by Neil Anderson
1 Timothy 4:6
In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Jesus Christ, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following
One problem with Christian maturity is trying to base spiritual growth on practical sections of the Scriptures and spending too little time internalizing the doctrinal sections. Each of Paul’s letters tends to fall into two major parts. The first part is generally doctrinal, such as Romans 1-8, Ephesians 1-3, Colossians 1-2, etc. These sections reveal what we need to know about God, ourselves, sin and salvation. The second half of each letter is the practical section: Romans 12-15, Ephesians 4-6, Colossians 3-4, etc. These passages describe what we need to do to live out our faith in daily experience.
In our zeal to correct the problems in our lives–doubt, temptation, satanic attack, conflict in families, friendships and churches which are falling apart–we jump to the practical instructions of God’s Word. We want a quick fix, a rule or instruction which we can apply like a Band-Aid to make things better.
Perhaps you have already discovered that a Band-Aid approach to daily living doesn’t work. Why not? Because when you don’t understand the truth pertaining to your position in Christ, you have no ground for success in the practical arena. How can you rejoice in hope and persevere in tribulation (Romans 12:12) without the confidence of knowing you have been justified by faith and have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1)?
When your basic belief system about God and yourself is shaky, your day-to-day behavior system will be shaky. But when your belief system is intact and your relationship with God is based on truth, you’ll have very little trouble working out the practical aspects of daily Christianity. Show me someone who knows who they are in Christ and who is filled with the Holy Spirit, as taught in the first half of the Epistles, and I will show you someone who will instinctively live according to the second half of the Epistles. It will be the “natural” thing to do.
Prayer: Loving Father, I desire to know what I need to know about You so I can live the way You desire for me to live.