“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
The Grace Of Maturity: Ephesians 4:7-16
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
With this devotional, we are beginning the second division of the book of Ephesians. Previously, we have looked at “Reflections Of His Grace Revealed” (chaps 1-3). It that section, Paul revealed to us the gracious works of the Lord in the lives of His chosen people.
In this new section “Reflections Of His Grace Applied” (chaps 4-6) Paul will be explaining to us the practical effects of God’s grace in the lives of His people.
- The Grace Of Unity (4:1-6)
- The Grace Of Maturity (4:7-16)
- The Grace Of Renewal (4:17-32)
- The Grace Of Imitation (5:1-14)
- The Grace Of Wisdom (5:15-21)
- The Grace Of Relationships (5:22-33)
- The Grace Of Authority/Submission (6:1-9)
- The Grace Of Preparedness (6:10-21)
The next effect of God’s grace we will be looking at is the grace of MATURITY (4:7-16). This is a very basic outline of this section of Scripture:
I. The Gift Of Christ… The Origin Of God’s Gifts (including Spiritual Maturity) (vs 7-10)
II. Spiritual Gifts Given To Aid Spiritual Maturity (vs 11-12)
III. Characteristics of Spiritual Maturity (vs 13-16)
In our past devotion, we saw that the Lord gave to His local assemblies gifted men to hold the position of spiritual leadership. He gave us these men for His glory and our good. Some of the ways that we can benefit from the ministry of these men included:
1. that we might come to a unified belief in Biblical doctrine,
2. that we might come to a unified knowledge of Jesus, the Son of God.
3. that we might come to spiritual maturity, fully fitted to do service for Christ,
4. that we might come to a limited measure of the maturity that is evident in every area of Christ’s life.
Why are these four graces of spiritual growth so important for us as Christians? That is the question Paul answers in our devotion for today. Here, we find that Paul explains the harmful things that can be avoided when we are blessed with spiritual growth and maturity…
(Eph 4:14) That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
That we henceforth be no more children,
God has given to us gifted spiritual leaders for use today (Pastor/Teacher, Evangelist) so that we would not remain spiritual children. It is through the ministry of God’s gifted men that we can grow and mature spiritually.
Please note: in this verse “children” is translated from a Greek word that describes a child under speaking age. It is a young infant who struggles to understand and is unable to communicate with words. In our context, spiritual “children” would be those who struggle to understand and cannot communicate to others the “Word” of God.
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:11-14)
Paul now gives us two of the main characteristics of those who are spiritually immature…
tossed to and fro,
First, those who are spiritually immature are like raging waves of the sea. This pictures for us those whose beliefs are not firmly grounded but instead they fluctuate and waver with uncertainty. As Christians our major doctrinal beliefs should be settled and established unmovable in Christ…
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
and carried about with every wind of doctrine,
Secondly, it only follows that if our beliefs are not grounded and settled, we will find ourselves open to belief in contrary, opposing doctrines. Our beliefs will be moved “all around” much like a sail boat being thrown about by quickly shifting winds.
The only possible result of this situation will be the acceptance of false teaching and rejection of the truth that we have known…
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1:6-7)
When we reject the ministries of God’s gifted men, we will find ourselves remaining immature which will lead to unstable beliefs and openness to the lies of false teachers. These false teachers use…
by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness,
1. One of the great tricks used to mislead God’s people is “sleight” or “fraud”. The idea of fraud is the idea of purposeful misleading for the sake of gain. All false teachers are determined to deceive God’s people for the purpose of personal gain, whether it be financial gain, fame, or other personal benefits. This term emphasizes the selfish nature of the false teacher.
2. Another of the tricks used by false teachers is “cunning craftiness” or “subtlety”. The idea behind this word is “to work behind the scenes”, without transparency, in an effort to mislead. It emphasizes the deceitful nature of the false teacher.
Paul knew the great danger in these characteristics and constantly opposed them in his ministry…
“Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:1-2)
whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
The method behind the false teachers “ministry” is to “lie in wait”, in other words, they wait along a well-traveled path, ready to pounce upon the travelers. They do this with an intention to “deceive” them. The word translated “deceive” means to “to cause to wander from the path”.
Here is what Paul is saying…. False teachers seek out those who are traveling along the path of “truth” (truth found in God’s Word). They meet up with the travelers and lead them away from this path.
What a great way to describe the ministry of false teachers around us. They wait for immature Christians (who are easily moved and shaken) to walk along the path of truth, meet up with them, and lead them astray. They do this by working behind the scenes and are motivated by selfish gain. How much clearer can their ministry be described?
May we all seek to become mature in the faith, a firm settled faith in the doctrines of the Word, following the Spirit’s leadership as we seek to serve our Lord in a way that is pleasing to Him…
May we all get a clearer picture of our Lord and Savior, and the great grace He has shown to us. Let us be always watchful to keep His great acts of grace on our behalf in the center of our attention… In doing so, may we be motivated to LOVE Him more, APPRECIATE Him more and SERVE Him more!
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