Discernment (Hebrews 5:14)

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.” (Hebrews 5:14, KJV 1900)

It is amusing to watch inexperienced people with cars. I can drive with them when they first get their car and everything sounds and runs well. However, perhaps a year later I will catch a ride with them again and things just are not right. There may be a sound coming from the engine or a strange vibration coming from the front end. I know of several cases where a wheel fell off a person’s car, which is usually preceded by wobbling or vibrations. The amazing things is that when these problems exist, the car’s owners had no clue that something was wrong. Well, not until the engine quit or the wheel fell off. They just did not have the maturity, so to speak, with cars to pay attention to the subtle warnings that something was wrong.

The author of Hebrews has been speaking about infants and adults as it regards the Word of God. He explained that many in the assembly of the Hebrews were like infants still drinking the milk of God’s Word but have not progressed to eating solid food. One of the things he stated in verse 12 was that, by the time of the writing, they should have progressed in their understanding of the Word sufficiently to be teachers. Only the mature who partake of the solid food of God’s Word can teach it.

In verse 13, the author indicated that the infant was unskilled in the Word. They lacked the functional knowledge of the Word necessary to experience its blessings in life. This can explain a lot of things about how a person negotiates the decisions, trials, and emotional wellbeing of life.

Here in verse 14, we see one more issue. It is the ability to discern between good and evil. The Word of God grants the mature believers a special ability to make a critical judgment on the things of life. Mature believers make wiser decisions. They will critically assess the choices presented to them in accordance with the Word of God and generally choose the better ones. They do not find themselves guessing about choices but have more confidence than the spiritual infant. They discern between good and evil because they digest the solid food of God’s Word.

I have seen so many people struggle in life because they are spiritual infants. They are constantly torn between opinions. They are easily swayed to that which is false because they lack discernment. The way to gain this discernment is to progress to eating solid food. To do this, one needs a good diet of God’s Word and spiritual exercise. Read and study the Word. Do what it says. Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Prov 3:5).

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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