Home > Bible Study, Ephesians, S. Lewis Johnson > The Marks of Spiritual Children

The Marks of Spiritual Children


From S. Lewis Johnson’s study in Ephesians, a look at the characteristics of children, in this message covering Ephesians 4:13-16.  Here, Paul tells us that we, Christians, are to be no more children.

 Now that’s an interesting thing, that we should be called children.  Because, there are so many likeness between children, naturally, and children in the faith, that it’s very instructive for us, I think, to compare children in the flesh and children in the spirit.  What are the marks of children?  Let me suggest some marks of children, and let me suggest some analogies in the church.

Natural Children Spiritual Children
1. Lack of Stability Short Attention Span When they are listening to
the minister of the word of God, their attention span is
often very short.
2.  Easily Deceived You can play trick after
trick on children.  SLJ: I did it with all of my children.  All of my children did it with their children.
Deceived by the false
teaching, by the cults, and not only by the false teachers
and the cultists, but even by other new Christians. Some
have really wild ideas.
3.  Lack of Proportion Tendency to dispute about the
trifles and neglect the weightier matters.
No sense or proportion about
what is important in the Christian faith and what is unimportant.  That’s why when someone announces that he
is going to speak on the United States and Bible prophecy the auditorium will be jammed and packed, and when he
announces the Holy Spirit and the sanctification of the saints, well, there are many an extra seat in the auditorium.
4. Range of Life is Selfish I, me, mine.  Selfish
with their toys.
Interested in my blessing, the things that help me.  Or, I’m not helped by
this.  I’m not built up by this.  They’re only concerned about themselves:  my blessing, my interest.  They don’t think about the whole body of Christ.
5. They Know Everything They are all knowing.
They are provokingly infallible.
Say, “God led me, God led
me”—  SLJ:  he knew it all.  He knew more than the men who were there to teach him theological truths.
6. Lack of Reverence for Age
and Proper Authority
Characteristic of youths to
not have respect for age and authority.
Don’t have respect for
Christians who have been Christians for many years, and who
may have learned some things that it would be a profit for
them to know.
7. Alert to Pleasure and Dead
to Duty
Make it fun to get children
to do something: the Tom Sawyer method.
Christian work as entertaining and fun, and immature Christians doing the work of the Lord.
8.  Don’t Seek Out
Helpful Companions
Love all kinds of animals:
dogs, cats, lizards, other.
Companions are sometimes the type forbidden by the word of God.  They seek out worldly companions rather than spiritual companions.

It was true in S. Lewis Johnson’s day (this series 30 years ago), that many Christians were as children. How much more so today, and what a sad commentary on overall evangelical Christianity today, filled with so many spiritual children.

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  1. July 28, 2012 at 5:54 am

    His list sounds like some of the groups I have been in over the years. I think ‘lack of proportion’ is the one I appreciate most. The passage in 2 Timothy comes to mind:

    2 Ti 4:3-4(KJV) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
    2Ti 4:3-4(NET) For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching. Instead, following their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves, because they have an insatiable curiosity to hear new things. And they will turn away from hearing the truth, but on the other hand they will turn aside to myths.

  2. July 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Well said, Tom, and thanks for the 2 Timothy reference. Yes, the Bible itself speaks to the immaturity that still continues in the Christian church.

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