Mature and Immature Believers Contrasted
|The Immature Believer
|The Mature Believer
|Dull of Hearing
|Paying close attention to what God says (compare Heb. 2:1)
Not able to teach others
He still needs others to teach him.
|Able to teach others
|Still learning the ABC's of God's truth
|Has learned the ABC's of God's truth and has moved on to the deeper things of God (compare 1 Cor. 2:10)
Not ready for strong meat.
|Feeding on strong meat
|A spiritual baby
|Spiritually advanced and discerning
|Great difficulty in discerning between good and evil, and often makes wrong moral choices.
|Able to discern between good and evil (compare 1 Cor. 2:15), guided by God's Word (compare 1 Thess. 5:21)
|1 Corinthians 2:15-3:4
|Still feeding on the baby bottle (milk) and not able to handle solid food
|1 Corinthians 3:1-2
|Feeding on milk and solid food
|Carnality, walking in the flesh, producing the works of the flesh (envy, strife, divisions, etc.)
|1 Corinthians 3:3
|Walking in the Spirit (compare Galatians 5:16)
|1 Corinthians 3:4-5
|Following Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1)
|In need of personal help with his own faults
|Able to help a brother who is overcome by a fault
|Children tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine
|Rooted and grounded in the knowledge of Christ
|Vulnerable to the enemy
|Protected by God's armour
|Self absorbed, Proud
|Absorbed with Christ and with the needs of others, Humble
|Satisfied with where he is, content with his sub-par spiritual state. [Remember, when swimming upstream, to do nothing is to actually go backwards]
|Regardless of the level of maturity reached, he presses on to higher ground, never being content with his present level of attainment or spiritual accomplishment.
|"Do as I say but not as I do"
|"Follow me as I follow Christ." Able to be a model for others (compare 1 Cor. 11:1)
|Ignorant of God's will and ways due to neglect of the Bible
|1 John 2:14
|Knowing God and living in His Word (compare 2 Pet. 3:18)
Maturity requires both spirituality (being a healthy, Spirit-filled believer) and time. It takes time to develop and grow in the Lord. A young infant can be healthy but the baby is certainly not mature. The baby needs time to mature and develop. The Galatians 6:1 passage ("ye who are spiritual") implies time for growth and development. A newborn babe in Christ can be spiritual but he lacks the growth and maturity necessary to be able to help a brother who has been overcome in a fault. This will come in time, if he continues to walk in the Spirit and stay spiritually healthy.
A believer can remain a spiritual babe in Christ for years due to failure to grow and develop in Christ. This is a tragedy. What would you think of a 25 year old man still in diapers and holding a baby bottle? Milk is God's perfect nourishment for a newborn baby (1 Peter 2:2), but if a teenager is only drinking milk, something is drastically wrong.
Paul gives this description of a healthy, mature believer: "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness" (Col. 1:9-11).