“It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.” Ronald Reagan
They say great minds think alike, or better put the student can only be as smart as the teacher (Matthew 10:25). Perhaps that is why Ronald Reagan shared the same thought as did Paul when he was writing to Timothy about those who did not believe what Paul was teaching. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:7 they are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Paul was referring to men or women who were willful, boastful, proud, arrogant, self-absorbed, money hungry, chasing after pleasures and not seeking God. These folks are constantly chasing one passion or another, looking for the next big thing, seeking fame and fortune, never acknowledging God, in fact, attacking what is good if it interferes with their personal pursuits. They are always learning but never able to grasp what is real and true. They believe that what they believe is truth, but who can blame them since they were taught by those who believed they too possessed great knowledge and charged handsomely for others to get that knowledge.
Unfortunately, all that knowledge left them bereft of truth but now they have been awarded a certificate of accomplishment validating their intellect, although like Reagan said, they know so many things that just aren’t so.
How is this possible? Can we avoid being led astray by our intellects? Is there a point where we become too smart for our own good?
Let us look at how this might happen and then suggest what you can do to avoid it happening to you.
We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge. John Naisbitt
1. We are learning too much
Information overload. With the advent of the internet everything, there is to know about anything can be found via Google. Since knowledge spells power and survival, and it is virtually easy to obtain, we are continually packing our minds with new information and knowledge. We err, however, if we assume that we can know God by doing a Google search, or worse believe that the internet has all the wisdom available to us. This is simply not true.
Spiritual truth is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit in moments of quiet and unhurried reflection and contemplation upon His word. Taking time to seek Him and His ways, not relying on our own human understanding. This is a slow process and in our hurry-up world of instant gratification, it is difficult for us to accept, especially if we are conditioned to stuffing in knowledge through condensed articles, blog posts, Facebook, and 140 characters of Twitter.
I think we risk becoming the best informed society that has ever died of ignorance. Ruben Blades
2. We are learning the wrong “stuff “
In our quests for knowledge, it is easy to wander down the dark paths of forbidden knowledge, to partake of the proverbial forbidden fruit. If we recall Adam and Eve were told to keep away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil found in the middle of the garden, they were permitted to partake of everything else in the garden. This did not satisfy their human curiosity and when tempted Eve took and ate the forbidden fruit and offered the same to her husband who also partook.
It was at that point that their eyes were opened and they saw that they were naked. They became self-aware, their eyes were opened to what they lacked and they lost sight of what God had provided for them. It was at this point that they set out to provide covering for themselves to hide their nakedness. They were now seeking human solutions to their earthly existence. They started out by rejecting God’s clear instruction to not eat from the tree and ended up hiding in the bushes.
Adam and Eve traded divine insight, Godly counsel for that which was being served up by a serpent. It did not turn out well for them, neither will it turn out well for us if we too are seduced to partake of the forbidden fruit of the poisoned tree.
Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom. Charles Spurgeon
3. We are hindered in our learning by our pride
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become foolish (literally: a “moron”) that he may become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18b)
There is indeed a sense of pride and accomplishment when one earns a degree from an institute of higher learning. Many view a college education as the means to personal success and work to earn many degrees and perhaps even a Masters or Ph.D.
Paul was a well-educated man, in fact, this is what he says about himself in his letter to the Philippians:
Philippians 3:4-8 (NIV)
4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;
6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.
8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Here Paul was running down through his resume, extolling his credentials, he was making a list of his accomplishments. By the world’s standard Paul was successful, and yet Paul considered all those accomplishments as nothing compared to that Damascus road encounter with God. All his earthly pursuits, all the degrees he had attained led him into a life of opposition to Christ, in fact, he was persecuting the church and killing Christians. In his mind, based on what he was taught, he believed he was doing the right thing. He was seriously misled. He had been lied to and seduced by the serpent to seek knowledge apart from God.
It is good to seek the truth and to gain an understanding of how things really work to avoid the pitfalls that accompanying bad choices but consider the source of that knowledge. Turn off the cable news outlets and their sound bites, shut down the internet for a week and pick up a good book instead, better yet put up the “good book”. Allow yourself some quiet time to reflect on life and sort through all the information that has flooded into your head through the things you have seen and heard. Most importantly recognize that the wisest among us is not smarter than God. And you are not god.
Our prayers should be “I want you to be wise in that which is good, and innocent in what is evil.” (Romans 16:19b) and only God is good therefore make Him your source of good information, He promises to lead you into all truth. (John 16:13)