To and Fro
I was studying these two verses this morning and why Paul would tell us to be no more children. Although the English word children fits nicely here and gives us the sense of striving toward spiritual growth, I looked up the Greek word for children and discovered that the word used here was not the usual word for children as we know it but meaning "figuratively a simple minded person, an immature Christian: - babe, childish"! Whoa! That surely puts punch to the verse now! An immature Christian is either immature because he is newly saved or is not in the Word. One needs to be in the Word so he can grow - it's just like a baby needing milk. Withhold that milk, and that baby will become malnourished. Peter exhorted the newborn babes to grow by getting into the Word. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (1Pe 2:2)
If a believer does not get into the Word, he will be easily deceived by cult members. He will be easily deceived into believing that worldliness is OK. He will be a sucker for every wind of doctrine. He will be easily influenced by what his peers believe. His flesh will lead him rather than his spirit. Jesus knew that the flesh would starve the believer and mislead but the spirit would feed that believer into growth. It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (Joh 6:63)
When I came into this world, my parents fed me as I was not able to feed myself. Once I grew to a toddler, I learned to feed myself. But my mother still controlled what I ate so I was still pretty healthy. As an older youth and teenager, I would leave the house and eat junk food. I didn't feed myself the proper nourishment I needed and only got this proper nourishment when I went back home and sat down to a meal fixed by my Mom. When I left home for good, I was in charge of my own cooking and did not eat properly. I soon discovered that I was catching every cold that went around, flu bug, etc. Maybe there was something wise in what Mom tried to teach me! Could it be she was right? I needed proper nourishment to fight off disease and to keep my body healthy - I needed proper nourishment to give me energy to deal with the day's tasks.
Let's compare that with our spiritual nourishment. If we quench the Holy Spirit by not heeding His conviction when He tries to show us our sin, we feed our flesh. When we do not read the Word, we cannot build our faith (our strength) and we cannot grow. We saw this earlier when Peter said to desire the Word so we can grow. If we are not growing spiritually, then we are feeding our flesh more than our spirit. We are allowing worldliness into our lives more than we are allowing spiritual things into our lives. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. (Rom 8:5)
Is it your parents responsibility to feed you now that you are an adult and not living at home? Of course not! Is it your pastor's responsibility to feed you spiritual food? Watch out what you answer! If you answer yes, then you are still a babe in Christ. You are still the child mentioned in Ephesians 4:14. Shame on you if you have been saved for more than a few months and answered yes to this question. It is your responsibility to feed yourself spiritually. Yes, we get fed at church but that should not be the only time you eat! Can you imagine if you fed your body only three times a week? Your pastor can only feed you when you are at church - that's only about six hours a week. Are you starving the other 162 hours in the week?
Feed yourself, Christian! How important is the Word in our lives? Here are a few reasons:
BETH. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psa 119:9) The Word cleanses me.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psa 119:11) The Word keeps me from sinning.
DALETH. My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word. (Psa 119:25) The Word makes me alive!
My soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according unto thy word. (Psa 119:28) The Word strengthens me.
VAU. Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word. (Psa 119:41) The Word shows me mercy.
So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word. (Psa 119:42) The Word enables me to have the right words to respond to accusations.
This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. (Psa 119:50) The Word comforts me.
TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. (Psa 119:65) The Word convicts me.
Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. (Psa 119:67) The Word keeps me from going astray.
They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. (Psa 119:74) The Word gives me hope.
Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant. (Psa 119:76) The Word comforts me.
LAMED. For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. (Psa 119:89) The Word is settled - never changing.
I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word. (Psa 119:101) The Word keeps me from evil.
NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psa 119:105) The Word gives me direction in a dark world.
Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. (Psa 119:133) The Word brings order to my walk.
Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. (Psa 119:140) The Word is pure.
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. (Psa 119:148) The Word is to be meditated on.
I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word. (Psa 119:158) The Word burdens my heart for the lost.
Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever. (Psa 119:160) The Word is truth and is everlasting.
I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. (Psa 119:162) The Word is precious!
TAU. Let my cry come near before thee, O LORD: give me understanding according to thy word. (Psa 119:169) The Word gives understanding.
Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. (Psa 119:170) The Word delivers me.
My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. (Psa 119:172) The Word is righteous.
Does the Christian need the Word? Your answer will define whether you are a child tossed to and fro. Which one are you?
After sharing this study with Bro. Jerry, he added a few things which just made this study complete - here is what he shared with me.
Interesting word you pointed out. It occurs in 10 verses, 9 plus the one you mentioned in Ephesians 4:
These are referring to actual spiritual babes, not carnal believers:
Matthew 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
Luke 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
And this one is actually referring to infants or toddlers:
Matthew 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.
These are referring to before we got saved - definitely childish and not mature spiritually!
Galatians 4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Galatians 4:3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
This one is possibly referring to the lost being ignorant of the Word of God - or could be referring to someone who spiritually does not know any better:
Romans 2:20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law.
But the rest are referring to carnal or immature believers:
1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Hebrews 5:13 For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
Based on comparing the above passages, when we are carnal, we are acting like the foolish and ignorant lost people around us!!
I thought this verse was interesting too:
1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
The first word for children is the normal word meaning that the child is not grown up yet, not fully mature (implying a Christian that hasn't developed enough yet). The second word means "to act as a babe, i.e. (figuratively) innocently." That is interesting - we are to be childlike concerning evil. BUT the last phrase, "be men", indicates that we are to be fully mature in our understanding. A little contrast - those other verses are reproving carnality and childishness as a Christian - and this verse is telling us to grow up spiritually.