Hebrews 5:11-14 – You’re the immature one!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 19, 2012 AM
The other day when I went swimming at the lake two young women, who were cooling off by standing in the water, were talking to one another about a mutual acquaintance. You could not help but overhear what they were saying because they were not very silent. One remarked, “She is so immature!” The other readily agreed and then they proceeded to act like a couple of junior high girls and gossip about the person they thought was “so immature”! None of us is immune to such childish behavior. I caught myself at the Fair the other day acting like a tired, hungry, and cranky toddler!
What is truly sad are folks who claim faith in Christ and supposedly have been Christians for years who still do not understand basic biblical concepts. Recently I interviewed a young couple who although had been missionaries in the field, they did not comprehend the basic concepts of church membership, how their denomination worked, nor the importance of faith alone in Christ alone. In our day and age there are too many believers who base their faith on feelings rather than on basic biblical truths. The writer of Hebrews faced a similar situation with the folks he was trying to speak too. Let’s discover what he says about Christian immaturity…
Spiritual immaturity breeds heresy within the Christian church. At its core are laziness and a sloppy spirituality. The author of Hebrews had barely begun his teaching on the topic of the Melchizedek priesthood of Christ but he could not continue because of the immaturity of his listeners. Like little children who get easily bored, he wondered how much exposition they could digest! He knew there was inherent danger for them to remain spiritually immature. They would be easily swayed by anyone who came along and led astray. He teaches us that…
I. Immature Christians fail to understand elementary truths! (Vv. 11-12)
“We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (Hebrews 5:11-12 NIV)
1. You would have thought that people who claimed to be Christians for probably the better part of two to three decades would have understood some of the basic tenants of their faith! This is not the case here in Hebrews. We find the author writing that, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.” Wow! I guess spiritual immaturity began in the first century! How frustrating it must have been for him to earnestly want to continue in his teaching about Jesus and Melchizedek, but it became “hard to explain because [they were] slow to learn!” Like little children who constantly have to be told to “look both ways” before crossing the street, these believers had to be constantly reintroduced to biblical basics! Hebrews states that “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.” They were lethargic in applying what they had heard! In fact, by this time they should have been able to teach others, but they were so deliberately lazy they needed “someone to teach [them] the elementary truths of God’s word all over again!” Like immature babies, they needed “milk, not solid food!” Certainly repetition is good for the soul but at some point the spiritual sloth has to apply what they have constantly heard! I believe there are only two possible conclusions concerning people like this: Either they are in rebellion against God or they are not saved in the first place! The author believes his listeners are saved but theologically lazy, which meant they were in rebellion to what they had heard over and over again! Which conclusion best fits your faith? We discovered that immature Christians fail to understand elementary truths!
EXAMPLE: You would think that people would easily learn elementary truths, but they always do not. The other day we went to a local farm to buy some melons and pet the farm animals. My little grandson loves to pet animals. He especially likes to get up close and personal with them and it was tough trying to explain to him that he could not touch the wire on the electric fence that surrounded their pen. Now I fully understand what it means to touch an electric fence, because I have experienced the rather shocking feeling myself several times, but he has not. Not even once, and so, try as I might, he still did not fully understand it until he saw one of the goats touch the wire, get zapped, and quickly jump back. He looked up at me and went, “WHOA!” I am glad to say that he learned an elementary truth. Afterwards he folded his hands behind his back and made sure he was several feet from the electric wire. How sad to learn that there are those who should know better yet are immature Christians who fail to understand elementary truths!
Did you know that the meat from young calves that are only fed milk and then slaughtered is called “veal”? It is extremely tender and costly. The same is true for those believers who constantly feed themselves on spiritual milk. They are “tender” and easily offended when confronted for their spiritual shallowness and are costly to the churches they are part of because they serve only when it benefits them or leave at a moment’s whim, costing the church body harm, frustration, and hindering its ministry. Sad to say this is nothing new because we discover from Hebrews that…
II. Mature Christians eat solid theological food regularly! (Vv. 13-14)
“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14 NIV)
1. The writer of Hebrews correctly notes that “anyone who lives on milk” should be considered “still an infant”! Of course what he is referring to is spiritual milk, the rudimentary teaching concerning the gospel. In our Sunday School Preschool Classes they are taught the concept of God’s love. God loves you, God loves others, we love God and we should love others. Sadly, much of the world today is stuck in “theological preschool.” Like the readers Hebrews was referring to, many today are “not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” It is very easy for toddlers to understand when they are loved, but it is often frustrating for them to learn obedience. The same is true for believers. It is easy to know we are loved by God, but a lot more difficult to learn righteousness. These people were not familiar with what they needed to be familiar with, namely righteousness! They could neither experience it for themselves nor teach what it meant to others! The Bible Knowledge Commentary states that “It is not so much that a spiritual ‘infant’ lacks information — though at first he obviously does — but rather that he has not yet learned to put ‘the teaching about righteousness’ to effective use. He lacks the skill which goes with maturity and which results in the ability to make appropriate moral choices!” This is why Hebrews states, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” Righteousness is not just keeping oneself free from doing really stupid things; it is living a consistently morally holy life for God! In other words, making the right choices that God would have you make! Being in worship regularly, reading the Word, praying, being a part of and serving in his church! The truly hard stuff concerning righteousness comes from knowing and doing these things consistently! It is the only way you can “distinguish good from evil” in your life! Folks, immature Christians live on a diet of theological milk but mature Christians eat solid theological food regularly!
EXAMPLE: One of the children’s TV shows that are often panned is the show Barney. The reason it is, is because of its simplistic method of teaching. To see and hear a big lumpy purple dinosaur dance around and sing, “I love you, you love me. We’re a happy family! With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you. Won’t you say you love me too?” kind of leaves itself open to all kinds of put-downs. Yet many Christians remain in a kind of Barney-believism. There are those who claim Christ, yet believe that sex before marriage is okay. They forget that sexuality is a powerful natural narcotic and Jesus fully understood this. It is easy believism to think that as long as we say we “love one another” or that “we are going to get married it is okay,” but then Jesus taught: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28 NIV) That’s tough! That’s righteousness! That’s not Barney-believism! Immature Christians live on a diet of theological milk but mature Christians eat solid theological food regularly!
Immature Christians fail to understand elementary truths! Mature Christians eat solid theological food regularly!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.