“You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive” (Matthew 13:14).
I ready an article the other day about how more and more atheists were making an effort to study the Bible. In fact, in a survey done in 2010 on religious knowledge, atheists and agnostics scored higher than anyone else, leaving Christians in the spiritual dust. That disparity has only increased with time. I’ve even seen atheists quote chapters, not verses, but chapters of the Bible at a time! So if atheists are diligently studying the Bible, why haven’t they been converted to Jesus? Why aren’t they Christians? The answer lies in the heart: they are not truly interested in God’s truth, but in using it against Him and His people. Just as the atheist can have knowledge without understanding, so too can the Christian be guilty of possessing knowledge without understanding. Many will possess Bible knowledge, but not many will possess wisdom. Even Bible scholars, priests, preachers, or pastors all have the capability of being wrong about what they teach. This is no mystery and really shouldn’t be very shocking. The reason this isn’t shocking is because it was prophesied long ago by Isaiah 6:9. Jesus then calls attention to the fulfillment of that prophecy in Matthew 13:14. Through Isaiah, God warned about this. Jesus warned about this. Still today, the Word of God warns about this. In John 5:39-47, Jesus is talking to lifelong “experts” in the contents of the Scriptures. These are the people who had knowledge of Scripture that went unmatched. But Jesus says to them, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life…I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.” In other words, Jesus is saying they didn’t understand what they “knew.” It’s one thing to possess knowledge, it’s another possess understanding, and yet another to possess wisdom by practice of the truth. Today, when somebody is hearing what we have to say but doesn’t respond or do what we ask, we say that our words “fell on deaf ears.” But this is a bigger problem than what we realize it to be concerning God’s Word. In fact, it’s a spiritual epidemic that’s been going on since the very beginning. There were thousands of people who heard Jesus speak, but relatively few believed that He spoke truth. Out of those who believed, there were even fewer who did anything about what they believed. The same holds true today. We try to reason and use logic to try to understand why this happens, but we never think it can happen to us or our preachers, teachers, or pastors. We use excuses like, “But my pastor is a good man,” or “God is too loving,” or “God is not a God of confusion, therefore I can’t be confused.” And so, we continue believing that which is contradictory to Scripture. We need to be honest with ourselves and “check our hearing” very often. These aren’t my words but the words of Jesus: “Take care then how you hear…” (Luke 8:18). To do this, we must honestly see what surrounds our hearts. Too often, we find a bias toward something that we WANT to be true; we want our ears “satisfied” and find ourselves teachers in accordance to our desires (2Timothy 4:3-4), but not in accordance to God’s truth. Too often, we find that pride gets in the way of truth; we simply can’t be wrong for our ego’s sake. Too often, we find that our emotions get in the way and we say things like, “I know I am saved because I can feel it in my heart.” Yet we ignore those who “felt it in their heart” that they were doing right in God’s eyes but were dead wrong (Acts 21:20-21; 22:3-4; Philippians 3:6; Romans 10:2). Too often, we find that we don’t even love the Word of God because we are not willing to do what it says to do. We simply pick and choose to do the easy things and leave out the harder things. Too often, we find that we don’t even trust the Word of God to be the blueprint for our lives. Too often, we find that we’re religious for religion’s sake, for our parent’s sake, for tradition’s sake, but not for God’s sake. And because of these things found in our hearts, we are led into a delusion (2Thessalonians 2:11-12), not because God is cruel or unloving, but because we didn’t love truth more than anything else. When we don’t put God’s truth first, we are easily seduced and deceived. When we don’t truly love God’s Word, we will be led into error by those difficult Bible passages that require much study (2Peter 3:16). The only thing that all these hindrances produce is religious confusion and division, which is so prevalent today. So let us make sure our heart is in the right place to receive God’s Word. Let’s be sure that His seed (the Word) falls on proper soil (our heart) (Luke 8:15). Eternity is too long and death is too certain to not take God’s Word seriously. Those who truly want to know truth can and will find it! And when we find it, we must do it (James 1:21-25), for this is the height of trust, the very consummation of faith. God truly is not a God of confusion (1Corinthians 14:33), so realizing this we see that error is not with the Giver of truth, but with the “deaf ears” that receive the truth. When is the last time we got our “ears” checked?
“Atheists, Agnostics Know More About Religion Than Religious” (2010), [Online], URL: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2010/09/28/130191248/atheists-and-agnostics-know-more-about-bible-than-religious