There's a depth to God that goes way beyond our understanding. However, do we love God enough to want to search those depths and take an exploration into his heart? Or do we rather stay elementary infants, never thirsting and hungering for the heart of Him whom we claim to love?
Journey with us today as we roll up our sleeves, grab the shovel of discovery, and explore the heart of the Creator of all things!
MUCH TO SAY ABOUT WHAT?
To begin, let’s start by looking at the section of the Bible that gives us incredible insight into the importance of growth in the spiritual life of a believer.
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.Hebrews 5:11-14
Even though verse 11 is where we would like to start today, the phrasing used at the beginning of the sentence tells us that we need to understand the section of Scripture prior to this part. When the writer says, “We have much to say about this…” the next logical question for us to ask is, “Much to say about, what?”
Therefore, if we go back to the beginning of chapter 5, and even before that, we find the writer talking about Jesus as the Great High Priest. What does that mean? Well, this is reference to the Old Testament priesthood that God established for the proper order of offerings and sacrifices and the covering provided annually for the sins of the people who were in obedience to the commands. Many priests would serve at the tabernacle, each with his own duty as they sought to ensure the hearts of those bringing the offerings were in repentance to the Lord. However, only the high priest was allowed to bring the blood into the Most Holy place where the presence of the Lord dwelt. This high priest was a foreshadow of the great high priest who would come – the Messiah, who would be worthy to enter into the Most Holy place in heaven and offer his blood for the atonement of sins for all people.
And there is much to be said about Jesus, our great high priest. However, the writer is unable to go into further detail about it with his intended audience, and that is where we get into the heart of this Bible Speed Art lesson.
SLOW TO LEARN
As it states in verse 11, the writer would like to explain more about Jesus and how he fulfilled the role of the great high priest, but the audience is “slow to learn”. This phrase does not mean that the audience is inept when it comes to education. They do not suffer with a mental handicap that does not allow them to grasp the depth of which is being discussed. In the Greek, the phrase “slow to learn” is one that means lazy and sluggish. They have the ability to learn, and they even have some knowledge – infancy knowledge (vs 13) – but they are lazy with the information.
I can remember back to my days of high school basketball. I remember that hanging with the skill of the others around me was never an easy task. I had to work around the clock to diligently prepare myself for every trip up and down the court. I had to make up for not having the height that is nice to have in a sport like basketball. I couldn’t jump as high as the other kids. It was a daily challenge to overcome those shortcomings with other attributes to help the team.
However, I remember having a freshman on the team who was over seven feet tall. He was a skilled player, but lets be honest, his height alone would write him a ticket to play college ball. I’ll never forget one day, during a crucial part of a game, where this player got frustrated about something and began walking up and down the court while the game was in full swing. His laziness in the heat of the game however, was not what astonished me. It was the fact that the coaches allowed him to continue to play at whatever speed he wanted to. However, one mistake on my part would cause me to be benched and miss out on playing a sport that I thoroughly enjoyed. I remember being frustrated by my teammates laziness, because not only was he letting down the team, but he was suppressing his true talents by his lack of effort.
I don’t recall this story to put the kid down, but I feel like its a great illustration for the phrase “slow to learn”. The knowledge about Jesus has been presented, but what are the recipients doing with it? Its almost as if they believe, “We’re born into the heritage of the Jewish faith, therefore God will take care of us and bring us into his kingdom regardless of the effort we put in.” And if I’m being honest, it is this same mindset that I believe haunts our nation to this very day.
It’s as if the church world is full of the mentality that says, “I go to church, therefore I’m saved. I was baptized, therefore I’m going to heaven. I read my Bible, sing hymns, feed the homeless, help old ladies across the street, and do countless other things that are nice, therefore God would never send me to a place of burning and torment, forever distanced from his presence.” And there, in lays the problem that Hebrews chapter 5 is talking about.
GOING BENEATH THE SURFACE
As you can see from the Bible Speed Art picture, the young kid is standing in a desert-like area and there is the tip of a space shuttle sticking out above the ground. Now, the person in the picture could heed the words spray-painted on the orange cone (Nothing to See Here) or he could be deterred from the site by the dangerous warning sign or even the rattle snake beneath it. However, the kid has instead decided to pick up a shovel and dig down deep to find out the truth about what is really beneath the ground. What would make him want to ignore the warnings that the world has put in place and defy the status quo? The answer is quite simple: Passion and heart!
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.Colossians 3:1-2
This section of the Bible focuses on two very clear aspects of a true believer’s attitude. First, they will set their hearts on things above, then their minds. Setting on the mind on something is just a thought – like having knowledge about something. However, setting on the heart on things above is a term in the Greek of a passion that is so extreme that you chase after it. It a word of pursuing and longing for. Like it says in Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi,
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.1 Timothy 6:11
Someone who is lazy and sluggish with the knowledge of God is someone who has no passion for it, no desire to fight the good fight and pursue the things of God.
TIME TO GROW UP!
