Would you believe a smoker who warns you about the dangers of smoking? Or, would you believe a drunkard who warns you about the error of drinking alcoholic drinks? Would you say that they really believed what they claimed to believe?
What about Christians who sing that God will make a way but still they worry a lot? What about those who say that God is the owner of their businesses yet they cheat on their taxes or does not give the right wages to their employees? Would you say that they really believed what they claimed to believe?
It’s what we do rather than what we say that reveals a lot about what we really believe. In other words, action speaks louder than...? 2 Peter 1:5 tells us, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge”. Last week, we learned that to know is to obey. What we do reveals what we know. We already saw that the word “knowledge” here refers to practical knowledge. “The word does not mean a mere intellectual understanding of some truth, though that is included. It means a living participation in the truth”. Adding knowledge to virtue is basically obeying what we already know from the Word of God. That’s why the opposite of knowledge is disobedience. This morning we will continue our study on adding knowledge to virtue. Let us pray first…
Some people say, “Ignorance is bliss.” It’s another version of “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” But we already saw that what we don’t know would hurt us, not help us. This brings me to my next point. To know is TO BE FREE. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is actually BONDAGE.
Peter wrote this letter to warn believers about false teachers who infiltrated the church: “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” Where do these false teachers bring us? Into bondage! That’s why we really need to know what and why we believe.
Now, how do we know that we are not in bondage? We tend to think, “That’s not me!” We tend to assume it’s someone else or everyone and anyone but us. But, the danger is that we could be in bondage yet we are not aware that we are in that sad condition.
2 Timothy 2:25-26 described it for us. Here Paul wrote that a servant of the Lord should be “correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” Note how our passage described people who are trapped in “the snare of the devil”. They were “captured by him to do his will.” So, when we disobey God, we are not doing His will. We are actually doing the devil’s will. If we are ignorant of the truth or we are disobedient to the truth, we are actually in bondage to the lies of the devil.
Paul also called them “opponents”. Opponents oppose, right? They are not called opponents for nothing. They oppose what? 2 Corinthians 10:5 tell us, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ”. Note that the stronghold is in the mind.
When we disagree with what we heard from the Word of God, when we argue against it, we are opposing the truths of God. I am not saying that we just accept without thinking. We have to double-check with the Word so that we are sure that what we heard is what God really want us to hear. But be careful that studying what we heard or read is not a delaying tactic. Keep in mind that delayed obedience is disobedience.
Yet, when we think of alibis or excuses, when we try to look for a loophole so that we would not obey what we heard, that’s actually opposing the knowledge of God. When we jump into conclusion that the preacher is zeroing in on us or accusing us instead of asking why we felt the sting of the Word, we are going against it. When we immediately assume that what we heard applies to somebody else instead of searching our hearts to see how it applies to us, when we say to ourselves, “That’s not me!” we are opposing the truth. That’s a sign that we are in bondage. That’s not adding knowledge to virtue. So, are we in bondage?
Now, how do we escape from this trap? How can we be set free from this bondage? We have to accept correction. Teachers of the Word should be “correcting [their] opponents with gentleness.” In the Greek, the word “correcting” can be translated “disciplining”. It means “to chastise or castigate with words, to correct.” It is the act “of those who are moulding the character of others by reproof and admonition.” That’s why we are not to shy away from sharing the truth even if it hurts.
When people confront us about something that we need to change, we are to welcome it even if it may be uncomfortable. That’s one of the ways to add knowledge to virtue. To know is to be free.
By God’s grace, when we listen to correction, He would grant us “repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and [we] may come to [our] senses”. To repent is to change our thinking and our conduct. When we turn away from error and turn towards the truth, that’s repentance. When we reject error and embrace the truth, that’s repentance. Note than when we repent, we “come to [our] senses”. It “describes a man coming out of a drunken stupor. Satan makes people drunk with his lies, and the servant’s task is to sober them up and rescue them.” A person who disobeys the truth is really out of his or her mind. That’s why we can’t understand how come intelligent people become foolish enough to disobey even if they already know what the Bible teaches. They are out of their mind. So, we need to wise up from our error. And when we do so, we will “escape from the snare of the devil”. We will be free from bondage. Thus, to know is to be free.
To be free from bondage, we are to grow in our knowledge of the Lord. 2 Peter 3:17-18 tell us, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” How do we avoid being carried away by error? We are to grow in knowledge. Growth involves correction. We are to add knowledge to virtue. Again, knowledge here is practical knowledge. Only obeying the truth can set us free. I believe that Peter and Paul merely echoed what our Lord Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Brothers and sisters, to know is to obey. To know is to be free. May we continue adding knowledge to virtue! May we grow in the knowledge of our Lord! Let us pray…
All Bible verses are from the English Standard Version, unless otherwise noted.
Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. 1 Pe 5:10.
2 Peter 2;19.
Strong, James: The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible : Showing Every Word of the Text of the Common English Version of the Canonical Books, and Every Occurrence of Each Word in Regular Order. electronic ed. Ontario : Woodside Bible Fellowship., 1996, S. G3811.