Ephesians 4:14: The malady that arrests the growth of the church – spiritual immaturity and falsehood.
Wednesday January 12.2022
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent [making every effort] to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift. 8 Therefore it says,
"When He ascended on high,
He led captive a host of captives,
And He gave gifts to men."
9 (Now this expression, "He ascended," what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.
With every believer’s ministry God gives mercy and faith in His mercy is to give us courage to perform that ministry.
Therefore, since we have this ministry [diakonia], as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
This attitude takes constant courage, which comes by faith in God’s mercy as well as faith in the freedom that our sovereign God has given to us.
Vs. 14 – the malady that would arrest the growth of the church: immature believers and false teachers of speculations.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects [panta = all things] into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
This next sentence begins with the conjunction hina, meaning that, in order that, or as a result.
“children” – nepios = without the power of speech, i.e., an infant child. We are no longer to be spiritual infants since we know and believe vv. 1-13.
These spiritual infants suffer from every change to the atmosphere of their lives. They are easily anxious and worried and crowd the church’s nursery until they grow robust and take part in the spiritual warfare and fight the good fight of faith like brave and strenuous spiritual adults.
We must qualify that it is perfectly legitimate to be a spiritual infant for a time. All of us start out being born-again, and therefore we are spiritual infants, but from that start “we are to grow up in all aspects [panta = all things] unto Him.”
“Tossed here and there by waves” is the translation of one verb. It is a nautical term for being thrown about, to and fro, by the waves of the sea. In this case it is Paul’s imagery for a disturbed, worried, and anxious mind that lacks the foundation or anchor of the truth in which to find rest.
Faith in the truth gives rest to the soul.
The imagery continues with the wind, which Paul likens to false doctrine. False doctrines are false solutions to the troubled mind. False doctrines can distract the mind for a while and therefore feel like a right solution, but the distraction is short lived and the anxiety returns accompanied by a sense of greater failure, discouragement, and disillusionment.
False doctrines are sold to the church and the public by men and women who are tricky, crafty, and scheming. Whether they know it or not, they are being used by the devil to sell falsehoods to the world that are packaged in ways that make them desirable and attractive, as well as seem like the truth. A good forgery has to be close enough to the original so that the untrained eye accepts it. These falsehoods are repeated over and over in a confident tone.
The solution in vs. 15 is to live and walk in the truth.
"Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?"
The Son of God has power over winds that could potentially destroy His disciples. The Lord’s rebuke to the disciples freeking out was, “Where is your faith?” Where indeed – where is our own?
God calls forth the whirlwind (Job 37:9). The glory of God thunders and His voice breaks cedars (Psa 29).
The Scripture tells us that God calls forth the whirlwind from His chamber (Job 37:9). The God of glory thunders and His voice breaks cedars (Psa 29). The glory of God came to the earth. Is it therefore surprising that when Christ came into the world, all nature bowed to His authority? The Creator of heaven and earth set upon the sea of His making, and when a tempest descended upon Him and His disciples, of which they greatly feared, Jesus rebuked the wind and the waves, and the air and sea instantly became calm. If we take shelter in Him, in the truth, both by knowing and living it, what can the winds of false speculations, which can and has destroyed many lives, do to us? The sovereign of all truth could instantly stop the spread of lies, but He allows it while proclaiming the truth from the rooftops. It is clear therefore that God has made it so that man has a choice.
Does not wisdom call, … To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
“carried about” – carried around in circles by every wind of teaching (false doctrines). Trickery [kubeia] is literally “dice playing.”
By the “trickery” – kubeia = dice playing, metaphorically it is sleight or trickery. To these tricksters, what they are playing at is a game, but they have no idea how dangerous their game is.
It is conduct in influencing people without earnestness or clear purpose. “These men play with religion, and with the welfare of Christian souls” (von Soden).
"The different teachings of philosophers or of religious quacks are represented as winds, blowing the unstable soul in every direction." [Vincent, New Testament Word Studies]
The wicked are not so [blessed],
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
In Psa 1, the blessed are those who delights in the law of God.
The apostle Paul witnessed the outline of a great system of error shaping itself as he beheld the first restless speculations and unscrupulous perversions of the gospel in Asia. Paul was a first hand witness to the first risings of false doctrines against the gospel and doctrines of the New Covenant. By his use of the word “scheming,” he saw a method in this madness.
The heresies against the truth, at the time of Paul’s writing it is the Gnostic heresy that he is having to deal with, have no attraction for seasoned and settled believers. The schemes of error are designed and suited for those who have a general sympathy for the strange and fantastic that promise an easy path to self-gratification.
As a result, we are no longer to be children [spiritual infants], tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
To the trickery of men is added their cunning craftiness (translated properly) and then in “deceitful scheming.” This is an interesting phrase. “Deceitful scheming” is the Greek words methodeia, from which we get our word “method,” and plane which is a wandering or forsaking the right path. Methodeia is the compound of meta (after) and hodos (way or road). It means a deceitful path or cunning way, and plane means error or wondering off the path. Both words emphasize the wrong path or the forsaking of the right path. It is like a strong current pushing fish into a net, but this current is driven by reckless and ignorant men.
For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.
The false narrative is after a path but it is off the right path. This shows us that all men desire a path to walk. They need a purpose. Currently, the very lonely who are filled with free-floating anxiety are being offered paths formed by progressive academics based on race, climate change, equity, and all pointing them towards the promise of a perfect world. Once the false path is ingrained deep enough, facts will not matter to them. We must continue to have mercy, grace, and pray for them while instructing them in the truth with gentleness.