Elements of Spiritual Maturity

Is faith necessary for maturity and Godliness?

Readership: All
Reader’s Note: The theme for September is “The Maturity of Faith”.
Length: 900 words
Reading Time: 3 minutes

What is Spiritual Maturity?

If you were asked to describe or define spiritual maturity, what would come to your mind?

Some of the most common answers might include the following.

  1. Being able to face reality.
  2. Being responsible.
  3. Not being in bondage to various fears and desires.
  4. Knowing how to escape temptation and stay free from various idols, lusts, and sins.
  5. Living life passionately, buoyantly, indomitably, one day at a time.
  6. Being able to face diversity adversity with a sense of purpose, tenacity, and hope.
  7. Maintaining healthy socio-emotional boundaries.
  8. Being able to control one’s emotions and express one’s feelings appropriately and at the right time.
  9. Managing anger and conflict appropriately, effectively, and in a timely manner.
  10. Being able to foster transparent trust through non-judgmental acceptance of others.
  11. Able to freely and sincerely give of one’s self to others in friendship and love.
  12. Living a clean, honest life, not giving the enemy any foothold, nor any friend a cause to stumble.
  13. Being able to adjust to different kinds of environments and handle interactions with basically anyone in a tacit manner.
  14. Cultivating a spirit of acceptance, generosity, gracefulness, kindness, and forgiveness, and not being consumed by greed, envy, and bitterness.
  15. For men, making your mission, and not your woman, your priority.  For women, making your husband and family, and not your hypergamy nor career ambitions, your priority.
  16. For women, honoring, respecting, and obeying her husband.  For men, loving and being patient with his wife.

Readers may add others.

How does Maturity compare to Godliness?

Readers may have noticed that this list of traits is very similar to the descriptors of Godliness given in a previous post, How is Godliness Attractive? (2021-09-01), and which are listed below.  This is no coincidence, because Godliness is the equivalent of an advanced state of Spiritual Maturity. (Or is it?)

  1. Having a thankful attitude.
  2. Faith that is shown by trust and confidence.
  3. Having a sufficient amount of self-discipline.
  4. Able to draw proper boundaries in their relationships with others.
  5. A degree of wisdom characterized by the discernment of good and evil.
  6. Emotional and spiritual maturity; consideration for others desires and needs.
  7. Having good, wholesome habits; cleanliness, regular exercise, proper diet, etc.
  8. A healthy self-respect; acting appropriately and in congruence with the social context.
  9. Manifesting fruits of the spirit; peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, and so forth.
  10. For men, focusing on their work, their mission.  For women, cultivating a spirit of kindness, humility, and grace.
  11. I will presume that men who are more masculine and women who are more feminine are more godly.
  12. Knowing one’s self; values, personality, personal desires, personal weaknesses, what is needed for one’s spiritual growth…
  13. A healthy ego characterized by a combination of an appropriate self-esteem and humility; not too arrogant, but not supercilious nor obsequious either.

Moral Agency

Since we know it is quite possible for a person to be mature but not Godly, there must be some points of difference between the two.  I will suggest that the characteristics that set a Godly person apart from a mature person have to do with Moral Agency, Perseverance, Discernment, Wisdom, and Aptitude.  Descriptions follow.

  • Moral Agency – A person must have a clear sense of purpose for living, be doing something that he feels called by God to do, and have a cohesive vision for his life.  In this sense, a person becomes an agent on a mission for God, and thereby possesses the capacity for moral agency.
  • Perseverance – Maintaining a strong determination to forge your own character and identity in the crucible of life and overcome the challenges of life, rather than allowing one’s feelings and circumstances to shape one’s identity, purpose, and sense of self-worth.  Exercising this discipline faithfully is what denotes one’s success in being a moral agent.
  • Discernment – Having an intuitive sense about what is right and wrong, especially concerning what would be conducive towards one’s mission, and what fits one’s interests as an agent on an individual mission.
  • Wisdom – Being aware of when adhering to one’s personal principles bring justice and discipline, and when making exceptions to those principles yields grace and truth.
  • Aptitude – Having the necessary strength of character, station in life, and the relevant skills and abilities necessary to exercise said moral agency and execute one’s purpose for living.

Since Agency must be determined by one’s faith, this distinction adds a list of characteristics specific to maturity and Godliness.

