The Bible has made it clear that the believer, in order to run the race of life successfully, must be complete in Christ. An incomplete believer is one who has all the appearances of being the finished product, but has left something off, something important, and by so doing has handed the enemy an opportunity to strike a fatal blow.
This idea of being spiritually complete, is important, and the Bible addresses it in a number of scriptures like these (emphasis mine):
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are COMPLETE in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” (Colossians 2:9-10)
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and COMPLETE in all the will of God.” (Colossians 4:12)
“Put on the WHOLE armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the WHOLE armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:11-13)
The notion that when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and saviour, at that very moment you are the finished article, is not biblical, and in any case would not square with the experience of the newly converted.
Every newborn believer, everyone who starts out in Christ, redeemed, washed, filled with the Holy Spirit (which is where we all began) is saved, having accepted Jesus Christ through faith by the mercy of God. From this point on, God expects his children to grow, progress, develop towards the finished article which is to be fully like Jesus Christ, who is our supreme example.
The Bible addresses this growth with scriptures like these:
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ...” (2 Peter 3:18)
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)
“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Ephesians 4:14-15)
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3)
The problem here, is that not all believers are serious, and diligent, about their development. Some believers have stunted growth, because they have grown only so far and then stop. These are the believers who are irritable, easily frustrated, quick to lose their temper, cantankerous, intolerant, uncontrollable, quick to judge, and such like. These believers are still saved, but they make their journey along the way more difficult than is necessary.
The truth is that all believers need to self evaluate from time to time, even mature Christians, to see that there is no complacency, and our living is fully in accordance with God’s will. God wants us to win this fight, run this race successfully, and we will if we take time to do due diligence. Here is how the Bible puts it:
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
“But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” (1 Corinthians 11:28)
“Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:40)
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
I think nearly all believers feel that they can improve in one way or another, but sometimes they are not so sure. The Apostle Peter, both as an elder and as the head of the early church, came up with a list to show believers one way to progress to maturity, or Christian perfection or to sanctification. All these terms are used synonymously.
“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8 KJV)
Instead of explaining all those attributes I’ve highlighted, I am going to give you the same scripture in another, more modern version:
“Because you have these blessings, do all you can to add to your life these things: to your faith add goodness; to your goodness add knowledge; to your knowledge add self-control; to your self-control add patience; to your patience add devotion to God; to your devotion add kindness toward your brothers and sisters in Christ, and to this kindness add love. If all these things are in you and growing, you will never fail to be useful to God. You will produce the kind of fruit that should come from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8 Easy-to-read Version)
The question now is, how do we do this? How do we add to our life the things that are needed and are missing? The truth is, that it is God that does the adding. We see the need, through study and devotions, and by attitude and prayers we petition God to respond to our request for this growth and development, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)
Alas, many believers read the Bible and still do not see the need for adjustment, still do not get what the scriptural application is to their own life. This is because they read and study the Bible hastily, and often fail to find the scripture very useful.
A Bible devotional should be very personal, it is seeking to know what God is saying to me, what does God want me to do? Is there something in me I need to change, or a behaviour I need to jettison? Is there something I need to reinforce, or a relationship I need to mend? God will give me the answers to these, and similar, questions, but I have to act, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” (James 1:22-24)
The Bible is God’s living word, it will speak to our every situation, shed light on the dark areas of our life, touch our sore spots, discomfort us as well as encourage us, and all with the intention of building us up and making us complete in Christ. Here is the really good news. It is God’s pleasure to shine the light, so that, as believers, “... we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Perhaps now you know why you have not progressed in your faith as well as you thought you would, your victories have been hard fought and long-drawn-out, and even your prayers do not seem to be as effective as they should. God might be saying something to you, and in your heart you will know what to do to measure up, so be courageous and do as God directs.
It is only when we make all necessary moves to comply with God’s will, that we can affirm, with all mature Christians, “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” (Colossians 2:10)
Books by this author you may wish to read.
THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW (e-book)
Volume 1 – Five tough facts to be faced
STAND UP TO THE DEVIL (e-book)
Volume 1 – You must first identify him
ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT ON GOD’S CLOCK (e-book)
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