Ephesians 4:14
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.
A Young Man's ResponsibilityW. J. Woods, B. A.Ephesians 4:14
Christian EducationH. W. Beecher.Ephesians 4:14
Doctrinal PreachingC. H. Spurgeon.Ephesians 4:14
Growth in KnowledgeH. W. Beecher.Ephesians 4:14
Shallow ChristiansH. W. Beecher.Ephesians 4:14
The Case of Deceivers and Deceived ConsideredD. Waterland, D. D.Ephesians 4:14
The Mature ChristianJ. Lathrop, D. D.Ephesians 4:14
Warnings Against Instability and DeceptionT. Croskery Ephesians 4:14
ExhortationR. Finlayson Ephesians 4:1-16
The Unity of the ChurchR.M. Edgar Ephesians 4:1-16
Redemptive Influence the Gift of ChristD. Thomas Ephesians 4:7-16
The Full-Grown ManW.F. Adeney Ephesians 4:13-16
The ministry has been appointed to bring the Church forward to maturity, and therefore it is concerned to carry it safely through the intermediate stages. We are consequently warned not to continue children, but to advance steadfastly towards manhood. There are two faults hinted at by the apostle.

I. CHILDREN ARE APT TO BE UNSTABLE. "Tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine." They have not become so firmly rooted in the truth as to be proof against unsettling influences either within or without them. Consequently, they are like "a wave of the sea driven of the wind and tossed."

1. The warning implies that truth is a matter of supreme moment. Holiness of character is impossible without it. Believers ought to be well founded in the truth; not mere babes, but such as "are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).

2. They are warned against the tendency to be blown about by the winds of doctrine that blow from-every quarter. The counsel is much needed in this age of startling suggestion, radical denial, and deep unsettlement. There are men who go the rounds of all the sects, swinging from side to side with a movement which indicates that they are true to nothing but the love of change. It is hard for unstable natures to hold the poise of their judgment in the midst of such terrible cross-fires of theological and philosophical speculation.

II. CHILDREN ARE APT TO BE DECEIVED. Their want of knowledge leaves them open to imposition and deception. The apparatus of theological seduction is always at hand. The language of the apostle implies:

1. That there were errorists either at Ephesus or elsewhere, identified with the Christian communion, marked by "the sleight of men and cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive." It is a mere dream to suppose that the primitive Church was perfectly pure either in doctrine or practice. The apostle's farewell address to the Ephesian elders at Miletus anticipated the rise of serious error (Acts 20:29).

2. That such "false teachers" were marked by selfishness, deceit, and malignity. This is the character which the apostle usually ascribes to such men (Romans 16:17, 18; Colossians 2:18; Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 2:17). Error is, therefore, not harmless, though it may appear to be the mere sword-play of a speculative temperament. False teachers are not innocent. Yet our judgment in all cases of this sort must be exercised with charity and meekness, because men may be better than their creed, and may be influenced by the sounder parts of it.

3. That Satan often succeeds in seducing the unwary by the dexterous tricks of such teachers, who cunningly mingle the truth with such error as robs it of its healing virtues. - T.C.

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.
The apostle here describes the perfect man, or mature Christian, both negatively and positively.


1. Christians must not remain children. In understanding, constancy, and fortitude, they should be men.

2. Christians must not be tossed to and fro, like a ship rolling on the waves. He who embarks for the heavenly world must consider, that the ocean on which he sails is subject to changing winds and perilous storms. He must not promise himself smooth waters, soft gales, and clear skies; but go provided for all kinds of weather. The word of truth must be his compass, and faith his pilot; hope must be his anchor, and knowledge and good works his ballast; prudence must keep the watch, and sober reason hold the helm. Thus he may sail with safety in all seasons.

3. Christians must not be carried about with every wind of doctrine. False doctrines, like winds, are blustering and unsteady. They blow from no certain point, but in all directions; and they frequently, and sometimes suddenly, shift their course. They make great noise and bustle, disturb the atmosphere, and, by their violent motions, they spread confusion and ruin. Light bodies are easily taken up and driven about by every wind that blows. The gale which cleanses the wheat, disperses the chaff. The deep-rooted oak stands firm in its place, while the dry leaves beneath it are caught up, wafted around, and made the sport of every gust. So the sincere Christian, rooted and grounded in the truth, and grown up to maturity in faith and knowledge, is steadfast in his religion, whatever storms may assault him.

4. The apostle warns us that we are in danger from the sleight of men, and the cunning craftiness whereby they lie in wait to deceive.


1. We must "speak the truth in love"; or "be sincere in love."

(1)We should acquire a good doctrinal knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus.

(2)We should be well established in the truth.

