My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…. (Hosea 4:6a ESV)
Is your response to that verse, “amen” or “oh me?” Now that I have your attention let’s discuss knowledge. Remember we have been looking at a path that God wants His children to walk in this life. He wants to equip us to represent Him as the Body of Christ in this fallen world. He wants us to strive for the qualities listed in 2 Peter chapter 1. The path begins with faith and ends with love and has several other qualities we are to pick up in between, one of which is “knowledge.”
Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. (2 Peter 1:5-6)
As you can see knowledge is closer to the beginning than the end of the path. I want to be very clear about knowledge – knowledge is VERY important but it is NOT the end to our spiritual growth. As a matter of fact, lets examine this “Godly growth chart” for a moment:
faith > moral excellence > knowledge > self-control > perseverance > godliness > brotherly kindness > love
Are you done examining? Okay, now let me ask you a couple of questions about the Godly Growth Chart:
- Where on this path would you say “maturity” begins?
- In your experience, where would you say that most Christians stop on this path?
Thought provoking questions aren’t they? I understand that these are opinion questions; below is how I would answer:
- Self Control
Let me explain my answer to #1 with a parable:
There was a man who went to the Doctor with a nasty rash that he could not seem to make go away. The Doctor – an expert on the body and how it works – examined the rash and came to a conclusion as to what it was and how to treat it. He then gave the man these instructions: “Take this prescription, get it filled and apply the medicine to your rash twice each day for two weeks. Then, come back to see me after the two weeks has passed.”
After two weeks the man returned to the Doctor and the Doctor asked him, “Did the medicine work?” “No” the man answered, it didn’t.” “Well,” the Doctor asked, “did you apply the medicine I prescribed?” “No” the man said. “However, I read your prescription and got it filled. I researched the medicine you prescribed and I now know: who invented it, what year it was discovered, what it contains, all of its uses, how and why it works. Furthermore, I copied the Wikipedia page about this medicine and committed parts of it to memory.” “But” the Doctor asked, “You didn’t apply it?” “No” the man said. “Well,” explained the Doctor, “All that knowledge you attained is impressive, but the medicine is only effective in healing, restoring and bringing comfort when it is applied!”
Knowledge alone does not make an effective or mature Christian.
What about Question #2?
Oh, question number 2…. why do I believe the biggest percentage of Christians stop after knowledge? Let me answer this question with a question: Why do we see churches fighting, splitting, gossiping, divorcing and committing sexual immoralities? In short why do we see churches that look a whole lot like the world? With each scenario above, I doubt the church people simply don’t know that what they are doing is wrong. In other words, I doubt the problem is a lack of knowledge. Rather, it is because we have a lot of spiritually immature Christians filling the pews. We have an abundance of Christians who attend church every week – gain Biblical knowledge but don’t make application…. it seems to end there. You probably know “that guy.” You probably know that guy who attends Sunday School (or small group), responds to worship in the assembly and highlights his Bible during the sermon. Then, as he is driving home from church – has road rage toward another person who takes away his right of way. Do you know that guy? That is a person who seems to have ceased striving after knowledge.
So How Important is Knowledge?
I’m glad you asked! Let me answer this question with a parable.
There was a man who went to the Doctor with a nasty rash that he couldn’t seem to make go away. The Doctor said, “I love you” and handed him a prescription. Without reading the prescription the man wandered into the pharmacy, got it filled, then took the tube of ointment home and brushed his teeth with it three times per day, religiously.
After two weeks of ineffective treatment the man returned to the Doctor. “How is the ointment working?” the Doctor asked. The man explained, “I’m afraid it isn’t effective for me at all… even though I am thoroughly brushing my teeth with it three times per day without fail!” “Dear friend,” the Doctor responded , “you have zeal but not according to knowledge and zeal is no good without knowledge.”
Sound Biblical knowledge is ever-so important in our spiritual maturity.
How to Gain Knowledge
The knowledge we need for this life has been recorded and passed down in the Bible. You gain knowledge by your effort, as is indicated in 2 Peter – applying all diligence. These words could also be translated to “strive forward” or “with great effort.” I like how Adrian Rodgers put it, Knowledge comes from effort, wisdom comes from God. I have three suggestions for gaining Biblical knowledge:
- Read the Bible. Always be in the process of reading through a book of the Bible (or listening on a Bible app).
- Study the Bible. Stop down and mine Bible passages for the rich life giving message within. This can be done alone but I recommend everyone be under a teacher that God has gifted to serve the Body in that capacity.
- Memorize the Bible. Whenever you hear a Bible verse that impacts you, commit it to memory. Memorizing Bible verses is like depositing money in the bank – once deposited, it is there when needed. In other words the Holy Spirit can highlight it in your mind when you need it the most. Remember knowledge comes from effort, wisdom comes from God (the Holy Spirit).
Strive for knowledge my brothers and sisters…. just don’t stop with knowledge. Next is self-control.