteous direction. Hence, when a matter is presented to him involving a moral decision, his mind is bent by this new “force” or dominant attitude toward a righteous, spiritual course. He thus preserves a fine relationship with Jehovah God and can rest assured of gaining the reward of everlasting life.
12. What is the role of elders in helping members of the congregation to attain maturity?
12 One of the primary aims of the Christian congregation, with its “gifts in men,” elders serving as shepherds and teachers, is to help all to attain this maturity, to be firmly rooted in Christian truth and to live in harmony therewith.