A clear indication of maturing in Christ is increasing humility. The closer we draw to Him the more He becomes the center of our lives; the closer we draw to Him the more we grasp His holiness and our sinfulness.
Notice the progression of increasing humility in the apostle Paul’s life.
* "For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God." (1 Corinthians 15:9 – written in 56 AD).
* "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,..." (Ephesians 3:8 – written in early 60 or 61 AD).
* "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief." (1 Timothy 1:15 – written in 62-64 AD).
The more Paul matured in his faith the more sinful he saw himself. In a matter of years, the apostle Paul progressed from viewing himself as the least of all the apostles, to the least of all Christians, to the worst of all sinners. He went from “I am the worst apostle in the group” to “I really am the worst Christian I know” to “I am the worst sinner on the planet.” He wasn’t actually more sinful; he just more clearly saw himself in light of the Lord’s holiness.
The closer we get to God the more we understand His holiness, thus realizing more and more how sinful we really are. This makes us all the more grateful for His grace by which comes our salvation. Because of His grace, an increasing view of His holiness and our sinfulness causes us to rejoice in Christ who cleanses us of our sins and sanctifies us.
Because of Jesus, our joy does not diminish when we see ourselves as more and more sinful. Because of Jesus, our joy actually increases with our understanding of our sinfulness. In diminishing ourselves before Him, He increases within our hearts. Our joy and peace therefore increases because we come to realize our fulfillment in Him rather than in our limited and unreliable selves.