In understanding spiritual maturity, one thing I’ve found to be vitally important is that mere knowledge of the Word of God without knowing, understanding, believing and experiencing the unconditional love of God will rarely, if ever, enable us to interpret, understand and communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ correctly!
NOW ABOUT food offered to idols: of course we know that all of us possess knowledge [concerning these matters. Yet mere] knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud), but love (affection and goodwill and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to his full stature]. 2If anyone imagines that he has come to know and understand much [of divine things, without
love], he does not yet perceive and recognize and understand as strongly and clearly, nor has he become as intimately acquainted with anything as he ought or as is necessary. I Cor 8:1-2 (AMP) Paul is addressing one of the many problems the early church was facing at that time—food that had been offered to idols.
In issues of disagreement within the church, there will always be people who have their particular doctrinal opinions and scriptures to prove their point of view.
That’s why Paul said, “…of course we know that all of us possess knowledge concerning these matters”
But he continued, “Yet mere knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud)…”
Paul was saying that if all we have is mere knowledge of scripture, it will cause us to be lofty and proud!
Then he said, “…but love (affection and goodwill and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow [to his full stature].”
The J B Phillips translation says: “…Now to deal with the matter of meat which has been sacrificed to idols. It is not easy to think that we “know” over problems like this, but we should remember that while knowledge may make a man look big, it is only love that can make him grow to his full stature.”
This means: No matter how much scriptural knowledge we think we have or how much we know about the Bible, without also knowing, believing and experiencing the unconditional love of God for people, we may still be quite ignorant of things we ought to know.
That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Eph. 3:17-19 (KJV)
With our hearts firmly established in the finished work of Christ and deeply rooted in the unconditional love of God, we are able to comprehend (to lay hold of so as to make one’s own, to take into one’s self, or to appropriate with beneficial effect) the deep things of God.
Comprehending the deep things of God’s unconditional love clearly supersedes mere knowledge!
True spiritual maturity is not how much scriptural knowledge we accumulate or how many scriptures
we commit to memory.
True spiritual maturity is when we are firmly rooted, grounded and persuaded
of the unconditional love of God for people! Then we are empowered to interpret the Bible!
Knowledge of scripture without a healthy revelation of God’s love for people is powerless to touch, heal, and transform lives!
Only within the unconditional love of God demonstrated by Jesus Christ are we able to have a healthy biblical understanding that will enable us to grow to our full stature in Christ.