Arrested Development

Arrested developmentBut realize this
That in the last days difficult times will come
For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money
Boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents
Ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable
Malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good
Treacherous, reckless, conceited
Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God
Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power
Avoid such men as these
For among them are those who enter into households and captivate
Weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses
Always learning
And never able to come to the knowledge of the truth
Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses
So these men also oppose the truth
Men of depraved mind
Rejected in regard to the faith
But they will not make further progress
For their folly will be obvious to all
Just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also
2 Timothy 3:1-9

When I asked our Beloved LORD GOD for confirmation that we are truly in “the great apostasy,” HE provided a detail confirmation by taking me through Scripture, local and global headlines, which included published denominational and church activity. This confirmation is documented in the study “The Apostasy” that examines the actions of apostates (those who fallen away or abandoned obedience to GOD’s commandments and faith in JESUS). In this current study “Arrested Development” our Beloved LORD GOD continues HIS confirmation. In this study we will be considering the spiritual state of apostates  through the opening Scriptures (2 Tim 3:1-9).

How do you know those described in 2 Timothy 3:1-9, are apostates? This is confirmed in 2 Timothy 3:5, with five words “avoid such men as these.” Especially when compared to 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, the men Christians have been called to avoid or not associate with, are those “so called” believers in the body of CHRIST. The believers are identified as “so called” because they are not obedient to GOD’s WORD and do not have faith in our LORD JESUS. The following Scriptures also confirm these are believers who became unbelievers, by turning back to sin and away from Truth (Isa 30:9-11, Rom 1:21-32, 2 Ths 2:10-12, 1 Tim 4:1-5, 2 Tim 4:1-5).

Why is this study titled “Arrested development”? It identifies the “spiritual state” of those who have turned away from Truth. Arrested development is a state in which progress has stopped at some point in development. It can happen physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, or spiritually. When it occurs physically, there is literally a condition wherein bodily development has stopped. Mental and emotional “arrested development” happens when a person’s capacities becomes impaired. Social “arrested development” occurs in children of all ages when the lack of godly parents, or a healthy environment leave them unable to fully develop certain desired behaviors and skills. And finally, the state we will be looking at in this study is “spiritual arrested development.” This state occurs when neither godly qualities (2 Pet 1:5-9), nor the fruit of The SPIRIT (Gal 5:22-23) is increasing in one’s life.

What is the state of one who is “arrested development” in spirit? When we examine 2 Timothy 3:1-9, we see three types of apostates. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, we first see a reprobate (Psa 15:4). This is a person who is shameless in their sin (Jer 8:12); they continually grieve our GOD (Gen 6:6, Isa 63:10, Eze 6:9, Eph 4:30) by their depravity, prayerlessness, and love of self, rather than lovers of GOD or others. Their self-love is evident in their boasting, arrogance, reviling (criticizing or attacking others in an insulting manner), disobedience to parents, ingratitude, and many other traits listed in the first five verses of 2 Timothy chapter 3. We next see false teachers (2 Tim 3:6a, 2 Tim 3:8-9), whose corrupt minds and counterfeit faith, cause them to oppose truth in order to rob others (2 Pet 2:1-3, 1 Tim 6:5, Jud 1:16) through deception (2 Cor 11:13-15). Lastly, we see those who trust solely in themselves. They decide for themselves what is right and wrong (Pro 14:12, Pro 16:25, Pro 30:12), and seek out others who support their beliefs (Jer 5:30-31, 2 Tim 4:3). These people are moved by their feelings (desires, emotions, impulses, wants), they are more concerned about how something makes them feel rather than actual truth. They believe repentance is outmoded, they are basically good, and GOD is too loving to judge or punish anyone. Sadly, all these individuals became believers through our Beloved LORD GOD, and then they turned (Jer 2:21, Isa 5:2). And upon turning they stopped growing in righteousness. Godly qualities and the fruit of The SPIRIT cease to increase in their lives, leaving them in a spiritual state of arrested development.      

Which godly qualities should be increasing in every growing Christian? It has been said “A picture is worth a thousand words” which means that a single image, can be more effective than many verbal descriptions. So we will address the question by looking at a visual diagram and message that our Precious LORD JESUS CHRIST gave to Pastor Jinnie Wong as she meditated on 2 Peter 1:5-8.

diagram of 2 Peter 158Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,  and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our LORD JESUS CHRIST (2 Peter 1:5-8). While reflecting on the image, also take the instruction in 2 Peter 1:9 to heart “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.”

