Knowledge v. Wisdom

(A two-minute read)

Here’s a tough question for me: Do I spend more time each week listening to people teach or talk about God (via YouTube, podcasts, social media feeds, etc.) than I spend hearing from God directly from scripture?

The teaching and interpretation of scripture are good, but never as good as what Holy Spirit can tell me Himself. That’s because God knows my heart, and knows what I need to hear far more than what I might choose to listen to on my own. Five minutes with Him can outdo five hours from anyone else.

Paul warned his disciple Timothy about this: “For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.” 1

Are you cautious about which so-called ‘influencers’ shape your world-view?

Even if you think you are being intelligent, you can be fooled.

I can’t do this seeking in a vacuum

I need discernment. I also need to remember Charles Spurgeon’s observation that discernment isn’t the ability to tell the difference between right and wrong, but between right and almost right.

We live in what’s been labeled a “post-truth” society; no coincidence it’s also labeled a “post-Christian” society. In my view, of course (unapologetically), the two go together.

As John says in his first letter,2 I must “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.” I test these things against the full body of Scripture, and also amongst a company of discerning believers, including people who will challenge my assumptions.

This is because I cannot automatically assume I’m right, or even that I hear rightly. The inarguable point is that the more time I spend in the Bible, the better I will hear God’s opinion, as opposed to that of some inane YouTube bloviator.

So, how much time will I spend in God’s word today? How much do I want to hear from Him directly? Or is it ‘easier’ to just munch on another YouTube video?

Knowledge (from man – even when Spirit-inspired) may be good, but wisdom (from God) is better. It’s also worth the extra effort.

1. 2 Timothy 4:3-4
2. 1 John 4:1 – “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

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Another Dichotomy

Why do the self-professed atheists I encounter rail against Christianity only? They must understand Christ is true. So they imitate the devil in their opposition: religion doesn’t bother him, or them: it’s the person of Jesus they oppose. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you,” Jesus said.1

Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion unsuccessfully argues that my belief in a personal and supernatural God proves that I am deluded. He knows nothing about it. Saul of Tarsus, the ultimate Jesus-hater, had one of those supernatural encounters 2 just like I had. After meeting Jesus in a frightening fashion, he wrote about Mr. Dawkins and others: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 3

I’m like a couple billion others who walk daily with a supernatural Jesus, to varying degrees. We get to turn the tables and say the so-called rationalists themselves, in Dawkins’ words, have “a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence.” 4

The evidence is right in front of you all; you just don’t see it. The devil has blinded you.5 Oh wait – he’s supernatural so it’s impossible in your view to believe in him either. Too bad; he wins this round, and may God help you snap out of it before the end.

But then, discounting everything but rationalist arguments leaves no room in the heart for a loving, compassionate Creator. The universe is heartless, clockwork, mechanical, you say. God’s love does not exist. In such a world, the populace must then be people who themselves have god-like delusions. How sad to fall so short of what exists.

A spot of good news: I’m only accused of being deluded; at least I’m not being deceived in this; deceit comes from the devil. Deceit is much harder to overcome than delusion. How does the deceived ever come to know the truth? Only by God’s intervention: again, a supernatural event.

The world isn’t suffering from an epidemic of misinformation, but a burden of myth-information. What the devil would have us suppose always obscures what God would propose. Satan’s voice is louder, but it doesn’t have to be clearer. Listen past his yammer.

All this confusion is heart-breaking. When I weep over it, my tears must be sanctified. They bless the earth on which the saints have trod and make holy the sinners’ ground. I pray that God brings his Super into the Natural these folks fruitlessly toil in.

As for my fellow believers, the greatest lie Christians fall for is that they are not good enough. The greatest truth they must know is that they are not good enough. The truth points toward Jesus, for salvation. The lie points to the devil, for confusion and blindness.

People who blame God for their troubles are also wrong in their belief. There is good news there as well

In blaming God, they unwittingly acknowledge that He is all-powerful. And so, there is hope for them, because God is love.6

Atheists, agnostics, lukewarm believers, doubters, the unsure: God has a place for you. My prayer is for all of you who have yet to come into Christ’s kingdom. May your arrival precede His return.

