HEBREWS 5:12-14: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (ESV)
OBSERVATION: What is “spiritual maturity”? As you read the closing of Hebrews chapter 5 and the beginning of Hebrews chapter 6, you are presented with this question. The writer of Hebrews draws a distinction between the “milk” of the Word and the “meat” of the Word. Some of the definitions of what the writer views as “milk” are surprising:
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2 ESV)
In this list are the basic elements of salvation, repentance from dead works, faith toward God, and washings (baptism). However, some of the other elements are items that you would not think would be included, the laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. These are doctrinal items that you would not expect to be listed in the category of “milk”. What does the writer mean?
Hebrews 5:14 gives us this insight. “Solid food” is defined, not as a list of doctrines that one has learned and memorized, but as the development of character that one has attained. “Solid food” is the growth of character, through God’s Word, that enables one to discern and distinguish good from evil, the flesh from the spirit, the thoughts and intentions of the heart. This is the essence of Hebrews 4:12-13:
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (ESV)
As we look upon what is happening in our culture, and more specifically in the church, we can see there is an abundance of “milk”, but not much “solid food”. When leaders of churches and ministries, well educated with degrees and years of experience in the ministry, are abandoning the clear teaching of the Word of God for the lies of this culture, we see that we have not moved on to “solid food”. When we constantly are seeking after the next “new teaching”, but never growing in the character of Jesus Christ, leaving a wake of brokenness in our paths, we have not moved on to “solid food”.
In Paul’s letters to young Timothy, Paul does not exhort Timothy to seek after knowledge, he exhorts Timothy to seek after righteousness and holiness. Paul knew too well – knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. This is not a rant against education, degrees, or doctrine. All are important and have their place. This is a call for godly character and discernment. These do not come from a textbook. These come from the living Word of God, and from a daily abiding in Christ through surrendered lives given to worship, meditation, and prayer upon His Word. This is sitting at Jesus’ feet, that which Mary understood, giving our lives to the part – “…that which cannot be taken away”. This is the “solid food”.
Lord, this morning I repent that I have been dependent upon the “milk” of the Word far too long. I desire to move on to maturity, to grow up, to have the power of daily discernment – “…constantly distinguishing good from evil”. In this upside down world, give me the grace to stand right side up – through Your Word, and become mature! In Jesus Name!