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Sunday, September 15, 2013            Purer in Heart Index

PURER IN HEART (14)
Dangers to the Pure Heart – 3
Ignorance and unbelief

 It is my hope that we have emphasized the importance of a pure heart.   It is imperative that we develop qualities that promote a pure heart.  But there are also dangers to be avoided as we deal with the pure heart.  The past 2 lessons have been dealing with the danger of lust (flesh, eyes and pride – 1 John 2:16).  In our lesson today, we want to go a different direction in dealing with dangers.  We want to discuss the danger of ignorance and other attitudes that will allow impurities into the heart.

 I.                     Ignorance

a.        Hosea 4:6 says, “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.”  Ignorance was one of the downfalls of Israel and Judah.  It started with the leaders, both spiritual and national.  It led to error and even outright idolatry.  It was their refusal to learn and remember God’s laws that led them away from Him.

b.       The word “ignorance” is from the Greek word, ἀγνοέω, agnoeo, which means, not to know, not to recognize, disregard, not to understand (BDAG).  Often times the word has a deliberate connotation to it.  Our English word, agnostic, is based upon this word.

c.        We have heard the expression, “Ignorance is bliss.”  As a rule, that is NOT true, nor is it a good philosophy to abide by as Christians.  Yet we live in a society where ignorance is a danger in society.  IT can bring devastating consequences.  It can kill you (e.g. poison in the cake, not being aware of the stop sign, etc.).  It can ruin friendships and trust.  Yet there are many who thrive on ignorance and think it is a lovely state to be in.  In our society, there are many who don’t want the facts (e.g. “Don’t confuse me with the facts”).  They blindly follow promises (whether it be politicians, lawyers, the new media, and in some cases their professors) hoping they have not been deceived.   And many want to keep it that way.

d.       But it is also a serious problem spiritually that will lead one away from God. 

                                                   i.      IT will leave the pure heart vulnerable to both diluting and pollution. 

                                                  ii.      Yet we live in times of great spiritual ignorance.  Many are simply not interested in devoting time to the word of God and they don’t want to be confused with the facts, that is, TRUTH!

                                                iii.      In fact, in spiritual matters, ignorance is sometimes encouraged, (not in such direct terms, but in principle) as if to say if one learns he might be forced to change. 
How many churches today refuse to address certain subjects because of the consequences?  When preachers, elders and members don’t want to honestly study some issue lest they have to repent and change, they are WILLFULLY ignorant.

                                                iv.      Ignorance can lead to error.  False teachers prey on the ignorant!  Rom. 16:18 says, “For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Note vs. 17 – we are to avoid those who cause division).  2 Pet. 2:1-3 speaks of the deceptive words that they will exploit you with.
And ignorance, whether sincere or willful is STILL ignorance.  Ignorance leads to error!
1 Timothy 1:5-7 addresses Paul encouraging Timothy to exhort some to quit their erroneous (false) teaching.  They were getting carried away and striving over words (endless genealogies, fables and disputes).  Paul then says, “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.”  NOTICE how ignorance leads to false conclusions and therefore error.

e.       Paul is a good example of the danger of ignorance.  He acted in ignorance as he persecuted Christians (1 Tim. 1:13, Acts 26:9).
It was when he learned the truth that he changed.  In fact, as he recounted his conversion he was told his purpose would be to go to the Gentiles, “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’” (Acts 26:18)

f.         For one to say his heart is good while in ignorance is like saying he has good eyesight even though he is blind.  Jesus spoke of the blind leading the blind and what was the result? Both would fall in the ditch. (Matt. 15:14)  Ephesians 4:18, “having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;”

g.        Many passages warn of ignorance:

                                                   i.      Proverbs 19:2 says, “Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, And he sins who hastens with his feet.

                                                  ii.      James 1:26, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.”

                                                iii.      2 Cor. 2:11, “lest Satan should take advantage of us; For we are not ignorant of his devices.”

                                                iv.      2 Tim. 2:23, “But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.

                                                  v.      1 Peter 1:14,  as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;

                                                vi.      Acts 20:30-31, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

h.       Ignorance will NOT save –what are we expected to believe? TRUTH!  What is truth? In contrast to ignorance it is the revealed word of God.
How often are we told to believe?  Believe in what? (John 3:16, Mk. 16:16)  Rom. 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing.  Clearly that is TRUE faith. How can you know the truth if we are in ignorance?  John 8:32 tells us that it is the truth that will make us free.

i.         Knowledge is the key to overcoming ignorance (2 Pet. 1:5).

                                                   i.      That is why it is so important that we diligently study God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15). 

                                                  ii.      Acts 17:10-11 – we need to search the scriptures daily.

                                                iii.      We need to love His law and meditate therein night and day. (Psa. 1:1-2, 119:97)

II.                    Unbelief

a.        Another threat to the pure heart.  Heb. 3:12 says, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;” It does not get plainer than that. In vs. 15, the writer quoted the psalms saying, “Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

b.       There are many today who believe in God, even strongly.  They might even profess to love Him.  BUT, they do not BELIEVE GOD! That is, they do not believe what He says.  Whenever someone willfully rejects the commands of God he has an impure heart.   How many today are following error because they don’t want to change?

c.        How many have redefined the character of God to soften His severity? (cf. Rom. 11:22, 2:1-11)

d.       1 Samuel 15:22–23 speaking of King Saul’s disobedience to God’s command to destroy the Amalekites.  So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king.” The ultimate truth is that King Saul did not believe God’s instructions.  He only went along with that portion he agreed with. 

e.       Mark 16:14, while not guilty of the rebellious attitude we have discussed, Jesus as He appeared to the eleven after His resurrection, “rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.”   

f.         Revelation 21:8, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

g.        Friends, unbelief has to be dealt with.  If you don’t believe what God says, your heart will explain it away and almost always in your favor over His will.  Notice what John says of the one who does NOT believe  God, “He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.” (1 John 5:10)

h.       The key to overcoming belief is a strong faith that will not compromise and will obey Him at all times (Matt. 28:19-20, cf. Matt. 7:21-23). 
1 John 2:3-6 says, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

 

And thus we can see 2 more dangers to the pure heart.  These deal with our failure to respect God’s word the way that we must.  Sincerity, while important, will not get one to heaven unless it is prompts one to completely obey God’s will.  What about you?  How much effort have you put into knowing ALL of His will?

 

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