Moral "adults" are people who are capable of growing spiritually without being forced to do so. Such people are surprisingly rare.  Ask yourself when was the last time that you admitted that you were wrong about something, without someone else having to point it out to you.

 If you pretend a problem has been resolved the moment others stop criticising you, then you are still “children” in terms of moral development. You will not become adults until you personally want to correct errors in your own spirit, with or without comments from anyone else.

Leaders can only go so far in correcting followers, and there will be times when the leaders themselves may be wrong.  The test of spiritual maturity is when you can spot a problem in your own beliefs or behaviour without anyone pointing it out for you.  In fact, it may be that the only changes that really count (spiritually) are those which you saw and acted on voluntarily, i.e. with the change coming from within, rather than being forced onto you externally.  As the saying goes, "A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still."

Sadly, most friendships only exist on the unspoken understanding that we not criticise one another.  We can criticise others, but not our friends.  Some people cannot even handle the idea that someone might secretly think they have a problem.  We cannot stop others from operating like that; but for ourselves, we need to be actively seeking out ways to become better people, even if it goes against our grain.

Until this happens, we cannot consider ourselves to be moral adults… no matter how much others may overlook the problem, and no matter how much apparent good we do, unless improvement springs up from a willingness to admit that we don’t have it all figured out, we will continue to miss the mark spiritually. Whether or not someone shouts at you to wash your face won't make your face any cleaner or dirtier.  It’s what you do about it… wholeheartedly and voluntarily… that makes the difference.

We are living in an age when the entire human race has lost its way spiritually.  If we are to rise out of that morass, then we must learn to recognise truth wherever it appears, and to acknowledge error in ourselves when evidence shows that we have been operating under misconceptions.

The bottom line is between each individual and God (or their conscience, if you prefer). If you cannot tell the difference between what others say and what God says, between what others think and what God thinks, then you are still spiritually stunted in your growth.

Exactly where God draws the line between sincerity and insincerity is not clear. I think he judges us each according to how much we actually know. If we are genuinely blind to a fault, then he will almost certainly go easier on us than he will if we are trying to see how much we can get away with.

But the devil is very subtle. He can convince you that God doesn't expect you to change, when God really does. Keep listening to the devil, and you'll get a "reprobate mind" which will actually believe that lie… the lie being that you can stay as you are and never have to give account for it.

Jesus taught that we get no credit in his kingdom for pious acts that other people see and compliment us for.  It may well be that we also get no credit for spiritual growth that only takes place after someone else kicks us into action.

Summing up, moral maturity is something that needs to spring from within.  We need to learn to recognise our faults even when others ignore them, and then do what we can to change them.

*For more information related to this article, please check out the following video: Will Christians Escape the Great Tribulation?