Why we need solid food in order to be spiritually mature
Today, there are two categories of churchgoers. There are pew warmers, whose mindset is this: “What can I get by coming to church?” In contrast, some ask, “How can I contribute?” These mature believers have a desire to serve God and others.
Spiritual immaturity is not just a current phenomenon. Long ago, there were some believers who were supposed to be teachers but they could only feed on milk, not solid food. Instead of teaching others, they remained inward-looking, immature and gullible.
“There has been enough time for you to be teachers—yet you still need someone to teach you the first lessons of God’s message. Instead of eating solid food, you still have to drink milk. Anyone who has to drink milk is still a child, without any experience in the matter of right and wrong. Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil.”(Hebrews 5: 12-14)
What can we learn from this passage? Spiritual maturity is not necessarily related to age (number of years in the faith). What distinguishes the men from the boys is our hunger for truth. It is our attitude that motivates us to study God’s word, irrespective of our age.
Thus, there is a great need to seriously study God’s word— renew our minds—so that we do not conform to the world, we can present ourselves as a living sacrifice, and discern God’s will for our lives (Romans 12:1-2).
The word has to cut deep into our lives (Hebrews 4:12) and show us areas which do not please Him, whether sins or weights that impede progress (Hebrews 12:1).
There is no shortcut to sanctification. As Jesus prayed: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
How can we know what pleases God unless we study His word in order to know the truth?How would we know that ogling at the opposite sex with lustful thoughts is tantamount to adultery unless we are familiar with Matthew 5:27-28?
“Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Next, the issue of God’s leading. Before the Holy Spirit can lead us into the truth (John 16:13) and show us God’s specific will (Ephesians 5: 17-18) for our lives, we need to go deep into scriptures. Believers should not be dim-witted like a horse or mule without understanding but sensitive to God’s instructions (Psalm 32: 8-9).
Another cogent reason why we need solid food is this: Deception has become so prevalent during these perilous end times.
Jesus warned believers in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) that false christs and false prophets will arise and deceive many believers, not once but four times.
Paul warned the elders of the church at Ephesus that, after his departure, fierce wolves will come, not sparing the flock (Acts 20: 29).
Later, this seasoned apostle warned young Timothy that people with itching ears will seek teachers to suit their passions rather than listen to sound teaching (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Jude found it necessary to contend for the faith as false teachers had secretly slipped into the church, perverting God’s grace by turning it into a license for immorality (Jude 3-4).
The above warnings show us how important it is to be vigilant against deception. The great preacher, C.H. Spurgeon, says: “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”
Many fervent but gullible believers will be fooled by false prophets and teachers these last days as these wolves, well draped in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), are not easily spotted out.
How do we detect counterfeit currency? The correct approach is to begin studying the characteristics of genuine notes. Once we have mastered this, we can easily spot out the fake ones. Similarly, in the spiritual realm, we have to be well-versed with the truth before we can overcome deception.
For this reason, believers have to ground themselves on solid food (“meat”) from scriptures so that they can distinguish truth from half-truths and lies.
Though discernment is a distinctive quality of mature, spirit-filled believers (1 Corinthians 2: 12-16), this ability to distinguish between good and evil does not come automatically. Though we may have the ‘mind of Christ’, we still need to fill it up with the truth. The Holy Spirit can only draw upon the repository of truth in our minds (John 14:26).
We need to “study to show ourselves approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
To “rightly divide the word” implies that we do not “cherry pick” only those portions that are attractive and agreeable and downplay the parts that are harsh and objectionable. If we pick and choose from scripture what we think is good for us, we will get a distorted message of the Bible.
By dwelling on the whole Bible, we do not focus on half-truths or emphasise one truth at the expense of another equally fundamental truth. Paul, while addressing the elders at Ephesus, said that he did not shrink from declaring to them the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
The following are two examples of the danger of dwelling on half-truths.
Firstly, thinking erroneously that God is always loving, gracious and merciful may prove disastrous when we are confronted by God the supreme judge at the end of life’s journey or when Christ returns (Hebrews 9:27, 1 Peter 4:7,17).
Love and mercy are important attributes of God. But He is also a God of justice and righteousness. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you” (Psalm 89:14).
Secondly, are believers free from the law? In a sense, the answer is ‘yes’ in that we need not arduously keep the law in order to earn our ticket to heaven. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). As Scripture says, “You are not under law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
However, it does not mean we can do whatever we like. We are still held accountable under moral laws as revealed in the Ten Commandments. Jesus categorically stated: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Matthew 5:17). Paul affirmed that, though believers are saved by faith, it does not mean that we can overthrow the Law, which is still upheld (Romans 3: 31).
It is through in-depth study of God’s word and constant practice, that we develop discernment. Spiritual babes, merely content with the fact they are saved through faith and repentance, are unlikely to develop discernment (Hebrews 5: 12-14, Hebrews 6:1).
If we think that, having received God’s grace, we can be complacent, and merely rest on the imputed righteousness of Christ, we are seriously mistaken. The Christian life is not passive but active.
Just as an infant’s diet has to progressively shift from milk to solid food, so too must believers grow in spiritual maturity through effort and experience.
Peter tells us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. We are to add to our faith the following qualities: goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love in order that we may not be ineffective or unfruitful. By doing so, we confirm our call and election and will never stumble (2 Peter 3:18, 2 Peter 1:5-10).
Spiritual babies need milk. Solid food, on the other hand, is for adults, who through practice are able to distinguish between good and evil.
In order to mature, believers need solid food (meat) for sanctification and victory over deception.
Sometimes we think that being led by the Spirit means our mind is either passive or plays only a minor role. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thoughts determine our character, destiny and worldview. That’s why it’s important to renew our minds with the unchanging Word of God.
How to develop discernment and escape the clutches of destructive heresies
Understanding the wiles of Satan is the first step towards winning the battle against deception.
When we select portions of scripture which are attractive and agreeable to us, we are distorting the truth.
A half-truth is a partial revelation. It can give us a wrong or false impression that’s all there is to be said of a subject whereas there are other facets worth considering. The fullness of revelation only comes when all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are put in place.
Receiving God’s grace is merely the first step in the life of a believer. The difficult part is to continue growing, keeping ourselves under God’s favour and impacting the world.
Note: Dr Lim Poh Ann is a medical practitioner. He was the former editor of Asian Beacon magazine (Dec 2008 – Oct 2011). He can be reached at his Facebook page, www.facebook.com/AskDrLi
SOURCE OF ARTICLE: http://limpohann.blogspot.my/2017/06/meat-must-for-maturity.html
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Dr Lim Poh Ann