Saturday, 20 October 2018
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14
The word “But” is given as a contrast to what was said in the previous verse –
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”
As noted, “the word of righteousness” is that of Scripture interpreted through faith in Christ. It is a reliance on Christ as the fulfillment of those types and shadows found in the Old Testament Scriptures. Those who are unskilled in such things partake of only milk. In other words, they are not living by faith, but are rather relying on those types and shadows as their means of walking properly before the Lord. Unfortunately, one cannot walk properly before the Lord while trying to fulfill that which is already annulled in Christ through His accomplishment of those things.
The author now contrasts such immaturity of partaking only of milk by saying, “solid food belongs to those who are of full age.” The Greek word, translated as “full age,” is teleios. It signifies “perfect,” but in the sense of having attained the proper age. They have “consummated,” as having gone through the necessary stages to reach the end goal of something.
As noted, “solid food” is being equated to “the word of righteousness,” meaning interpreting the word in light of faith in Christ’s work, and all it implies, of the previous verse. Those who are mature will put away things which they can see and actively do in an external way. Instead, they will demonstrate faith in what they have not seen, and they will do it in an internal way. By faith in Christ, we move from being children to being full sons with all the rights and privileges of sonship. Paul explains this, in great detail, in Galatians 3 and 4. In Galatians 4:1-5 he says –
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, 2 but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
There is a maturity in coming to Christ which did not exist in previous times. Those under the law, which only anticipated Christ, are equated to children who are kept by a tutor. The same general analogy is seen here in the contrast between milk and solid food. As he says, “solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
The “good and evil” here is not speaking of that which is morally good or evil, but that which is related to doctrine. Is it sound or is it unsound? Is it wholesome or is it corrupt? It is what Paul refers to in Ephesians 4:14 –
“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.”
As is the case there in Ephesians, the author of Hebrews now is speaking of maturity. The audience is implored to have their senses excited to maturity through a habitual study of God’s word. In so doing, it will be seen that Christ is the fulfillment of what was anticipated, and that He “is the end of those things for righteousness for everyone who believes in Him” (Romans 10:4).
The dietary restrictions, for example, are a part of the law. Those still affected by such restrictions are considered “weak” by Paul in Romans 14. Again, it is a state of immaturity which is equated to “milk” here. To understand that the dietary restrictions no longer apply in Christ is to move to “solid food,” which is equated to maturity. The same theme runs constantly through Paul’s epistles using different metaphors. The author of Hebrews is asking his Hebrew audience to grow up, study the word, trust in Christ alone for their spiritual walk, and to put away the weak and beggarly elements (Galatians 4:9) of the law.
Life application: The same theme is used again and again (and again!) in the New Testament epistles in order to wake up those who have come to Christ. Stop relying on yourself! Stop relying on deeds of the law! Trust in Christ, rest in Christ, and exalt God because of the magnificent and perfectly accomplished work of Jesus Christ. This attitude is what is pleasing to God.
O glorious God! Help me to move to spiritual maturity by constantly thinking on, and training myself in, your word so that I may be able to distinguish good from evil, especially in regards to doctrine. By doing so, may my life be a living sacrifice to You and to Your glory. I pray this in the awesome name of Jesus my Lord. Amen!