5 Warning Signs of an Immature Christian

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Can Christians have developmental delays?

As parents, we sometimes determine that our children have delays in their development. Some are late bloomers, others have more serious disorders that cause a significant delay.

Can the same be true for Christians; and if so, what are the parameters that indicate Christian immaturity?

Woman in maroon-colored hat and winter coat

Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church because the church was in serious spiritual decline. 

Their lack of spiritual growth and maturity had led to attitudes and behaviors that were not only displeasing to God but were giving a bad testimony to the unbelievers around them.

And we see this same scenario in the church today.

There is a remarkable lack of spiritual maturity in the church today that has not only led to blatant misapplication or complete dismissal of certain passages of Scripture but has also led to tolerance of sin.

We see divisiveness in the church, elevation of man, and an inability to digest the hard truths of God’s Word, because we’ve chosen not to discipline ourselves to become disciples of Jesus Christ.

5 Warning Signs of an Immature Christian

While there is much blame to be laid at the door of pastors who refuse to teach the gospel and the meat of the Word, they are not fully to blame.

In today’s society, nearly every country and every culture (and most certainly English-speaking countries) have unlimited and free access to the Bible in every format and in numerous translations.

There is also free access to dozens of commentaries and study aids, as well as journals and other amazing, free resources.

There is no one to blame for spiritual immaturity other than the one staring back at us from the mirror.

1. Immature Christians are too fascinated with fallen man

“Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

“For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?” 1 Corinthians 3:4-5

Even back then the church fell into the idolatry of celebrity pastors and Christians. They were arguing over who was a better spiritual leader, based on the superiority of their wisdom.

Today we see this same tendency with celebrity pastors, mega-churches, celebrity Bible teachers, and celebrity worship leaders. And God isn’t any more pleased with it now than He was in A.D. 55.

Preoccupation with fallen man is idolatry.

Paul said, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:2-5

The danger we face when we put our faith in the wisdom of men, and not in the power of God, is when they show they have feet of clay, we grow disillusioned.

And they will show they have feet of clay because they do.

They are fallen, just as we are fallen. Just because they are teachers of the Word or worship leaders doesn’t mean they are sinless!

A mature believer knows that they can glean from the godly wisdom of pastors, and Bible teachers, and enjoy the worship music of worship leaders without adoration of them.

They are a vessel that carries the wisdom, not the source of wisdom!

2. Immature Christians put too much trust in intellectualism

This was a problem in Greek culture that carried over into the church.

Philosophy has been a part of Greek culture for millennia; a culture that elevates intellectualism. This is a trap for Christians because salvation doesn’t happen through the intellect.

While we may intellectually understand the Bible, perhaps even be able to win debates with atheists through our great knowledge and understanding of apologetics, we should not assume that this equals spiritual maturity – or even salvation.

Intellectual understanding and knowledge of God’s Word does not equate to spiritual maturity or a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:18-21

If our knowledge of the Bible is not paired with an experience with Jesus Christ, we will become arrogant and Pharisaical in our attitudes and behavior; leaving us immature as believers. 

3. Immature Christians display carnal behavior

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal… For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” 1 Corinthians 3:1, 3

One mark of a spiritually mature Christian is one’s willingness to allow the Holy Spirit free access to their life, to root out behavior that is not pleasing to God.

I remember as a child often seeing the bumper sticker, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven” and how much it bothered me.

While there is truth to this statement, the bigger truth is that it is used as an excuse for immature and carnal behavior as Christians.

We excuse ourselves on the basis of our intentions, while God judges us on the basis on our actions.

Furthermore, the world is not interested in, nor are they able to see our intentions, but  they clearly see our actions, and when our actions are in opposition to God’s Word, we bear a bad testimony.

There comes a time in every believer’s life when they must make the decision to either grow up and begin exercising spiritual discipline and maturity, by surrendering and submitting fully to the entire Word of God as the final authority for every decision and action….

or to remain in spiritual immaturity and carnality, excusing their actions by saying, “I’m not perfect, just forgiven.”

