Baby Steps Forward
Some may be inclined to think that the person who wants to remain in the wilderness cannot be a Christian at all. That thinking overlooks the truth that a person can be a baby in spiritual things. In fact, all who have been born again began as babes in Christ. The fact is, not all Christians reach the same degree of maturity.
If you saw a child 3 years old who had not grown one inch bigger or one pound heavier since the day he was born, what would you think? Would you say the child was well? Would the child's mother and father be concerned? You would say the child must be sick, and the parents should be very concerned if their child had not grown at all in three years.
Concerning babes in Christ, Peter wrote, “ As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). It is normal that a babe in Christ desire the milk of the Word. But, on the other hand, the baby stage in Christians is not the spiritually mature stage. Paul made this clear in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” What Paul has listed here are signs of spiritual carnality, signs of spiritual babyhood.
The same charge is made in the book of Hebrews 5:11-13. The writer stated: “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.” This is God’s evaluation of a spiritual baby. It is no wonder that the next chapter in Hebrews begins with the admonition for Christians to progress from the foundational things and go onto maturity.
Considering again what God said to Joshua we find this expression: “Only be thou strong and very courageous” (Joshua 1:7). The goal God had set for him was that he might “observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.” The word “very” is emphatic and strong. Joshua was going to need to be very courageous, for he had to deal first with himself before he could deal with others. It is easier for us to see the fault in others and admonish them to go on with God than it is to practice self discipline. Some people may want us to follow directions other than those given by God, but if one is to have complete victory and be an overcomer, he must follow God’s plan explicitly.
We are living in a day of rapid and often great change. We are frequently told that we must keep up with the times, and there are philosophies and methods that must be changed if we are to have any impact for God in this day and age. There certainly is some truth in this, but we must also remember that there are some things that do not change. God’s basic principle of operation in the heart of a Christian has never changed and never will change. We must stay with the truth of the Word of God, just as God has given it to us.
Obedience to the Word of God is the source of our strength and courage. There is no shortcut. Satan is not concerned about how much work a Christian does or how much activity he enters into, as long as he does not take time in the Word of God. When he does, then Satan becomes alarmed for he knows that it is then the spiritual fruit will result from the Christian’s activities and ministry. Satan knows, and we should know, that a baby Christian cannot do the job of a mature Christian. But as soon as we begin to get into the Word of God, then trouble with our our enemy begins. The reason is that “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
When we start reading and meditating upon the Word of God, the Holy Spirit begins to pierce our hearts with it. He points out to us what is wrong in our lives. He exposes our sin and shows us His righteousness. These are things Satan does not want to see happen and is the reason why he wants to keep us from the study of the Bible.
The Lord Jesus said in John 6:63—“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Spiritual life comes to us through the Word.
We read further in 2 Timothy 3:16-17—“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Without the Word, the result spoken of in this passage could not be realized. No wonder Jeremiah recorded the fact that the Lord likens His Word to a fire and to a hammer that breaks the rocks in pieces (Jeremiah 23:29).
A group of tourists visiting a picturesque village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”
Every person who is a born-again believer starts life as a baby in Christ. Whether the new convert is six or sixty, that person is still a new Christian and needs to grow in the Lord. A baby Christian who has been saved for forty years is a tragedy. God intends for us to grow and mature so that we can be a positive influence in the lives of others. Until we learn to dig into the meat of the Word for ourselves, we will never grow.
The 119th Psalm from beginning to end deals with the Word of God. It shows how essential the Word of God is in every phase of our lives. So we must get into the Word. There is no shortcut. We have to pay the price of time and effort in order to grow spiritually.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:18).