Knowledge Without Action

Question from a Site Viewer
What happens to an individual that continues to obtain more and more Biblical knowledge without applying it to their life?

Tim’s Answer
Your question goes to the heart of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Biblical knowledge without personal application can deaden the soul and drive us from God. The Apostle Paul states that knowledge puffs up but love builds up (1 Corinthians 8:1). James says that one who hears the word but does not do it deceives himself (James 1:22). Jesus gives us a parable of two sons who were told by the father to go work in the vineyard. One said he would and did not go. The other said he would not but ended up going. Jesus asked which did the will of the father. The answer is the one who went out and worked (Matthew 21:28-31). The blessing of God comes to those who do the will of God. Those who have the knowledge but do not practice the word are often in danger of greater judgment (2 Peter 2:21; see also Hebrews 10:26-30). The Apostle Paul speaks of those who know God’s will, having been instructed from the law, having a form of knowledge and truth, but not doing the law, as causing God’s name to be blasphemed (Romans 2:17-24).

God’s word was never given to us to be a dead letter, but a living presence in our lives. To know and not do stifles the very life from the word. The word of God then becomes simply facts and information, stored memory disconnected from any life-giving power. Knowledge does not save. The devils know who Jesus is. Even Satan could quote scripture at Jesus. Salvation comes from trusting solely in Christ. Faith is an action word and true faith always leads to true love. These are the first and and second commands as stated by Jesus; to love God and love others. Jesus told the Apostle Peter that if he loved Him, he would feed Christ’s sheep (John 21:15-17). The Apostle John admonishes us that love that does not act is not love at all (1 John 3:10-18).

I feel sorry for people who study but never come to know Christ in the richness of a life lived through Him. It is like one who samples the crumbs but never gets to the cake. The richness of the Christ-life comes when we take what little knowledge we have and seek to practice it, calling upon God to help us. It is in the weakness of our efforts that He demonstrates His strength, and brings forth His kingdom on this earth. We are His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). We are the vessels of clay through whom His power is displayed (2 Corinthians 4:7). And watching His working in our lives is a richly rewarding experience.

Having addressed, hopefully, your question, I want to add a word of caution. I do not know if your question is with respect to yourself or with respect to another. Nor do I know the situation the person may be in. There is a time to study and learn. We learn from the example of Mary and Martha that not always should we be busy serving Christ. Sometimes we need to be still and listen to Him (Luke 10:38-42). God sometimes takes a great deal of time to instill in us His word before we are called into some special service. Thus, those who devote themselves to the study of the word may be doing so because God has so called them. Some pursue formal training, such as at a Bible school or seminary.

Nevertheless, the pursuit of the in-depth knowledge of the word should be producing a change in the heart of the believer. The word should always be lived.

There was a period in my life when I felt that God was giving me an opportunity to devote myself to study, to memorization, and getting to know the Bible and God. I did so. But it was not long before I noticed some other Christians out practicing their Christianity. It struck me that they were doing the very thing I was studying. I was convicted and sought thereafter never to divorce study from practice. May the Spirit of God do the same for the person you describe.

I pray that the Lord Jesus will give you wisdom to deal with the situation and direct you always in the deep and ever enriching practice of the presence of God in your own life of service.

a fellow sojourner,

tim

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