Although we don’t know many specific details about the people who received the letter of Hebrews, it seems apparent that they were struggling to maintain consistency and were drifting in their faith. The writer of Hebrews points to three warning signs that indicate potential backsliding:
Laziness. As we mentioned at the beginning, the content of the letter to the Hebrews can be challenging. It takes work to explain these truths, and effort to understand, which is why the author laments the realization that his readers are prone to laziness, because laziness is an unwillingness to put forth the effort necessary to get the job done. It’s a major red flag when a community of believers can be described as “too lazy to understand” the deeper truths of God’s Word.
Unable to teach. Imagine a person who enters high school without being able to read. At that education level, a person should not only be a proficient reader, but should also be able to teach a younger kid the basics of how to read. That’s what happened to the recipients of Hebrews. Something stunted their growth. They should be capable of teaching God’s Word to others, but instead it feels like they need to go back and start over. Another red flag.
Immaturity. When a baby drinks only milk and doesn’t eat solid food, it’s completely appropriate. That’s what babies do. They’re reliant on someone else to feed them, until they’re ready for solid food. The writer of Hebrews understands this. If the Word of God is spiritual food for the believer, it’s perfectly understandable for people who are very new to the faith to start by drinking only milk, like infants do. However, the recipients of this letter aren’t new to the faith. They ought to be eating solid food, but they’re immature. They can’t tell the difference between good and evil. They’ve drifted. They’re not growing up. A third red flag.
Once the author of Hebrews has shined a light on the spiritual deficiency in this community, he calls for a course correction. He says, “let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity.” In other words, “grow up!” You’ve already been given new life in Christ, and that’s never going to change. Now go do something with it. Be diligent. Put in the effort. Stop being lazy and immature, and dig into some solid food. The effort it takes to understand the deeper truths of God’s Word is worth it. Through it you’ll grow in your own faith and discernment and be able to teach others to do the same.
Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity.
Old Testament References
- Genesis 17
- Genesis 22:17
- Psalm 119
- 2 Timothy 2:1-2
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- 2 Peter 1:16-21
- Where are you prone to laziness? How is this an opportunity for you to grow in maturity?
- Do you feel equipped to teach others from the Bible? How could you grow in this area?
- Assuming the Bible is our source of solid food, how much have you been eating? Do you make regular time to digest the Bible so you can grow in your ability to “distinguish between good and evil?”
Identify a person or two with whom you would like to study the Bible. Perhaps it’s a roommate, or someone on your ministry team. Maybe you’d like to teach some basic Bible lessons to your family, to help move your kids toward “solid food.” Make a plan to initiate with these people with the goal of gathering for Bible study. Make sure your plan includes a day, time, place, and what portion of the Bible you plan to study.
[expand title=”Life Group Questions”]
- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Hebrews 5:11-6:19. What truths about God can be understood from these passages? What observations can be made about people? What questions come to mind?
- Have you ever known someone who seemed to “lose” or “fall away from” their faith in Jesus? What did you assume to be true about the faith of that person? How did you respond?
- Read Hebrews 5:11-14. What’s the difference between a spiritual “infant” and someone who is more “mature” in their faith?
- Describe your own journey toward spiritual maturity. What helped you to grow? How does the wisdom of God’s Word “train (you) to distinguish” the sin areas in your life?
- Romans 10:13 says, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will saved.” Have you “called on” the name of Jesus for salvation? Take a few minutes with your Life Group to thank God in prayer that your eternal future is fully secure, and that nothing (not even your own sin) can separate you from His grasp.