Our physical bodies do quit growing at a certain point. However, our spiritual growth should continue throughout our stay on earth. In fact, other scriptures seem to indicate that we will continue to grow even in eternity! It would be safe to say that we are not human beings having a temporary spiritual experience, but we are spiritual beings going through a temporary human experience!
Growing Spiritual Teeth
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principle s of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid meat. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid meat belongs to those who are of full age, that is, they have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:12-14).
As we take a closer look at this passage, several principles of growth begin to emerge.
These verses clearly demonstrate the possibility and necessity of personal spiritual growth. God does not want us to remain mere “babes” in our walk with Him, but to be maturing, growing, learning sons and daughters of the King. In verse 13 we are told that “everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. This refers to those whose diet is only milk. Adults do drink milk, but it is not their exclusive diet.
What this means is that a maturing Christian will always have and appreciate the basic foundational truths -the milk -of his faith (for instance, “We are saved by grace through faith”). But a maturing Christian will grow spiritual “teeth” (understanding) in order to absorb and use stronger teaching – the meat of his faith. (For further study look up 1 Corinthians 14:20, Ephesians 4:14-15, Philippians 3:12-15, Colossians 2:6-7, 2 Peter 1:2-11.)
Nothing in life ever remains the same -it is either growing, or it is going backwards, breaking down. This is also true of our spiritual lives: we are growing or we are going backwards – regressing instead of progressing. The people to whom the epistles were written had stopped growing.
The writer of Hebrews rebukes them, telling them they had become “dull of hearing” (vs. 11) and needed to be taught the simplest, most basic things all over again (vs. 12).
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian church, makes a similar point “And I brethren could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you milk and not with solid food; for until now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Here we see that the sin of disunity, caused by attitudes of envy, competition and fleshly pride, was inhibiting proper growth.
The word “babe” in both the Hebrews and Corinthian passages is not the Greek word fur either “child” or “new convert”, but rather means “immature”.