When you woke up this morning, were your thoughts driven by a passion to fulfill the will and purpose of God in your life so that God would be glorified by you today? Or were you driven by your own passions and desires? Are you content with just having a knowledge of God and never digging down deep, below the surface of what’s taught to you? Or are you driven to know the depths of the heart of the one, true living God and Creator, and chasing after his will for your life? I implore you today: Don’t be lazy with God’s word. It’s everything that God gave us to know his heart. Don’t be the 7-footer who walks down the court because you think you’re a shoe-in for the afterlife. Allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to ignite in you a thirst and hunger for the deep things of God! As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?1 Corinthians 3:1-3
What is the cause of spiritual infancy? Simple. Worldliness! And the word Paul is using in the Greek for “worldliness” is the same word used elsewhere in the New Testament to describe the sinful nature. The flesh. Our worldly, sinful desires. What does that tell us?
Simply, if we want to be addressed by God as being “spiritual” – which is Paul’s way of saying “one who is full of the Holy Spirit and living in obedience to Him” – than we need to put to death the sinful nature and desires that are opposed and contrary to the truth of God and his holy word.
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.Galatians 5:17-18
Too often, we validate the lies of this world as truth, thus invalidating the real, absolute truth of God. If we look at the travesties sweeping through our cities, states, country, and world, we will see that everyone has an agenda anymore. There’s always some group crying about something and protesting, rioting, and screaming that their cause is right and anyone opposed to it is evil, wicked, and worthy of being brought low because of it. To pull from one modern example…the world is trying to teach children that it’s okay to choose whatever gender they want to be, despite the Bible saying that “God created and assigned male and female” (Genesis 1:27). We’ve removed the truth of God’s creation and have chosen to instead place man’s choice as the voice of truth. When are we going to understand that truth has nothing to do with us?
I recently designed a new hat for the Perhaps Today store with the word TRUTH on the front. However, I spelled it without the letter U. If you would like a visual, you can see the hat here. The reason for this design was to emphasize that TRUTH has nothing to do with U (you)! Truth belongs to the Creator of life, and we are not it. We did not hang the stars in the sky. We did not breath life into man. We did not speak life into existence. God did! So when did we become so ignorant to think that we could be God? Simple, the desire to be like God stems all the way back to the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:5). And when we choose to run after and chase our own truth or the truth that the world has to offer, then we are simply chasing after that which brought sin into this world, which is where our sinful nature stems from, and therefore is why Paul was addressing the Corinthians as “worldly”.
The fact of the matter is…its time to grow up! It’s time to stop having a mind knowledge of and actually put the truth of Christ to heart – and in turn set our hearts on things above. In doing so, our minds will also be set on things of Christ and no longer on the worldly things, thus validating things of the Spirit and overcoming that which is worldly. However, if you choose to hold onto the things of the world, let’s see what Paul says that looks like and understand why that brings on the wrath of a loving God.
THE RESULTS OF CLINGING TO THE WORLD
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.Romans 1:21-25
In those five simple verses, Paul eloquently explained what I’ve been trying to break down throughout this entire, long blog post. Let’s take a quick highlight of the bullet points to compare:
- They knew God: They had a knowledge, but they were lazy with it because their hearts were too focused on their own desires and not desiring the things of Christ (vs 24)
- No glory or thanks to God: It’s impossible to thank God without living a life that glorifies him (Colossians 3:17). It doesn’t matter how much you go to church!
- Futile thinking and foolish hearts: We talked about setting your heart and mind on things above, but when you don’t, the thinking becomes futile (worthless) and the heart is foolish (abandoning the truth of God’s forgiveness and mercy found in Christ).
- Exchanging the glory of God for idols: Substituting the truth of God’s goodness for your own truth about God is not wisdom. It’s foolish! Moses saw this with the golden calf (Genesis 32). We can see that in the church world today that teaches woke agendas and denomination rather than sound doctrine!
Following those five, very powerful verses, Paul gives further definition to the results of what happens when worldliness is pursued instead of the truth of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I think these verses very clearly shine light on where we are at as a nation.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.Romans 1:26-32
I think this is fairly self-explanatory. Homosexuality, godlessness, faithlessness, wickedness, arrogance, slandering, God-hating, disobedience, and more. All of those things and more are the results of people staying on the surface and not following the lead of the Holy Spirit, but rather claiming a belief in God but never putting that knowledge to heart.
This is not said in judgment of anyone who finds themselves in the description of Paul’s words. Instead, this is gut-check time. This is time for the internal soul-searching. If God were to describe me today, what words would he use? Infant? Worldly? Foolish? Or anything like that? Or would he use the description of his very own nature: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
If you’re not sure where you stand with God today, do not wait another minute. Jesus is ready with arms wide open. He is the great high priest. He has already done the work, greater than what you or I could ever think to accomplish. Put your faith and trust in him. Turn away from the worldliness and allow his Spirit to take the reigns of your life. As Jesus once said,
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”John 8:31-32
Stop clinging to the way of the world, and instead cling to the teaching of the great high priest, Jesus Christ our Lord!
Thank you and God bless!