The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Knowing God

“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbor’s service without wages and gives him nothing for his work, who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, and cut out windows for it, paneling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion.’ Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?” says the Lord. “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence.” (Jer. 22:13-17)

This message was given to a son of Josiah, king of Judah. He was promised that he would die a captive and “see this land no more.” Notice God’s complaint about him–unrighteousness and injustice, covetousness, shedding innocent blood, oppression and violence. God compared him to his father, who had done “justice and righteousness,” and asked, “Was not this (doing justice and righteousness) knowing Me?”

All throughout Scripture, knowing God is equated with carefully doing what is right.

For My people are foolish, they have not known Me. They are silly children, and they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. (Jer. 4:22)

To know God is to understand right and wrong, and to do good!

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord. (Jer. 9:23-24)

Wisdom, power, and wealth are nothing in which to glory. Through all of the world’s “wisdom,” it did not know God (I Cor. 1:21). Solomon, even with his supernatural wisdom, still allowed his heart to be led astray to idol worship; if he understood all mysteries, he did not maintain an enduring love for the Lord. Armies with all of their power can be drowned in the sea the moment they have outlived their usefulness in God’s hand. Riches make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven (Prov. 23:5). Let us not glory in any of these things.

To understand and know God is to know that He delights in lovingkindness, judgment and righteousness, and to walk in the same. He keeps covenant and mercy with those who love Him and keep His commandments (Deut. 7:9), but curses those who do not obey (Deut. 11:28).

The Lord brought a charge against Israel, saying:

There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. (Hos. 4:1)

Why did He say there was no knowledge of God in the land?

By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed. (Hos. 4:2)

He knew by their evil deeds that they did not know Him. And because they “rejected knowledge,” He would reject those evildoers from being priests before Him (Hos. 4:6). Israel would cry, “My God, we know You!” (Hos. 8:2) But their actions showed otherwise–“They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God…they do not know the Lord.” (Hos. 5:4)

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. (Dan. 11:32)

Covenant breakers can be corrupted by the flattery of the devil’s servants–they stumble, being disobedient to the Word (I Pet. 2:8). But those who truly know God and know His heart will also know how to behave in difficult times. Even if they should fall by sword, flame, captivity or plundering (Dan. 11:33), they will do no evil, but will overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21).

Knowing God is no small matter. It is equated with having eternal life (Jn. 17:3; I Jn. 5:20). This has been God’s goal from the beginning, that a people would know Him, obey His Word, and be wholly His.

But what happens when what may be known of God is manifest, and the people to whom He is manifest do not like to retain God in their knowledge? They are given over to a debased mind to do things which are evil, and to approve of the evil of others. (Rom. 1:18-31) There are many in the professing church today who approve of and participate in evil! Through deceit, they refuse to know God (Jer. 9:6).

Paul testified that his countrymen had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge–they were ignorant of God’s righteousness. Thinking they could establish their own form of righteousness, they tried to be acceptable to God through traditions, while not truly knowing Him or living pleasing to Him. Many were continuing to reject and rebel against God’s Word even after experiencing His judgments through exile, and His mercy in sending Christ to them (Rom. 10). To such unbelieving Jews, Jesus said, ” You know neither Me nor My Father. If you had known Me, you would have known my Father also.” (Jn. 8:19) Anyone who knows the Father also recognizes the Son; all who know God keep His Word.

We can know God by looking into the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). When we see the Son, we see also the Father (Jn. 14:9). What did Jesus teach, how did He teach, how did He respond to people and circumstances? We must deny ourselves (and whatever empty traditions we have received from our fathers) and follow Him. When we abide in Him, keeping all His sayings from our hearts, we also abide in the Father and possess eternal life.

As in Old Testament times, in New Testament times there are still those who claim to know God but follow after sin. Ongoing sin is still the primary evidence of not knowing God.

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. (I Jn. 2:3-4)

Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have theknowledge of God. (I Cor. 15:34)

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. (Titus 1:16)

Paul admonishes the Church to awake to righteousness, lest we deny Him by our disobedience! With spiritual weapons, we must cast down any argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Through knowledge of Him, we have received all things that pertain to life and godliness, and can be partakers of the divine nature of holiness (I Pet. 1:2-4). A person who knows God will obey the teachings of the apostles who gave us Scripture (I Jn. 4:6), and he will walk in love–“Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (I Jn. 4:7-8) This love always includes keeping God’s commands (I Jn. 5:2).

The Church should be increasing in the knowledge of God–till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Paul prayed for the Colossians that “you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”(Col. 1:9-10)

And what will be the end of those who do not know God and do not obey His gospel?

“…when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” (2 Thess. 1:7-9)

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