As has been observed in previous chapters, the "placement" of "sons," though future, first began with God purposing, before the world began, to have sons and a family of offspring. Such, as a result of this predestining act, would in time be "begotten" by him, and then reared by him to adulthood or complete sonship. The Father would see to it that each begotten child would grow up and be brought to full maturity and completeness, becoming fully like him in nature and character. Here is a case of "family planning" in the highest sense. Every child born into this family will have been born on purpose with no "accidental pregnancies." Birth and infancy, childhood and youth, do not represent the end state the Father has desired or predetermined.
As in human cases, a father and mother who have a planned pregnancy and birth, will obtain much pleasure, not only from the initial birth of the child, but also from their baby's first months or infant state. But, no parent wants their children to remain babies. As babies, they are imperfect. Parents want their babies to grow so that they might have an intellectual and psychological bonding with, and a deeper enjoyment of the child. So too do they not want their children to remain juveniles and adolescents, even though they will enjoy some good times with them in those years. They want them to grow and mature so that they might fully enjoy the family life to the fullest and participate in its responsibilities, and so that the Father himself might enjoy them to the fullest.
The reason why "hiuos" is used to describe the children of God in their fully mature and perfected state is because it often signifies that idea. Neither "teknon," nor the other Greek words used to denote the stages of growth and development of a person leading to adulthood, were used to signify this end state of perfection because by their very meanings they signify what is yet imperfect. Much more will be said on this as we proceed in the next few chapters.
The points established so far are these:
1) "The huiothesia" is what "belongs to" those who are spiritual Israelites (believers)
2) Israel's being the "son of God" was the result of being begotten and reared in Egypt
3) The finality of what it means to be "son of God" is future, connected with the resurrection
4) "Huiothesia" cannot mean "adoption"
5) Adoption teaching is unbiblical and rejected by God
6) "Huiothesia" is not a reference to Roman, Greek, or English "son placement" but is a Jewish concept
7) "Huiothesia" represents the end state to which God has predestined the elect.
8) Adoption was not practiced in the OT
9) Numerous difficulties arise from trying to reconcile adoption and birth models
10) The only basis for adoption theology is a mistranslation and interpretation of "huiothesia"
In order to establish the fact that "huios" is used in Scripture to denote one who is "like" his father (patria), and that a meaningful distinction exists in the NT between "huios" and "teknon," we will look more closely at the various Hebrew and Greek terms used in Scripture to signify a particular stage in life, from birth to adulthood.
In this chapter we will first be citing from Alfred Edersheim and his famous book "Sketches of Jewish Social Life in the Days of Christ" (SEE HERE), whose authority on Hebrew life and culture is universally recognized, in order to show that Hebrew terms denoting age were used precisely and with care and not loosely. Next, we will see the same holds true for the NT, where the Greek words used closely correspond to this Hebrew division of age. Then we will notice some examples in the NT where the authors made use of these natural divisions of age and maturity to illustrate the progressive stages that the Lord's people pass through from the time of their being "born of God" until their reaching full manhood and perfection at the resurrection of the just. Then, we will focus on "teknon" and "huios" and the distinction in use and meaning in the NT.
As we will see, the stages of life are not always divided alike, some seeing more precise divisions while others see fewer. For instance, the American Institute For Learning And Human Development has twelve stages. In "The 12 Stages of Life - The Twelve Stages of the Human Life Cycle" (SEE HERE) we read these words (emphasis mine):
"Which stage of life is the most important? Some might claim that infancy is the key stage, when a baby’s brain is wide open to new experiences that will influence all the rest of its later life. Others might argue that it’s adolescence or young adulthood, when physical health is at its peak. Many cultures around the world value late adulthood more than any other, arguing that it is at this stage that the human being has finally acquired the wisdom necessary to guide others. Who is right? The truth of the matter is that every stage of life is equally significant and necessary for the welfare of humanity."
Indeed every stage of life for the Christian is very important, but who can doubt that reaching perfection at the resurrection is the most important and desired?
