Abhor ignorance

It is possible and easy to be an ignorant Christian. That’s not just true of recent converts; even lifelong devout Christians can be ignorantly zealous [Romans 10:2]. In fact, several verses in the Bible suggest that every believer starts on the ignorant end of the spectrum [e.g. 1 Corinthians 12:1]. Nevertheless, we progress as we gain knowledge that profits us and makes us more like Jesus in character and experience [Ephesian 4:11-13]. Unfortunately, many of us are either unwilling to acknowledge our ignorance or don’t think ignorance in the things of God is a big deal. So, we don’t prioritise the pursuit of the knowledge of God and His ways. Consequently, an ignorant Christian is often indistinguishable from an unbeliever as they tackle the vagaries of life. 

The cure for ignorance is knowledge. So, Scripture urges Christians to prioritise and pursue knowledge [Proverbs 4:5-9]. Elsewhere, it says that the righteous arm themselves when they possess knowledge, and their discernment delivers them [Proverbs 11:9]. That’s a key verse for Christians because, in the world, people generally rely on power, fame and wealth for deliverance. Sadly, we often crave these things and prioritise pursuing them over striving for knowledge. But, it’s worth asking how helpful might, celebrity or money are in our fight against our adversary, the devil [1 Peter 5:8]. I find it sobering that even God says His people perish for lack of knowledge [Hosea 4:6], not because they don’t pray or go to church. It was evident back then and remains true today [Isaiah 5:13].

The first thing the Bible reveals about the devil is his craftiness [Genesis 3:1]. Having studied human beings tirelessly for thousands of years, his methods of deceit are subtle and highly effective. He can’t overpower us because the power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, but he can definitely outwit us and wreck our lives if we’re ignorant. The sad truth is that the longer we remain Christians, the easier it becomes to embrace areas of ignorance in our lives and settle into the comfortable and familiar. Yet, as long as we tolerate ignorance, we’ll remain vulnerable to lies and half-truths that will rob us of several blessings and experiences ordained for us by God. Therefore, we must retain a teachable posture because even in heaven, we won’t exhaust all there is to know about God.

It struck me recently that God takes our free will very seriously. He lays down prohibitions, often stating the consequences of transgressing them, and gives us the freedom to obey or disobey [e.g. Genesis 2:16-17, Deuteronomy 30:15-20]. God never overrides our will.  But equally important, He doesn’t permit angels or demons to violate it either. Think about it; if Satan could force you to act against your will, why would he bother with deception? Since he has neither the power nor authority to compel us to act against our will, he must rely on finding ways to deceive us into violating God’s prohibitions on our own. That’s how he caused havoc in the Garden of Eden [Genesis 3] and how he continues to ruin lives today. Consequently, we’re warned not to be ignorant of his schemes [2 Corinthians 2:11].

One thought I dread is getting to heaven and finding out that my time on earth could have been a much better experience if I were less ignorant. It motivates me to study the Bible and fuels my desire to fulfil my God-ordained destiny. Yet, I’ve realised that knowledge of God’s word isn’t enough. Many preachers and theologians can eloquently expound chapter and verse, but when you examine their lives, actions and results much is found wanting. What’s more, you have no desire to emulate them. I believe that suggests that something extra is needed to ensure our knowledge bears kingdom fruit which inspires others. That missing factor is the Holy Spirit [Job 32:8]. He furnishes our understanding of God’s word by granting us revelation and empowers us to live it out with integrity and results. Without Him, we can learn God’s word continuously but never truly understand it [2 Timothy 3:7].

So, more than accumulating knowledge, I yearn for wisdom, which is knowledge applied with understanding. Studying the Bible for the believer should never be just an intellectual exercise. We should tirelessly desire to be living epistles visibly manifesting the written word of God [2 Corinthians 3:2]. My life should be distinguishable from the life of an unbeliever because of the love, power and wisdom of God made available to me through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. That distinction, if undeniably evident, transforms believers into witnesses [Acts 1:8]. Sadly, while there are several examples of men and women in Scripture who were great witnesses, few encounter living epistles today whose lives demonstrate the signs Jesus said would follow those who believe in Him [e.g. Mark 16:17-18, John 13:35]. 

If you’re a believer, is your life a living epistle yet? Could ignorance be a contributing factor if it isn’t? If so, how desperate are you to eradicate your areas of ignorance? Ignorant people usually don’t accomplish much for God and don’t live victorious lives that glorify Him. But even more than our desire not to fall prey to the devil should be our desire to glorify God with our lives because that’s why He created us [Isaiah 43:7]. So, today I encourage you to resolve to ruthlessly eliminate ignorance in your life through the tireless pursuit of the knowledge of God. Make room in your life to study your Bible, read spiritually edifying books, listen to illuminating sermons and most importantly, pray to encounter the Spirit of wisdom and revelation [Ephesians 1:17].

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