13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:13-14
To reach maturity every person must experience life and making decisions. Take a toddler for example. When a child is 1 or 2 and just beginning to experience the world we make a lot of decisions for them. We have to guard them from hurting themselves. This is the appropriate age where a child can get into everything harmful but as that child grows into maturity, you can set near a pool, or a stove or even them have them outside without them running into traffic. Why? Because they have practice and making decisions about what is bad and what is good for them. As they grow, its no longer the burning themselves on the stove that you worry about, it’s the more mature decisions about sex ,friends and life-changing habits that come into the picture.
So what is this scripture trying to teach us?
As we grow in Christ, the mature Christian has had experience making decisions about temptations, sin, and understanding what will lead him or her astray. Temptation is not always about directly falling into sin. It’s often about the battle between the devil and ourselves and crossing that first line of defense against sin.
Looking at the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4, the devil did not set before him women, alcohol or cursing. What the devil goes after is our principles of obedience to the word of God. The more subtle end of the sin spectrum. None of those suggestions from the devil would have been openly seen. Jesus was out in the desert, he could have turned one stone to bread and eaten without anyone’s knowledge. Likewise he could have tested God, become king of the world and no one would know about the secret deal he made with the devil. What was it that Jesus understood in deciding to ignore the devil? Jesus knew that the enemy was after his commitment to obey the word of God. His commitment was the first line of defense.
It is our personal commitment not to cross those lines that make temptations difficult. Our love for God and his word is our protection against full blown sinful acts. The suggestions that come to our mind from the enemy and our own personal desires are the true allurements, the source of our struggles. They are based on our freedom of will. God never removes our will. We can do whatever we want and maybe no one would know about it. However, the mature Christian recognizes that God is watching and their commitment to love him with all their heart and love his word far outweighs the temporary pleasures they might gain by their actions. This is why the enemy tries his best to get people that love God to ignore the small things. He knows if he breaks down that first line of defense he’s set them on a downward slope toward bigger more noticeable destruction of their testimony in Christ.
Decisions about sinful habits and activities are decisions made every day by mature believers. Spiritual toddlers are kept in a pen and told what to do. God gives us liberty as we grow in Christ to make decisions about our lives and our daily activities.
Now that you have liberty, don’t use it as an excuse to do sinful things.
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Many ministries and churches keep their congregants as small children by controlling their movement and not trusting each person’s personal relationship with God. They keep life on a shelf far away from reach like you would for a toddler, to protect them because they assume they can’t make those decision.
God assumed otherwise in his word and fully expected our maturity to follow his word or not.
The scriptures tell us to practice discerning and understanding good and evil. It’s not always as simple an exercise as it sounds. But the mature Christian will be determined to learn.
TEMPTATION IS EVERYWHERE BUT SO IS GOD