I Corinthians 3/
1 However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but [only] as to worldly people [dominated by human nature], mere infants [in the new life] in Christ! 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Even now you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly [controlled by ordinary impulses, the sinful capacity]. For as long as there is jealousy and strife and discord among you, are you not unspiritual, and are you not walking like ordinary men [unchanged by faith]?
To the skeptic, the unbeliever, the discreditor, the anti-Christ who is looking to disqualify and dismiss Christians and their faith. The kind of things that the Corinthian Christians were failing in – gives the necessary ammunition for verbal castigation by accusers.
These words of Paul, under the enablement of the Holy Spirit, do a number of things. Firstly they dispel the myth that when a person becomes a Christian, they are perfect in thought, word and deed from that moment on.
And of course we are, (as is often said): positionally. That is we are accepted in Christ by the triune God.(Ephesian 1/6)(Hebrews 10/14).
However in raising our children, we cannot expect perfection from them. They are immature, born sinful – sinful from birth, and we never have to teach them how to be insubordinate or throw a selfish tantrum.
So Paul aware of the corporate immature dissension and division amongst his spiritual children in Corinth – refers to them as babes/infants – as they failed to demonstrate spiritual maturity, the maturity that comes through time and handling of the Word of God.
Some folks have of course never experienced what it is to be spiritually born again – born from above.
But for those of us who have – we now must adjust to this new life in Christ.
When Lazarus came from the tomb after Christ had called him forth from death, after life came back into his (it was perceived – stagnant body) others needed to remove the ‘wraps’, the grave clothes, he was still bound with.
When we come into new life in Christ we must grow up spiritually. And as in the natural there are stages of growth all the way to adulthood, so it is with new spiritual life.
We need others at times to change our spiritual diapers, just like others were needed to remove Lazarus’s grave clothes, so he could walk in newness of life.
So Paul tells the Corinthians that he cannot speak to them about deeper things, while they still indulge in their childish, spiritually immature ways.
Notice he describes their spiritual immaturity as being ‘dominated by human nature’.
On a different occasion he reminds other Christians elsewhere that when we are new born babes in Christ – old things pass away and all things become new.
New in the very core of our beings. New from the regenerated human spirit out into outward behaviour, in thought word and deed.
Spiritual feeding is the feeding of the human spirit and mind of the believer by ‘masticating’ the Word of God.
And the deep things revealed in this Word of God cannot be grasped by those who are infants, and learning how to be and in the process of being, – all God has made us in Christ.
The immature live half in God and half in themselves. So Paul feeds them with milk. Although the Galatian’s epistle brings us the deep things of God, just like any other epistle, it needs to be grasped in a greater way than they could manage, at that time.
The mature partaking of the divine nature, will be fully matured when they reach heaven. Meantime varying levels of growth, revelation, inner development will exist amongst believers.
I often say that we don’t learn spiritual things off pat, but often the same things over and over again, but at a progressively deeper level.
The accusers of those who profess to follow Christ will pick on the areas of immaturity, but in all accusations, the Christian has the advantage of being able to respond in the words of the epistle to the Romans:
33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?