Once we acknowledge the stages of life in Hebrew and Greek thinking, as pertains to human growth and development, we will then see if there are likewise stages of spiritual growth and development and whether the terms used to denote human age are made use of to denote spiritual age. We will see that many scholars of the Bible will acknowledge some division of Christians into categories of age, some being "babes in Christ" while others are "of full age," but will not generally agree on the number of stages that the Christian goes through in his movement towards perfection. For instance, in one Internet article, the title is "4 Stages of Christian Life: Are You Growing Spiritually?" (SEE HERE) Some see three, some see four or more. But, nearly all, as we will see, will at least acknowledge two. But more on this later.
The Hebrew Division
In Chapter VIII, Edersheim said these words (emphasis mine throughout):
"Strange as it may sound, it is strictly true that, beyond the boundaries of Israel, it would be scarcely possible to speak with any propriety of family life, or even of the family, as we understand these terms."
Edersheim states exactly what I have been stating about how we must define biblical terms, not in the way those terms are understood in modern English society, but in the way they were understood by Hebrews in the OT. Modern English definitions of "family" are not to be forced upon the Bible. As has been shown, even though the NT was written in Greek and for the benefit of Gentiles, its jargon is nevertheless to be generally interpreted in a Jewish context. We simply cannot take the words father, family, child, son, birth, adoption, etc., and give them a sense and definition "as we understand these terms." today, as Edersheim says.
In Chapter VII, titled "THE UPBRINGING OF JEWISH CHILDREN," Edersheim wrote:
"THE tenderness of the bond which united Jewish parents to their children appears even in the multiplicity and pictorialness of the expressions by which the various stages of child-life are designated in the Hebrew. Besides such general words as " ben " and " bath "—" son " and "daughter" —we find no fewer than nine different terms, each depicting a fresh stage of life."
"Nine different terms" for "depicting" each "stage of life." One would almost think that the Hebrews were child and developmental psychologists in the way they divided up the stages of life and giving to each stage its own significant designation. Edersheim speaks of the "pictorialness" of these various stages in the life of a person and what the terms for them "depicted." English speaking people today use a number of terms denoting a stage of life, such as babe, infant, child, toddler, adolescent, youth, youngster, juvenile, teenager, minor, girl, boy, etc. However, most people do not use these terms quite as precisely as do psychologists or as did the primitive Hebrews and Greeks.
In the "Education Encyclopedia" at StateUniversity.com (SEE HERE) it is said that the "stages of childhood are defined culturally by the social institutions, customs, and laws that make up a society."
This is true, and in our study we are looking at the Hebrew culture first, then the Greek, to discover how the stages of life are divided and sub-divided in those cultures, and to see how such information is made use of by the NT writers to depict the stages of Christian growth, from the time of spiritual birth to final glorification of body, soul, and spirit at the resurrection of the just. There is good reason then for stages of childhood to be viewed in their biblical context. The Hebrew view of family, child growth and development, and manhood, must be viewed in the context of the OT and in the context of the Greek language of the NT.
In English society today, stages of childhood and the terms associated with them are often used in connection with not only the age of the child, but with his place in the public school system. The major points in the life of a child are broken down into preschool, Kindergarten, grammar, middle (or junior high), and high school. Further, the major "rites of passage" for children are based primarily upon progression in the school system, their festive celebrations being in connection with each "graduation."
The above encyclopedia says that among English psychologists - "There are three broad stages of development: early childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence."
This is probably true because of the English school system which generally divides into these three categories or childhood, middle childhood, and adolescence.
Many primitive cultures, seeing the number seven as denoting completion or perfection, and a sacred number, divided the time from birth to adulthood (or old age) into seven stages.