  1. The truth of God’s Word is embraced and applied to all areas of one’s life.
  2. Living one’s life by trusting the Lord in all areas of one’s life.  One clings to the Life in God, and not to one’s expectations, money, personal rights, power, pride (ego fulfillment), principles, rules, standards, etc.
  3. Having a vibrant prayer life.
  4. Being able to discern good and evil, and truth from falsehood, and not becoming lost in the vanity of one’s mind.
  5. Able to exercise faith and wisdom.
  6. Able to bear good fruit.

Ultimately, the fruit is the true litmus test of character.

Exit Questions

  1. Is there really any difference between Spiritual Maturity and Godliness?
  2. How is faith necessary for Maturity and/or Godliness?

If we think about this further, I believe we may find that we are confused about some of our concepts of Godliness, Maturity, and Agency.

Related

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Boundaries, Confidence, Conflict Management, Discernment, Wisdom, Discipline, Enduring Suffering, Fundamental Frame, Headship and Patriarchy, Holding Frame, Influence, Introspection, Leadership, Maturity, Personal Growth and Development, Models of Success, Moral Agency, Perseverance, Prayer, Purpose, Relationships, Self-Concept, The Power of God. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Elements of Spiritual Maturity

  1. Els says:

    Is there really any difference between Spiritual Maturity and Godliness?

    Yes.

    Godliness is a matter of sincerity and devotion. A person can be a believer for many years, and exude less godliness than someone who converted last year. There’s a zeal quotient inherent in godliness that we can lose over time if we’re not careful. And often do.

    Spiritual Maturity is born of experience overcoming obstacles, which deepens faith, equipping us to be strong, and useful to bear the infirmities of the weak. The things that deariled us 10 years ago are things that ideally, we can walk through confidently today.

    Like

    • Jack says:

      Elspeth, do you believe Godliness must necessarily have an effusion of passion and joy? Or is that more related to spiritual maturity?

      Like

      • elspeth says:

        In my experience, people with passion and zeal tend to be more attuned to “minor” sins. More concerned about how every thing they say or do, no matter how small, is pleasing to God. I’m defining godliness as the tendency to walk with extreme circumspection all the time. New Christians tend to do that more than veterans.

        Joy is a fruit of maturity, a thing that stays with us no matter what comes, cause we’ve just about seen it all and we know that weeping really does endure for a night…

        Ideally the two go together, because they should, and sometimes do. I feel like I’m reasoning in circles, but I suspect that’s because I struggle with.

        When I’m picking nits about everything I say (usually it’s my mouth that gets me into trouble), I can feel more godly, but I feel less fruitful. I talk to women a lot (the very young as I teach, and the my age and older in relationships with homeschool families). I don’t like being the “sage black chick” but I figured if I have to wear the hat, I may as well use the opportunities.

        When I’m trying to be sure my speech is “godly” enough, the message can get lost, even though I know I haven’t offended anyone’s sensibilities. When I just say (as I did the other day), “Most men expect that after they’ve been married a while the sex will dry up, but it won’t kill us to pleasantly surprise them”, I know it won’t always land well, but it’s never a dud. I called my friends to spiritual maturity, and godliness, even though I knw there were one or two who were tempted to clutch their pearls.

        Now that I’ve processed all of that, it just dawned on me that the two are actually very closely related, maybe even synonymous. The problem is that the American evangelicalism I’ve been steeped in for 25 years has cultivated in me an definition of godliness which translated as “nice and polite”. Gotta think about that.

        Thanks for asking me that question, Jack.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Scott says:

    I have recently been thinking alot about my own mortality, as some people around my age are (or have been recently) REALLY sick.

    I guess I can now disclose that I was out with the COVIDs and my back to work day was yesterday. If I had not been tested (I went in for something else) I would have thought it was a cold and just went back to work, as it was basically over in like 4 days.

    Yet, still–when I heard the doctor say “COVID” I freaked out for about a nanosecond.

    For me, spiritual maturity has meant many of the things E writes about in her comment. Mostly, choosing my battles wisely. I understand I have taken really good care of myself and I am way stronger than most 30 somethings I know. Lucky genes, and smart lifestyle choices I guess. But I don’t have the mental energy to fight about really stupid stuff, like those “minor” sins.

    I am getting to a point in my life where I have nothing to prove. No more guessing. No more demonstrating to the world that I was here. That’s kind of nice.