(3)We should see that our hearts are conformed to the truth.

(4)We must walk in the truth.

2. As we must adhere to the truth, so we must "grow up in all things into Christ, who is the Head."

(1)Christ is the Head of believers.

(2)They must grow up into Him.

(3)They must grow in all things. A partial religion is worthless.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

In Christian character, it may be, relatively speaking, that the moral functions — faith, hope, conscience, and love — stand higher on the scale than social affection, taste, and the lower forms of human reason; but if Christian character is to be complete, it must include them all. Suppose a painter, in painting a man's face, should omit the hair and the eyebrows, saying, "A man can live without hair, and I paint only the important features," and should represent simply the mouth, the eyes, and the nose; what sort of a picture would he make? Absurd as such a thing would be in art, how much more glaring would be the absurdity, in drawing the portrait of the soul, of leaving out any part of it! Religious culture carries with it everything. All the parts are required to make the whole on this ideal — Christ Jesus. I have around my little cabin in the country a dozen or so of rhododendrons. Broad-leaved fellows they are. I love them in blossom, and I love them out of blossom. They make me think of many Christians. They are like some that are in this Church. Usually they come up in the spring and blossom the first thing, just as many persons come into Christian life. The whole growth of the plants is crowded into two or three weeks, and they develop with wonderful rapidity; but after that they will not grow another inch during the whole summer. What do they do? I do not know, exactly; they never told me; but I suspect that they are organizing inwardly, and rendering permanent that which they have gained. What they have added to growth in the spring they take the rest of the season to solidify, to consolidate, to perfect, by chemical evolutions; and when autumn comes, the year's increase is so tough that, when the tender plants that laughed at these, and chided them, and accused them of being lazy, are laid low by the frost, there stand my rhododendrons, holding out their green leaves, and saying to November and December, "I am here as well as you." And they are as green today as they were before the winter set in. Now, I like Christians that grow fast this spring, and hold on through the summer, and next spring grow again. I like Christians that, having grown for a time, stop and organize what they have gained, and then start again. I like periodicity in Christian growth.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Into the life of every youth there comes an hour when an irresistible instinct awakens in him the consciousness that he is no longer a child. When he realizes his own separate personality, when he begins to think, to judge, to act for himself, and when, because he has the ability, he has also the right to be self-controlled, in that hour he becomes a young man. In that hour you might liken him to that young prince of whom we read in English history, who was caught in the act of putting on his father's crown: only with this difference, that the young man is lifting to his brow the crown that belongs to none other, but is the God-given crown of his own manhood.


1. You are responsible for your body.(1) To take such physical exercises and recreative amusements as will develop it and keep it in health and strength.(2) Not to injure your body by carelessness or dissipation.

2. You are responsible for your mental and moral culture; for the development of your faculties; for the wise use and the strong growth of all your powers.

3. You are responsible for your influence.

4. You are responsible, in view of the future that is before you. As yet you are but spreading your canvas and sailing out of harbour. Out yonder is that great and wide sea of life that is full of perils for them that navigate therein. There are sunken rocks, there are shifting shoals, there are treacherous coasts, there are wreckers with false lights, there are sirens with deceptive songs, there are straits narrow and perilous with unimagined and tremendous difficulties; and you are responsible now as you begin the voyage of your life to prepare yourself for the difficulties that are ahead, to take chart and compass with you.

5. Remember, too, that you are responsible for your soul. You cannot ignore the fact that you come to a world where men have fallen, but where men have been redeemed.

II. THE FACT THAT YOU ARE NO LONGER CHILDREN DEMANDS A MANLY STEADFASTNESS OF WILL. The inconsistency, the fickleness, the shiftiness, natural in a child, because a sign of immaturity, is out of place in those who are no longer children. The glory of young men is their strength — strength of will — the energy that turns itself to that which is good — the power to say "No" with decision, and "Yes" with concentration.

III. BECAUSE YOU ARE NO LONGER CHILDREN YOU ARE EXPECTED TO BE MEN. What is a man? What is manliness? Manliness is virtue — vir, a man; virtue, the quality of a man. Truthfulness is a virtue, therefore it is manly. Justice is a virtue; therefore it is manly. Good temper is a virtue; therefore it is manly. Whatever is virtuous is manly. Whatever is manly is virtuous; and, vice versa, whatever is not virtuous is unmanly. Talk that is not virtuous is unmanly talk; love that is not virtuous is unmanly love; life that is not virtuous is unmanly life. Be men. Be virtuous. What is manliness? It is godliness. "God created man in His own image. In His own image created He him." God is true, God is just, God is pure, God is gracious, God is swift to forgive, God is tender to the fallen, God is the helper of the helpless. Be godly, and being godly you will be manly. But how to become manly? How to be like God? Young men, once in the history of the world God sent a man to teach us how to be men, and to be men indeed! Jesus of Nazareth was His name: Son of God and Son of man. If you would be manly, let Jesus teach you.

