Uh oh! Am I too lazy to learn? This is something to take seriously. Learning is a lot of work. I must put the time in to pray, study and learn.
- How much time do I devote to TV compared to the word of God?
- Am I teaching or do I need to be taught?
- Am I eating solid food and meat or still in need of a bottle of milk?
- Am I mature in my faith?
- Do I understand the difference between good and evil?
We have a great deal to say about this, and it is difficult to explain, since you have become too lazy to understand. Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. | Hebrews 5:11-14 (CSB)
The author of Hebrews is about to begin his explanation of the heavenly priesthood of the Messiah, but he is not sure his readers are ready for what he has to teach. The problem is not that he is a dull teacher, but that they are dull hearers! The word translated “dull” is translated “slothful” or lazy in Hebrews 6:12. It refers to a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development.
What, then, are the marks of spiritual immaturity?
Dullness toward the Word. These believers started on their “backward journey” by drifting from the Word, and then doubting the Word. As a result, they were now “dull of hearing”; that is, unable to listen to the Word, receive it, and act on it. They did not have the attitude of the Thessalonians: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”.
One of the first symptoms of spiritual regression, or backsliding, is a dullness toward the Bible. Sunday School class is dull, the preaching is dull, anything spiritual is dull. The problem is usually not with the Sunday School teacher or the pastor, but with the believer himself.
Inability to share. The ability to share spiritual truth with others is a mark of maturity. Not all disciples have the gift of teaching, but all can share what they learn from the Word. One of the hardest lesson’s children must learn is the lesson of sharing. The recipients of this letter had been saved long enough to be able to share God’s truth with others. But, instead of helping others to grow, these Hebrew disciples were in need of learning again the simple teachings of the disciples life. They were experiencing a second childhood!
A “baby food” diet. Milk is predigested food, and it is specially suited to babies. But only those who have teeth can enjoy meat. The writer defines the “milk” as “the first principles of the oracles of God”. The “meat” of the Word is the teaching about our Master’s ministry now in heaven as our High Priest. The writer wanted to give this “meat” to them, but they were not ready for it.
The “milk” of the Word refers to what Jesus did on earth—His birth, life, teaching, death, burial, and resurrection. The “meat” of the Word refers to what Jesus the Messiah is now doing in heaven. We begin the disciples life on the basis of His finished work on earth. We grow in the life on the basis of His unfinished work in heaven.
Of course, even the maturest adult never outgrows milk. As believers, we can still learn much from our Master’s work on earth. But we must not stop there! We must make spiritual progress, and we can do this only if we learn about the Messiah’s priestly ministry for us in heaven.
Unskillful in using the Word. As we grow in the Word, we learn to use it in daily life. As we apply the Word, we exercise our “spiritual senses” and develop spiritual discernment. It is a characteristic of little children that they lack discernment. A baby will put anything into its mouth. An immature believer will listen to any preacher on the radio or television and not be able to identify whether or not he is true to the Scriptures.
Just as our physical bodies have senses without which we could not function, so our inner “spiritual man” has “spiritual senses.” For example: “O taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear” (Matt. 13:16). As we feed on the Word of God and apply it in daily life, our inner “spiritual senses” get their exercise and become strong and keen. Paul called this process exercising ourselves unto godliness.
The ability to discern good and evil is a vital part of maturity. The nation of Israel in Moses’ day lacked this discernment and failed to claim its promised inheritance. The readers of this letter were in danger of making the same mistake. It is impossible to stand still in the disciple’s life: we either go forward and claim God’s blessing, or we go backward and wander about aimlessly.
Unfortunately, many Christians are ‘betweeners.’ They are between Egypt and Canaan—out of the place of danger, but not yet into the place of rest and rich inheritance. They are between Good Friday and Easter Sunday — saved by the blood but not yet enjoying newness of resurrection life.”
Are you a “betweener”? Now would be a good time to begin digging into the Word of God and becoming mature in Jesus.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 294–295). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Christian Standard Bible. (2017). (Heb 5:1–14). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.