Jesus is Greater: Session 14- The Danger of Spiritual Immaturity

Jesus is Greater: Session 14- The Danger of Spiritual Immaturity
March 5, 2023

Jesus is Greater: Session 14- The Danger of Spiritual Immaturity

Passage: Hebrews 5:11-14
Service Type:

Series: Jesus is Greater

Title:  The Danger of Immaturity

Scripture: Hebrews 5:11-6:3

Subject: Spiritual Maturity

Central Theme:  Pursuing Spiritual Maturity.

Objective Statement:  To pursue spiritual maturity passionately and effectively we must take these four steps.

Keywords: Steps


  1. We must accept our unattained goal. (v.12, 14, 6:3)
  2. We must assess our current condition. (v.11-12)
  3. We must consume the necessary nutrition. (v.13-14)
  4. We must exercise the right discernment. (v.14)



  • As a dad of three I have a running joke with my kids.
  • I tell them that there is one rule, and they keep breaking the rule.
  • The rule is “No more growing up”.
  • I’m saying it to them probably because it is a response to the speed of the passing of time.
  • When I was young it seemed to crawl, but as I get older it is flying by me.
  • Do you ever feel that way?


  • But of course it is a horrible rule- “No more growing up.”
  • I want my kids to grow up. I want them to grow up not just physically, but relationally, spiritually, financially—stunted growth is not at all admirable or desirable if you take any time to think about it.
  • There is a criticism of Christianity that some make. I heard orthodox jew and political commentator Ben Shapiro make this point recently.  In comparing his Judaism to Christianity he made the claim that Christianity is just about faith and belief.  He said that in Judaism we just care about what you do, not so much what goes on in your head or heart.
  • I want you to know something very clearly today. Of course it matters what we believe.  Salvation does come by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
  • But do not let that make you think that God does not care about your behavior.
  • God’s will is for you to grow up spiritually once you have been saved.
  • God wants you to be spiritually mature.
  • In today’s text we will see that it is God’s will that we grow up into spiritual maturity.
  • This is the third of the warning passages in the book of Hebrews.
    • In the first warning back in chapter two the warning is about drifting.
    • In the second warning back in chapter three he warns about the danger of unbelief.
    • Now in this third warning in today’s text we see a warning about the danger of spiritual immaturity.
  • Today we will see that God wants us to grow and to mature. If we do not grow up into all that he wants us to be that is dangerous for us and for others.

To pursue spiritual maturity passionately and effectively we must take these four steps.

Step #1- We must know our unattained goal.  (v.11-12)

Hebrews 5:11-12

11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which bethe first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.


Hebrews 5:14

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


  • The scripture continues after talking about how much better Christ is than everything.
  • Christ's priesthood has been compared to the Old Testament priesthood in the previous verses.
  • The end of that explanation is that we have a priest that is not a priest after the order of Aaron, but a priest that is of the order of Melchizedek.
  • Melchizedek was a figure referred to very few times in the Old Testament, but in his first description is seen to be both a priest and a king.  This is the kind of priest that Jesus is.  He is a royal priest after the order of Melchizedek.
  • This is what is said just before we get to the scripture for today.  The text starts out by saying, "Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered...".
  • This seems to be talking about Melchizedek and Christ, because that is exactly what happens later in chapter seven.

Hebrews 7:1-2

1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

  • It is clear that the Holy Spirit has more to say about Jesus Christ and Melchizedek, but he mentions that speaking of such things is "hard to be uttered".  Why?  What is the reason for that?
  • From the text we are about to read we know that what He is going to say about Melchizedek and more is deep, complex, and impactful.
  • It's in these couple of verses that He refers to an "ought".
  • There is a status and a ministry that they ought to have been at by this point that they have not yet attained.  It is expressed in two ways in these verses.
  • The first way is in verse 12.

"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers..."

