Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature—for those whose senses have been trained to distinguish between good and evil.
Although I grew up in a small port city on Lake Michigan, I never got to experience sailing until I earned a sales trip to Bermuda. One of the events for the participants was a sailboat race. There were three big sailboats and a course laid out for the race that involved sailing in all directions – with and against the wind. A staggered start was used with the slowest boat going first and the fastest last. Donna and I were on the middle sailboat.
What a wonderful adventure. We passed the first sailboat and managed to keep ahead of the fastest one that was methodically gaining on us. We were still leading when we had one more buoy to sail around and then it would be a sprint for the finish line. The other sailboat was closing and the strong cross-wind was a real challenge.
I was standing next to our captain as we rounded the final buoy. He commented that he thought the other sailboat would pass us and win the race, but then he let out a whoop, and yelled, “We’re going to win!” He explained that the other captain misread the wind and made a wrong move. This resulted in his sails collapsing and a loss of momentum. It took him several minutes to regain his speed but by then we were nearing the finish line.
That captain lost because he misread the wind. Our verse today speaks of acquiring a similar skill – that of distinguishing between good and evil. Sometimes telling the difference is easy, like sailing with the wind at your back. But other times, it can be much more difficult – thus the imperative of having our senses trained. Being able to distinguish good from evil is an absolutely essential skill that every believer must practice and develop. We need it every day and cannot afford to misread the ‘wind’.
We must not succumb to the temptation of allowing culture or opinion to define good and evil. Is it ever okay to cheat? To lie? What is cheating? What is sexual impurity? Where are the lines that we must not cross? What qualities must we cultivate in our lives? What is good? Thank God for His Holy Spirit and His Word. They provide the answers and guidance we need.
Here is the Amplified version of this verse which makes it even clearer how important this skill is: “But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”