When Knowledge Is Absent

By Irvin Himmel

Also, that the soul be without knowledge, it is not good; and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth (Prov. 19:2).

Knowledge is understanding or perception; it is illumination of thought; it is comprehension and insight; it is acquaintance with information; it is the opposite of ignorance.

The Knowledge Needed

Many people are quite knowledgeable about many things. Some are well informed about science, math, history, economics, and politics, but they are terribly ignorant of the Bible.

1. Knowledge of God is needed. That knowledge can be gained through the application of the mind to the revelation of truth made in the Scriptures. We need to understand his will and apply it to ourselves. In the day of judgment vengeance will be taken on them that “know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8).

2. Knowledge of ourselves is needed. We should know why we exist, what is expected of us, and how to conduct ourselves in human relationships. God’s word discloses facts about the nature of man, the duties that we have to him and to each other, and our destiny. No one truly can understand himself without information from God who designed and created us.

3. Knowledge of salvation is needed. God’s word points out our lost condition and shows the way of salvation through Christ. “They shall be all taught of God” (Jn. 6:45) is the divine plan. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32).

Why It Is Not Good To Be Without Knowledge

1. Mental powers are wasted. God gave us intellectual faculties for receiving and storing knowledge. The eyes are for seeing, not for absorbing darkness. It is a tragedy that some who have good minds never apply themselves to learning the way of righteousness. They scheme and plan wickedness, or methods for making money, or how to advance in popularity; they are worldly wise but grossly ignorant of spiritual truths. Their mental powers are wasted on things that have no eternal value.

2. Misery floods the soul. Knowledge feeds the soul; ignorance starves it. Knowledge is health to the soul; ignorance is disease. Knowledge frees; ignorance enslaves. How dreadful the course of a life that is ravaged by sin! What misery has come to human hearts because the knowledge of God has been neglected! Read Romans 1: 18-32 and be impressed with how deeply depraved men become when they turn their backs on God and become vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart is darkened.

3. Influence is destroyed. Knowledge is needed in order that we might teach others, whether by word or by example. Knowledge is power; ignorance is impotence. Without knowledge our influence for good is destroyed. When the blind attempt to lead the blind, both fall into the ditch (Matt. 15:14).

4. Zeal is misdirected. The Jews in Paul’s time had “a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge… being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness,” they failed to submit to God’s plan for making men righteous (Rom. 10:1-3). Zeal is worthless unless it is properly directed through knowledge. Many people who are zealous in religion are working against the teaching of God’s word.

5. The soul is lost. Those who walk in the path of darkness are doomed to be cast into “outer darkness.” “It is a calamity to be ignorant of things which fit a man to make the best of the present life, but it is a far greater calamity to be without the knowledge which fits a man for a blessed life beyond death” (W. Harris). Hosea correctly analyzed the situation in his day and exclaimed, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6).

Haste Makes Waste

The latter part of our text says, “and he that hasteth with his feet sinneth. ” This should be pondered in close connection with what has been said about knowledge.

Ignorance throws caution to the wind. It gets one nowhere, fast. In haste it misses the mark. The result is rashness. Snap decisions are usually costly. A carpenter knows that it is better to take time to measure carefully than to make wrong cuts with the saw.

Christians are taught to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise (Eph. 5:15). One who walks in knowledge and wisdom does not plunge headlong into something without thoughtfully contemplating the outcome. He ponders and prays, basing his actions on what the word of God says, and with caution he proceeds.

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 20, pp. 627-628
October 19, 1989