Hebrews 5:4-14 – We left off last talking about Jesus “having been made perfect along with his learning how to be obedient in Hebrews 5:8. We said that this expression does not mean that he was imperfect and then became perfect or that he went from disobedience to obedience. There is a perfection that can come only having come through suffering as opposed to just being ready to go through it. Its one thing to say we are ready to lay down our lives for our faith and another to be confronted with the hand of the executioner above us, with the option of being spared if we will but deny what we believe.
Many believers both Jewish and Christian had that faith but far more did not. As a result of Jesus’ actions something happened. Jesus became the source of eternal salvation. It’s noteworthy that the One who “learned” to obey, brought salvation to those who have learned to obey.
The concept of Jesus as our high priest is not a difficult one to understand or explain, but to the Jewish believers who were deserting the faith, it was. Why? Because they had become dull of hearing. They were spiritually lazy. To accept the truths of God we need to continue to grow in our faith. The Jewish believers were not growing in their faith.
If we are to avoid becoming dull of hearing which results in our falling away from the living God, need to continue to go forward. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We have ample opportunity to learn and be stretched in our faith and knowledge, but we need to avail ourselves of the opportunities to be exposed to God’s Word. Each of these times provides us with opportunities to avoid dullness. We are warned repeatedly in both Old and New Testaments, not to be lazy or sluggish. We are all called to grow. It is important for all of us to grow. If we are not growing, we are surely headed for problems.
In Ephesians 4:14-15, we are admonished to no longer be children. The expression elementary principles means the ABC’s of the faith. Remember we are dealing with Jewish believers here and they should be well advanced of most believers because of their privileges.
Let’s look at some passages that speak of Israel’s privileges. Romans 3:1-2 & Deuteronomy 4:5-8. Psalm 147:19-20, Romans 9:4, Jewish believers were given so very much, for on top of all that, they were given the grace to see and recognize the Messiah when he came. And what are these believers doing with all that they have been given? Very little.
Hebrews 5:12 ends with the strong statement “you have come to need milk and not solid food.” The word “come” suggests that they have moved from one state to another. As believers we are either moving forward or we are moving back. There is no standing still. Paul speaks to this truth in 1 Corinthians 3:2-3. “I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly…” Hebrews 5:13 ‑ An older Believer who is still occupied with the basic truths of God, spiritually is still an infant. Consider these lyrics from an Amy Grant song.
I know a man, maybe you know him too. You can never tell he may even be you. He knelt at the altar and that was the end. He’s saved and that’s all that matters to him. His spiritual tummy it can’t take too much, one day a week he gets his spiritual lunch. On Sunday he puts on his spiritual best, and gives his language a spiritual rest. He’s just a fat little baby, he wants his bottle and he don’t mean maybe, he’s sampled solid foods once or twice, but he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice.
He’s been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood, but his daily devotions are stuck in the mud. He knows the books of the Bible and John 3:16, he’s got the biggest King James you ever did see. I’ve always wondered if he’ll grow up someday, He’s momma’s boy and he likes it that way, if you happen to see him, tell him I said he’ll never grow if he never get’s fed.
The reason many believers remain immature and become dull: They fail to grow up as they grow older. Growing older has little to do with growing wiser. In Job 32:7-8 :”I thought age should speak, and increased years should teach wisdom. But it is a spirit in a man, and the breath of the Almighty gives them understanding.
Spiritual development is stymied because of the habits we develop. If we are not developing habits that prepare us in knowing the word of righteousness we will be ill prepared. Such a person is “not accustomed to the word of righteousness.” What this means in the original language is that the spiritual baby is “without experience” or better yet “unskilled”. What is the “Word of Righteousness”? We get a clue from Romans 1:16-17. It is the Gospel, and not just the New Covenant but the Gospel from faith in the O.T. to the fulfillment of that Faith in the New.
Abraham was justified by faith Genesis 15 and Habakkuk 2:4. As believers we are called to know the Word of Righteousness. We are called to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth”. 2 Timothy 2:15
Hebrews 5:14 gives us an idea of how to attain spiritual maturity:
1) Good Food ‑ We need more than bottled formula given to us by someone else. We need to feed ourselves with our own knives and forks, cutting the meat we need by ourselves.
2) Right kinds of activity. ‑ Growing requires more than just eating, it requires practice. Applying what we are learning in our study. Too much of what we hear and learn, stays in our heads; if it isn’t utilized we lose it. One of the best ways to reinforce what we learn is by teaching it to someone else. That’s what the writer of this letter alludes to in Hebrews 5:12. You ought to be teachers. If we don’t implement what we learn or reinforce it we will be sure to lose it. Every last one of us are called to make disciples. It’s not just the work of the pastor or teaching elders. Discipleship is everyone’s responsibility. My job is to equip you to do the work of the ministry.
3) A third mark of maturity and not just old age, is keen senses. “Discerning good from evil”. With good senses you can spot a phony gospel immediately. You can discern an overemphasis of a certain theology or opinion. A person with keen senses is not distracted from the truth by sparkling lights, large crowds, beautiful music, and religious language. The choice is ours. We must decide to develop spiritual teeth. Or else we are no different than the multitude of Israel in the past and the multitude of so‑called Christians today.