“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits” (Hebrews 6:1-3)
How would you rate your spiritual maturity? Do you feel that you are growing in your understanding of God and His Will for your life or do you feel that your faith has become dull and you feel spiritual sluggish? What are the consequences of one’s failing to mature in the faith?
The Hebrew Christians were struggling with their faith and were considering giving up on Christianity (cf. Hebrews 3:12; 4:11; 10:35). Why? Part of the reason appears that they were enduring persecution for the cause of Christ, which was something they could not control (cf. Hebrews 12:4); but, a much larger reason was something they could control: they had failed to mature as Christians.
As the opening passage above indicates, the Hebrew writer encourages them to move beyond the basic teachings of the faith (e.g. repentance, faith, baptism, etc.) and “go on to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1-2). In the original language the word translated for us as “perfection” is “Teleiotes”. This does not mean “sinless perfection”. Rather “Teleiotes” is defined as “perfection; the state of the more intelligent moral and spiritual perfection”. The same word is translated as “perfection” in another passage in the book of Colossians: “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:14). The idea behind “perfection” is for one to become spiritually mature.
Though the Hebrew Christians had for some time embraced the faith, they had failed to grow in the faith. The inspired writer states, “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. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 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” (Hebrews 5:12-14).
The Hebrew writer had much more spiritually deeper things to reveal to them, such as Jesus being called by God as our High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, but could not because these things were “hard to explain” and they had become “dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:10-11). These more challenging to understand spiritual truths could encourage the Hebrew Christians to have greater faith in God, but the writer had difficulty being able to reveal them because the Hebrew Christians refused to do their part in growing up and were acting as “babes” (Hebrews 5:13). Furthermore, the “solid food” or more challenging to understand spiritual truths could help these Christians to avoid temptation and evil as they exercised their senses to “discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14).
Am I able to handle spiritual “solid food” or do I still need to be spoon fed “spiritual baby food”? No matter how eloquent or dynamic a teacher or preacher may be, they cannot help me grow spiritually and help equip me with the tools I need to fight Satan if I do not do my part to invest the time and effort to grow spiritually. There is no shame in not understanding certain spiritual truths because I am a newer babe in Christ. The shame is when Christians fail to invest the time and effort to grow up. Today, as I seek to “go on to perfection” I will invest the time and effort I need to grow up in Christ!
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:11-12).