Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bible Study 1 John Chapter 2 The Stages of Spiritual Growth

Stages of Growth
John tells clearly that there are three main stages of spiritual growth - little children, young man and fathers. The implications of the stages of growth are:
  1. Different levels of maturity - Not all believers are at the same level. Don't treat everyone the same way.
  2. All start from beginning stage. There is no short-cut or step jumping.
  3. We can be stuck at a stage, or even regress to lower stage.
  4. Growth is a process that takes time and practices, to move from one stage to higher stages.
Stage 1 Little Children
  1. Forgiven & righteous & holy. If we sin, we don't hide it but come boldly to God because we have Jesus who paid for our sin and is our advocate. We are forgiven not because we are great but because God is love. We don't earn or could even work for our salvation. Rebirth is by grace of God only. (1John 2:1-2, 12)
  2. Abide in Him - Know Him through Obedience. A key part of this stage is to know Christ through listening to Him and obeying Him - keeping His words. Obedience is the way to growth - the process of perfecting us to be like Christ. His Words for us are simple - love and hate not (2:9-11), stay and walk in righteousness (2:6, 2:29) and truth (2:4).
  3. Know the Father (2:13). We know the Father through Jesus. The Father sent His Son Jesus for us. Knowing and experiencing the Father's love and presence is the ultimate aim of life. Jesus came to bring us back to the Father. Let the love of our Father so comfort us that we forgive and let go of all bitterness and simply cling on and enjoys His love. The Father's love bring deliverance, peace and joy and overflowing love to others. Children must grow up in the environment of love that they can be secured and become strong young man. Focus on the Father alone and not on any other (1 John 5:21).
 Stage 2 Young Men
  1. Overcomer - Overcame the evil one. We are overcomer through abiding in the Word of God (2:14) and not through our physical or mental strength. The Word of God is internalized in us through our obedience in stage 1. 
  2. Love the Father and NOT the World (2:15-17) 
    • The world has 3 temptations for us to distract us from loving our Father.
      1. Desires of the Flesh - There is nothing wrong in having pleasures of life. Our Father want to give us that. But we are tempted to have pleasures outside the boundaries of God and go on to the extremes and be held in bondage rather than the promised satisfaction. e.g. sexual, drug, gambling addictions etc. The senses of our flesh are the doors opened to temptations from the world and devils.
      2. Desires of the Eyes - We see and we want them no matter what. We put our faith on things that are seen (and temporary 2:17) instead of unseen things that are spiritual and of eternal value. 
      3. Pride in possessions and of Life - We put our value and esteem on what we get and possess. We seek glory and power from the abundance of things of things we own, and specifically money. We are distracted from putting trust in God and we want to be our own God. Of course we can never be God. It is only devil's lie to us since the time of Eve.
  3. Do the Will of God - Abide in God (2:17,24)
  4. Have Knowledge & Discernment
    • Know the enemy - the anti-Christ (2:18-23) and deceivers(2:26). There are many anti-Christs, not just one, throughout history and into the future. Know their lies - denying Christ had come in the flesh.
    • Know the Truth and our Identity (2:20-25)
      • Anointed of God - Holy Spirit within us 2:20,25-27
      • Eternal Life (Zoe's, God's kind of Life) 2:25
      • Listen to the Holy Spirit within us.
Stage 3 Fathers
  1. Know the Heart of the Creator Father (2:13, 14). We have grown up to be a father, spiritual or earthly, and know the responsibilities and heart of being a father. 
  2. Love True: The Father's love for us is true-love. It is a love without conditions, and is proactive, and is sacrificing. There are additional things that we shall study in Chapter 4. 
  3. Considering Paul's concept of "More than Conqueror", in The Meaning of "More than Conquerors",we can perhaps says that 'Young Men' are 'Conquerors' (winning by force of God) and the 'Fathers' are the "More than Conqueror"( winning by transformation of the heart through love of God).
Questions for Reflections:
  1. What are the Stages of Growth? 
  2. What are the characteristics of each stage?
Questions for Applications:
  1. Which stage are you presently in?
  2. What actions will you take to grow up into the next stage?
    What are the obstacles? What help do you need?

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