Complacency is the antidote of enlightenment
Complacency. Regarding defense, it is the gravest of mistakes. Whether you are talking
about defending your person and property in a hostile territory, an athlete who has a championship ring or belt on display, or spiritually speaking, regarding your soul and spirit; when we do not actively seek to improve ourselves, we will lose in the next conflict or contest. Our human condition tells us that we are basically OK, we don’t need to keep improving. We can be lazy in this regard. Satan lulls us to sleep in this area. Familiarity breeds contempt.
In our spiritual lives we can become complacent that we know the basics and so we fall asleep or rest on our laurels and fail to push ourselves to learn more. Saved and satisfied is the adage. Unfortunately for the Jews being addressed in this passage, their complacency led them away from the power of the word of God and the beauty of the work of the Holy Spirit, back to their ritualistic religion. They heard the message but didn’t need Christ or want him.
Warning Against Complacency
5: 11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
6 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Who are you Lord?
What do I have to do to get your attention? Like I asked the disciples, “how long do I need to be with you”? You are so slow to learn. I AM the God who wants to make you like me in this world so that you can bring others to my righteousness. I AM the one who enlightens you with my word. I will feed you when you are hungry. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” I will not force feed you, but will gladly fill you as you really want it. As the saying goes, “Light yielded to yields more light”.
Know God, not just know about God
The goal of my word is to know me, what I AM like, my character, my attributes, and my heart. This is real food! Then you process it by allowing my Holy Spirit change your lives to be like me for my glory. The goal is not just to stuff your heads full of Bible trivia. That kind of knowledge “puffs up” (gives you big heads). Rather, as you respond to my Word in faith and obey what it says, I will show you more of myself for you to emulate. I will not show you my essence for you to turn up your nose at. I will not cast my pearls before the swine to be trampled on. It is your loss, not mine. But I promise to reveal myself to those who are genuinely hungry in their pursuit of me and who desire my life to radiate from them.
Salvation is not an end, it is just the beginning
Now that I have taught you how to confess your sins, how to get baptized, about faith and judgment to come; don’t be satisfied… I want to teach you how to live out my righteousness in this Dark Age. I want you to live victoriously over the wiles of the devil. The goal of knowing your position in me is so that you can live it out in confidence to meet others needs – not to protect your own interests out of fear. Now that you know that I have got your back, keep moving forward. Don’t fall back into the fetal position of doubt and fear. It is to your loss of reward and a disgrace to my name in the eyes of the world if you retreat. I give you Victory in me, it is yours freely, so live it out for all to see and so desire to come to me for salvation. Salvation is not an end in itself, it is just the beginning to the divine life I want for you.
Don’t harden your heart against God
There is only so much revelation that God will give a seeker before he hardens his heart like God did to Pharaoh. The Pharaoh saw what God had done over and over during the 10 plagues, and though he promised a few times to let the Jews go, he harden his heart and reneged on his promises until God finally hardened his heart for him. Mental assent to the things of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will only help you for so long before you must couple that agreement with ownership (appropriation). You must make it yours by acting on it. If not, you will become like the field in the illustration above in verses 7 and 8; dry, barren, full of weeds ready for the strike of a match to burn up all the chaff in your life.
Education can numb your heart or enlighten it
If we are not careful, education can make us experts in the field of theology, but sterile in its application. 18 inches is all the difference between heaven and hell, which coincides with the distance between your head and your heart. This describes the Jews in the passage above. “Many are called but few are chosen”. As in Jesus’ parable about the 4 soils, only the heart that has been adequately prepared will receive the seed to actually bear a crop of righteousness.
How much RAM memory do you have?
Many church goers receive the word with gladness but shallowness, the weeds, the sun, and the devil prevents the roots from taking hold like the Jews in the passage above who saw the power, heard the message and the calling, who tasted the goodness of God, who felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in the meeting places. Then they leave church and forget what they saw in the “Mirror of God’s Word”.
Have you felt his pulling on your heart? People go forward every service. Raise their hands in praise, even give their money in offerings. But that is as far as it goes. Their Christianity is reserved for Sunday mornings. Every Sunday the Word of God waters and they drink and drink but to no avail. “Ever learning but never able to acknowledge the truth”. The curse of mental ascent is that if we are not careful, we can become anesthetized by it and exempt ourselves from the application of truth to our own hearts. We become callous, sterile, hardened, complacent, asleep, and stone. We analyze and categorize, file and compartmentalize, which is fine with earthly knowledge but not heavenly knowledge.
Your head stores information like a computer’s Terabyte hard drive, but your heart motivates to do something with it like an old 4 meg stick of RAM in that computer. How much RAM do you have? It’s time to upgrade your RAM. You upgrade by application of what you know. Paul is confident here that real believers are acting out on what God’s word says. Not for their salvation but in response to the Lord’s leading in life. Dear Lord get us off our duffs while we can still hear your voice of conviction and before we go deaf to your Holy Spirit.
For those who want to read more:
One commentary put it this way. “Some apparently were still at the elementary level, in turmoil over whether or not Jesus was actually the Messiah. The author, however, warns these wavering Jews that if anyone rejects Jesus as the true Messiah it is impossible to “renew them again to repentance”. Why? Because there will be no other Messiah or Christ. If they reject Jesus there is no hope for them. They have had enough spiritual experience with the gospel of Jesus to make a judgment. They have glimpsed its light, tasted the heavenly gift, experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, sensed that God’s Word is good, and they have felt the powers of the coming age. If, after all of this, these Jews “fall away” and reject Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah, they are doomed.”
More to come,