  • Do you see the "ought" there?  With as much time as they have been believers, they should already be teaching others.
  • God's desire for every believer is that they become teachers.  This does not mean every person in the church is gifted to teach in the way that I am doing now.  God does not call every believer to formally teach as a position of authority in the church.  But every believer is expected to teach in some area of life.
  • Hebrews 10:25 tells me as a believer that I am to not forsake the discipline of assembling with the assembly-the church- and it gives me the reason why in verse 24.

Hebrews 10:24-25

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

  • There ought to be a teaching and encouraging that goes on between the rows, in the parking lot, and across the lunch and dinner tables after church and during the week- Not just from the pulpit or lecturn in the Sunday School class.
  • Do you know where else we are to teach?  Our homes ought to be schools.

Deuteronomy 6:4-7

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

  • Every mundane, everyday moment of life is the opportunity that we must seize to teach our kids and grandkids who God is and the way they ought to live.
  • There is much controversy in the church world about whether or not women ought to teach in the church.  This passage in 1 Timothy 2:11-15.

1 Timothy 2:11-15

11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

  • When it says that "she shall be saved in childbearing" Paul is not talking about salvation from sin by the Gospel.  It is saying that mothers have incredible teaching ministry to the next generation by nature of their God given role as mothers.  You see that after you see the most jacked, muscle laden linebacker in the NFL looks into the cameras and says, "Hi mom!".  What is my point?  God expects women who are mothers to be teachers of their kids.
  • How else are all of us called to be teachers?  Mark 16:15 tells us plainly.

Mark 16:15

15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Acts 1:8

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

  • When we are commissioned to proclaim the Gospel, be God's witnesses, and make disciples of all nations by teaching them to observe all things that Christ commanded, that includes all of us.  We are all called to that Great Commission teaching ministry.  We all "ought to be teachers".
  • Notice that he frames this ought in this expression "for the time". You can't teach until you've been taught.  You can't takes someone beyond where you have been.  It takes time to learn and to grow.
  • And this leads to the second phrase that I want to point to in terms of the "ought".  He uses the expression "full age" in verse 14.  There is an "ought" in that.  He is saying that for the amount of time that they have been taught they should be mature.   They should have grown up.  Immature things have a hard time teaching.  Immature things do not reproduce.  Immature things need still need to develop.  Mature things reproduce.
  • The Holy Spirit is pointing to the unattained goal that should be the goal of every believer.  What is that goal- Spiritual Maturity in the believer that is marked by influential obedience to those around them.


  • Let me ask you a question.
  • Is spiritual maturity something that you are pressing towards?  Is it a goal that you desire for your own life?
  • Be careful how you answer the question.  If I ask you if you are humble and you quickly answer "yes", it may reveal the answer in a different way.
  • It is not wrong to see that you are maturing.  It is a wrong attitude to feel as if you've arrived with no need of maturing to do.  As long as we are breathing we should be obeying, growing, and influencing.
  • The first step to growing spiritually is to accept the unattained goal.
    • Is spiritual growth, spiritual maturity, on your radar?
    • Are you as concerned with that as you are your career, your investments or your short game?
    • Are you as concerned about that as you are your popularity and status in the school?

That leads to the second step in passionately pursuing spiritual maturity and effectiveness.

Step #2- We must assess our current condition. v.11-13


  • So what was their current condition?
  • Well it wasn't full age, as we have noted.  They weren't teachers even though they ought to be.
  • He names their condition in verse 13.  "For he is a babe..."