(W. J. Woods, B. A.)

Here are two sorts of persons marked out by the apostle in the text, the deceivers and the deceived; the one, subtle and crafty, and full of intrigue; the other, easy and credulous, and unsuspecting; the one, supposed to have all the wiliness of the serpent, without the innocency of the dove; the other, all the tameness and simplicity of the dove, without the serpent's wisdom. Both are blamable, though in different respects, and not in the same degree; one for abusing and misemploying their talents, and the other, for not employing them at all to discern between true and false, between good and evil. Both are accountable to God as delinquents; one for high contempt, and the other for great supineness and neglect.

I. I propose to consider THE CASE OF DECEIVERS, or seducers, such as, by their flight and cunning craftiness lie in wait to deceive. And here it will be proper to inquire, upon what motives, or with what views, men are led thus to beguile and misguide others. The particular motives in such cases may be many; but they are all reducible to these three heads, pride, avarice, voluptuousness; that is to say, love of honour, or profit, or pleasure.

II. To consider THE CASE OF THE DECEIVED, who suffer themselves to be tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine. They are supposed to be ignorantly, and in a manner blindly, led on by others; otherwise, they would be rather confederates and confidents in managing the deceit, and so would be more deceivers than deceived. There are, I think, three cases which will take in all sorts of men who suffer themselves to be deceived in things of this kind.

1. Those who have no opportunity, no moral possibility of informing themselves better.

2. Those who might inform themselves better, but do not.

3. Those who might also be better informed, but will not.

III. To subjoin SOME ADVICES PROPER TO PREVENT OUR FALLING IN WITH EITHER. The best preservative, in this case, is an honest and good heart, well disposed towards truth and godliness, having no by-ends to serve, no favourite lust or passion to indulge. The evidences of the true religion, and of its main doctrines, are so bright and strong, when carefully attended to, that common sense and reason are sufficient to lead us, when there is no bias to mislead us.

(D. Waterland, D. D.)

But there were some rising up who objected to doctrinal preaching. It was not necessary, they said, in these days; practice, and perhaps a little experience, but no doctrine. But really if you take away the doctrine you have taken away the backbone of the manhood of Christianity — its sinew, muscle, strength, and glory. Those men reminded him of Philip when he wished to enslave the men of Athens, and would have them to give up their orators. Demosthenes replied, "So said the wolves — they desired to have peace with the shepherds, but the dogs must be first given up — those pugnacious dogs that provoked quarrels. The wolves would lie down peaceably with the lambs, and delight themselves with the sheep, if only those bad-tempered dogs were hanged." So perfect peace was promised among the sects if doctrine were given up; but depend upon it, these were, after all, the preservation of the Church, which without them, would soon cease to be..."Burn the charts; what is the use of charts? What we want is a powerful engine, a good A-1 copper-bottomed ship, an experienced captain, and strong, able-bodied mariners. Charts! ridiculous nonsense — antiquated things — we want no charts, destroy every one of them. Our fathers used to navigate the sea by them, but we are wiser than they were. We have pilots who know every sand and sunken rock, who can smell them beneath the water — or by some means find them out. Men know what's o'clock now-a-days, we don't want chronometers." So they put out to sea without charts; and, looking across the waters, we may expect to witness the shipwreck of those who thought themselves so wise, and fear sometimes lest we should hear their last gasp as they sink and perish. Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I was informed by the engineer who had charge of the survey of that great treasure which Mr. Seward secured for us in Alaska, the eternal ice house of the globe, that even where summer brings vegetation, if you take a staff and drive it down in many parts two or three feet, you strike solid ice, because summer never goes lower than that. And as it is there, so it is in men — only different men are very different in this respect. In some men, if you go down six inches you strike ice; in some men you strike ice if you go down a foot; and in some men you do not strike ice until you go down two feet; but somewhere or other, in everyman, if you go down far enough you will come to a solid foundation, where summer does not reach. What we want, therefore, is tropical heat, that pierces to the very centre; and there are many in whom only heat of a very searching nature is sufficient.

(H. W. Beecher.)

As when men stand and look into the heavens with the naked eye they see some three thousand stars; as with a glass of a certain power they may see some ten or twenty thousand, and as with a larger glass they may see still more, penetrating to the infinite depths of space, so the human mind has been such that at first it could see a little of the nature of God, then a little more, then a little more, and so on, with a power of vision that has increased clear down to the present time.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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