Ignorance is one of the great enemies of the religion of Christ. We are often reminded of the contrast between light and darkness. This is the contrast between truth and error, of knowledge and ignorance, or of the way truth and the way of destruction. How can we explain the appalling and heartbreaking ignorance of the Bible in our age of opportunity and education? Are there any that doubt that America is ignorant of spiritual values in this generation?
There are those who do not like to retain God in their knowledge. (Romans 1: 28.) To think of the right way of the Lord and of a certain day of reckoning would give them a fearful expectancy of fiery indignation. (Hebrews 10: 26, 27.) The will to sin kills the desire for knowledge of God. It makes ignorance of Him and unbelief more pleasant.
The pagan world at the time of the apostles was without excuse. Paul said, "For the invisible things . . . are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." (Romans 1:20.) The ancestors of these idolaters knew God, but "when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator ... and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient, being filled with all unrighteousness."
Why were these people ignorant? They did not love the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which were not convenient. He sent them strong delusions that they might believe a lie and be damned (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12.) Can we not realize that knowledge would disturb these fornicators? They were willingly ignorant. (2 Peter 3:5.) The god of this world blinded their eyes. (2 Corinthians 4:4.) This vanity of mind as manifested by idolatry was an out-growth of their love for carnality and lust. These Gentiles walked "in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." (Ephesians 4: 1 7-19.) Some hearts are like wayside soil. No harvest comes of seeds sown there. Casting pearls before swine is a waste. The beatniks and wild hoodlums of our day live for lust. They are past feeling, blind, and impossible to teach. Many are willingly ignorant of God.
Many, no doubt, find themselves blind to spiritual values because the god of this world has blinded their eyes. They love not the truth but have pleasure in unrighteousness. These lustful people do not like to retain the knowledge of God in their hearts so they accept the strong delusions as wisdom when such is foolishness.
Some who profess to be religious remain ignorant of the righteousness of God. This might be stated more forcefully. Some who are religious remain ignorant. How could this be? "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God." (Romans 10:1-3.) These people have access to the words of the apostles of the New Testament and the prophets of the Old Testament, but they were ignorant of God's plan. They had a plan of their own, and they were pleased with their plan. It would offend them to point out their errors. The Christ was crucified, John was beheaded, the apostles and other faithful soldiers were beaten, imprisoned, and killed because they loved these people enough to warn them. (Please read Romans 9:1-5).
Tradition can blind one to the truth just as lust and a love for unrighteousness can cause one to turn from the truth. This prejudice is also a form of willful ignorance. Neither the lustful nor the prejudiced are ever "able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (See 2 Timothy 3:1-12.) "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should he converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear" (Matthew 13:15, 16.)
Do your eyes see? Do your ears hear? They will not if you have closed them. Often in the messages to the churches in the first three chapters of Revelation the appeal is made: "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
Religious people who follow human leaders worship God in vain. "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:9, 13, 14.) Who could awaken these blind leaders or their blind followers? They had a righteousness of their own, and had their eyes closed to anything that conflicted with their tradition. This attitude is common in every generation (Luke 6:26; Matthew 5:10-12; Acts 7:52.) Persecution awaits the one who would warn or seek to get these eyes open. None is as blind as he who will not see.
Do you know of any who could show even the obvious and clearly revealed truths to those whose eyes and ears are closed so they refuse to learn?
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 50, pp. 4-5