17-10-2016 IGNORANCE - THE
ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
Eph. 4:17-19: This I say therefore and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk 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 to unto lasciviousness to work all uncleanness with greediness.
If God so ‘loved the world’ (John 3:16) and ‘… for his great love wherewith He loved us even when we were dead in sins hath quickened us together with Christ …’ (Eph. 2:4-5), then why aren’t more people saved?
According to the Apostle Paul, the answer in a word, is ignorance. Ignorance of what, you might ask? Well, basically, ignorance about nearly everything. Most people have no answers to the important questions of life, such as: Who am I, what am I, why am I here? Who made me and for what purpose? What is the truth about the earth I walk on and the world in which I live? Is there a purpose for my life, if so what is it? What will happen when I die?
They have no answers because they never seriously address such questions. If they did the process would inevitably lead them to God. Instead they walk in the vanity of their mind. Note that that this vanity of mind is collective; it is ‘their mind’, not their minds. It means most people simply follow the herd. It’s a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ as they rush from one fad or fashion to the next distraction.
The apostle calls doing so vanity. Collins Dictionary says the word means ‘idle show, empty pleasure, futility, emptiness, lack of substance, conceit and ostentation’. And to be vain means to be ‘useless, unavailing, fruitless, empty, worthless, unsatisfying, having a high opinion of one’s appearance or attainments, conceited, silly and showy’.
Hands up those who want to walk in vanity? Having heard Collins Dictionary you wouldn’t want to would you? Yet we all have walked in vanity at times and to the extent we ignore God’s word we still do. Evidently, the Ephesians, greeted as ‘saints’ in Eph. 1:1, still walked in vanity at the time of Paul’s writing. Else he would not have commanded them to ‘henceforth’ walk in that way no longer.
In his book Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan rightly depicted the world’s way of thinking, the herd mentality, as ‘Vanity Fair’. If I remember aright the book’s heroes, Christian and Hopeful, were arrested and punished for refusing to be a buy, sell or be part of it.
Put simply then, vanity means emptiness of mind. Accordingly, to be vain means to empty your mind of truth by indulging in untruth and fantasy. Huge numbers of people blot out reality through drink, drugs, wild behaviour, sport, gambling, greed, violence, and the list goes on. But why do people have to party, have ‘happy hour’ after work, or escape reality by reading fantasy fiction and watching violent films? Answer: to avoid the truth.
Why do scientists, archaeologists and academics cling desperately to theories that commonsense and empirical data deny? Answer: To escape the truth that God is the Creator and that all things were made by Him.
Winston Churchill once said:
Occasionally in life men stumble on the truth. But mostly they pick themselves up, shake off the road dust and carry on as though nothing had happened.
It’s important to see in Eph. 4:19 that by opting for deliberate ignorance and indulging in vanity the bulk of mankind has cut themselves from the life of God, even though God has placed this life within them in the form of ‘Christ within, the hope of glory’ (Col. 1:27). Actually, the life of God was in them from the start of their lives. And once it was dead – because through sin we killed it - God in mercy and love renewed that spirit in each one of us by quickening it back to life by placing ‘Christ within the hope of glory’ in each of our hearts. In fact God has revealed Himself to and in all people in multiple ways:
1. Through his creation (Rom. 1:19-20, Col. 1:16). ‘
2. By making knowledge of Himself manifest within them – ‘for God hath shewed it unto them’ – Rom. 1:19.
3. By reconciling the whole world unto Himself (2 Cor. 5:19).
4. By dying for the sins of all mankind 2 Cor. 5:14).
5. By not imputing their trespasses unto them (2 Cor. 5: 19).
6. By forgiving all their iniquities (Col. 1:20-21, Col. 2:13).
7. By quickening everyone together with Christ (Col. 2:13, Eph. 2:1, 5,
8. By making the grace of God that bringeth salvation appear unto all men (Titus 2:13).
9. By sending Christ in person to preach unto all each person by placing ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col. 1:27).