Our Lord spoke of three stages of growth when he said:
"For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." (Mark 4:28 kjv)
The Lord in this parable is speaking about the "kingdom of God." It begins as "seed," then there is birth of the seed, and then growth of that which is begotten or "brought forth," and lastly the final desired end. It is interesting how in this parable the two aspects of germination or generation are evident. The "seed" represents the male side in germination, while the "earth" or "soil" represents the mother who "brings forth" that which the seed produces. Also, the analogy fits the "kingdom of God" in the aggregate as well as the individual members of the kingdom. The kingdom will increase more and more and finally result in full harvest, when every plant has reached perfection. The "full corn of the ear" alludes to the perfection and complete maturity which is achieved at the final harvest of saints at the second coming when they are resurrected and glorified. We might compare these three stages to the Apostle John's division into "children," "young," and "elderly." But, more on that later. Notice how the words of Jesus are similar to Job 5: 26.
"Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season." (kjv)
Notice how growing physically is compared to seed growing into the "shock of corn" just as in the words of the Lord. The Lord's people will come to full age at the resurrection and revelation of the sons of God.
"The first of these simply designates the babe as the newly-"born"—the "jeled," or, in the feminine, "jaldah"—as in Exod. ii. 3,6, 8. But the use of this term throws a fresh light on the meaning of some passages of Scripture. Thus we remember that it is applied to our Lord in the prophecy of His birth (Isa. ix. 6): "For a babe ('jeled ') is born unto us, a son (' ben') is given to us;" while in Isa. ii. 6 its employment adds a new meaning to the charge: "They please themselves (or strike hands) with the ' jalde '— the 'babes'—of strangers "—marking them, so to speak, as not only the children of strangers, but as unholy from their very birth. Compare also the pictorial, or else the poetical, use of the word "jeled" in such passages as Isa. xxix. 23; lvit 4; Jer. xxxi. 20; Eccl. iv. 13; 1 Kings xii. 8; 2 Kings > Compere Hamburger, Rtal-Encycl. voL L p. 642.il 24; Gen. xlii. 22; and others. The next child-name, in point of time, is "jonek," which means, lite/ally, "a suckling," being also sometimes used figuratively of plants, like our English " sucker," as in Isa. liii. 2: "He shall grow up before Him as a sucker"—"jonek." The word "jonek" occurs, for example, in Isa xi. 8, and in Ps. viii. 2. On the other hand, the expression in the latter passage, rendered "babes" in our Authorised Version, marks a yet third stage in the child's existence, and a farther advancement in the babe life. This appears from many passages. As the word implies, the "olel" is still "sucking;" but it is no longer satisfied with only this nourishment, and is "asking bread," as in Lam. iv. 4: "The tongue of the 'jonek' cleaves to the roof of his mouth for thirst: the 'olalim' ask bread." A fourth designation represents the child as the "gamul," or "weaned one" (Ps. cxxxi. 2; Isa xi. 8; xxviii. 9), from a verb which primarily means to complete, and secondarily to wean. As we know, the period of weaning among the Hebrews was generally at the end of two years (Cltethnb. 60), and was celebrated by a feast. After that the fond eye of the Hebrew parent seems to watch the child as it is clinging to its mother—as it were, ranging itself by her—whence the fifth designation, "taph" (Esther iii. 13, "The 'taph' and the women in one day;" Jer. xl. 7; Ezek. ix. 6). The sixth period is marked by the word "elem" (in the feminine, "almah," as in Isa. vii. 14, of the virgin-mother), which denotes becoming firm and strong. As one might expect, we have next the "naar," or youth— literally, he who shakes off", or shakes himself free. Lastly, we find the child designated as "bachur," or the "ripened one;" a young warrior, as in Isa. xxxi . 8; Jer. xviii. 21; xv. 8, etc Assuredly, those who so keenly watched child-life as to give a pictorial designation to each advancing stage of its existence, must have been fondly attached to their children."
One thing is clear from these words of the learned Edersheim. The OT authors were very careful in the words that they used to refer to a person at a certain stage in his or her life. This fact disproves the contention of some that the bible writers were not so careful in the use of these terms so that they used them interchangeably and without meaningful distinction. Further we will see that the same holds true with the writers of the Greek NT. The Hebrews had nine terms for the stages of life and the Greeks and Romans also had something similar. The number is different if we are 1) counting from birth to adulthood, or 2) counting from birth to old age. In each stage of growth there is a change in intellect, physical proportion, or stature, and behavior.