    Liked by 3 people

    • cameron232 says:

      “minor sins” – those are called “venial sins” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Scott says:

      While the concept of venial and mortal sins is appealing for obvious reasons, its one of the ways in which I think the RCC became “too” sophisticated for its own good. The idea exists in Orthodoxy, but it seems to be more of a spectrum or continuum, driven by context. I believe this is what Jesus taught as well. Most fundamentalist/Bible belt types would call this “moral relativism” but its not. It’s actually the basis for situational ethics. There is a “most right” thing to do in all situations, and it is right for everyone faced with that same situation transcending all time and culture

      Christ was able to walk into any situation and determine what the actual sin was. He could do this by reading all the contextual/situational cues as well as the person (or peoples) hearts. From here, He knew what the “most right” thing to do was, and then down the line in a cascade of less than perfect responses to the “least right” thing, or the absolute sin.

      The best we humans can do it try to go into situation, with the benefit of having been raised in Christian morals, and the acquired wisdom over time from interacting with similar situations and make the best choice. We may sometimes look back and second guess what we did, but that doesn’t mean we were “wrong” at the time.

      If a priest were to ask me “did you do the best you could with all the information you had” and could answer affirmatively, I don’t think there is anything to confess.

      Liked by 4 people

      • cameron232 says:

        The key to RCC’s definition of a mortal sin is that sufficient reflection/full consent of the will to sin takes place. Protestants usually misunderstand the concept as “a REALLY bad sin” and will retort that “all sins are mortal.” Sin committed willfully with full knowledge is enacted unbelief. It makes no sense to claim I have sanctifying grace in my soul if I e.g. commit adultery.

        Consent plays a big role in Catholic theology. There are serious tradish Catholics (i.e. not modern apologists for sin) I know who will tell you many habitual sins, even serious ones, may not rise to the level of being mortal because they are so habituated as to possibly not rise to the level of full consent. At a practical level, it’s hard for believers to see inside our own hearts sufficiently to always discern our own levels of “heart-culpability”, fullness of consent to sin, etc. For this reason, it seems to me, the Church mandates regular confession of at least once per year, while encouraging it (well they’re SUPPOSED to) whenever you feel the need. Unfortunately, the lines for communion are much longer than the lines for confession in the Novus Ordo.

        You confess anyway, enumerating your sins to the best of your ability, because confession and absolution is a real means of true grace, symbolized by the sacrament. The intent just needs to be there.

        Man, talking about cherry chapstick, One Night in Bankok and Magic Mountain is way funner than this stuff.

        Like

      • Lexet Blog says:

        It’s an incredibly stupid doctrine that defies most scripture on the topic.

        See David. He committed adultery. Murdered. Took more than one wife.

        People will still sin after coming to faith. The difference is their resistance to it, guilt and repentance afterwards. But their salvation is not in jeopardy

        Liked by 1 person

      • cameron232 says:

        I suppose you could claim there’s situation ethics in Catholicism too. An example I’ve seen is the hungry child in India who steals a banana off a fruit cart. He committed a venial sin.

        Like

      • Lexet Blog says:

        That’s how the Catholic Church controls people- through guilt. That’s why their sins of depravity went unchecked for hundreds of years. If you talked, you were a sinner, a heretic, and an enemy of god and the state. Sad people still fall for that crap today- especially red pilled People

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        The best thing about being Eastern Orthodox is not having to listen to horsesh!t like the words above.

        Who cares what David did? David wasn’t under the Evangelical Law, the law of Christ, the law of our Lord. Who knows what the precise applicability of every OT character’s circumstances is to our doctrine since the OT serves as the prefiguring of the New. Old is the new concealed, new is the old revealed.

        Faith without works is dead. Claims of faith accompanied by willful sin are meaningless. Willful sin is enacted unbelief. All quite “biblical.” Our Lord’s doctrine transmitted to and recorded by His apostles.

        That’s the reality of the doctrine, not “controlling” people. The Church doesn’t “control” people with this – no one even bothers to do even the minimum anymore. How does the REMOVAL of guilt and the restoration of sanctifying grace by the sacrament that deals with mortal sin “control people through guilt?”

        “…defies most scripture on the topic.”

        Well how the fudge do you weight “most” of scripture that it defies against the minority of scripture it doesn’t defy. Is that Protestant exegesis? Weight the number of verses? Y’all have already taken tradition, church history, the fathers, etc. off the table.