Why does decreasing fruit of The SPRIIT indicate spiritual arrested development? Though there are nine attributes (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control), the word “fruit” is singular, indicating that all nine attributes should simultaneously operate in the life of a Christian abiding in CHRIST JESUS (Gal 5:22-25). The “fruit” bears witness that the life of CHRIST is simply being lived out in that Christian. If the presence of JESUS is increasing in your life, so are HIS attributes (Jhn 3:30, Jhn 15:4). If those attributes are dissipating in who you are, you have stopped growing in our Beloved LORD GOD.

How would you know you have stopped growing in JESUS? By following our LORD’s instructions in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” Do this by examining Galatians 5:19-21 and Galatians 5:22-25, and then ask yourself “what is routinely operating in my life, the deeds of the flesh, or the fruit of The Holy SPIRIT?” If you are still living for yourself, and walking in disobedience to GOD’s WORD, you will recognize one or more of the deeds of the flesh in yourself. If the person you once were has died, and your new life is now hidden in CHRIST in GOD (Col 3:3), not just you, but others will notice the change in you. And as the presence of CHRIST increases in your life, so will HIS attributes.

In what way can I know if The Holy SPIRIT is residing within me? By examining the state of your soul, the state of your heart, and how you conduct yourself:

Is your soul filled with love, joy, and peace? GOD is love, if there is no love, GOD is not present (1 Jhn 4:7-8). In the presence of GOD is fullness of joy, if there is no joy, you are not abiding in GOD’s presence (Psa 16:11, Psa 21:6, Psa 43:4). The peace of CHRIST defies human understanding, and is very present, even in the most adverse circumstances. This peace occurs only when we are in CHRIST (Jhn 16:33), where our soul is quiet and composed (Psa 131:2, Psa 62:1-2). If there is no peace, you are not dwelling in CHRIST (Psa 123:2, Isa 26:3, Jhn 14:27, Php 4:7).
Is your heart full of patience, kindness, and goodness? When you have the heart of GOD, it is reflected in how you treat others (Rom 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9, Col 3:12-14). If the patience of GOD is in your heart, you will not be easily moved or angered in the midst of delays, troubles, or suffering (Exd 34:6-7, Psa 40;1, Lam 3:25-26). When wrongfully treated, you will not entertain thoughts of retaliation (1 Pet 2:23, Pro 20:22, 1 Ths 5:15, 1 Pet 3:9). If the kindness of GOD is in your heart, you are tender-hearted, caring, and helpful towards everyone and everything (Php 2:3-5, Rom 12:13-16, Rom 15:1-3). A person with a heart of kindness is truly concerned for the well-being of another, they are helpful toward everyone not expecting anything in return. If the goodness of GOD is in your heart, you walk uprightly (Psa 34:14, Psa 125:4) and you reach out to do good to others whether it is deserved or not (Luk 6:35-36, Gal 6:9-10).
Are you a faithful, gentle, self-controlled person? If your life is truly united to our Beloved LORD GOD (Jhn 17:21-23, Rom 8:9-11, 1 Cor 6:17, Gal 2:20), it will be revealed in your conduct or behavior (1 Jhn 3:9-11). Our GOD is faithful (Deu 7:9, 1 Cor 1:9, 2 Tim 2:13), and when HE dwells within us, we too are faithful. Which means we are, trustworthy (Num 12:6-8, Neh 9:7-8, Psa 101:6-7, Dan 6:4); truthful (Psa 5:6, Pro 12:17, Jhn 1:47, 1 Pet 2:21-22), reliable, consistently keep our word, even if it hurts (Psa 15:1-5, Psa 24:3-4, Jdg 11:35). Our GOD is gentle (1 Kin 19:11-13, Mat 11:29), and because HE lives within us, we too will be known as gentle or humble people (Php 4:5, Num 12:3, 2 Tim 2:24-26, 1 Pet 3:4, 1 Pet 3:15). Our GOD is not only holy (Lev 19:2, 1 Pet 1:14-16), and cannot be tempted by evil (Jam 1:13), but HE continually exercises restraint. We daily see HIS self-control. Our Beloved GOD does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor pays us back in full for our wrongs committed (Psa 103:10, Ezr 9:13). HE is slow to anger, holding it back, giving men and opportunity to turn away from sin (Rom 2:4, Psa 78:38, Psa 103:8-9, Isa 48:9). HE restrains HIMSELF and silently waits until HIS appointed time to punish the wicked (Psa 50:17-21, Ecc 8:11, Isa 42:14, Isa 57:11). When The SPIRIT of our LORD inhabits our soul (Rom 8:9, Jhn 14:23), HIS love holds our emotions, thoughts, and behavior in the face of temptations (2 Cor 5:14, Jud 1:24-25), giving us the strength to keep the impulses of the flesh in control (Php 4:13). HIS SPIRIT gives us both the faith and the ability, to silently wait on HIM no matter the circumstance (Exd 14:14, Psa 62:5, Lam 3:25-26, Jam 1:19).