Hebrews 5:11-13

13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

  • Who here loves babies?  Almost everyone thinks babies are cute.
  • This is birthday season in our family.  It happens twice a year.  We have 3 birthdays within 3 weeks or so.  My wife and I are getting to the place where we have moments of nostalgia.  We go back and reminisce about our kids when they were babies.  They were so cute and fun mostly.
  • Babies being babies can be really cute.
  • If you are nursing or bottle feeding at 6 months, it is cute.  If you are still bottle feeding at 16 it is a tragedy.
  • The issue with these Christians was that they were still at a place where "for the time" they were still babes.  The Holy Spirit is referring here not to physical development, but to spiritual development. They were immature spiritually.  That is the metaphor.
  • What was making teaching them difficult?  What was creating their current condition?    We are told in verse 11.  They were "dull of hearing".
  • The word for "dull" is the word nothros.  It means "sluggish, lazy, or even stupid. Slothful.
  • The issue wasn't that they had no capacity to learn.  The problem was one of character.  They were slow to hear and not very receptive.  They were not taking the teaching very seriously.
  • What was it that they were slow to hear?  The most direct answer is "the word of righteousness" referred to in verse 13.
  • So according to the Holy Ghost in the writing of Hebrews, there is a connection between spiritual maturity and your reception to the Word of God.
  • What is it that stunts growth? What is it that creates an arrested development?
  • Answer: How much we take in of God’s Word and how we receive it.
  • They were slow to hear and apply God's Word to their lives.


  • So if the second step is to assess your current condition, and what was causing the stunting of Spiritual growth was there capacity to hear and obey the Word of God, where are you?
  • Are you a spiritual babe?
    • If you’re a new to your Christian faith and you are growing, there is no shame in being a babe in Christ. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are a babe in life.  There are some very sophisticated responsible people that do not know Christ as Savior.
    • We are committed at our church to making sure that if someone gets saved we have a pathway for them to grow. We do not want to have spiritual babies through evangelism and then leave them at the hospital to fend for themselves.  We want to help them grow.
    • If you have been in church for years, and know a lot but are not growing in your responsiveness to God’s Word or in obedience to God’s Word what you just learned is that time doesn’t equal spiritual maturity.
  • How does someone move from being a babe, to a child, to a young person, to a full grown adult- to a teacher- a reproducer?
  • So, what is the solution? Let’s look at our third step.

Step #3- We must consume the necessary nutrition. (v.13-14)

12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.  13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

  • The solution was milk.  The solution was to "teach you again".
  • The solution was to go back to the beginning with a right attitude.  This time they need to be quick to hear.  They need to be quick to respond.
  • The solution is the Word of God.

What is the difference between milk and strong meat?

One difference is the ability of the consumer to assimilate the nutrition.

  • Babies can digest milk. It is very good for them.  They grow like crazy!
  • The Bible tells us to desire the milk of the Word like babies!

1 Peter 2:2

2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

  • Babies know just a couple of things right from the beginning.
  • When they are uncomfortable. When they are tired.  When they are hungry.
  • Babies have an intense desire for milk.
  • We ought to have that kind of appetite for the Word of God.
  • Once you get older, just eating milk isn’t enough. The older you get the more nourishment you need.
  • Strong meat isn’t absorbed or digested by babies in the same way.
  • So, as you grow in Christ you move on from the first principles of the oracles of God to strong meat.
  • I can tell you that the Bible does not disappoint in this way. There is a lot of nutrition there.

Another difference is the way it is consumed.

  • A baby desires the milk, but he must be fed it by his parents. They are either bottle fed or breast fed.
  • Either way it takes a direct connection by someone else to get the food to the baby.
  • People who are eating steak for dinner are usually not being fed by fork by their mother.
  • They are cutting it up and eating it off of their own plate.
  • As a parent you give milk to the baby, then you give food to the baby and help them learn how to eat it themselves. Then for a long time you just provide the food.  Then as they grow you teach them to prepare their own meals even though you finance it.  Eventually they need to be able to finance and consume their own meals.  Get out of my house!  Go out and live your life.  Bring back the grandkids!  Reproduce yourself and start the process all over again.
  • When it comes to the Word of God, we want people to end up as self-feeders.
  • What will help you to grow more than anything is being taught how to be in God’s Word every day, and not just to hear it, and consume it, but to learn it, obey it, and then train someone else to do the same.


  • What is your relationship to the Word of God?
    • Are you only getting it at church?
    • Are you only getting it in Sunday School?
    • Are you only getting it when someone else has digested it and is feeding it to you?
    • When you hear it this way are you responding to it?
  • Are you growing into a self feeder? Are you taking in the Word of God so that you can grow by it on a daily basis?
  • Are you feeding someone else? Are you training them in the Word of Righteousness?
  • You may be able to see where you are in spiritual maturity based on your relationship to the Word of God.

