Thoughts from The Bible

The Man Confused by Knowledge

by Sarah Wootten Corinth Missionary Baptist Church

Last week, we began studying different ways that people can be confused about their salvation. A confused man is someone who thinks he is a Christian, but in reality, he is dead in his sins. We looked at the man who thought his actions could save him and make himself right in the eyes of God. Of course, this is contrary to the teaching of Scripture (see Luke 18:9-15 and Ephesians 2:8-9). This week, we’ll examine what the Bible says about people who are confused by their knowledge. 

We live in a society that prizes knowledge. We spend thousands of dollars on college degrees. We try to keep up with the latest news, trends, and social media posts. So when it comes to the Bible, it makes sense that we would want to gain knowledge about salvation and God’s works. So should we be happily ignorant of God’s Word? Of course not! The problem is when people think that what they know about God is what saves them.

James 2:17 is fascinating. James is addressing people who are confused by what they know. They have a great understanding of God’s word, but they don’t actually have saving faith. James uses an illustration to prove his point. He says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe that—and shudder!” (ESV). Surely intellectual agreement about Biblical doctrines is not what saves a person.

The issue boils down to the definition of faith. Faith isn’t agreeing that something is true, nor is it a wealth of Biblical knowledge. For example, imagine that there was a recall on your car’s engine that could cause an explosion. All you have to do is go to the dealership for an hour, and the problem would be fixed. If you believe that the warning is true, you’ll go to the dealership. But if you go around telling people about the recall and the hundred explosions that have already occurred, but you never go to the dealership and continue to drive your car, do you actually believe the warning? 

When confronting people who are confused by their knowledge, the Bible often tells them to examine their lives. A connection is made between saving faith and obedience. John writes, “Whoever says, ‘I know Him’ but does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” (1 John 2:4, ESV). Jesus said that anyone who truly loves Him will obey God’s word (John 14:15). Don’t be confused; keeping God’s commandments is not what saves you. Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and John makes it clear that Christians still sin (see 1 John 1:8-9 and 2:2-3). But when Jesus said to “deny [yourself] and take up [your] cross and follow me,” do you think that He meant all you have to do is agree to a few truths, and you’ve got your ticket to heaven (Matthew 16:24, ESV)?

Faith in Jesus is not knowledge or general agreement. Faith is believing God’s Word and living in light of it. If we believe that Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the cross and trust that forgiveness for our sins is through God alone, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). We aren’t left unchanged. This is why Jesus, James, and John all connect saving faith with a life of obedience and following God’s commands.

So examine yourself. Where is your faith? Do you trust in your knowledge for salvation? Do you say that you know God, but ignore His commandments? Do you think that following Christ means saying a prayer, getting baptized, and nothing else? No, don’t be a confused man. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re a Christian because you know something about God and wear a Christian t-shirt. No, you must abide in Him (see John 14 and 1 John 2:4-6).

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