OT Use Of Age To Denote Spiritual Growth Stages
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? [them that are] weaned from the milk, [and] drawn from the breasts." (Isa. 28:9 kjv)
"Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me." (Isa. 1:2 kjv)
Though the OT is not as clear on the matter of spiritual growth and perfection as is the NT, yet verses like the above do indicate such growth and stages of development. Hosea 11:1 has already been referred which says that Israel went into Egypt as a "child" but came out of it a "son."
The Greek Division
In “The Greek Concept of the "Seven Stages of Life” and Its New Testament Significance" by R. Larry Overstreet of Northwest Baptist Seminary (Tacoma, Wa. - SEE HERE), Mr. Overstreet observes (emphasis mine):
"Particular words used in Greek and Roman cultures before, during, and after NT times provide insight into how those peoples recognized seven identifiable stages of life a person experiences during the aging process, from birth through old age. This is referred to as the hebdomadal system. Because the terms are also found in the NT, identifying their parameters is beneficial for understanding the implications of the various ages of individuals mentioned. Interpreters of the NT will define with greater precision texts that mention age. To accomplish this purpose, this article first examines the concept of life’s stages in ancient literature and then considers the seven specific stages of life enumerated in that literature. The final section applies the understanding of the Greek terms for the stages of life to the NT."
Most of the terms for identifying age in the Bible are used to denote people in regard to their physical life and state. However, in some cases, the Bible makes use of some of these terms to depict Christians in various stages of growth and development. This makes it important to first understand their application in regard to natural growth and development and then see why they were used by the biblical writers to depict some phase of the Christian life.
"This article proposes to examine the terminology of the NT related to age identification with the purpose of leading to a clearer understanding of age references in the Scriptures. This is accomplished by tracing the words ancient writers used to identify the various “stages of life” and then applying the conclusions drawn to NT texts. While some flexibility existed in ancient literature in the use of terms for age, the evidence shows that both Greek and Roman civilizations recognized that a person’s life divided into seven stages, the hebdomadal system, extending in identifiable time periods from birth through old age."
Since it is clear that the NT made use of different Greek words to denote particular stages of life, the question is this: do the NT writers use these terms to also designate stages of spiritual growth and perfection?
"Those stages are explicated by words delimiting them, all of which, except one, are found in the NT. The first stage of life is represented by παιδίον (birth to 7 years), the second stage by παῖς (ages 7 to 14), the third stage by µειρακιον (ages 14 to 21), the fourth by νεανίσκος (ages 21 to 28), the fifth by ἀνὴρ (ages 28 to 49), the sixth by πρεσβύτης (ages 49 to 56), and the final stage of a person’s life is represented by γέροντας (ages 56 until death)."
Thus, the question is, are there any of these words for age divisions used by Bible writers to apply to the spiritual age of those who are the begotten children of God? We will see that they do. Therefore, those scholars who think such terms were used loosely and interchangeably are in error.
"As newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby" (I Peter 2: 2).
Concerning ἀρτιγέννητα (newborn), Vincent's Word Studies says: "Peculiar to Peter, and only in this passage. Lit., born but just now (ἄρτι)."
Concerning βρέφη (babes) he says: "The word signifying peculiarly a child at birth, or of tender years. See Luke 18:15; Acts 7:19. Of the infant Jesus, Luke 2:12, Luke 2:16. Here marking the recency of Christian life in the converts addressed."
Thus, it is clear that the Apostle Peter chose specific words used to identify stages of physical growth and development and applied them to stages of spiritual growth. Those who have just been saved and born again are spiritual infants. But, God has predestined souls to become full grown sons, so not only is the birth predestined, but also the growth to perfection.
