1 Corinthians 15:34
Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
1. Knowledge lies at the foundation of religion; for, if we are to serve and worship God we ought to know who and why we are to worship; and it is this which renders religion a reasonable service.
2. Ignorance is the fruitful source of wickedness. The heathen were devoted to the grossest abominations — because "they did not like to retain God in their knowledge," the Corinthians were erroneous in doctrine and licentious in practice, because "they had not the knowledge of God."
I. WHAT IS THIS KNOWLEDGE? It cannot be a knowledge of the Divine essence; for of the essence of anything we know just nothing at all. "Canst thou, by searching, find out God?" etc. This knowledge must be considered as —
1. Theoretical to begin with. From the visible things of creation may be clearly inferred the existence and perfections of a great First Cause; but we can learn nothing of His justice or His mercy, or of the method of reconciliation with Him through Christ from nature. The Bible is the only book whence we can acquire a satisfactory knowledge of God; because there God has been pleased to give a revelation of Himself. Here He is seen as the just God and the compassionate Saviour, giving His Son to death that He may make the sinner alive.
2. Experimental. A person may study navigation at school and acquire a theoretical knowledge of it, but he must reduce that knowledge to practice, then, becoming a skilful pilot, his knowledge is experimental. We may study medicine by books, or at a university; but until we walk the hospitals our knowledge is not experimental. Now, we may believe that God knows all things, and our belief may be merely theory; but when He has removed the veil from our understandings, and shown us all that is in our hearts, then we have experience of the infinite knowledge of God. We may believe that God is pure, and this may be all theory; but when we have been given to see sin as exceeding sinful, Then we have an experience of the purity of God. We believe that God is almighty — but that, too, may be all theory. When, however, He has effected a change in our moral nature, which is nothing less than a new creation, then have we experimental proof of the power of God. We may believe that Christ is a Saviour; but this may be nothing more than a mere general apprehension; but when we have seen ourselves guilty and undone, and when He has said, "Thy sins be forgiven thee," we experimentally know the power of the grace of the Lord Jesus.
3. Practical. There is no perfection of God but which, if experimentally known, will have a practical influence upon us. If we know His greatness and codescension, this will humble us; if we know His holiness, we shall abhor whatever is offensive to His purity; if we know His justice, we shall tremble at His power and be driven for a refuge to the great atonement; ii we know the whole Divine character, we shall love Him with all our heart, and serve Him with all our powers. That knowledge which does not improve the life is very little worth. Hence the character of a wicked man is included in this, that "he knows the God."
II. SOME HAVE NOT THIS KNOWLEDGE.
1. They do not admit the truth of God.
2. They do not fear Him. They who know God, know that He is awful in power, glorious in holiness, and that it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands. As such, they fear to offend Him, and reverence His law.
3. They do not trust in Him. Every instance of doubt or of unbelief are just a total or partial ignorance of the Divine character; for "They that know Thy Name will put their trust in Thee."
4. They do not love Him.
III. THE WANT OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD IS A GREAT SHAME.
1. Nothing can be more important than that ignorant creatures should know their safety; that weak and perishing creatures should know where their strength lies; that the miserable should know where happiness is to be found; and that an immortal spirit should know its portion.
2. This knowledge will have considerable influence upon our duties. We are called to serve God, and we cannot, serve an unknown God.
3. We have adequate means put into our hands to acquire this knowledge, if we have inclination to avail ourselves of them in nature, the Scriptures, through the Holy Spirit, etc.
4. For this knowledge, too, we have also adequate faculties. Can it be said that our faculties are adequate to the attainment of every other kind of knowledge but that which most concerns us to be acquainted with?
5. We have the most important and positive motives to urge us on to secure this knowledge. "Godliness is profitable unto all things," etc. In this knowledge standeth our eternal life.Conclusion: This is interesting to us all; and every man ought to inquire of his own conscience, "Do I know God?"
1. Alas! of some it may be said — by your fruits your ignorance of God is too clearly manifested.
2. There are some who profess to know God — but is that knowledge real? is it experimental?
Parallel VersesKJV: Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.