5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless someone is born of water and spirit, he is not able to enter into the kingdom of God.John 3:5 (LEB)
Being born again (salvation) is just the beginning. It is how we are “justified in Christ” and will receive eternal life. With salvation, our eternal life is guaranteed, but our rewards in the eternal kingdom are not. There is a separate idea that is clear in the Bible about being sanctified. To be sanctified is to be “made holy” and it happens by our choice in this lifetime. It is a process of being conformed to what Jesus Christ is like. It is not a single event, but an optional, progressive process throughout the course of our lives led by the Holy Spirit.
So, at birth (i.e., salvation), you are a spiritual baby. At this point, we have two lives. One life is according to the flesh and fleshly ways. The easiest definition of “flesh” is our life with sin mixed in. The fleshly life is very much alive in us after we receive salvation. However, we have a new life that is spiritual and comes from God, but we are just babies. These lives compete. One leads to an internal state of “death” and the other leads to an internal state of “life and peace”. These are very real experiences in us.
5 For those who are living according to the flesh are intent on the things of the flesh, but those who are living according to the Spirit are intent on the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mindset of the flesh is enmity toward God, for it is not subjected to the law of God, for it is not able to do so,Romans 8:5–7 (LEB)
12 So then, brothers, we are obligated not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you are going to die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all those who are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.Romans 8:12–14 (LEB)
Note: The greek in verse 14 indicates that “those who are led” are being “continually led” in an ongoing way not just a one time event.
We are given some key things to help us understand whether we are living by the Spirit of God. They are life (Greek: zoe meaning God’s life) and peace. This life is special. It is God’s life in our life and it can have many effects on us in helping us to grow. It is not easily quantifiable, but it is very real. This peace is also special, according to Philippians 4:7, it is “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Life and peace are gifts given to priests of God (Malachi 2:4-5). You are a priest according to God. These are internal evidence in us that we can learn to become aware of and tune into in our daily experience. These are subjective items (not objective), but they are the shared experience of all believers who learn to walk in the spirit in a healthy way. If you lack this experience, it is possible that you may be in a state of “death” or stagnant in your growth. We have to understand this for ourselves based on our internal state. There are some external evidences, but it is an individual responsibility. It is also possible to maintain this peace inside and then lose it. When we lose it and realize it is gone we must turn to God in prayer and fellowship with Him to find out why.
To mature spiritually, we need to grow. The main thing that babies do is to eat, sleep and interact with family. They absorb everything, but there isn’t much that is intelligible. They just need to eat and sleep some more. The same is true for spiritual growth. We need spiritual food. Jesus Christ is the true bread of life as spiritual food for us which comes in the form of the Word of God. Jesus then tells us that we must eat this “bread of life”.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … 14 And the Word became flesh and took up residence among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:1, 14 (LEB)
47 Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that someone may eat from it and not die.John 6:47–50 (LEB)
We partake of spiritual food. We do not have to understand it perfectly. We do not have to “figure it out”. I suggest it is better not to try too hard to figure it out, but rather to just eat. We don’t cause ourselves to grow. God causes the growth leading towards spiritual maturity, but we have a choice to cooperate in this process or not.
The Holy Spirit who is the ONE and ONLY access on earth for you to God the Father and Jesus the Son. You have fellowship with the Son and with the Father through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the perfect representative of God who only represents God in truth and to glorify Jesus. He, the Holy Spirit, is in you and with you. A key purpose (not the only one) of the Holy Spirit is to lead you to maturity in Christ, but it is necessary to submit to God for this work.
(Jesus speaking) 12 I still have many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them now. 13 But when he—the Spirit of truth—comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak from himself, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will proclaim to you the things to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and will proclaim it to you. 15 Everything that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he takes from what is mine and will proclaim it to you.John 16:12–15 (LEB)
(Jesus speaking) 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, in order that he may be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world is not able to receive, because it does not see him or know him. You know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.John 14:15–17 (LEB)
(Jesus speaking) 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name—that one will teach you all things, and will remind you of everything that I said to you.John 14:26 (LEB)
9 And I tell you, ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened for you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 But what father from among you, if his son will ask for a fish, instead of a fish will give him a snake? 12 Or also, if he will ask for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 Therefore if you, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father from heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”Luke 11:9–13 (LEB)
I encourage you to ask God to help you tune in and see the reality of the Holy Spirit in your life.
— A. Layman