Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Spiritual Maturity: Separating Good & Evil

Biblical literacy is the first step to discernment. But knowledge alone is insufficient. This truth was boldly reinforced by recent Barna survey for the American Culture & Faith Institute: Of those who claim to read the Bible every day, only 45% were integrated disciples (those who display both strong biblical beliefs and strong biblical behavior). In short, the daily reading of the Bible fails to affect most people in their beliefs and their behavior. (See surveys here and here.) So while you may be able quote every verse on money, what good is it if you are still greedy? Or as James points out, we are supposed to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers (James 1:22).

So the ability to recognize good and evil is insufficient. Alone, such knowledge puffs us up with pride. We deceive ourselves into thinking more of ourselves than we ought. Rather, we must do something with that knowledge. We must learn to separate the good from the evil. This, in turn, allows us to absorb the good into our lives while tossing out all that which is bad.

However, just as you can’t expect to fix a gourmet meal your first week of studying Scripture, neither should you presume that you will start your spiritual growth as a fully mature adult. Rather, each of us begins as spiritual infants. Helpless and ignorant, we lack all discernment, wisdom, knowledge, and ability. We are utterly dependent on others to even survive.

In of itself, this is not bad. Quite the opposite! God created us to begin as infants, both physically and spiritually. As a result, a healthy and growing baby can be a source of great delight. The trouble arises when the baby fails to grow properly, remaining a helpless infant year after year after year.

So being a spiritual infant is not the problem. Staying one is. Therefore, it is imperative that we grow up. After all, there’s nothing amusing about working with a thirty-year-old baby.

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