The Mile Between Knowing and Doing: 21st Century Pharisees
This is the final post in a series about dealing with the hypocrisy and ‘false-following’ of Jesus in our lives, instead of being followers in appearance only, like Pharisees. Please read the introductory post, or the others in the series.
The Mile Between Knowing and Doing
I don’t know where you are on the spectrum I’m about to discuss. It certainly isn’t fair to say that everyone who studies theology is automatically proud. I’m writing this post mainly for myself: a diary of sorts, to attack the danger I’ve seen in myself. This one is aimed, honestly, at myself…and at people who like to read blogs like the one you’re reading right now. We often are the exact picture of the verse from James:
“But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was.“
— James 1:22-24 (CSB)
It is entirely possible to learn everything in the realm of theology and never be changed. It’s possible to post every bible verse, win every online debate, have all the right answers, and still miss the mark. If your studies in theology aren’t making you more humble or more obedient, then you are missing the point of theology. Our knowledge of God and His work is always supposed to transform what we do.
The renewing of our minds (Romans 12) is part of the process of being a living sacrifice. But is there a difference between simply filling our minds and actually renewing them? Of course! Filling our minds can be done all by ourselves, and leads to pride. Renewing our minds is the work of The Holy Spirit, through the growing knowledge of God, and it leads to humble dependence upon God.
Be Humbled. Obey.
Often, we know facts about God far more thoroughly than we live changed in light of them. We can diagram how deeply God hates pride, but we don’t see how deeply it has gripped us.I feel my own failure in this arena just as I type these words for you to read.
Perhaps the most difficult temptation for the aspiring theologian is pride. We consider ourselves the authority that our friends and family should listen to on all matters. We struggle to treat others kindly when they have said or done something incorrectly. We act like incorrect knowledge of God is a personal offense against us, and we make ourselves the center of the universe.
Newsflash: some of the godliest people are those you might consider intellectually lazy. Get over it. Get over yourself. Weep for the sin in your life, not primarily the sin of others, or even the sin you perceive in others. (James 4:9).
Put down the book, the treatise, the blog, the lecture. Pick up prayer; ask God for a humility that allows you to truly know him and love others. Ask that your knowledge of him would be transformed into obedience and love for him. Pray that you would be saved from being a white washed tomb. We need grace to avoid the danger of being strong in our heads, yet proud in our hearts.
There is no true growth in theology until it transforms our lives and until it produces humility.