How should a believer mature and make good decisions? Why did Jesus use King David as an example? What does the Bible say about these questions?
“(On the Sabbath Jesus) and His disciples began … picking the heads of grain. The Pharisees (said), “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” (Jesus said), “Have you never read what David did when he … his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God … and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests…?”
A Change in Priesthood, a Change in Law
From Moses’ time until Jesus’ resurrection, believers looked to the ten commandments to guide their decision-making for holy living (Mark 10:3). The commandments were in effect during Aaron’s priesthood. However, when Jesus became the head priest, Aaron’s priesthood ended. The author of Hebrews explains that the Law, under Aaron’s priesthood, could not bring perfection (maturity):
“Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there, for another priest to arise…and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed (Jesus is now Priest), of necessity there takes place a change of law also (Hebrews 7:11-12).”
Why Repeat the Ten Commandments?
However, since we are now under Jesus’ priesthood, how should a believer mature? Many Christian teachers say that nine commandments remain because “they are mentioned in the New Testament.” Does it make sense that nine commandments remain when those commandments couldn’t mature someone anyway?
We must look carefully. If they’re not in effect, why does Paul mention them? For example, in Romans 13:8-10, they are re-stated, but only to show that “love” has superseded them:
“Love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
Notice that Paul lists four commandments, and by saying if there is any other commandment he tells us these commandments stand for them all. The Law as a unit. Galatians 5:14 says: “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word… “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Also, New Testament passages warn us that if we try to mature by keeping the law, we are under a curse and responsible for maintaining the entire law (Galatians 3:10-14; James 2:10)!
How Should a Believer Mature and Make Good Decisions?
Train Our Conscience
So, once again, since we are now under Jesus’ priesthood, how should a believer mature? One critical teaching is rarely taught. In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul tells us:
“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
Paul says this is the goal of his instruction. Also, he lists related things: love, a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith. These are his goal for the believer.
Okay, one might ask, how do we develop a good conscience? Paul tells us in Hebrews 5:11-14:
“It is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. …You ought to be teachers, (but) you need… milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
These Hebrew believers were infants because they hadn’t trained themselves to discern good and evil. When believers choose between good and evil, they sharpen their senses (consciences) only when they choose the best. These believers were not choosing correctly but responded to persecution by lapsing into Aaronic practices. So, Christians mature by making good decisions. Because of training, they get better at making wise spiritual choices. Then they can even discern between better and best.
The Law Could Not Bring Maturity
So, wouldn’t following the ten commandments help us? How should a believer mature and make good decisions? What is wrong with using them to mature? Galatians 5:1-5 tells us:
“You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? …Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?”
The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. God intended the law for minor children. How could it mature us? If the commandment against murder corrects a decision you’re about to make, your standards are too low.
At BEST, the Law is a Baseline
A maturing Christian should no longer make spiritual decisions based on the Law. Why? Because a Christian’s decision-making should be at a higher level. It is a baseline. The Law is below the level of mature Christian decision-making. You’re an infant living on the believer’s starting point if it corrects your decisions. How should a believer mature and make good decisions? How can you stop being indecisive?
How Can Freedom Help?
When Paul said it was for freedom that Christ set us free, what are we free from?
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (the law) (Galatians 5:1).
We’re free from keeping the Law. Ironically, it is against the law to subject ourselves to it! He set us free from the Law. Why was that important? We needed to practice discernment between good and evil to mature in the Christian faith. We have to grow up! Therefore, telling Christians, they are still under nine of the ten commandments stunts their growth.
Why Use King David’s Example in Mark 2:23-26?
Why could David eat the consecrated bread that, according to the Law, was only for the priests? David was on a mission for God and needed that sustenance to continue. David reasons with the priest, saying that the priest could give the bread to holy young men,“Though (theirs) was an ordinary journey; how much more then today will their vessels be holy? Because David was on a more important godly mission. So, the priest gave him consecrated bread (1 Samuel 21:5-6).”
David made a wise decision that aided his mission. God expects us to mature so we can make judgments like this–judgments on this level–when we’re advancing His Kingdom. Technical rules shouldn’t bind us. That is how we mature, by developing our consciences. These decisions help us make future choices.
Can We Abuse this Freedom?
Absolutely. Paul warns us: “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).”
Our responsibility as adult children of God is at a higher level. We don’t grow by reverting to the Law.
Hebrews 6:1: “Therefore, leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity….”
read more about growing in your faith here.