"Brethren, be not children (paidion) in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children (nēpiazō), but in understanding be men (teleios)." (I Cor. 14:20 kjv)
Those who are just recently spiritually born are not yet "men" in character and understanding. Yet, they are destined to become such. But, more on this later. There are three stages of growth spoken of here in the original Greek—infants, children, full-grown men. Further, as we will see, the Apostle John also made a similar division.
"But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (I Cor. 13:11)
Again, notice how the Apostle uses "nepias" for "small child." This is the state of all when they are first born of the Spirit. They are babes. But, they are not to remain babes, but to grow towards complete manhood and perfection. Going from childhood to manhood is in three areas, "in speech (ἐλάουν), in disposition and aim (ἐφρόνουν), and in mental activity (ἐλογιζόμην)." (Expositor's Greek Testament) But, more on that later as we discuss how "son placement" is connected with the time of perfection when the one who was once a baby and an adolescent finally becomes a full grown man or son. "The progress from grace to glory, which awaits individual believers and the whole Church, is compared to the different stages of human life." (Bengal's Gnomen)
"...That we henceforth be no more children (nepios), tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:" (Eph. 4:11-15 kjv)
Again, this is but more evidence that the NT writers used terms denoting a physical stage of growth and development to allude to stages of spiritual growth.
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant (nepios). But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." (Heb. 5:12-14 nasb)
Again, God's children, when they are first begotten, are babes. But, they do not stay babes, but grow and increase, advancing towards perfection as fully developed adults in body and mind.
"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes (nepioi) in Christ. 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; for you are still carnal." (I Cor. 3:1-3 NASB)
Again, this shows how the apostles made use of terms designating stages of physical growth to also represent stages of spiritual growth.
"So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the [d]elemental things of the world." (Gal. 4:3 nasb)
On this verse and the context of it we will have much more to say later as it contains another reference to "the huiothesia." But, notice again, how Christians are first children, then young men, then mature fathers. Notice these words of the Apostle John.
"I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." (I John 2: 12-14 NASB)
Ray Stedman, well known Bible exegete, in an article titled "Growing in Grace" (Ray Stedman.org - SEE HERE) said the following good things about these verses (emphasis mine):
"Now John introduces us to a third factor which follows relationship and fellowship. He adds a word which we will find frequently on the pages of Scripture -- maturity, full growth, or, as you find it in the King James Version, perfection. The curse of the church has always been immature Christians, Christians who never grow up, Christians who cease their progress soon after beginning the Christian life.
This has happened to many Christians. They have never grown up. The Christian life is much more than a beginning in conversion, it is what happens after that which is of supreme importance. Christians who have never grown up are always a problem and cause many difficulties. If you are a brand-new Christian, just come to know Jesus Christ, and still rejoicing in the thrill of new-found relationship, I am not speaking to you. You are not a problem, particularly, for there is always room and provision for babies in a family circle. But Christians who are yet babies after ten, twenty, thirty, even forty years of Christian life, these are the problem. They are immature, they refuse to grow up. John now comes face to face with this problem and in the text before us he describes three stages of spiritual development, three levels of growth in the Christian life:
I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for his sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:12-13a RSV)
There are three groups -- children, fathers, young men. These have no relationship to physical age whatsoever, or to sex. It is possible for a man sixty years old in the flesh to be six months old in the Lord. It is possible for a woman to be a father in the sense used here, a mature, developed, full-grown Christian. A young man of thirty can be a babe in Christ, a father, or a young man according to the terms John uses here. These have no relationship to the time that you have been a Christian, the years since your conversion, or even to the position you may hold as a Christian.
Now let us look at these more closely. These successive stages of the Christian life (and, if you are a Christian, you belong in here somewhere) are introduced by the title, little children. John uses here a word in Greek which means "to be born." It is almost the exact equivalent of the Scottish word, bairns, born ones. He is referring to the fact that though they are young and immature, nevertheless, they are in the family. They have become part of the family of God. You cannot get into a family without birth. That is true on the physical level, and it is true on the spiritual level. Jesus said to Nicodemus, "You must be born again," John 3:7).
