14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
Verses 14 to 16 show the result of gifted men equipping the saints—spiritual maturity.
Paul presented both the negative (v.14) and the positive (v. 15) side of spiritual growth.
14 that [to the end that] we should no longer be children,
“That” connects this verse to the preceding verses to show that the purpose of the gifts of verse 11 is to demonstrate that the church should no longer stay children in maturity (v.14) but reach an adult-like maturity in Christ (vv.15-16). The purpose of spiritual gifts is to address a maturity issue in the local church.
The church that has reached the level of maturity (where it has achieved the four-fold goals previously stated) is not an underdeveloped organism. It is an organism that has grown to full bloom.
Defining the goal of maturity more sharply, Paul contrasted it to infants who cannot care for themselves. The Greek word for “children” here is helpless infants. These children are gullible and susceptible to doctrinal error and failure to live the Christian life properly. These people fall prey to human viewpoint because they are not stable or sure in the Word of God. “Children” are the opposite of mature.
Of necessity a church begins at the infant stage. However, if it stays at infancy, then it becomes something distorted. It is a sad situation when an adult still acts and functions like a baby. It is imperative that the church remains infant “no longer.” Otherwise, the church will be blown about with every fad that comes along.
Believers and churches as a whole need to learn, digest, and apply truth to their souls.
We measure our growth by marking the distance we move from childhood to further development. Immature Christians and churches are fragmented because they only occasionally dip into the Word or go from Sunday to Sunday before they absorb God’s Word. They exist in a state of spiritual inertia.
People in immaturity often cannot draw on God’s Word for a particular problem because they don’t know or recall what God has to say about the situation. These believers may have been Christians for a long time but have never grown in Christ. They never come to the place where they attain an edification construct in their soul. They have not assimilated enough principles of the Word to give structure to their souls. Neither have they exercised what doctrine and principles they have learned.
The reason people cannot metabolize the Word in their souls is because they don’t know it. If it is not digested in their souls, then they can’t apply it. They have not come to the place of spiritual adulthood so that, whatever situation they face, they know how to handle it from the Word of God. Therefore, they are unstable Christians tossed by every distorted idea that comes along. They do not have enough truth in their souls to recognize untruth, nor can they challenge or address human viewpoint that may attack their souls.