• Joseph Durso

Short-sighted Christians

The Eternal King Wore a Crown of Thorns

Why all this talk about kings? My dear readers, inherent within all of us is the propensity to rule. Contained in Genesis 1:28, which describes in part what it means to be made in the image of God is the admonition, "...fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule...". To rule means to dominate and bring into bondage. A sinless person would obey such a command from a heart devoted to placing God in the supreme place of authority. A perfect person would understand God's rule to be the first and last word in all matters so that whatever authority may be designated to others by Him, it His will alone that matters.

Power in a sinful world is just too hard to control in a godly way. For this reason, at the beginning of the American experiment, birthed out of The Great Awakening (God-given spiritual light), they put many controls in place. Three branches of government, many states in one union, so on, and so forth.

Ruling in the Church

The problem with our current leadership system is that it has been derived from the world more than from God's Word. Intellectuals rule in the world. The deception of knowledge occurs when people become exceptionally bright in a specific field of expertise, which subtly translates incorrectly into wisdom in all of life.

Paul, writing to Timothy, concluded his first letter by saying the following. "Timothy, protect what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly, empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"— which some have professed and thereby have gone astray from the faith." This statement from God is no small warning but most serious.

Why are there church splits? Why do men called into ministry, who spend their lives learning and teaching God's Word - go astray? Do I need to mention Ravi Zacharias? Why do some pastors become tyrants and turn their church into a cult? The answer has to do with how we understand and prioritize knowledge.

Setting the Record Straight

Christianity is not first and foremost about intellectuals; it is about faith. "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38; Habakkuk 2:4). The early church was, by today's standards, by and large, made up of the uneducated. Yet, they turned the world of that time on its head.

When Peter wrote his second letter, he started by saying, "To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours..." which indicates that all faith is not the same. He clarifies what kind of faith he means by saying, "by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:" A person's faith that is not focused on God's righteousness in their salvation is the wrong kind of faith.

If you read through the first eleven verses of chapter one, you will see Peter uses the word "knowledge" five times. Two times he uses a slightly different word in Greek translated true knowledge. Epígnōsis intensifies gnṓsis or to know. It means knowledge gained through a first-hand relationship; "contact-knowledge" that is appropriate; experiential knowledge. True knowledge is more than a focus on appearance, a surface knowing; it goes to the bottom of a person's heart. It makes a change in how they think and live.

This change of heart Peter refers to as character qualities in verses five through seven. He concludes that "if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they do not make you useless nor unproductive in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Vs. 8). You see, the wrong kind of knowledge does not produce the qualities that make people useful and productive in Jesus Christ. They can make a person more intelligent, just not better.

Peter states the flip side of his equation in this way. "For the one who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins" (Vs. 9). My dear readers, power corrupts, and mere intelligence does the same. Knowledge for knowledge's sake and to become something by self-effort blinds people.; it makes them short-sighted, so they no longer see Christ as all we need.

Peter's closing thought in verse nine is all too convicting in matters of superficial faith. "...having forgotten his purification from his former sins." How can a Christian who hears the gospel every week forget his purification from sins? The answer is in a word; the word is subliminal. To be clear, subliminal is "below the threshold of sensation or consciousness; perceived by or affecting someone's mind without their being aware of it."

In Paul's second letter to the Corinthians, he used the phrase, "As Satan deceived Even." The word deceived in Greek has in it the idea of biting the bait that hides the hook. It is possible to so completely swallow the bait that even after the hook takes hold, there is just no letting go of the bait.

The result in Peter's picture is forgetting the purification, which translates into practically not needing to be purified because so much "goodness" is present. Of course, the perceived goodness is nothing more than the accumulation of "knowledge," which does not contribute to godliness.

Final thought!