I am a huge fan of red meat! Steak is one of the greatest gifts that God ever gave to us humans in the form of a cow. I also love ribs, pork, bacon, hamburgers, hotdogs, brats, whatever the meat, I’m sure I will love it. It is one of the key staples of my doubt. However, regardless of where you fall on the topic of meat, whether you eat it or you don’t, you can understand that meat is usually a tougher food. You don’t feed a newborn a 15oz porterhouse and call it a day. Why? Because they don’t have the ability to chew up the meat or even digest that meat right away. You would think I was insane for thinking that is what I could feed a newborn. And you would be one hundred percent correct in that assumption.
The Bible uses this same illustration to talk about the truth of God’s Word in a very convicting passage in the book of Hebrews. The Bible states the following in Hebrews 5:11-14:
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
This is an incredible passage of Scripture that challenges the mindset of the Christians that the writer of Hebrews was addressing. He is drawing their attention to the fact of their spiritual immaturity. He is dealing with some doctrinal theology at the beginning of chapter five, but he comes to the point of realizing that he cannot continue forward because of their lack of maturity in Christ. So what are some takeaways from these verses to evaluate where we are in our spiritual maturity?
These people’s dull hearing had stopped the writer to be able to effectively continue to share God’s truth with them. (v.11)
This idea of being “dull of hearing” is not referring to a physical inability to hear, but rather a spiritual inability to hear and understand. They could hear with their ears, but they were not listening with their hearts. Growing up, I ran into this problem a lot with my mom whenever she would ask me to take out the trash during a sports game I was watching. I would hear her voice asking me to take out the trash, but I would not listen to my mom asking me to take out the trash.
God desires for the truth of His Word to enter into our lives and begin to guide, shape, and mold us into His image but often we do not have that same desire, so we close up our ears to His Word. This is a sign of spiritual immaturity. It should be a rebuke to us if we are unable to dig deep into Scripture with understanding. I fear often we stay surface level with our Christianity largely because we do not have the heart to dig.
2. An immature Believer is unable to teach others around him the truth of God’s Word.
In verse 12, Scripture addresses the inability of the believers to teach those around them, focusing on the fact that they were still needing to be taught again the basics of Christianity. We are all called to be teachers of the Word to each other. We have discussed this at length in our previous Sunday school series. This is one of the roles of the believer: discipleship. Yet the spiritual immaturity of these believers made them unable to do that. Are you able to share the truth about God’s Word with those around you?
This is a sign of Biblical maturity. I understand that a new Christian may not be able to answer the finer points of theology, but that is not who the writer was addressing here. He was addressing people who had been followers of Christ for a long time which would lead him to address their need to be taught. The spiritually mature believer is one who can continually share Biblical truth with those around them.
3. An immature believer is forced to stay on the surface level instead of being able to chew the deep meat of God’s Word. (vs.13-14)
This is where the rubber meets the road. The immature believer cannot chew (understand) the meat of God’s Word. The writer here uses the illustration of a baby, his need for milk and his inability to handle meat. This is a foundational principle and how all of us start in our Christian life, pastor or layman. When we are newly saved, of course we can only handle the milk (basics) of the Word. But as you grow in your relationship with Christ, the ability to deepen your faith and tackle deeper topics should occur. It is not normal for a believer to stay at needing milk his entire life. You would be very concerned if your baby grew to a toddler, then to a child, then to a teen, and then adult without ever eating solid food and only drinking milk. If that is the case physically, why do we allow it to happen in our lives spiritually? Church, continue to mature in your walk with God so that you can chew the meat and exercise spiritual discernment, Don't stay tied to the milk bottle.