For though by now you should be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God and have come to need milk rather than solid food. 13 Everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are mature, for those who through practice have powers of discernment that are trained to distinguish good from evil. [Hebrews 5:12-14 MEV]
This is the only real definition of maturity we have in the New Testament. Those of us who have reached this place, have been taught by the Lord to recognize the enemy, the world, the self, and the Lord.
This is a crucial skill. It assumes you have learned how to use the information in I John 4.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God. [I John 4:1-3 MEV]
As I have written elsewhere, you can use this knowledge to question your thoughts to determine their source. But all of this begs the question:
What is milk?
Well, the author of Hebrews tells us clearly. I’m going to use my paraphrase, the MVP:
Therefore, leaving the milk of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from sin and dead works, faith, baptism, the laying on of hands to receive the power of the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. [Hebrews 6:1&2 Modern Viking Paraphrase (MVP)]
Now it’s likely that several of you attend churches who have not gone beyond these basics in all the time you’ve been a believer. How many churches only preach about sin, repentance, accepting Jesus, trusting in Him (faith), getting baptized, and a bit of end times prophecy about the Rapture and the 7-year tribulation? Mainline churches often do not reach this level. Evangelicals get stuck on getting people saved (which is certainly a worthy task, but does not feed the sheep). Huge numbers of congregations are led by men who were taught in seminary that we are living in the millennium now as the new substitute for Israel.
In fact, many never teach about the laying on of hands. We read about this in Acts:
Samaritans Receive the Holy Spirit
14 Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they came down, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for still He had come on none of them. They were only baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. [Acts 8: 14-17 MEV]
But this is all milk!
This is basic entry-level Christianity. You need to move on to a close personal relationship with Jesus, talking back and forth so you come to know Him. This is His desire. This is why He created mankind. The result of this is an unshakeable faith, and clear knowledge of who is in the Kingdom and who is not. You learn to control your thoughts—recognizing whether a given thought is from you, the enemy, or the Lord. You will have developed maturity with “powers of discernment that are trained to distinguish good from evil”. If you are not there yet: