“…Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (II Timothy 3:7).
There is a line in the movie, Love Comes Softly, in which little Missie says to grown-up Marty, “How did you get to be so old and not know how to do nuthin?” In this metaphor is an amazing human truth. Here we are existing in a world of overwhelming phenomenon of displays so vast, so high, so deep, so complex, so magnificent, bewildering, awesome, altogether a place where we are born, grow to live most of a century, all the time ever learning in an environment sufficient for a thousand or more learning lifetimes, and yet, despite such a fact, most of us are “never able to come to the knowledge of the truth!” Pray tell, how is that even possible?
This is crazy! Besides all the mind-numbing things mentioned above, Christianity alone possesses and promotes the Holy Scriptures, God’s revelation as to who He is, who we are, where we came from, where we’re heading, and precisely how every scrap of reality we hear, see, and experience came to be in the first place. And yet we read that many of us, not a few, are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth!” Imagine it! Truth’s reality is so present, relevant, and persistent that it leaves us as road-kill on life’s highway, and yet, for all our learning we still exist in stone ignorance of it! It just seems too bizarre to even think about!
This article will be published on an Internet blog where potentially millions of eyes and ears of all walks of life all over the globe can see and hear life-transforming truths which, applied, would bring peace, joy, and happiness in this life and finally in Heaven itself. And yet all but a tiny fraction of them will say something like, “Hmmmm, interesting. Oh well, off I go to another opinion.” Even that comment itself is very interesting. You see, such a person reads my articles as a gathering of information, much like a carefree person merrily going through the countryside picking flowers,eating berries, sniffing this and that in fascination of the world around them in a sensual experiment of existence, all with a view toward satisfying their inquisitive senses. Perhaps among all the things they touched, smelled, and tasted in such a process, was one item of deadly poison such as hemlock or
some other threat. But having sampled them all, their cluttered mind prevents them from having a clue of which one brought them to ruin. In a very real sense such a person would be “ever learning,” but if just one sampling was deadly, it could also be said they were stone ignorant after all.
Consider, for example, the enormous, impossible complexity of just one American Space Shuttle. Just imagine every tiny screw, rivet, gear, wire, component, panel, and tile, plus all the man hours expended to design and build it, the years of planning, the mountain of paperwork, all the training of the crew, the special fuels to operate it, and on and on. Regardless of all of that, it takes just one tiny flaw in one tiny tile to incinerate it all in a split second in a fiery streak across the night sky. All is lost because of just one tiny mistake, perhaps by a worker who foolishly took a shortcut in workmanship in order to get off early and attend a party.
Friends, when it comes to the human soul, though, all of the above pales in comparison to the eternal loss of just one of them, due to a simple failure to act on just one vital spiritual truth. It matters not one whit what the reason for the failure may be. A loss is a loss, and in this case one cannot shrug, get over it, and go on. The loss is a fiery streak across eternity that never burns out! So declare the Scriptures in plain language for all to read and consider. Those truths are not optional nor negotiable in any degree. It is just one way or nothing. As one minister puts it, “God is not saying, ‘lets make a deal.’ He’s saying, ‘This is the deal.'” If he’s right, then nothing else matters. It is time to quit sampling, smelling, tasting, and feeling, and start eating something in which there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Having made that point, let us ask why there are so many “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” The answer is in the context of that passage of Scripture. II Timothy 3:1-9 speaks of a “last days” list of human characteristics. I urge the reader to read them. We see there utter selfishness at work. “Lovers of their own selves…unthankful, unholy…proud…without natural affection…despisers of those that are good…lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” But the striking truth here is that Paul is addressing the character of troublemakers that have invaded the church! Look around us; never in all church history was this more true than right now!
How, then, does this play out in reality before our very eyes? Here’s how: Consider first of all that “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Such selfish vanity feasts on the craving to be seen and heard. The global movie industries, especially Hollywood, enjoy a flood of wealth in offering icons for viewers whose vanity is unfulfilled, and so they identify vicariously with trained fakers. Identical to this, sports venues also offer vicarious fulfillment to those addicted to the games. This belongs to those “Lovers of pleasures” in Paul’s epistle to Timothy.
Today’s society is glutted with couch potatoes, movie goers, video gamers, book-aholics, faithful followers of the television Discovery, News, and Education channels, besides rabidly absorbing their lives with computers and the world wide Internet. A favorite among them is every form of pornography, readily available. Truly, this is the epitome of “ever learning,” but of things that can never bring them “to the knowledge of the truth.” Instead, such venues contribute heavily to being “lovers of their own selves,” to the mind of being, “unthankful, unholy,” to being “proud,” to being, “without natural affection.” A multitude in the church are guilty of these, and so sit in church with, “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Sadly, especially the church youth through such exposure and peer pressure become well educated to be “despisers of those that are good,” meaning serious Christians, elders, parents, and anyone else who try to maintain a standard of godliness and holiness in a wicked world, and so suffer persecution from the very souls they care most about.
And so the secret of ignorance exists with those who engage in one or all of that, then sit around jawing about it in an egotistical “form of godliness,” without having humbly dropped before God’s throne as dead in a pitiful heap! This in spite of the fact that every last one of us have absolutely nothing to brag about when we consider who we are, where we were dragged from, and just how utterly helpless we were until God in His mercy had His only begotten, holy, spotless Son brutally slaughtered on our behalf, and delivered us from an eternal doom in Hell. There is absolutely no place in God’s Kingdom for starched britches, fused spines, nor prideful, selfish, debating boneheads! We must be humble, clean, repentant. We must be meek, lovers of God, and really, I say REALLY, feel ourselves to be as Paul put it, “Less than the least of all the saints” (Ephesians 3:8), in which Paul, in the Greek, stacked the comparative case on the superlative case to describe how utterly low-down he felt before God.
So let me ask this: Do you honestly know enough about the secret of ignorance to avoid it? Or are you one of it’s practitioners? You cannot hide the answer to that question—God is listening carefully to YOU!