17 Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; 18 For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, 19 So that your trust may be in the LORD; I have instructed you today, even you. (Proverbs 22:17–19, NKJV)
We all need the guidance of wise counsel (Proverbs 19:20). Therefore, we should lean in and hear the counsel of the wise (v. 17). Furthermore, we should commit ourselves to applying our hearts to the wisdom we learn (v. 18). There is no greater source of wisdom than the words of God. We are made wise and gain understanding through them (Psalm 119:98, 104). By storing up God’s wisdom in your heart you are equipped to conduct yourself wisely (James 3:17-18). By being inclined to obtain wisdom and armed with dedication to live by God’s wisdom, we show our trust is in the Lord and not in ourselves (v. 19). And so, turn to Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” to satisfy your longing for wisdom (Colossians 2:3). Lean in and listen to the word of Jesus. Apply yourself to know, keep and speak His word. To whom else shall you go? He has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
20 “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge— 21 by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20–21, NKJV)
Timothy was Paul’s “true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul charged this young evangelist with guarding the gospel that had been committed to his trust. Timothy would accomplish his task by turning away from base, empty chatter that contradicted the sound words of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:3-5). This charge continues to ring true. We must distinguish between teachings that are “falsely called knowledge, and what is actually “the faith” (the gospel of Christ). God’s word is a symphony of harmonious truth, not a discordant accumulation of opinions and human wisdom that passes for knowledge. Therefore, God’s preacher must preach God’s word, not the speculations, opinions, and traditions of men that lead souls away from the faith. What message is being preached by the preacher to whom you listen; the faith, or that which contradicts the Bible? It matters. Following the faith keeps you in God’s grace. Following contradictions of God’s word leads you astray from the faith, putting your soul in peril.
22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”—23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. (Genesis 3:22–23, NKJV)
God understands the heights of goodness, and the depths of evil. Sin’s intrusion into the lives of Adam and Eve impacted their knowledge of good and evil. Indeed, before their sin, they had experienced good things from the hand of God. Before their sin, they had trusted God’s warning that evil would cause them to die. But, with their sin, they experienced evil, along with its death. Yet, God’s purpose of man and woman’s fellowship with Him would not be defeated by evil; the promised seed of woman would crush the serpent’s head. This was accomplished in Christ (Genesis 3:15; Galatians 4:4-7; 1 John 3:8). Eternal life is incompatible with evil. Therefore, they were sent out of the garden, and denied access to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24). Could they have understood evil without experiencing it? Yes, just as surely as a child can know the danger of fire from his parents’ warning, without putting his hand into the flame. You do not have to sin to perceive the pain and sorrow it causes. Instead, trust God’s warning against sin, and His offer of eternal life. Evil brings death. Eternal life is in His Son (1 John 5:11).
20 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. 21 She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: 22 “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” (Proverbs 1:20–22, NKJV)
King Solomon personifies wisdom in this passage. She cries out in open venues, offering her instruction and blessings to all who will acknowledge her. But, she is not met with ready reception. Instead, she is met with scorn and mockery. A knowledge of her ways begins with “the fear of the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7). Her ways are held in contempt by fools; they hate the knowledge she offers (verse 22). And so, they live foolishly, spurning the rewards of her righteous counsel (Proverbs 8:8). Her words of truth warn of sin’s danger, but, fools “hate knowledge,” and “mock at sin” (Proverbs 14:9). Such foolishness primes one to be seduced and destroyed by evil (cf. Proverbs 6:20-29; 7:1-7). Listen to wisdom when she calls. She speaks truth. Her words contain righteousness. They are plain, and they are right. Knowledge of her ways is more valuable than silver, gold, and precious gems (Proverbs 8:5-11). The wise agree; the foolish mock. Which are you?
