Better Not to Have Known

There’s great responsibility involved in how we respond to truth; God’s very concerned about how we receive truth and what we do with it; He holds us accountable.

God’s wrath is revealed from Heaven against all who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Ro 1:18), who have the truth but turn from it and don’t obey it. It’s worse to disobey the truth once it’s revealed than to disobey in ignorance.

In other words, we’re better off not to have known the way of righteousness than to turn away from the holy commandments given to us (2Pe 2:21) There’s mercy when we sin in ignorance (1Ti 1:13), but no mercy for presumptuous sin. (He 10:26-27)

And it’s not just the truth we actually know, but it’s all truth which we have the opportunity to know, which we could know if we love the truth and pursue it. (2Pe 3:5) This is how all will be judged. (Ro 1:20-21)

So, we should consider carefully the example of our Lord Jesus, how He was very selective in who He revealed truth to, and when. He deliberately hid the truth from those who were superficial in their interest, speaking vaguely in parables and riddles. (Mt 13:13-15) His pattern was to reveal Himself only to those who were seeking truth, and He often required significant obedience before giving them much revelation at all.* He didn’t cast His pearls before swine, and encourages us likewise. (Mt 7:6)

This isn’t cruel or unloving, to be careful with truth, thoughtful in who we speak to, strategic in what we tell them and when. It’s the most loving thing to do with those who hate the light, which is most people. (Jn 3:19-20) If we shine bright lights into the eyes of the wicked, they won’t respond well; it just reveals their hatred of the light and makes them more culpable. Then they get angry with us. Not good for anyone.

There’s Hell to pay, literally, for missing Christ, so we might reason that it doesn’t matter much if people don’t respond well and are more guilty as a result of our witness; perhaps we should just shove everything we know at them and hope for the best: they might get some of it. Yet we must remember that there are levels in Hell (Mt 11:22) as well as in Heaven; it’s not one-size-fits-all. (Mt 5:19) Spray and pray isn’t the example of Christ or of Paul (Ac 17:31), and we should soberly consider this.

We must also think carefully and soberly about ourselves, those of us who have found Christ and are following Him the best we know how: are we living in such a way that honors what we know, that gives it the heart, flesh and bone it deserves? Do we buy the truth, and sell it not? (Pr 23:23) counting it more precious than the trinkets of this world? Does our joy in God reflect His majesty? Does our love for others reflect His? Are we walking worthy of God? (1Th 2:12)

Is there anything we can do today that might move us closer to God? Anything at all that might align us more fully with His Way? Let’s ask God to show us the next step (Php 3:15), and then do this. Let us draw near to God, and work out our deliverance from the coldness and lifelessness of dead religion with fear and trembling (Php 2:12), for our God is austere, a consuming fire. (He 12:29) He has chosen us to obedience (1Pe 1:2), and is able to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24)

articles    posts

*See comments below