In the first part of this article, we talked about ignorance and knowledge, as well as the grace of God.
In some circumstances, ignorance can lead to embarrassment, financial loss, injury, or worse. For situations like this, knowledge is about the avoidance of problems. The more we know, the more we can avoid negative outcomes from our choices.
However, learning the facts about God, and His offer of salvation through Jesus, isn’t just about addressing the eternal destiny (a life separated from God) that we had chosen through our sinful actions. In addition to that, God’s restoration leads to an abundant life with God, both on earth and for eternity. There are sometimes residual consequences for we who have accumulated sins before (and after) turning to God, but God blesses those who have re-joined His family and brings them new opportunities.
But what should we do when we are no longer in ignorance about God and our place in the universe? Once we learn the truth, we must respond to it, in order for it to change our lives for the better.
We understand this in a negative sense. If I am ignorant about whether or not some leftovers in the back of the refrigerator have gone bad, but I learn the truth (that they are indeed spoiled), dispelling my ignorance has no benefit to me if I still go ahead and eat them. Not acting on truth can also cause us to miss out on great things. When I learned years ago that a girl from the local youth group was interested in dating me (and later, was willing to spend the rest of our lives together), I would have missed out on a wonderful marriage if I had not pursued her and invested in that truth.
We can appreciate the value of acting on what we learn in cases like this, but I think that we – as human beings, myself included – sometimes set aside basic logic like this when it comes to spiritual matters. A life away from God is literally spoiled, having wrecked the ideal life that He created us for. Once we know that, the blame is solely on us if we continue to eat from the rotten lies of the evil one.
And, if you have taken the time to get to know Jesus Christ, both through His teaching and accounts of His life, the next question is, “What will you do now that you are no longer ignorant?” If Paul had met Jesus on the Damascus road, and realized who Jesus was, but still went on persecuting those who followed Jesus, his encounter would have been fruitless (at least for Paul – maybe others would learn from his mistakes).
I don’t know what short-term destiny Paul would have had if he didn’t turn to Jesus, but I suspect that future generations would have condemned him – if he even made it into the history books – as a judgmental and uncaring persecutor. And, I know that without taking the offer that Jesus extends to each of us, Paul would not have had an eternal destination in the presence of God.
So, if you haven’t learned this truth, and acted upon it, I hope that you will pause and do so. Turning your life over to Jesus, who both saves us and leads us to a better path, is the key to turning things around between you and God.
In the same way, when we learn about how Jesus wants us to live, and discover His commands to love God and love others, we must make a change for the better. We might learn God’s expectations of us through listening Bible teachers, from our own reading of the Scriptures, or even from direct communication by the Holy Spirit. When we learn, though, do we make the right choice, or do we continue down the same path as before, despite knowing better?
That last part is key: our excuses run out when we continue to do what we know to be wrong.
Excuses might be found for a thief
who steals because he is starving.
But if he is caught, he must pay back seven times what he stole,
even if he has to sell everything in his house.
Proverbs 6:30-31 NLT
Many people will excuse the child who makes a mistake in ignorance, even if the result is an expensive repair. Few will give a pass to the adult who knows better. Sin is sin, even if we claim to be ignorant of right and wrong. After all, if we have enough clarity and maturity to make a claim of ignorance, we’re probably not telling the truth. When we know better though, our sin becomes not just an act against our conscience, but it is an outright, defiant rebellion against what we know God wants us to do.
With that in mind, may we learn more and more about God, as we earnestly seek to know Him. Then, let us act upon that knowledge, and not live like we are still ignorant!