Things Which They Know Not
recently found an interesting play on the word “know,” which is frequently found in the Scriptures, and the way these verses correlate to each other allowed me to glimpse into the eternal fate of those whom the text says, “know not God.”
The signature phrase from which I derived the title of the present work is found in the little book of Jude:
“But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” -- Jude 1:10
They Know Not What They Do
Just about everyone has heard this famous phrase, spoken by Jesus Christ as he hung on the cross. It’s a prayer He articulated to the Father, asking Him to forgive those who were killing Him. A careful examination of adjacent verses indicate the Father will only answer this prayer to forgive Christ’s murderers, if the person or persons who “knew not” what they were doing, subsequently choose to change the course of their life, and receive the forgiveness Christ asked the Father to extend.
While just about everybody says they would never commit such a heinous crime – such as one that would torment a human being to death in a fashion as barbaric as crucifixion -- the fact remains that when we know not God, we are accessories to His death.
Because of this collective complicity, the Apostle Paul says that anyone who fails to know God will be among the objects of His vengeance:
“…the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” -- II Thessalonians 1:7,8
By now, every believer has likely experienced an interaction with a scoffer, a mocker, or a person who speaks out about something of which they are completely ignorant. Here at Christian Media, I experience this on a regular basis.
Hardly a day goes by without receiving an email, a published newsletter, or a written note in which an individual asserts a complete falsehood as fact. Furthermore, because of our involvement in a rather provacative Christian ministry, virtually all of our interactions are with those who claim to know God, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
They Say They Know, But They Know Not
Because of the widespread ignorance of the so-called “church,” I’m focusing the present commentary on those who have placed themselves in a position of leadership within the body of Christ. Because the Spirit and the Scriptures provide us with the two witnesses we need to absorb and disseminate the truth, those who assert error and lies in place of that truth will be held accountable for their actions.
Unfortunately, a huge number of religious leaders have programmed their thought processes to assign corrective Scripture as applicable to the “other guy.” Whenever they read the vast number of verses which speak of those who refuse to receive the knowledge of God, assuming they themselves have the truth already, they assign such texts to those who are obviously lost.
A good example of this two-edged sword may be found in the book of Ephesians. There, the Apostle Paul speaks of those who have not received the truth of God. Paul relates how these “other” nations (rendered as Gentiles, with a literal meaning of nations in the KJV) conduct their affairs without the truth of the Lord. He instructs the believers to
“…walk not, as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart…” -- Ephesians 4:17,18
This remarkable text conveys a great deal more than is commonly thought, so I’d like to examine it closely. First and foremost, we see such a verse confirms the previous citation in I Thessalonians 1:8, which says that when someone does not “know” God, they are separated from Him, and are therefore subject to His “vengeance” when He is “revealed.”
In the letter to Ephesus, Paul speaks of those who do not have the mind of Christ, so they are instead led by their own understanding, an understanding that is said to be “vain.” The reader will remember Paul wrote to the Philippians how the believer is to yield to the one mind of Christ:
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…being of one accord, of one mind.” -- Philippians 2:5,2
When people (or a nation of alleged “believers”) do not have the “one mind” of Christ, they walk according to the vanity of their own mind (read belief structure), and their understanding is said to be “darkened.” Paul further states such are “ignorant” – in effect, they know not what they do. Finally, he tells the Ephesians this occurs because of blindness which resides in their hearts:
“Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” -- Ephesians 4:18
It is this Spiritual blindness which causes us to know not what we do; but because most of those who believe they have the Gospel have been taught another Gospel, they uniformly refuse to apply this verse to themselves.
One can only wonder why the Holy Spirit would move Paul to write such a cautionary statement to the Christians at Ephesus, if it were not possible that they themselves might be entangled in the Spiritual blindness being addressed. What practically every Christian fails to consider is the fact the Scriptures repeatedly speak of those who believe they have the truth when, in fact, they are actually alienated from God and don’t even know it.
The Religious Leaders Knew Not
In addressing the concept of Spiritual blindness, and an inability to receive the truth while arrogantly assuming they possessed the truth, Jesus repeatedly clashed with the religious priesthood of His time.
“I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?” -- John 9:39,40
Like so many other verses where we tend to “see” only part of the verse, Christ states that He has come, not only to give sight to the blind, but to bring blindness to those who claim they see. After the Jewish leaders asked Christ if He was saying they were blind, He responded with a very ominous statement:
“If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” -- John 9:41
It is because of verses of this nature the Word of God tells us the judgment of God begins at the house of God, for in the “house” of God we find the blind leaders who not only claim they “see” the truth, but they instruct others. Ironically, very few believers in Christ have figured out that verses of this nature apply to Christians in Spiritual error at the end of the age, just as much as they applied to Israelites in Spiritual error at the end of the age of the Old Covenant.
An even more profound irony is found in the fact the primary error of the physical Jews in antiquity is the identical error found in the Spiritual Jews of our day – and the text tells us it’s directly related to a blindness in the heart. In other words, both groups know not.
The End Of The Age -- Again
Few stop to consider that when Christ speaks of the blindness in the hearts of the Pharisees at the end of their age, it’s the identical blindness the Holy Ghost speaks of in the hearts of the Christians at the end of our age. For instance, when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, He said
“Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” -- Matthew 23:26
The Apostle Peter says that Christians who have “forgotten” things such as the “knowledge of God” are also blind – and the Spirit testifies it is the same blindness which caused ancient Israel to stumble:
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God….But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” -- II Peter 1:1,9
This verse, aimed at the Christians, says exactly what our text addressed to the Jews said – that he who is “ignorant” of the knowledge of God, does not know God, and should be considered blind -- and is thus alienated from God. Please note that Peter removes any doubt concerning the target of his comments, for when he says those who have this blindness have “forgotten” they were purged from sin – he is providing us with a point blank indicator the lack of knowledge he is referencing is found in the Christians.
To underline the danger in not knowing the truth concerning God, and who we are in His plan, we look to the words of Jesus, for as he described those who were destroyed in the Old Covenant, He likened it to those who would be destroyed in the time of the New Covenant:
“And as it was in the days of Noah….they knew not until the flood came and took them all away…so shall it be in the days of the Son of man.” -- Luke 17:26, Matthew 24:39
In short, those who know not what is about to occur, even as they say they see, comprise the error-ridden “body“ of Christ, who will be taken away to the valley of the shadow of death, where “the eagles be gathered together.” -- Luke 17:37
-- James Lloyd