Paul wrote, “If anyone thinks (imagines) that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought.”
There are two aspects of attaining knowledge in view here. The first (from the surrounding context of this verse) is to possess knowledge without love. Paul will later say that this amounts to nothing. The New Testament is replete with instructions and admonitions about love needing to be more than words and sentiment but instead real actions that meet real needs as God leads and provides. Love is the key characteristic that demonstrates we have truly entered into a genuine relationship with Christ and God that will culminate in eternity spent with Christ and God. This is the gospel of the King, Christ Jesus.
But there is another way to have knowledge. “If anyone thinks or imagines that he has come to know…” If one relies on his own ability to gain knowledge from random or personally chosen sources, his knowledge is tainted. Thus one could study philosophy, religion or theology for a significant portion of one’s life and have a knowledge base that is totally worthless in the eyes of God. This fact alone goes a long way in explaining the spiritual lifelessness that accompanies almost every seminary graduate – yet the “church” continues to exalt and place in positions of authority these graduates, never once recognizing that neither the “church” structure, the “pastor” position nor even the knowledge that is spoken from the pulpit has any direct connection with God. This is the great falling away from the faith, the apostasy, and it is, for the most part, happening right in the “church.”
There is only one source whereby we can gain, with absolute assurance, knowledge of what is right or wrong in God’s eyes – God. This ought to be exceedingly obvious – a no-brainer. But because this points out the deep intrusion of the sin nature into our existence so that we are truly incapable of recognizing which is good and which is evil, and because it calls into question our ability to independently (apart from God) live our lives in true goodness, we prefer to remain in darkness (well-educated and highly-reasoned darkness but darkness nonetheless) because our deeds, lives and attitudes truly are self-centered and therefore evil. That is, the things we do (apart from our life in God) are motivated chiefly and almost entirely only for self – self-pleasure, self-attainment, self-improvement, even self-aggrandizement – and submitting all of our self-life to the cross of Christ (whereby we must die to all of our self-centered agendas) is the last thing we want to do. Modern churchianity has concocted a large scale religious methodology (primarily through denominationalism and intellectual teaching – the first prophesied by Peter and the latter by Paul, both in connection with the end times) whereby, in the name of Christ, the self-life is both preserved and exalted.
Because most “Christians” are being systematically trained to do what is right in their own eyes, the love of most is growing cold. The knowledge base passed from seminary graduate/“pastor” through “sermons” to a passive “congregation”/audience is completely inadequate for reproducing the self-sacrificing and obedient-to-God character of Christ. The end times will be all about separation – the wheat from the tares, the good fish from the bad fish, the righteous from the wicked. Those who find some self-pleasing feature of “church” that stands in contrast to God’s standards (which He alone knows and reveals to those whose hearts truly and purely desire His will above their own) will receive from God strong delusion (false knowledge) that will propel them squarely out of the supposed “middle ground” of “religion” and “theology” they have constructed for themselves and place them squarely into the camp of those destined for eternal condemnation. Only those who are truly practicing righteousness (what is right in God’s eyes) are righteous. All else are deceived possessors of a false knowledge that only breeds arrogance and conceit.
Let he who has ears hear.
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