Summary: The problem of Spiritual dullness prevents us from grasping the deeper truths of the Christian faith. The writer warns his readers about becoming dull or sluggish of hearing because such dullness can lead to even more serious spiritual problems.
OVERCOMING SPIRITUAL DULLNESS
A preacher was known for his loud preaching. One day a lady with a hearing problem said, "Preacher, I want to thank you for preaching loud for those of us who are hard of hearing." The preacher responded, "Thank you, mom, but actually I preach loud for the hard headed, rather than the hard of hearing.”
How is your hearing? Now, I am speaking spiritually. No man is as blind as the one who refuses to see, or as deaf as the one who refuses to hear. In the parable of the seed, the sower, and the soil, Jesus said, "He who hears let him hear." Certainly lost people can become dull of hearing of the gospel. Yet believers can also become dull of hearing. They can hear, and yet, not hear. So then, I want to ask you again, “How is your hearing?”
In this section, the writer breaks away from his discussion of Jesus as our great High Priest to discuss some serious spiritual problems that has crept into the church. The problem of Spiritual dullness prevents us from grasping the deeper truths of the Christian faith. The writer warns his readers about becoming dull or sluggish of hearing because such dullness can lead to even more serious spiritual problems. Spiritual dullness can cause in the first place:
I. SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE (5:12-14)
Dullness to God’s Word can lead to:
A. INEFFECTIVENESS IN MINISTRY (V. 12) These believers ought to be teachers of God’s word, but are ineffective. They have been believers long enough that they should be enjoying the meat of God’s word, but they are still on the bottle. They haven’t grasped the foundational truths. They are still on the milk of the word. As a result they are ineffective.
B. UNSKILLFUL IN THE WORD OF GOD (VV. 13-14) Babies cannot feed themselves. They must be bottle fed and spoon fed. They cannot enjoy the rich treasures of the Word.
Part of the spiritual ignorance is due to spiritual laziness. There is not a hunger for the Word of God in their lives. This spiritual dullness can produce a second spiritual problem:
II. SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY (6:1-3)
In these verses, the author exhorts us to leave the foundational truths of the faith and go on to maturity in Christ. Spiritual ignorance leads to immaturity. First, as Christians we must be established in the elementary doctrine of Christ, but then we must acquire an appetite for the more solid food.(5:12) Then we must go on to maturity. Foundational truths are vitally important, but we must go on the deeper truths of God’s word.
Six basic aspects of Christian teaching are enumerated:
A. REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS: The "dead works" referred to are man’s futile attempts at self-salvation. The message of repentance was and is an essential teaching of the gospel. There must be repentance from something. In this case, "dead works." We simply cannot save ourselves
B. FAITH IN GOD: Not only must there be a repentance from something, there must be "faith towards God" Repentance and faith are inseparable elements of the gospel. It is not only that the old has to be abandoned, the new must be appropriated.
C. BAPTISM OR WASHINGS: This is probably a reference to correct teaching about baptism.
D. LAYING ON OF HANDS: A simple form of prayer, the gift of the Holy Spirit, even ordination to ministry.
E. RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD: Death is not the end: It merely marks the physical conclusion of our only opportunity to live for God in this world. For true believers, the best of all is yet to be.
F. ETERNAL JUDGMENT: "It is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment" (9:27) Resurrection and judgment were clearly linked in the teaching of Jesus.
The author regards these foundational truths as basic Christian knowledge. The believer is exhorted to go on to maturity. To do this, the believer must develop an appetite for more solid food (5:12, 14). Most of us know what Jesus did for us on earth. That is the milk of the Word. But do we know what He is doing for us in heaven? That is the meat of the Word.
Finally, spiritual dullness can produce:
III. SPIRITUAL APOSTASY (4-8)
These verses are difficult to interpret. There are several possible interpretations.
A believer by apostasy can lose his salvation.
This is a hypothetical argument to warn those in danger of drifting.
Apostasy reveals that there is no evidence of real conversion.
This passage is troubling and has many different interpretations. Some believe that it teaches one can loose his or her salvation because of apostasy. Yet, other passages including this chapter teaches the certainty of salvation. Scripture provides us assurance of our security, and at the same time warns us. This passage speaks to our individual need.