But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Heb 5:14 KJV Or as in the HCSB: But solid food is for the mature — for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
The setting for that Scripture was to the Jews who believed in Jesus Christ. Jews who had not turned to Jesus disdained, persecuted and attempted to Judaize them. The believers were in hard times. Some were getting weak in the knees (Heb 12:1-13) and considering turning back to Judaism (Heb 6:4-8). Following Jesus required strong faith based on the gospel of the kingdom of God so they could discern both good and evil. The good and evil pertained to doctrine. They needed sound teaching to help their spiritual perception and much encouragement to apply it in their lives, just as we do.
Strong meat for hard times
Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Jn 4:34 KJV
To His followers, Jesus said:
Work not for the food which perisheth, but for the food which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him the Father, even God, hath sealed. Jn 6:27 ASV
Let’s go for the strong meat. Philippians 2
Maturity in senses exercised to discern both good and evil
Jesus concluded this first part of His sermon on the mount with Love your Enemies, urging: “Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48 KJV). Context Mt 5
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Ro 12:2
“Yet when we are among mature believers we do speak words of wisdom; a wisdom not belonging, however, to the present age nor to the leaders of the present age who are soon to pass away. But in dealing with truths hitherto kept secret we speak of God’s wisdom—that hidden wisdom which, before the world began, God pre-destined, so that it should result in glory to us; a wisdom which not one of the leaders of the present age possesses, for if they had possessed it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Cor 2:6-8 WNT
11And he [Christ] gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ: 13till we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; 15but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ; 16from whom all the body fitly framed and knit together through that which every joint supplieth, according to the working in due measure of each several part, maketh the increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love. Eph 4:11-16 ASV
May we grow up in all things into Him, who is the head, even Christ
Spiritual senses are exercised by reason of use. Over the long haul, we gain spiritual perception developed by habitual experience as we read and apply the Word of God in our daily lives. When we encounter a foreign sounding teaching, our danger, danger, light comes on in our spirit by the Holy Spirit. Once in a while we find the teaching that turns on the danger signal to be worthy of consideration. So, we study to find out if it lines up with Scripture. Most times, the danger to our spiritual well being that is presented by a strange teaching is there.
This helps us so, “that we may be no longer children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error; but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ.”
All of us who trust in Christ can develop our spiritual senses.
For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Cor 10:3-5 HCSB
Discern both good and evil
As we develop the habit of “taking every thought captive to obey Christ,” our spiritual senses are sharp. We immediately know if it is right or wrong, good or evil teaching.
The Jews who believed in Jesus the Messiah were confronted with the teachings of the Judaizers. What they taught was not in the spirit of the gospel of the kingdom. They taught evil and caused much trouble for not only the Jews that believed in Christ, but also for Gentile believers. Even Peter was mislead by them. He repented when Paul told Peter: “Gentiles do you compel to Judaize.” INT
But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas/Peter in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews? Gal 2:14 HCSB CF: Gal 2:1-21
Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared. 1 Tim 4:1-2 HCSB
CF: Spirit Jn 14:17; Jn 16:13; Acts 20:23; Acts 21:11; 1 Cor 2:10-11; Later times 2 Th 2:3-9, 2 Tim 3:1; 2 Pt 3:3; Jude 1:18; Faith Php 1:27, 1Tm 1:2; Jude 1:3; Deceitful spirits Mt 7:15; 1 Jn 4:6; Teachings of demons Jms 3:15; Hypocrisy Mk 12:15; Consciences Heb 13:18
We must use our spiritual senses to discern both good and evil. Spiritual sense comes from the God by the Holy Spirit. As we store God’s Word in our hearts, we give the Spirit something to draw from to give us discernment. As we grown up in Christ, we know when what someone is telling us is good or evil. We heartily receive good and no longer naively receive error as good.
Challenges to the gospel of the kingdom
We have just read of challenges faced by those who obeyed Christ in the times when the gospels and epistles were written. And, we read about some of the challenges we face today.
This comes into perspective when we read the context for the opening Word for this article.
We have a great deal to say about this, and it’s difficult to explain, since you have become too lazy to understand. Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature — for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Heb 5:11-14 HCSB
In that, note, “the message about righteousness.” The kingdom of God is righteousness. I have written two primary articles to help us understand and apply the message about righteousness; Our righteousness is God’s justice; Let the righteous do what is right.
Those of the Protestant Reformation begun 500 years ago faced some some big challenges to the gospel of the kingdom. The Reformation was initiated by Martin Luther and continued by John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and other early Protestant Reformers. They put their lives on the line for the gospel of the kingdom, withstanding not only the Catholic Church but also the error of earlier sects, radicals and humanism.
Today, Christians are still being despised, persecuted and neutralized. We need more prophetic and scriptural ministry to motivate us to obey Christ. Prophetic for edification, exhortation and comfort (1 Cor 14:1-3). Scriptural for integrity with the Word of God.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17 HCSB
As one of God’s servants once said to a group of us: “You can’t go back; you can’t stay where you are; let’s go forward.”