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Hebrews 5: Spiritual Growth

Hebrews 5 is a chapter that the Writer discussess spiritual growth and maturity.  The chapter begins by discussing the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ.  Jesus was designated or appointed by God as the High Priest by the order of Melchizedek.  At this time in history, the High Priest could only be appointed by God.  The responsibilities of the High Priest included mediation for the people to God.  The High Priest had two primary functions: 1-representing God to the people through teaching the Word and 2-representing the people to God by making atonement for their sins through sacrifice.  Under Levitical law as we have seen, every sin required a penalty and a sacrifice in order to receive forgiveness.  Jesus met the requirements for the final sacrifice for all through His obedience to the will of the Father.  He is High Priest forever.  His blood continues to wash all sin and His mercy and grace offer forgiveness.  But even knowing all of this, the writer of Hebrews tells the people they were not choosing the right road in keeping their faith strong. 

Hebrews 5:12-13  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  (13)  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.

Evidently, the people had been walking in the faith for a long time, because the writer says that they should have been teaching others by the time this letter was written to them.  In fact, the writer says the people need to have someone once again teach them very basic principles.  The inference here is they have not grown in their faith.  If a Christian is still seeking the simple basics of the message of the gospel, then they are not skilled in righteousness.  In other words, they were not skilled in the application of the word of God in their lives.  They were not skilled in doing what was right, even when it was difficult.  What is the difference between babes on milk and mature christians?

Hebrews 5:14  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

The mature Christian can discern both good and evil.  Do you remember when your Children were little and you were in the kitchen cooking?  Mine were so curious and inquisitive.  I had more than one child as a toddler try to reach up and turn the knobs on the stove or stand on tippy toes and try to touch the burner.  I was so worried they hurt themselves!  They didn't know any better, though.  They did not know that the burners were hot and could harm them.  How many times did you have to stop them from inserting their fingers or objects into an electrical outlet?  

Now, how many of us sit in church every Sunday morning and enjoy a simple, basic message only to turn around on Monday and behave as though we do not know right from wrong?  

James 4:17  Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

When we are teaching and training our children, we have a reasonable expectation of obedience from their learning process.  We expect them to no longer reach for the knobs on the stove or to put things in an electrical socket.  We expect them to pay attention to what we are saying and be obedient to our words because we are the parents and we are trying to protect them from what can harm them.  We have a reasonable expectation that our children will grow and hold in their hearts and minds the things we have taught them.  We also expect their learning capacity to increase as they age and mature.  It is the natural progression of physical and mental growth, right?  

1 Corinthians 13:11  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

As Christians, I believe we are expected to grow and mature spiritually just as we do physically and mentally.  Look at 1 Corinthians 13:11 above.  Eventually we have to move past the sacrifice and offering of mercy and grace of Jesus Christ to things that are more spiritually mature, like how to apply the word of God to our hearts and lives.  I think Hebrews 5:12 says the same thing.  We are to reach a stage in our walk with God that we can teach others the principles we have learned so they too can grow in the faith and teach others.  In health care we have a saying for teaching others:  See one, do one, teach one.  This simply means that the learning process should be progressive.  Once we learn a concept, we put that concept into practice, and then we teach others the same concept we have grasped.  I think we can modify the saying I mentioned to this:  We are to "hear one, apply one, live one."  We are living examples of the Love of Jesus Christ.  The word says"

Matthew 7:16-17  You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?  (17)  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

It takes time to grow something, doesn't it?  But, you can see the fruit on a tree grow and ripen as it matures into the fruit we enjoy eating.  The same is true in our spiritual growth.  The fruit people see us produce should be ripening as we mature.  The people of Hebrews seem to have lost some credibility with the writer because they had not progressed beyond the "seeing one" stage.  1 John says this about progressive stages of spiritual maturity.

1 John 2:12-14  I write to you, little children, Because your sins are forgiven you for His name's sake.  (13)  I write to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, Young Men, Because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, Because you have known the Father.  (14)  I have written to you, fathers, Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one.

The writer says he is writing to little children because little children's sins are forgiven through the grace of a loving Father.  We hold our children and give them added protection and we do our best to keep them from hurting themselves.  When our children begin walking, we are right there to ensure they do not fall.  We keep them from harm because they are too weak and small to defend themselves.  The writer is writing to young men because they have overcome the wicked one.  Young men are strong.  They have progressed to a point where they can defend themselves. They know how to use the word of God to fight the enemy.  

Tomorrow, we discuss teaching others a little further.  Have a great day today and join our discussion on Facebook. 

This post first appeared on Living In The Word, please read the originial post: here

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Hebrews 5: Spiritual Growth


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