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,
Immature Christians are subject to three attacks on their Christianity:
Trickery (dice play of a professional gambler who uses tricks against his opponent)
Craftiness (unscrupulous manipulation by one who plays “dirty pool” against those he is opposes)
Deceitful scheming (manipulation)
by the trickery of men,
“Trickery” is a term for those who gamble with loaded dice. Those who throw dice have rigged the game so that the dice turn up the way they want. Cheating was a common practice in gambling in ancient times. In our passage, religious fakers make their teaching appear to the immature the same as true teaching of the Word, but their doctrine is unadulterated deception.
in the cunning craftiness [villainy]
“Cunning” refers to clever manipulation of the truth. Phony religious teachers subtly package their teaching in unscrupulous ways that dangerously misleads weak Christians. This is treachery by using unscrupulous means and sophistry to get what they want.
of deceitful [erroneous] plotting [scheming],
“Deceitful” means error, deception. The idea is of wandering or straying away from the path of truth. These people operate in the arena of delusion and seduction in order to mislead. The effect of deceit is that those led astray wander aimlessly without truth.
“Plotting” comes from a Greek word transliterated methodeia (“method” in the English), which means to work by method. It refers here to spiritual scheming that manipulates people by systematic false doctrine. There are those who use deceitful methods and clever strategies to get the church off course. Their aim is to gain disciples for their false doctrine by elaborate methods. This makes it very difficult for the immature to sort out.
“Plotting” is erroneous systems, not just an individual teaching, that deceive people. The intent of plotters to deceive is by a deliberate plan and a system of teaching. They do this by “craftiness,” by deceitful art. These false teachers employ methods that are apparently harmless, but it is nevertheless crafty deception. They would not dare to draw out the true implications of what they teach.
The church today is susceptible to false teaching because it does not have a mature understanding of the Word.
Immature Christians who are not established in the truth leave themselves wide open to doctrinal error. They allow themselves to be open to those who systematically adulterate truth. False teachers will use every method at their disposal to mislead untaught, immature believers. Paul warned the Ephesian church that there would come people from among their midst who would do this.
Ac 20: 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Note the value Paul placed on (1) high evaluation of truth and (2) the evilness of error. We cannot live the Christian life without clear understanding and belief of truth.
False teaching or error is never harmless. It is not possible to hold to the truth in unrighteousness.