Each one of Paul’s epistles, to the various churches, were written with a specific message which was given to each church to help them with various problems and issues that arose in their midst. As long as we are in these houses of clay, even the sons of GOD will be prone to err and the LORD has provided HIS WORD for “doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2Ti 3:16) The mercy of GOD is thus demonstrated as HE does not leave HIS sheep without pasture nor does HE abandon them to the wolves. HE does supply them with the necessary food that they, by “speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” (Eph 4:15)
The LORD placed a great emphasis upon the necessity of a childlike spirit in order for men to be able to enter HIS Kingdom. “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 18:3-4) The humility of a child is descriptive of those who are brought to repentance and faith. There is no place of boasting in being given this privilege, for all who enter HIS Kingdom do so in and by HIS power and grace and not by any effort or worth of their own. As a child is powerless to provide for himself, so too, are awakened sinners taught their complete need of the mercy of GOD. Even as they mature in the faith they are still, in some things, counseled to be as children. “Brethren,----in malice be ye children.” (1Cor 14:20) “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”(1Pet 2:2)
But the predominant message that comes through loud and clear in Paul’s and Peter’s epistles is that it is necessary and desirable for the sons of GOD to leave childhood and grow up into CHRIST as mature men (and women). To this end HE has given gifts to the church, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children (Eph 4:12-14)
Thus Paul gives a contrast to the ways of a child and the ways of a man and says that when he became a man he, “put away childish things”. In doing so he gives a mild rebuke to the Corinthians who were in many things acting childishly (like babies) rather than being the men which are described as being the sons of GOD. Paul was forced to grow up rather quickly, after his meeting with the LORD on the Damascus road. He was given powerful gifts and a place of leadership as the apostle of the Gentiles. “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1Cor 9:16)
He did not have time for the foolishness of religion, nor the politics thereof which are often such a stumbling block for multitudes who would claim to be the followers of CHRIST. His letter to those at Corinth identified several childish things which they were caught up in.
It is childish when men seek to divide themselves over personality (preacher worship, etc) and religious preferences. He rebuked them for seeking distinctions among themselves, for some said, “I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.” (1Cor 1:12) Those who desire to promote “denominations”, often act childishly. Even those who are proud to be “non-denominational” in reality act in the same childish manner when they promote this division. What distinctions should we have among those who are bought with the blood of CHRIST? Is not CHRIST all in all?
It is childish when men divide themselves from brethren over such issues as food and drink or days, times, and seasons. “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died.” (Rom 14:13-15) “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.” (Rom 14:3)
It is childish to have regard unto days, times, and seasons to the extent that these matters give us reason to promote schism. “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.” (Rom 14:5-6) Where is the ground for division except as men will justify such in a childish manner? “Let no man therefore judge you (nor you him) in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” (Col 2:16-17) Such things shall pass away.
It is childish to “promote” spiritual gifts as an end in themselves. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.(i.e.; to benefit the whole body and not the individual)” (1Cor 12:4-7) It is extremely childish to imagine that men can gain such “gifts” or operate in the same, through their own effort. A gift is a gift. If the body is not edified by a “spiritual gift”, then no case can be made for its origin being the SPIRIT of GOD. This is why Paul (putting away childish things) forbids “speaking in tongues” in the assembly unless the companion gift of an “interpreter” is also present. “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” (1Cor 14:33)
It is childish to disregard the ordained order of GOD insofar as the roles of men and women in the church and in life. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” (1Cor 11:3) But it is just as childish for men to use this “order” to suppress and subjugate women. “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” (1Cor 11:11-12) “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. ---, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3:26-28)
It is childish to cling to teaching that entertains the flesh just as it is childish to be content to be spoon fed the word of GOD by others. Those who would leave childhood must be students of the word and be as the noble Bereans who searched the scriptures daily. Pabulum is for babes “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Heb 5:14) The sons of GOD are not to simply be observers but rather participants in the warfare to which they are called.
It is childish to wait upon direction, only, from specific individuals; for the LORD has provided an array of “helps” for the children of GOD and each part of the body is to provide that which is lacking in the body. “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; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Eph 4:14-16) It is childish to consider that there is any higher calling given to the sons of GOD than to “love the brethren”. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (i.e.; love).” (1Cor 13:13)