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6, NKJV)
Israel had rejected the knowledge of God by forgetting the law of God. They considered God’s law to be “a strange thing” as they rushed to the altars of idols (Hosea 8:12). Please notice the effect of their rejection of knowing the law of God: God rejected them. They were headed for destruction. We, like them, have free will, with the ability to choose whether or not to know God and follow His will. But, we must realize that God will bring us into judgment when we reject knowing His truth. On the other hand, we obtain freedom from our sins by knowing the truth of Christ and abiding in His word (Jno. 8:31-32). Do not deceive yourself. You cannot be saved in heaven by rejecting God’s law here on earth. We will reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7). Implant the perfect law of liberty into your heart, be a doer of the word and be blessed (Jas. 1:21-25).
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5, NKJV)
Christians should want to grow in wisdom. James implies that we are considering ourselves and our personal need for wisdom by saying, “if any of you lacks wisdom.” The first step to obtaining wisdom is knowing we need it and then, asking God for it. But, we should not expect God to stick a funnel in our ear and pour wisdom into our brain! God is ready to answer the prayer of the person who is seeking wisdom: “If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth comes understanding and knowledge” (Prov. 2:4-6). Wisdom is the prudent, appropriate use of knowledge that honors God’s will. So, let us seek wisdom from the true source of all wisdom. Go to His word, and also pray to God for it. God gives wisdom sincerely and freely to those who fear Him.
17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17–19, NKJV)
Paul next prayed that the saints in Ephesus would be able to comprehend the greatness of the love of Christ. We grasp the meaning and scope of love by seeing it in practice; by experiencing it. We know love because “God is love,” and because “He loved us and sent His Son” to die for us (1 Jno. 4:8, 10). Experiencing fellowship with Christ and the love of God that stabilizes and secures us, enhances our ability to comprehend Christ’s love – a love that surpasses knowledge. A full complement of God’s blessings are offered and attainable in Christ. What love we should have for God for the boundless love of Christ. We are drawn closer to God and enlivened in faith as we realize that we are the objects of God’s love in Christ. Yes, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jno. 3:16). That is the greatness of Christ’s love for you. Live by faith and experience the magnitude of God’s love, and be filled with God’s abundant blessings – the fullness of God (Eph. 1:3).
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, NKJV)
The proverbs of Solomon generate knowledge grounded in wisdom, instruction, perception and understanding (Prov. 1:1-2). They provide wisdom’s instruction concerning justice, judgment and equity (Prov. 1:3). They give discretion and enlightenment to the innocent and inexperienced (Prov. 1:4). Furthermore, wise ones will gain learning and acquire good counsel through pondering these proverbs (Prov. 1:5-6). Yet, without the “fear of the Lord,” no such knowledge, wisdom, instruction and counsel will be attained. The fear of the Lord, then, is the starting line, the “beginning” place from which one proceeds to benefit from the proverbs. The “fools” of verse 7 are set in contrast to those who “fear the Lord.” They do not dread displeasing God. They do not stand in awe of Him. They do not revere His name. Thus, they despise the wisdom and knowledge that proceeds from Him. We recall that Jesus said we need “ears to hear” God’s word. The fear of the Lord is an excellent place to start.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge… (2 Peter 1:5, NKJV)
Without moral courage, faith becomes a hypocritical claim. Additionally, faith is blind without correct knowledge. Israel hastened her own destruction in the days of Hosea by refusing the knowledge of God: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). Since faith is established by hearing and accepting the word of God, it is crucial to strengthen one’s faith by growing in an understanding of God’s word (Rom. 10:17). The Christian should be “increasing in the knowledge of God” in order to “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:10). In today’s verse we are taught to add knowledge to virtue, since one cannot know when to be morally courageous unless they understand the truth that compels that courage. “Therefore, do not be unwise, by understand what the will of the Lord is” by growing in the knowledge of the Lord (Eph. 5:17; 2 Pet. 3:18). God wants you to have an informed faith. His word gives the understanding you need to have a strong faith. Spend time learning God’s word, adding what you learn to your courageous faith.