        Like

      • Lexet Blog says:

        David was not under the law of the lord?

        Like

      • Lexet Blog says:

        Tradition, church fathers, etc have 0 weight. They are not god.

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        We distinguish the OT law and the Evangelical law. David was under the former.

        Your interpretation of the Bible and the interpretation of 20,000 different denominations and the interpretation of 2.2 billion Christians are not god either.

        How are bible verses weighted? How are the different interpretations of the Bible weighted?

        “I make all things new.”

        Like

      • Lexet Blog says:

        Scripture doesn’t contradict itself. The Catholic Church that because there is some debate every now and then, the only true church is one made up of globalist pedophiles

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        “…there is some debate every now and then…”

        Are you kidding me??? What do you think ecumenical (and non-ecumenical) councils were for? They debated, among other things, the meaning of the Bible.

        Here’s a list of heresies/sects from the early church alone:

        Gnosticism, Adoptionism, Apollinarism, Arabici, Arianism, Collyridianism, Docetism, Luciferians, Pneumatomachians, Melchisedechians, Monarchianism, Monophysitism, Monothelitism, Nestorianism, Patripassianism, Psilanthropism, Sabellianism, Tritheism, Manichaeism, Paulicianism, Priscillianism, Naassenes, Sethian, Ophites, Valentianism, Antinomianism, Audianism, Barallot, Circumcellions, Donatism, Ebionites, Euchites, Marcionism, Montanism, Pelagianism, Semipelagianism,……

        And that’s what we have records of. All declared heresy before Protestantism existed.

        In the modern times we have Protestantism (of 1000 different stripes, some erring even in basic Christological truths), Mormonism, Jehovah’s witnesses, Christian scientists, charismatics, liberal Christians, ………etc.

        Restricting the argument to protestants, we have major, irreconcilable differences in soteriology. Lutheran soteriology, Calvinist (5 point, 4 point, ….), reformed Arminians, Wesleyan Arminians, “decision theology”, universalism (is that word in the NT properly translated as “eternal” or “a very long time???” – the Greek can go either way)….. etc.

        Jesus didn’t promise to give us a book, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to his Church. God wouldn’t choose the book as the primary source of transmission of Christian truth because the printing press wasn’t invented until early modern times (late medieval if you prefer) and almost no one could have been able read their Bibles (if they had them) until very recently.

        There isn’t even the possibility of agreement or the possibility of the believer ascertaining truth as regards basics such as marriage. A “sacrament?” “Ordinance?” “Civil affair” (as Luther said), “Covenant?” What creates marriage, brings it into existence? Under what circumstances, if any can it be terminated? Does this involve merely ending the obligations of the marriage and/or can one remarry? Under what circumstances? Is this teaching (whatever it is) for both sexes, applied equally? How many wives may a man have? Is a girls father’s approval required?

        The tiny fraction of priests who have molested children (many protestant clergy and laity have done this too) is intended to distract from the fact that you are saying something that is fundamentally untrue. Protestants don’t agree on very much beyond the belief that the Catholic Church is wrong. And they think the Orthodox are wrong too, but they usually ignore the EO even though it’s the 2nd largest church worldwide.

        Like

      • cameron232 says:

        I shouldn’t call your words horsesh!t. You might have seen I was responding to Scott and simply ignored it realizing that we won’t solve the Reformation in a Sigma Frame comments section.

        Like

      • Scott says:

        Cameron-

        The bare minimum (which my family doesn’t even come close to) from a liturgical perspective would be:

        Attending every Sunday
        Attending all high holy days
        Attending every service during things like Holy Week (The week leading to Pascha)
        Fasting 4 times a year and on specific days of the week
        Confession every month, ideally receiving communion that same day
        Praying at awakening, before and after every meal and at bed time.
        Not using birth control

        RC is similar and I know most of them don’t do it either.

        I would love to live in a closed Orthodox community where everyone is doing that stuff all the time and keeping each other accountable to it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Red Pill Apostle says:

        Cameron,

        “The key to RCC’s definition of a mortal sin is that sufficient reflection/full consent of the will to sin takes place. Protestants usually misunderstand the concept as “a REALLY bad sin” and will retort that “all sins are mortal.” Sin committed willfully with full knowledge is enacted unbelief. It makes no sense to claim I have sanctifying grace in my soul if I e.g. commit adultery.”

