Dull of Hearing

How quick are you at hearing God’s Word?

After explaining that we were brought forth by the Word, James continued by stating that everyone must be quick to hear (James 1:19). The context of that verse implies that we are to be quick to hear the Word. According to Jesus, we are blessed when we hear the Word (Luke 11:28). Can we become even more sensitive to the Word? I believe that we can, but I also believe that we can become dull of hearing. This problem was evident for the believers in the epistle of Hebrews. After explaining that Christ had become the source of eternal salvation in the order of Melchizedek, the writer paused in his message and stated, “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing” (Hebrews 5:11).

Imagine if a pastor stood and said, “I’m having a problem teaching this message today, but the problem is not in my ability to explain it. The problem is with your ability to hear it because you’ve become insensitive.” The original readers of this epistle were not in a position to grasp what was being said because their minds had become sluggish. The word dull (nothros) carries the idea of being lazy, slothful, or hard of hearing. So at one time they were eager and hungry to hear, but over time they became dull of hearing and could no longer grasp deep truths.

Hebrews 5:12-14 highlights four characteristics of dullness of hearing. First, we fail to reach our spiritual potential. The writer said, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers” (Hebrews 5:12). This meant that they should have grown in the Word to the point that they could instruct others. Too many congregations rely solely on the pastor to teach when truly all believers, if they are pressing into the Word, can instruct each other. Paul said, “When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26). If believers are maturing in the Word and filled with the Spirit, then all can and should minister to each other. Truly, all can edify each other and impart instruction if we’re growing up in the Word. This does not override the responsibility of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors or teachers (see Ephesians 4:11). But it underscores the necessity to grow up in the Word so that all of us can spiritually edify and influence others. The audience in the book of Hebrews had become dull of hearing and so failed to reach their potential to be a spiritual influence.

Second, we are unable to digest deep spiritual truths. The writer said, “You have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Hebrews 5:12). If we don’t grow up in the Word, then we’ll have to dumb-down our messages so that they’re understood. I’m astonished by the inability of many congregations to grasp messages about the Holy Spirit, kingdom principles, and the conduct of holiness. I’ve encountered the blank stares too many times when I’ve taught about laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and aspects of eternal judgement—and those things are actually considered elementary doctrines (see Hebrews 6:1-2). Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit revealed the deep things of God, but if we’re not pursuing an intimate relationship with the Spirit and consuming His Word, then we’re going to have to settle for a child’s portion of spiritual food.

Third, we live as spiritual infants. If we can only stomach spiritual milk instead of the word of righteousness, then we’ll remain immature infants (Hebrews 5:13-14). The word infant (nepios) can refer to a childish person. Nothing is worse than a church filled with immature, childish believers. The church in Corinth was filled with jealousy, strife, and fleshly manifestations because the believers failed to grow up (see I Corinthians 3:1-3). Show me a church filled with immature Christians who should know better and I’ll show you a church filled with people who can’t forgive, are easily offended, and will create divisions within the body of Christ. Their words, posts and actions are toxic and non-redemptive. It’s time for believers to leave the elementary teaching about Christ and press on toward maturity (Hebrews 6:1).

Fourth, we are unable to discern accurately between good and evil. Immature, dull believers are gullible and “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). There’s a vast difference between “good” and “God,” but if we’re dull of hearing concerning the Word, then we’ll become insensitive to the subtleties of evil that are so pervasive in our culture. I’m heart broken by the stories I hear of pastors, leaders, and Christians falling prey to the sundry of evil enticements. Only those who remain sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit and invest themselves in the Word of God will be able to examine all things and discern good from evil (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

My challenge in this blog is for us to incline our ear to the Lord; press into Him and listen to what He says to live (Isaiah 55:3). Intentionally position ourselves at the feet of Jesus like Mary and listen to every word that proceeds from His mouth (Luke 10:39). Keep turning unto the Lord so that He can remove the veil from our spiritual eyes and give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation (2 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 1:17). Then, with an unveiled face, we can all be transformed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).     

Let’s Pray

Jesus, I press into your heart to listen to your Word. Save me from becoming dull of hearing, in your name, amen.

Rob McCorkle

Rob believes in the message of purity and power. In 2013, he completed his Doctor of Ministry from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. His dissertation discusses the fusion of Word and Spirit in the Holiness movement with special emphasis on the supernatural gifts. Rob is the founder of Fire School Ministries, a ministry organization with the distinct purpose of re-digging the wells in the Holiness movement.