Previously we saw that there are many in our world today that have no knowledge of God or the salvation through the Christ, and this should be shameful for every Christian. This group, however, is not the only ignorant party in our world; there are many who have been told about Christ, but choose either to not believe or to believe in a different Jesus which is not really Jesus at all (Galatians 1:6). This ignorance is more sinister, for in many cases it presents itself as knowledge. Willful ignorance is the reason for
denominations and many other problems in so-called Christianity today.
This is nothing new. We previously discussed Hosea chapter four, where God is condemning especially the priests for not instructing the people in the way of God. His condemnation, however, does not stop with the priests, as we see in verses nine and ten:
And it will be, like people, like priest; so I will punish them for their ways, and repay them for their deeds. And they will eat, but not have enough; they will play the harlot, but not increase, because they have stopped giving heed to the Lord.
The people in Hosea’s time had also done their share of rejecting God, and they would pay dearly for it.
One of the fruits of willful ignorance is denying clear and obvious truths to hold on to the lies. The Pharisees of the time of Christ were masters of this ability, as seen in John 9 and 11. In John 9, we are told of the man who was born blind healed by Christ (verses 1 through 9). He is brought forth to the Pharisees (verse 13), and they ask him about what happened. The Pharisees go to the greatest lengths to deny this story: first, they challenge his testimony by wanting to see his parents (verse 18), denying any power in Christ, and appealing to Moses (verse 28 and 29), and then summarily dismissing him for speaking truth (verse 34). We read in verse 41 a great truth of Christ, where He responds to the Pharisee question of, “we are not blind too, are we?”
“If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘we see,’ your sin remains.”
We see many today that deny that they are in their sins. Such willful ignorance is called “blindness” by Christ (verse 39), and rightly so.
John 11 is even more blatant. In John 11, we read the story of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead. When the Pharisees hear of it, they convene a council. John tells of this meeting in verses 47 and 48:
Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
Here we have one of the greatest miracles ever performed by Jesus, and a clear demonstration of the truth that was in Him. The Christ had come, the Jews were being delivered, and more signs and wonders are being shown than at any other point in time. Do the Pharisees thus believe? No! They are more concerned about their land and power than truth. No wonder Christ said that they could not escape the sentence of hell (Matthew 23:33)!
If the Pharisees would not see the wonders and signs of Christ and believe, how can we expect people today to be any better than they were? It is a true statement; those who do not wish to see the truth never will, and those who seek out truth shall find it. Many people, in the time of Christ as well as today, refuse to see truth. They dwell in their error, even sometimes rejoicing in it! For these people, all we can do is hope, pray, and continually instruct in sound teaching. Always remember the words of Isaiah in chapter 6, verses 9 and 10, quoted by Jesus in Matthew 13:14-15 and Paul in Acts 28:26-27:
Go to this people and say: “You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; for the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I should heal them.”
This is as true when Isaiah spoke this to the Jews in 600 BCE as when Christ and Paul did in the first century CE, and it holds just as true in the 2000s CE.