Now John immediately describes the experience of all Christians which follows this new birth. "Little children, I am writing to you because your sins are forgiven for his sake." That is the basic Christian position. It is forever true of all Christians that their sins are forgiven, and it is always the first thing they become aware of when they become Christians. There is the lifting of the load of guilt, the solving of the problem of destiny, the forgiveness of sins. What a wonderful experience it is.
John does not mention here some of the negative aspects of spiritual infancy. He merely marks this one consistent, positive condition that is true of all who come to Christ -- their sins are forgiven. He does not mention that, like physical babies, new Christians can often be rude and egotistical, emotionally unstable and overly dependent on other people. That is the way new babies are. They display many negative qualities, but the one thing that is universally true of them is that they are in the family, they have life.
There must be a beginning in the Christian life, but it is only a beginning, it is not an ending. We are intended to move, to go on, to "grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," as Peter said 2 Peter 3:18). This is what all the apostles aim for. Paul said, "Him (Christ) we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ," (Colossians 1:28 RSV). Maturity, that is what he is after.
John moves on to look at the other end of the growth process, the fully matured Christian, the fathers:
I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. (1 John 2:14a RSV) That is the chief characteristic of one who could be called a father, "You know him who is from the beginning." Who is that? Well, that refers to the word with which this epistle opens:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life -- the life was manifest, and we saw it, ... (1 John 1:1-2a RSV)
In other words, this is Jesus Christ. The mark of a father, then, is one who has come to know Jesus Christ. The word "know" carries the implication, "coming to know by experience." A father is one who has come to know, by long experience, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There are two inescapable factors about that kind of knowledge. There is personal acquaintanceship; it must be intimate, close, and personal, and, it must be over a long period of time. No one can become a father, in this sense, overnight. There must be years spent in fellowship together. The inevitable result of that kind of activity is resemblance, a mutual identity that grows out of such personal acquaintance over a long period of time. You often see this on the physical level, do you not? If two people live together a long time, know each other well, and are communicating -- talking back and forth -- they grow to be like one another.
Thus fathers are Christ-like. That is their chief characteristic. They possess in great measure the disposition of Jesus Christ. They have left behind the signs of immaturity. Remember Paul says, in that great love chapter of First Corinthians 13, "When I was a child I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things," 1 Corinthians 13:11). That is maturity, to put away childish things. Fathers are no longer juvenile in their attitudes, no longer unstable, petty, flippant, but are steady, thoughtful, competent, easy to live with. We will see more of this as we come back to John's second survey of these classifications, in a further message. The third stage he indicates is that of young men:
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13b RSV)
The indicative mark here is that a young man has overcome the evil one. This is the mark of those who are growing, who are strong, who are moving into maturity. They have overcome the evil one. What does that reveal? First it reveals that their eyes have been opened to the true nature of the struggle of life. As Paul put it in Ephesians 6, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood," (Ephesians 6:12a KJV). Our problem is not people. It is the immature Christian who says, "If so-and-so would just leave me alone -- my boss, my mother-in-law, my daughter, my son, my husband, my wife, the Internal Revenue Department -- if they would just leave me alone I would be fine. It's people who are my problem." But anyone who has learned to overcome the evil one knows differently. He knows we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers, against wicked spirits in high places, against world rulers in this present darkness. The battle is in the mind, with ideas, with attitudes, with subtle and alluring temptations that come in hidden ways. Here is the true battle, and these young men have had their eyes opened to the struggle and have come to grips with these powerful invisible forces that wreak such havoc today.
Yet they are not mature. They are spiritual, but they are not mature. They lack yet the full range of Christian experience.
There is great confusion in Christian circles at this point. There is a difference between spirituality and maturity. Maturity is the final goal. It is what the Spirit of God is aiming at, for you to be a grownup, mature, experienced Christian. Spirituality is the process by which you get there. Maturity is produced by time spent in fellowship, in spiritual relationship, to the Son of God. That is why you can live for years as a Christian and never mature, for the years are not spent in fellowship but in walking outside this relationship of fellowship with the Son of God."