Do you want to grow?

1.     We must know the unattained goal.  (Reproducers, Trainers, Teachers)

2.     We must assess our current condition. (Babes, Young Men, Full Age, Grandparents)

3.     We must consume the proper nutrition.  (Milk, Bread, Meat)

Here is the last step:

If you do not do the last step then you aren’t spiritually mature.

Step #4- We must exercise the right discernment. (v.14)

Hebrews 5:14

14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

  • Let’s take verse 14 phrase by phrase, because I believe this is the point of the whole process of maturity.
  • You see the connection we have already made.
  • “Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age”. Mature people need adult meals.  You need the proper nutrition.  The Word of God is the milk, bread, and meat that gets us the nutrtion we need to grow.
  • “even those”- Those mature believers who need the meat.
  • Why?
  • “who by reason of use”- Use of what? Use of the strong meat.  Use of the nutrition that they have taken in…
  • “have their senses excercised to discern both good and evil”.
  • The whole point of nutrition is use the energy that it gives to go out and do something.
  • The Word of God gives us the spiritual life and vitality to live for Christ.
  • The Word of God gives us discernment. It tells us how to live.  It shows us what to do.
  • If you take it in and do not do anything with it, you get spiritually fat and lazy!
  • What would the health of someone be who takes in a lot of calories and never uses those calories. They do not get up.  They do not walk.  They do not exercise their senses and they never reproduce.
  • This is the problem in so many churches. It can be a problem in our church, though I don’t think that it characterizes everyone in our church.
  • For some, the problem is that they never take in God’s Word. They don’t attend enough to get much from the preacher or the teacher.  They don’t have much nutrition in the first place, so they never grow.
  • For others, the problem is that they can tell you the finer points of theology. They can tell you every kind of position that you can take on the tribulation.  They can describe to you the hypostatic union.  They can tell you the difference between being infralapsarian and supralapsarian.  They win every sword drill.  They know what a sword drill is.  But there is hidden sin in their lives.  They aren’t godly in their daily walk.  Sure they are at church every Sunday, but they haven’t talked to a lost person about the Lord in years.  They don’t serve.  They don’t give.  They don’t share.  They don’t reproduce.
  • Their knowledge far outpaces their obedience.
  • James spoke of this.

James 1:22-25

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

  • So did Jesus. He told the story of a wise man and a foolish man.

Matthew 7:24-27

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:

25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

  • Did you know the Bible is amazing at giving us discernment and teaching us how to do every kind of good work? That’s exactly what Paul said to Timothy in that critical passage on the Word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

  • If the Word of God equips you for every good work, then let’s get equipped!
  • But let’s not just put our pads, cleats, shoulderpads and helmets on and then show them of at church. Let’s go out and win the game.  You’re not dismissed.  You’re sent!



  • How do we grow in spiritual maturity?

Do you want to grow?

1.     We must know the unattained goal.  (Reproducers, Trainers, Teachers)

2.     We must assess our current condition. (Babes, Young Men, Full Age, Grandparents)

3.     We must consume the proper nutrition.  (Milk, Bread, Meat)

4.     We must exercise the right discernment. (Living out good and rejecting evil)


  • I want to end today’s message with a verse from next week’s text in Hebrews 6, verse 1.

Hebrews 6:1

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection…

  • The word “perfection” here is the word for maturity. It is a word for completion.  It’s the same phraseology that you find in the preamble to the constitution when it talks about a “more perfect union”.  The idea is moving on into completeness.  It’s speaking of progress.
  • It’s saying, “Let’s grow up!”. Don’t stay a babe.  Don’t stay a teenager.  Don’t stay an ineffective, lazy adult.  Let’s grow.  Let’s move on into his rest and be on mission for Christ.
  • Are you mature? Are you maturing?  Are you growing?  Are you teaching?
  • What is your current spiritual condition?
  • What is your relationship to the Word of God?
  • Are you living it out?





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