Ignorance: Is this something you will overcome?
The word ignorance speaks of what could probably be learned but has not been learned. I think we can all agree that there’s a lot we all don’t know about a lot of things. However, it has always amazed me that many people will take the time, even a lot of time to learn about a lot of things that really don’t make much difference. But if there’s one book you need to work on mastering, it is the Bible. Obviously, most people think that’s a waste of time. Otherwise, we’d see them hard at work seeking to learn everything they could about it. Regardless of what they may say about it, their actions declare to all their true belief about this.
In the apostle Paul’s writings, we see him using a particular phrase six times. That phrase is “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren” [Romans 1:13; 11:25; 1 Corinthians 10:1-5; 12:1; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13]. In each of these he speaks about a variety of subjects, but the basic problem in each case is their lack of knowledge about these things he considers to be important. Can such ignorance be a problem for people in our time? Of course, it can! It is! In fact, it is a major problem for people in every generation. And whether they realize it or not, their greatest problem in their whole life is ignorance of the Word of God. Because they have allowed other things to crowd it out, they remain ignorant of even the most fundamental but important things.
Here, in this first passage I’ll cite, we see the apostle Paul’s great concern for his fellow countrymen. Shouldn’t this be a concern of ours today?
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.
2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. [Emphasis added]
How is it that they were ignorant of God’s righteousness? The answer to that for them then is the same as it is for people today. People so often assume that their own relative righteousness is an acceptable substitute for the absolute righteousness of God. In other words, they assume that their own imperfect righteousness can qualify them for the blessing of God, even Heaven. Here’s one of the first passages I ever learned about this.
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. [Emphasis added]
We have nothing to offer God in our own righteousness to gain His praise, let alone entrance into Heaven. This is something we all tend to have to learn the hard way. As righteous as the apostle Paul thought he was as a “religious” Pharisee, notice what he says about himself.
4 Though I might also have confidence in the flesh [speaking of his own righteousness]. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more:
Then he goes on to list some of the things that had made him think he was worthy of the blessing of God.
5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
6 Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
What a vivid description of what he came to realize his own righteousness was worth! Then he comments on that righteousness that qualified him for God’s blessing.
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: [Emphasis added]
Please note what he says about the value of our works for salvation.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]
There are multiple passages that tell us this same thing. Here’s another one.
4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [Emphasis added]
It is faith in Christ that secures salvation. Nothing else! It is the WORK OF JESUS CHRIST in His death, burial, and resurrection that must be the sole object of our faith for everlasting salvation and entrance into Heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [Emphasis added]
Upon believing this, the next step is to begin growing spiritually. Your learning of things throughout the Bible is involved in this, but especially the writings of the apostle Paul. That’s because he is said to be OUR apostle today.
13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [Emphasis added]
To “magnify” his office we must give special attention to his writings, realizing that we’re to accept the authority of his statements over that of others, even those of Christ in the time of His earthly ministry.
1 Corinthians 14:37
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [Emphasis added]
2 Timothy 1:13
13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [Emphasis added]
We are told that Christ’s work in our lives today comes from His heavenly ministry, not His earthly one.
2 Corinthians 5:15-16
15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. [Emphasis added]
This “knowing of Christ after the flesh no more” has to do with Paul’s teaching [Romans to Philemon] received from Jesus Christ in Heaven. It is through the apostle Paul’s words that we get Christ’s words that are specifically addressed to us today. Paul is Christ’s spokesperson to us today.
Again, 1 Corinthians 14:37
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. [Emphasis added]
Only through our diligence to study the revelation Christ gave to the apostle Paul can we reach spiritual maturity. In the Bible this is called the right division of Scripture.
2 Timothy 2:15
15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. [Emphasis added]
Unfortunately, most teachers of the Bible today have no idea what this means or how to do this. To get some details on what this means and how this is done, please go to my articles on our website entitled 4Us2Us: What does this mean? and Bible: Are believers to follow Jesus Christ?
Apart from the learning of God’s Word we are vulnerable to not only the function of our own sinful nature, but to Satan and his large demonic organization.
2 Corinthians 2:11
11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we [as mature believers] are not ignorant of his devices. [Emphasis added]
Apart from becoming a student of God’s Word, you WILL be deceived by Satan. A little “snack” on God’s Word on Sunday mornings will never take you to spiritual maturity. You will have a misunderstanding of many things, including the means to your own salvation. At the heart of our studies of Scripture we’re to realize that our faithfulness to learn and apply God’s Word has not only temporal value for life now, but especially in eternity. This is because our eternal rewards are based on the degree of our faithfulness to learn and apply God’s Word in our day-to-day living.
2 Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. [Emphasis added]
For more information about God’s rewards to the faithful, go to my article on our website entitled Rewards: For what will Jesus Christ wish to reward you? Typing a couple of key words in the search box and hitting your enter key will get you to it.
Most of us have heard the saying, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” I think we should all know that just isn’t true. Ignorance to certain things can be very harmful, even cost you your life. Also, always remember that you can’t apply what you don’t know. Ignorance keeps a lot of people from the blessing of God every day and right on into eternity. I hope you’ll make it a goal not to be one of them. Ignorance of God’s Word is something you must work to overcome. I hope you’ll continue on in this exciting journey, so you’ll become a person in the know and a wonderful blessing to all those around you.