What causes one to stop growing spiritually? There are many reasons, we will look at five:

1. Lack of faith, they do not have complete trust and confidence in GOD or HIS WORD (Deu 1:32, Psa 78:22, Zep 3:2). Those who lack faith in GOD, are those who do not believe that HE truly exists, nor do they believe that HE is good. So they do not believe that HE cares for them, nor cares enough to respond to the prayers of those who seek HIM (Heb 11:6, Psa 6:9).
2. Trust is in themselves rather than GOD (Jer 7:24, Jer 17:5-9), leaning to their own understanding (Pro 3:5, Pro 3:7, Pro 28:26, Isa 5:21). Human reasoning will always clash with Faith. The mind of man is not the mind of GOD (Isa 55:8-9, 1 Cor 1:27-29); the mind of man looks from the human perspective as it can only grasp the seen aspect of every situation (Mat 16:5-12, 1 Cor 2:14); the mind of man is hostile to the things of GOD (Job 21:14-15, Rom 8:7).
3. Forget GOD by forgetting HIS WORD (Deu 8:11, Job 8:13). Those who forget GOD are those who forsake HIM (Deu 32:15, Jer 2:13, Jer 12:2); they do not seek HIM (Psa 10:4, Jer 2:31); they fail to pray, worship, or study HIS WORD (Isa 43:22, Rom 1:25, Isa 5:24).
4. Forget the blessings of GOD (Deu 1:26-33, Psa 103:1-2). Those who forget the blessings of GOD, are those who are not grateful or thankful for HIS kindness, provisions, or mercy, and continue to doubt HIM (Psa 78:11-22). When the blessing is out of sight, GOD is out of their mind (Deu 4:9-10, Jgs 8:34).
5. Walk in continual disobedience (Psa 78:10, Jer 22:21, Tit 1:16). Those who walk in continual disobedience, are those who live focused on satisfying self (Mrk 8:34-37, Rom 8:5-8, 1 Jhn 2:15-17). They never read GOD’s WORD. And though they attend public sermons, they hear, repeatedly hear, but seldom meditate on what they hear. As a result, they quickly forget what they hear, unable to reduce it to practice, so they derive little profit from GOD’s spoken WORD.

How does one keep growing spiritually? By GOD alone, WHO causes spiritual growth (1 Cor 3:6-7). This growth comes as we cling to HIM (Deu 13:4, Psa 119:31, Rev 14:12), and obey HIS WORD (Jhn 14:23, Jhn 15:1-10, 1 Jhn 3:24).

Is there hope for one in “arrested development” spiritually? Most definitely, there is nothing impossible with GOD (Luk 1:37), for it is HE WHO gives both death and life (1 Sam 2:6). The person who has stopped growing spiritually must choose to humble themselves, confess their sins (1 Jhn 1:9), and turn back to GOD (2 Chr 7:14).

Abide in ME, and I in you
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself
Unless it abides in the vine
So neither can you unless you abide in ME
I am the vine, you are the branches
He who abides in ME and I in him, he bears much fruit
For apart from ME you can do nothing
If anyone does not abide in ME
He is thrown away as a branch and dries up
And they gather them
And cast them into the fire and they are burned
John 15:4-6




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