        One of the concepts I remember being introduced to in college regarding sin is the idea of venial and mortal sins. Except in RUF they were referred to as sins of commission and omission. The idea being that since the fall all of our actions are tainted with sin.

        The corruption is to the point that there are things we should be doing to follow God’s laws, but we are unaware of the act we should undertaking. There is certainly an element of innocent ignorance associated with this, yet we are falling short of God’s standard. This would align similarly to the unintentionality of a venial sin. Acts of commission, where you know better but sin nature wins the battle, mirrors the concept of mortal sins.

        Both types of sin obviously cause us to be inadequate to the standard of perfection and is the reason that many protestants look at the classifications and merely see sin. In reality, the distinctions don’t matter because any of those God has called as His children will point to Christ when their time comes. The reformed theology part Jewish protestant Red Pill Apostle has spoken (so you know my take has at least some authority 🙂 ).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lastmod says:

    To me now…… this above conversation “justifies your bad choices”.

    I am not targeting the RCC or Orthodoxy…. in Protestantism I saw this frequently and heard, “Well… God knows my heart” and in which case justified their sin, and every bad action… even if they keep on doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cameron232 says:

      I’m not sure if I’m interpreting you right but here’s an attempt at a response. Christ, as part of his ministry of mercy, gave his apostles the ability to forgive sins, as he did on earth during his ministry. Described in the Gospel of John. This is cause for hope and joy. I realize this ministry can be abused: this is the sin of presumption (of God’s mercy). I.e. using the ministry of mercy and reconciliation as an excuse to sin. There are consequences to this even for a believer if you’re looking for a sense of justice.

      Like

    • cameron232 says:

      I’m assuming you mean that confession and absolution just gives people an excuse to engage in mortal sin.

      The other notable thing is that people that do this don’t really bother to go to confession. The lines for communion are long (“I’m entitled to it”), the lines for confession are short (or non-existent unfortunately). These people don’t think they have anything to confess.

      Like

  4. elspeth says:

    There are a lot of modern Christian slogan that I have grown to recoil at over the years, but there is one that I actually think addresses this debate between Lexet and Cameron. It’s actually a good one:

    “True Christians are not looking for an excuse to sin; they are looking for a way out of sin.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • cameron232 says:

      That’s a good saying but I don’t believe in the concept of a true Christian. As much as I hate to admit it the president is a Catholic christian. He’s a true Christian that may very well burn in hell and has a lot of pain coming regardless.

      Like

  5. cameron232 says:

    The Latina hookers and their John’s in Fresno that Jason mentioned once, the ones that show up Sunday morning after Saturday night you-know-what are true Christians too and same thing as with Biden.

    Like

    • Scott says:

      For Catholics is it after baptism, confirmation, communion?

      For orthodox baptism and confirmation (Chrismation) are in the same service. Sometimes first communion happens that day if the baby is baptized and chrismated on a Sunday.

      Like

  6. Lastmod says:

    One of the properties I supervise……got a 4000.00 fine from the City of Los Angeles because I had a dead 75 foot tall palm tree on the property.

    On the sidewalk in front of this property (office complex vauled at 19 million dollars) urine soaked sidewalks, trash and filth in the gutter, including excrement…used needles. A shabby crack lined street that has not had a repaving since the mid 1990’s and to add insult, the city palm trees are infected, need cleaning up (trimming) and tents / homeless being a mennace.

    I am going to calmly going to to pay a visit to the “code enforcement” dept at City Hall tomorrow in a suit, looking like I walked out of a 1965 “Life Magazine” and I will patiently wait to discuss this with an actual person….and get the fine removed / suspended. No one believes at the Office I’ll get it reversed. Trust me. I know how to deal with this. On matters like this, I can talk to people and I can quote codes….besides, with this violation….which it is mind you, the dead tree needs to be removed. It will be. But I know the codes. They were supposed to give the management company a sixty day notice to remove the offending palm. They did not. I already called and verified there is no record of a sixty or thirty day notice. The manager at this property will then get a surprise visit from me, and I will calmly discuss that he needs to uphold vigilent standards in a very tight reatil / commercial space market….and everything counts. Even a dead tree that he should have taken care of before I found out 🙂

    This is why I have this job 🙂 I love LA 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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