Spiritual dullness comes from not being mindful of who you are in Christ. When we forget, or don’t know our true identity, even what we read in God’s Word has little effect in keeping us from our spiritual slumber. We may even love His Word, but that may only foster pride and zeal, because we’re not experiencing where His Word is meant to lead us.
Think about it. The Pharisees were zealous, synagogue-attending, Bible-thumpers for God, but they didn’t know Him. This is what Jesus tried to get them to understand:
39 “You are busy analyzing the Scriptures, frantically poring over them in hopes of gaining eternal life. Everything you read points to me, 40 yet you still refuse to come to me so I can give you the life you’re looking for—eternal life! (John 5:39-40 TPT*)
What Jesus is saying here is that the Bible only leads us to His life. It’s not the life itself. Eternal life is not a place we go to when we die either; it’s found, right now, by experiencing a Person:
3 Eternal life means to know and experience you
as the only true God,
and to know and experience Jesus Christ,
as the Son whom you have sent. (John 17:3 TPT*)
This life only comes by experientially encountering His love and walking in His constant embrace. Religious practices can actually dull our hearts further because we’re replacing relationship with ritual, which creates distance and separation.
The writer of Hebrews makes an interesting statement about spiritual dullness:
12 So don’t allow your hearts to grow dull or lose your enthusiasm, but follow the example of those who fully received what God has promised because of their strong faith and patient endurance. (Heb.6:12 TPT*)
A surface-level reading of this verse may make it easy to miss what’s being said here. The Greek word for “dullness” is νωθρός (nōthros), which generally means lazy or sluggish. But it has a deeper implication here. It comes from the root word, νόθος (nóthos), which means “illegitimate child, one born of a female slave.” Here’s what the notes from the Passion Translation Bible says about it:
“The implication is that we don’t see ourselves as a child of illegitimacy, but as a child of intimacy, and that keeps our relationship fervent and passionate.”
In other words, don’t forget who you are and grow spiritually dull in your perceptions. And we grow dull in our perceptions when we’re not intimately experiencing God in Christ, for it’s in this sacred space that we are affirmed and loved at the deepest part of who we are as His sons and daughters.
It’s no longer theology, but reality.
As I’ve said before here, we must not only know God’s works but also His ways. This is how Moses knew God; he met with Him on the mountaintop and in the Tent of Meeting, face to face. He didn’t just know about God’s miraculous works like the rest of Israel.
This is the only way we can know God’s ways. While Bible study is critically important, we will never know God’s heart this way. We won’t know how He truly sees us as His child, or know His love firsthand.
We can only know God’s ways intimately, in His embrace. This is how Jesus knew His Father, by remaining in His love; this is how we’re to know our heavenly Father (John 15:10).
When I’m personally touched by God as I spend time in His embrace, I become passionate about what He’s passionate about.
This is very different than zeal. A person can have zeal for a cause, but this faith-filled passion comes from relationship. It’s this passion that overcomes any circumstance this life may bring.
And this ongoing relationship fuels my desires and passions because I’m affirmed and loved as His child at the deepest heart level. I’m reminded again that this Father qualified me to be His son (Col.1:12-14). I’m no longer a sinner of Adam’s race. I belong to God in Christ! As He is, so I am in this world! (1 John 4:17). This is who God says I am every time I’m with Him.
I develop enduring faith because my heart has been touched and transformed as I behold Him. I know a little more about His nature and how He sees me and sees you. I become a little more like my Papa!
18 We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces. And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus. We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another. And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Cor.3:18 TPT*)
This is my true identity. This is your true identity.
God is making us who we always were, even though this world construct has blinded us to it. And this progressive unveiling of our true identity in Christ fuels our passion and builds unstoppable endurance!
Of course, the writer already gave us the antidote to spiritual dullness earlier in this epistle:
16 So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness. (Heb.4:16 TPT)
I encourage you to receive everything God has for you! Embrace Him as He has already embraced you.