Paul writes: ‘You have become dull of hearing… by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles… you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk… is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.’ (Hebrews 5:11–14 NASB)
The key word in this passage is time. The people to whom these words were written had a learning disability: ‘You have become dull of hearing,’ meaning you are slow to learn. By the time you ought to be entering university, you’ve got to go back to primary school and learn your alphabet all over again. By the time you should be communicating the truth as teachers, you need to have someone communicate the truth to you.
Note the phrase ‘solid food is for the mature’. Who are the mature? You’re mature if you’ve trained yourself through constant use of Scripture. The mark of spiritual maturity isn’t how much you learn, it’s how much you put into practice. In the spiritual realm the opposite of ignorance isn’t knowledge, but obedience. Obeying the Scriptures is the key to spiritual maturity. In the long term, you retain about 10 per cent of what you hear, 50 per cent of what you see, and 90 per cent of what you do. So: ‘Don’t just listen to God’s word… do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves… if you do what it says… God will bless you for doing it.’ (James 1:22–25 NLT)