4. Immature Christians have no appetite for anything but milk

“I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;” 1 Corinthians 3:2

There is a reason why there are so many mega-churches with preachers that only “tickle ears” – preaching self-help, self-care, and motivational speeches.

There is a reason why Bible teachers who used to teach solid, biblical teaching are now caving to “Judaizers” and embracing social justice over the Bible, and liberal values over biblical values.

That is because those who flock to them only have an appetite for milk.

They only want to hear about God’s love and grace, without the balance of God’s judgement and their responsibility to work out their salvation “with fear and trembling”.

They want to hear about how much God accepts them, but don’t want to hear about the fear of the Lord.

And these pastors, Bible teachers, and worship leaders who cater to these milk-toast Christians leave them in a state of developmental delay and immaturity while falling into the same condition themselves.

5. Immature Christians tolerate gross immorality

“It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:1-2

The Corinthian church didn’t just tolerate a man being incestuous with his mother-in-law, but they were proud of their tolerance…

Their liberal values.

Their “wokeness”.

“Your glorying (boasting, rejoicing) is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” 1 Corinthians 5:6

Rather than mourning over the condition of his soul….and more so, the infectious danger this posed to the entire church, they took pride in their ability to tolerate diverse sexual situations.

We see this happening in the church today.

Because the church has chosen to listen to the voices of our culture, bow the knee to modern psychology and give more respect to liberal philosophies, she has chosen to remain in immaturity.

  • We tolerate fornication and adultery in our entertainment
  • We tolerate immorality in our churches, refusing to confront a brother or sister in sin as Jesus instructed us in Matthew 18
  • We tolerate homosexuality in our entertainment, and have allowed it to shape our world view
  • We listen to the voices that tell us that people can be born gay, rather than accepting that the Word of God says that it is an abomination 
  • We listen to Bible teachers who praise those who claim to be Christian and are same-sex attracted, but choose to remain celibate, rather than surrounding ourselves with those who preach a word of deliverance
  • We have accepted the terminology of gender dysphoria

My friends, acceptance of sexual immorality and deviance in the church has become a dividing line and the issue on which Jesus is choosing to sift the church at this point in history.

Those Bible teachers who remain silent choose a position of affirmation on this subject by way of their silence.

It is time for the church to be clear and openly rebuke those who are affirming of or engaging in immorality and abominable sexually deviant behavior.

Silence will halt our spiritual development.

Acceptance will halt our spiritual development.

Pride in being “woke” Christians will halt our spiritual development.

But more than that, it makes us spiritually diseased and infectious to the body.

This is why Paul said in verses 5 and 6, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

Dear sisters, I know this isn’t an easy word. This is a hard word – it is meat. It must be chewed on and digested. But it gives life and health to the body. 

Paul said in chapter 4 verse 14, “I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you.”

We must heed God’s warning to the church.

God doesn’t shame His children, but He does warn them, because intentional and habitual disobedience to His Word brings judgement and jeopardizes our relationship with Him.

1 Corinthians Articles:

Are You Ready for Spiritual Maturity

5 Warning Signs of an Immature Christian

5 Behaviors of a Mature Christian

The Lord’s Supper {Religion, Tradition, or Worship}

The Fruit of Maturity in the Church

Here are some additional links for you on moral purity:

Resources for Encouraging Moral Purity:

10 Bible Verses for Moral Purity

Articles About Moral Purity:

3 Reasons Why I Still Preach Purity

Why I Refuse to Throw Out the Message of Modesty and Purity

Should Parents Teach Their Children Safe Sex?

3 Reasons Why the Safe Sex Message Is Dangerous

Does Jesus Love the Homosexual?

Why the Pro-Life Message Is Muddied

There Is Healing After an Abortion

Why Sexual Sins Are Not Equal to Other Sins

3 Ways to Speak Truth in Love and Confront Sin

3 Reasons Why Grace Must Have Balance

Stand Strong in an Age of Deception

5 Behaviors of a Mature Christian

5 Warning Signs of an Immature Christian

Can God Be Pushed Too Far?

