Christianity is more than being baptized in the faith and saved, it is an ever-evolving, constantly growing religious maturity in which the follower strives to disconnect with their former self and become more like Christ.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”
The Bible tells us we are to constantly keep working at spiritual progress:
“Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,”
– Ephesians 4:13
If you belong to a gym you’ve probably noticed that some people show up regularly, but failed to make significant progress. They are there going through the motions, but their efforts are half-hearted.
Many Christians can do the same. They show up to church every Sunday, but fail to make gains in their knowledge of the Scriptures, or make changes to their mindset or lifestyle that bring them closer to Christ.
The apostle Paul likened spiritual progress and the calling of Jesus Christ to running a race.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.”
– 1 Corinthians 9:24
Spiritual progress requires commitment, and a concerted effort to change our knowledge, mindset, and behavior.
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
–2 Peter 1:5-8
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
– Romans 3:23
Because of mankind’s fall, all of us are born into sin. Until we are educated by Scripture, we tend to act on our sinful nature. In that respect, we are as children.
Our goal, then, is to obtain spiritual maturity through the Scriptures which guide us toward being like Christ. Once we do this, we let go of our sin nature, and as a result – we are changed.
“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”
– 1 John 3:9
When we grow up in life, we begin to change our behaviors. If we mature as adults, we stop doing some of the things we did in our youth.
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
–1 Corinthians 13:11
Sometimes this includes not associating with some of the people we had previously, especially those who have not matured and still do questionable and/or things that aren’t necessarily beneficial or productive.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
–1 Corinthians 15:33
Bad influences can lead us in bad directions. The best thing we can do is connect with people that share our beliefs and values. This helps ensure that we aren’t led astray.
“In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.”
– 2 Thessalonians 3:6
“Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. The one who does good is of God; the one who does evil has not seen God.”
– 3 John 1:11
The more we learn from greater responsibility. At a certain point, you’ve had an opportunity to learn and grow, and you can no longer claim ignorance.
Ultimately, Jesus says, those who have the opportunity to learn and grow, but failed to do so, will be rejected from entering heaven.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’“