<<lack of knowledge>>
God has placed within man a conscience, providing a standard of right and wrong, so we can’t claim to be ignorant on many of life’s issues and especially morality; some, though, by hardening their hearts to this inner voice have departed further from the truth (Rom 1:18-32; Eph 4:17-19). We are not to be foolish, rather understand what the will of God is as it is not in us to direct our steps (Jer 10:23; Eph 5:17).
The residents of Athens worshipped many gods and idols, even “The unknown god”. Paul said, “I will tell you who He is” and proceeded to tell them about God stating, although “God tolerated ignorance in the past, He now commands everyone to repent and worship only Him” (Act 17:22-30). Many people are oblivious that there is another life following our present existence, and our relationship with Jesus determines the destination; others are unaware that salvation is only obtainable through Christ, thinking they can get to heaven by an alternative route or considering living a good life is enough to get there (Jn 14:6; Act 4:12; Eph 2:8,9; Heb 9:27). As Christians, we must endeavour to help unbelievers understand Jesus is the only way to heaven and the eternal issues need addressing in this life as Satan blinds their minds keeping them from understanding and seeing what Christ has to offer (2 Cor 4:4).
Paul said he didn’t want his readers to be uninformed of the hardships he suffered – this was not with the intention of receiving sympathy but rather to show the sustaining and delivering power of God being worked out in his life (2 Cor 1:8-11). As Christians, we are not to be naive of Satan’s temptations to get us sidetracked and outside God’s sphere of protection (2 Cor 2:11; 1 Pet 5:8). We must have a good understanding of the Bible together with a sound, personal, intimate relationship with God, not just based on what other well-meaning and even religious people tell us – otherwise we could be like Paul (prior to his conversion) who acted in ignorance, thinking he was doing God’s will (Act 17:11; 1 Tim 1:13). The OT priests did not know God’s ways and so in ignorance the people stumbled resulting in disobedience (Mal 2:7-9). People are lead astray by deception and kept in bondage by not knowing the truth. The Bible declares Jesus is the truth and as we get to know Him in an increasing measure we will be set free of what is not glorifying to Him (Jn 8:32,36, 14:6).
Apollos was not aware of the full truth about Christ and humbly received [teaching] from those who were conversant with it (Act 18:24-28). We too, should be growing in our understanding by studying the Bible to know what to do, then doing it, otherwise it is sin (2 Tim 2:15, 3:14-17; Jas 1:22-25, 2:17).
Know the truth and live it
Paul said, those who shut their minds against the Lord walk in darkness and confusion because of hardened hearts (Eph 4:17,18). Ignorance, lack of understanding and unbelief prevent people receiving what God has for them – be it salvation, victory, or any of the provisions He died to provide for mankind (Isa 5:13; Hos 4:6; Col 2:1-3; Heb 3:19). Even as Christians we can allow ourselves to be cheated out of what is our inheritance in Christ. Seek the truth and as it is applied you will be set free to walk in victory (Prov 2:3-6, 3:1,2, 4:4,20-22). How can a person obey and walk in the truth of God’s way and experience His blessing if they don’t know what it is?
When a person sinned unintentionally or in ignorance the OT teaching was “Anyone who disobeys a law of God without realising it is guilty anyway and will be held responsible”. When they had been made aware of the sin they were to make amends by a sacrifice (Lev 4:13,22,23,27,28, 5:17; Num 15:27-31). We today also need to address the sins we commit in ignorance as well as those we have knowingly committed. It is only sin that is acknowledged and confessed that can be forgiven (1 Jn 1:9).
Spiritual ignorance is a form of deception – not knowing our position or identity in Christ nor the divine resources that are available in Christ. Likewise, poverty is largely the result of ignorance and not applying the truth. The only area we should be ignorant of is the world’s evil ways (Rom 16:19; 1 Cor 14:20). The book of Proverbs exhorts us to obtain wisdom, truth and understanding (Prov 1:2-6, 23:23). Once the truth has been revealed it must be acted on to bring about the desired results.
Although Jesus had explained that He would suffer, die and be raised again, it did not register in the minds of the disciples (Mt 16:21-23, 17:22,23; Lk 24:6-8,11-31). Are we also slow to grasp spiritual truths? At His crucifixion Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Lk 23:34).
In everyday matters being unaware of important information, fact or the practical knowledge of how to do something impacts on individuals and societies in a negative manner. However to those who are curious and motivated this presents the opportunity to seek knowledge, explore and make discoveries by asking questions and extending their present boundaries. Education generally lifts the living standards of people, increasing their skill base and employment prospects.