You can be 40 years old in the faith, yet still be immature – a “babe” in Christ.
But if God wants us to grow spiritually, why are so many people immature in their spiritual life?
The Greek used in Hebrews 5:12-14 indicates that the Christian this letter was written to had been at one time maturing believers; but now they were in a settled state of spiritual sluggishness.
In verse 11 the writer tells them they are “dull of hearing”. The word for “dull” in Greek means slow or sluggish. The same word was used to describe the numb limbs of a sick animal. The Holy Spirit is telling us that spiritual sloth (or laziness) in HEARING results in a lack of spiritual GROWTH. It is important to know, however, that this “dullness” in hearing has nothing to do with how intelligent we are or how educated we are. It does have to do with how yielded we are to the Holy Spirit and how willing we are to pursue personal spiritual growth with all of our hearts.
In speaking of how we hear the Word of God, Jesus warns us to “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given. For to him who has, more will be given; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Mark 4:24-25).
Jesus is pointing out the importance of spiritual perception. Those who receive and apply the truth will have their capacity fur understanding increased and their knowledge expanded. Those who disbelieve, or who are indifferent or careless with the truth, will lose whatever ability for understanding they had. Therefore they will not only continue to be ignorant -they will get worse.
This illustrates what was happening to the recipient…. of the letter to the Hebrews. These Christians were willfully refusing to grow. Their “dullness” was a result of gradual and willful neglect of their walk with God -especially spending time in God’s Word regularly and daily prayer. But there is another principle of growth in this passage.
In Hebrews 5:14 we are shown that “strong meat” (i.e. solid food} is for those who are truly maturing (“of full age”)
How have they reached maturity?
There are several factors, but a very important one is given in the same verse. It refers to ”those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil,
Physical exercise is a necessary part of being healthy in our bodies. This is also an allegory (picture or type) of spiritual principle. As Paul tells Timothy, his young disciple, ‘For bodily exercise’ profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and the one to come” (1 Tim 4:8). This “godliness” Paul speaks of is what the writer of Hebrew s refers to when he uses the phrase “by reason of use”. It means that our spiritual senses can be trained (“exercised”) by practiced habit of constant usage, so that they are strong and sharp. The Greek word for “exercise” is the word for “gymnastics,” and point to a condition produced by consistent training. The same word is also used for practicing an art or profession.