10. By making each and every person complete in Christ (Col. 2:10).
In Him (Christ) dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9) and I am fully persuaded that God has put that same fullness of Himself into heart of each and every human in the form of ‘Christ in you the hope of glory’.
God has personally revealed Himself in each one of us at least twice. First, as the God who ‘giveth to all life and breath and all things’ (Acts 17: 25), He has breathed spirit into us at birth and since that breath (spirit) came from God that spirit would be holy.
[Forgive the following digression but did you notice I did not capitalise the ‘h’ and ‘s’ in ‘holy spirit’? That’s because my Bible, the King James Version, doesn’t capitalise them either (see Eph. 1:13 and 17). It’s also because today God is not baptising anyone with the Holy Ghost, still less with any such thing as the ‘Holy Spirit’, which is a mistranslation. God is not pouring out his Spirit on anyone today. Thus Pentecostalism and charismatic doctrine is a false gospel. True, the ‘Holy Ghost’ was and is the Spirit of the resurrected Christ and dwells within us. However, this indwelling takes place through the quickening (Eph. 2:1 and 5) whereby God the Father makes every person’s spirit alive again (after we killed it) by imparting Christ within. That’s why the Apostle Paul wants all men ‘to see the fellowship of the mystery ... which is Christ in you the hope of glory’.]
Let me say again, that sadly, we all rebelled against the first ‘holy spirit’ God put within us at birth and killed it. Thus we each arrived along with everyone else at the place of being ‘dead in trespasses and sins’ (Eph. 2:1). ‘For there is no difference for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:22-23). But that’s not the end of the story, for …
… God who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith He loved us (and us here means all mankind) even when we were dead in trespasses and sins hath quickened us (again, all mankind) together with Christ (by grace ye are saved) (Eph. 2:5).
God’s grace is so wonderful. Even though each of us killed the holy spirit He first put in us, God has quickened us to life in God again ‘together with Christ’.
Again, one has to ask, if this is so, then why doesn’t everyone rejoice in it and sing Hallelujah? Answer: Because they prefer their ignorance, vanity and blindness of their heart to the truth Christ is speaking within them. It was just the same when Jesus dwelt on earth as the Word made flesh. ‘In Him was the life and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not’. And was this light shining then just for Israel and Israel’s election? No. Jesus came as life and light ‘… that all men through Him might believe’ (John 1: 4, 5, 7). Christ then was a person seen outwardly; today God has put Him within, but then as now He is not received by most.
An important question to ask is: Is this ignorance willful or are people really not to blame because the devil ‘blinded their heart’. I believe scripture is clear. Speaking of the creation of the heavens and earth and the subsequent Flood the Apostle Peter says:
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out of the water and in the water, whereby the old world that was, being overflowed with water, perished.
Fact is people are willingly, willfully, ignorant of the truth of God’s creation and its order. They refused to accept God’s testimony about it and as a result their foolish hearts are darkened. Such ignorance does not come through lack of education or by accident. It is mankind’s deliberate choice.
If you want to understand how the earth got the way it is, why stone circles and temples are found in all parts of the earth, how mankind is all of one blood but dispersed within living memory to all parts of the globe, why the sun goes round the earth and the earth does not move, then don’t be willfully ignorant of what God says about all this in his word.
Because, if you persist in ignoring the testimony of Christ in your own heart, in God’s word and in the evidence in the earth right before your eyes, you will darken your understanding and alienate (cut yourself off) from the life of God that God has placed within you as ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’. Instead heed the Apostle Paul’s advice:
Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee life (Eph. 5:14).
This scripture makes clear that each and every person can respond to the light God has already given within and thus refutes the all too common teaching that God only calls, chooses and saves some. That is simply untrue because:
God our Saviour … will have all men to be saved and come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:3-4).
Copyright John Aldworth October 2016