1. John 15:18
2. Acts 9:1-6 – “Saul, still breathing out threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, and requested letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any there of the Way, either men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he went he drew near Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?’ He said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’. The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Trembling and astonished, he said ‘Lord, what will You have me do’ The Lord said to him, ‘Rise up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’”
3. 1 Corinthians 2:14
4. The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, © 2008, Mariner Books, US (Reprint Edition)
5. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 – “But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are lost. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
6. 1 John 4:8 – “Anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

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toddler with red adidas sweat shirt


A bumper sticker popular in certain circles declares “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention”. Am I actually outraged? Or do I just see the outrageous?

Is outrage even possible now in response to moral depravity? Or, is it merely another way to be angry and hateful?

My former colleagues in the news media play a part in this sickening climate of public discussion; I’ve written about this before.

Three years ago, I published an obituary for American journalism. I was too hasty. Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps journalism isn’t dead: it is now un-dead, zombie-like. News-as-golem.

What is called “news” has devolved into a soap opera: winners and losers; left and right; Ins and Outs; Non-mythinformation and conspiracy theory, and the like. Edification now takes a back seat to speculation.

Story lines are driven by ideological narrative, not from a desire to truly inform or enlighten. Hard questions are no longer asked; creating and sharing Fake Outrage are now the order of the day.

So what then, is a discerning person to do? My friend Joel Baker has some excellent observations, which lead to practical answers.

Problems and Solutions

News provokes an emotional reaction in us. We don’t usually notice it much because we’re used to it. If I can watch video of babies being murdered, buildings being bombed and catastrophic natural events without weeping, I have a hard heart. 1 Am I really immune to this? Or do I just spend too much time with it (and at the movies)?

A practical answer: Turn it all off until it hurts to watch it again because my heart is softer. The truth is, I don’t need to know. It’s okay not to know. 2

The more I consume stories of evil and mayhem, the more I become hardened to them. This endless scrolling through the Outrage Machine sows seeds and these seeds produce fruit: very bad fruit. 3

What is that fruit? Anxiety, fear, anger (I might justify this as “righteous anger”), judgment (I condemn someone), scorn (I laugh at someone), skepticism, disappointment, deep sadness, or misplaced hope in some man-made solution.

A practical answer: Prayer that leads to repentance for partnering with these things and a softer heart. 4

News is now like professional gossip: tasty morsels that go down easily but are laced with poison. 5

With everything I see, read, ponder or act upon, my daily choices are to respond, to react, or to ignore. There are only two outcomes: I harden my heart, or soften it.

A practical answer: God’s word. God’s word is truth. It purifies, sanctifies, washes, liberates and edifies me. All other words, including news media and social media, are laced with lies, which come from the father of lies. They ensnare me. They bind me. They slowly build a fortress of fake outrage that wars against true Godly outrage: moral outrage.

The words of the world are a heart-hardening potion. But the words of God are life and soften my heart, when I let them in, and let them rule me. 6

I must guard my heart above all things. It’s a fickle thing 7 and cannot be tamed, but it is the most precious think I own, after my soul. It’s worth guarding because I’m worth it. Jesus thinks so.

He thinks that about you too. 8

1. Jeremiah 18:11b-12 – “Repent now, everyone from his evil way, and make your ways and your deeds good. But they say ‘There is no hope! But we will walk after our own devices, and each of us will do according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.”
2. Matthew 6:25 “Therefore, I say to you, take no thought about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body than clothing?”
3. Matthew 7:18 – “A good tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bear good fruit.”
4. Job 23:16 – “For God makes my heart soft, and the Almighty troubles me;”
5. Ezekiel 21:7 – “It shall be when they say to you ‘Why do you groan?’ that you shall answer, ‘Because of the news that is coming. And every heart shall melt, and all hands shall be feeble, and every spirit shall faint, and all knees shall be weak as water. It comes and shall be brought to pass,’ says the Lord God.”
6. Ezekiel 36:26 – “Also, I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
7. Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is more deceitful than all things and desperately wicked; who can understand it?”
8. Ephesians 2:10 – “For you are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT)

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