Doing Church, Part 8 – Ephesians 4:14
In part 6 and part 7 of this series on Doing Church, we considered what we are seeking to avoid in “doing church.”
In Ephesians 4:14 Paul writes, 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.
We seek to avoid remaining spiritual infants by growing to spiritual maturity, which is the product of sound doctrine and knowing Christ. Verse 14 tells us that spiritual infants are prone to being tossed around like waves on the sea and carried around by the latest fad in doctrine and ministry.
In part 7, we learned how False Teaching is Trickery in Action and Operates according to a “Whatever Works” Mentality. Today we continue to look at what Paul says characterizes false teaching and false teachers, according to Ephesians 4:14.
False Teaching is Calculated to Deceive
The NASB translates Paul’s final phrase in verse 14 this way: carried about… in deceitful scheming.
This is a difficult phrase to translate in part because the word translated scheming is used in the New Testament only here. The word itself is like our word method. However, Paul clearly intends for us to take it in a negative sense, which is why scheming or crafty is a good translation.
But that’s not the only reason this verse is difficult to translate. Paul also uses a preposition that normally expresses a sense of direction. In this case, however, Paul uses it with the sense of accomplishing a goal.
So the sense of the phrase is something like this: to accomplish the goals of deceptive schemes.
This is ultimately the heart of false teaching: accomplishing a goal by way of deceptive methods. False teachers will say anything to get you on their side so that they will ultimately have their way with you. They often appear sincere and use buzz words that they know will pass the litmus tests of most evangelicals. But if you listen for the substance of what they mean by these words, it will always be squishy and trivial.
According to the apostle Paul, helping believers avoid the dangers of false teachers is a major element to “doing church.” This will only happen through consistent and sound teaching that promotes spiritual growth and conformity to Christ.
How does this happen practically? Answering this question goes back to what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:2. 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.
Teaching God’s word in such a way that helps believers grow in spiritual maturity so that we avoid the deception of false teaching requires the clear manifestation of the truth. In other words, we need to be clear about what God says in His word. Many times that means that our toes will be stepped on and false perceptions of God and life will be exposed and require repentance. But the outcome will be what God intends: spiritually mature believers in the Lord Jesus who think and live just like Him!