Why the Supreme Court Decision Matters

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  1. Such a good, timely, Biblically sound message. I know I’m reading this over a year since it was written (I found the link through Pinterest while working on compiling a lost of immature vs mature Christian attributes) but it’s still spot on, which tells me that it is soudly written on Biblical truths. Thank you for being a voice in the wilderness, for being willing to feed Believers the meat of the Word in a world where so many just want to sip select verses that go down smoothly. My husband and I too are called to feed Believers the meat of the Word… It’s not a popular thing to do, but it brings glory to God and if it only keeps one sister or brother on the Narrow Way then it was all worth it.

  2. This is a wonderful teaching. However, I have a concern about the use of the term “wokeness”. As a Christian, I never condone sexual immorality. I have strictly Biblical beliefs regarding sexual sin. Now, I’ve always heard the term “wokeness” in regards to racism and racial discrimination. Many people that I know (including Christians) either believe that people of color are inferior, not deserving of equality and full freedoms, or that racial disparities and racial discrimination no longer exist, especially since the USA elected a bi-racial president! There are more acts of racism than one can imagine! These are the people who need to be “woke” (sic) or awake! They have obviously never read that there is no partiality with God and that He made all nations out of one blood. Grace and Peace to you!

  3. Sad this author thinks gender dysphoria isn’t a real medical condition. I suppose she knows more than the medical community.

    It’s also sad and quite frankly a little scary that she thinks transgendered individuals can’t participate in God’s kingdom. She may just get a wake-up call from the Lord in the next life.

  4. I understand where your article is coming from and I do believe in God’s judgement. I know and am not looking forward to the day where I will stand before God and have to give an account for all the sins I committed, especially the ones where I knew better and was just acting in fear and rebellion. However, not all of us who need to hear over and over again God’s message of grace and hope want an excuse to sin or don’t want to hear about the reality of the wrath of God. Often, some of us have struggled with fear precisely because of hyper-fixation on God’s judgement and wrath and have thus gotten ourselves into major addiction based on traumas that are based in that side of Christianity. As human beings, we are capable of twisting anything. So just like God’s love, grace and mercy is twisted by humans to excuse their sins, also the law, standard and wrath of God has also been used as an excuse to abuse and demean people, Christians and non-Christians, all in the name of “tough love” and “standing up for righteousness”. Some people who operate in this think they are fighting the good fight of faith and saving people from the enemy by their brutal honesty when they are actually brutally damaging the person they are trying to save. Instead of fighting the enemy, it comes across that they view the people they are trying to save as the enemy and seem to be fighting them. That’s not true and that’s not what they’re doing, but the way that they try to burn out sin does sometimes hurt and wound. And not to a redemptive degree. Oftentimes, some of us genuinely feel trapped in our struggles. We don’t want them and we get the unconscious message that if we are not able to snap out of it and obey perfectly, then we are not truly saved and we are more undeserving than those Christians who always lived a good life, never got in trouble, and are more disciplined Christians than we are, even though it says in Romans 3:23 that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So, it’s not always that we want grace as a cop-out and that we don’t know that we will be called out on Judgement Day, regardless of how helpless we felt or not. But we need grace as a sense of hope.

  5. Also…you stated:

    “We excuse ourselves on the basis of our intentions, while God judges us on the basis on our actions.”

    You got that part wrong because the new covenant is all about what’s in the heart. While God does judge based on actions in the OLD TESTAMENT, the work of Christ is about no such thing. The only actions are the fruits of faith. The whole premise of living in Christ is to overcome judgment under the old covenant. Good works come in spite of imperfect trials. After all, Jesus did proclaim that as followers, we would be subject to tribulations. To believe otherwise is to call Jesus a liar.

    That said. You are right IF we’re not saved under Christ.

    Man cannot possibly master the sinful nature of the flesh. Hence the reason for the new covenant. Like Paul said about his own struggles with not always being able to do good when he should, knowing its a battle with his old self. The heart says it all. We’re not going to purify our flesh. Christ has raised us out of that, effectively separating the “old man” from the “new man”. Two people living in the same body till death. One goes under while the other does not. The difference between the old and new is that the follower of Christ is now at the wheel way more often than the son of Adam.

    I say this to all BROTHERS and SISTERS.

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