“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Heb. 5:12)
What does it mean to be spiritually immature? The writer to the Hebrews admonished believers in his day for failing to go beyond the basics of the Christian faith and become mature disciples. For him, the problem was the Hebrews could not advance beyond their consumption of “milk” to the heartier “meat” of God’s Word.
There are also practical concerns about spiritual immaturity for the church. Pastor Adriel Sanchez, co-host of the radio program Core Christianity, recently wrote an article, titled, “Three Biblical Signs of Spiritual Immaturity,” highlighting three potential problems with a spiritually immature church. They are as follows:
1) Spiritually immature Christians are gullible to strange doctrines.
As we mature in faith, certain perspectives we had about God often do develop, but the spiritually immature are marked by instability. With each new book or blog post they read, they change their views whichever way the wind is blowing. As we grow up in that gospel, the waves and winds of weird doctrines don’t knock us down as they once did.
2) Spiritually immature Christians aren’t able to play nice with other believers.
A sure sign of spiritual immaturity is that there is strife between us and our brothers and sisters in Jesus. When they do something to offend us, we retaliate by hurting them with our words (to them, or to others about them), or severing the relationship entirely. If you can’t forgive others and resolve tension with your family in Christ, you may very well be an “infant in Christ.”
3) Spiritually immature Christians are controlled by their fleshly impulses.
Paul tied being an infant in Christ with being fleshly (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Writing to the Galatians, he described the works of the flesh as these: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies” (Gal. 5:19-21). This list wasn’t meant to be exhaustive, but it gives you a good idea of the kinds of things Paul had in mind. Like a small child who doesn’t get his way and throws a fit, the spiritually immature yield to their carnal impulses rather than surrendering them to God and exercising self-control.
These are important words as we each consider our own level of spiritual maturity and how our participation in the local church impacts others. I’d encourage you to read the entire article by clicking here and invite you to listen each weekday to Adriel as he joins Dr. Michael Horton on the Core Christianity broadcast.