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Knowing God isn’t just knowing about Him. If all you have is an intellectual comprehension of God, you are not going to gain what you need to live a godly life. You will only have increased in knowledge, not understanding. That head knowledge will tell you that you should be godly and even what steps you have to take to be godly, but it is not going to provide you with the reason and incentive for the daily discipline required for living that godly life.
Welcome to the Point of Purity Podcast! I’m your host Steve Etner – author, National Speaker, Certified Professional Mentor TM and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry and this is Episode #159 . In this episode we continue our new mini-series on discovering how our thinking impacts our doing. This week’s Episode is entitled “The Know in Knowledge.”
We saw in last week’s episode that Peter writes, “[God’s] divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” (2 Peter 1:3 NIV’84) Now, don’t miss this. This verse is telling us that God has already provided the born-again believer with everything we need to be godly and to consistently live out that godliness in our daily choices, actions, and attitudes. That divine power comes through our knowledge of God as He reveals Himself in His Word.
Near the end of the episode we noted that Peter says we can find everything we need for godliness “through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” That word “through” carries with it the idea that this is the instrument or way that something is going to be accomplished. It is through your knowledge of God; by means of your knowledge of God, as you daily grow in your knowledge of God that you are equipped with everything you need to live a godly life.
It is important that we understand the kind of “knowledge” Peter is talking about. You see, he’s referring to much more than just an academic-level head knowledge. James 2:19 tells us that the demons of hell have that kind of knowledge. Knowing God isn’t just knowing about Him. If all you have is an intellectual comprehension of God, you are not going to gain what you need to live a godly life. You will only have increased in knowledge, and the ability to win hands down at Bible Trivia type games.
That head knowledge will tell you that you should be godly and even what steps you have to take to be godly, but it is not going to provide you with the reason and incentive for the daily discipline required for living that godly life. For a number of years, I prided myself on the depth of my knowledge of Scripture. I sought to know more and more of the Bible. Though I was growing in my knowledge of God’s Word, I was not growing in my relationship with the God of the Word.
Without the proper heart’s motivation to truly honor and glorify God, all of our “godly” deeds will become mere actions that carry no actual meaning or purpose other than to fulfill our perceived obligations as a Christian. When your focus is on simply increasing in Biblical knowledge, your life will become fixated around works instead of a relationship. It will become a burden instead of a blessing.
You see, as we truly get to know God on an intimate level, we will trust Him with more and more authority of our life. As we dethrone King Me and yield full control over to God, that is when we become godlier. I now am doing life out of a genuine desire to please rather than a duty to serve.
Some people view godliness as primarily a matter of learning the correct Biblical information. They believe that if they read enough books, attend enough Christian seminars, study the Biblical text enough, and accumulate enough data, then godliness will automatically follow. Let me be quick to point out that each of these activities has value. There are some great books by Christian authors and wonderful Christian seminars on growing in your relationship with God. And reading God’s Word is always beneficial.
Any time you are pursuing knowledge of the Bible and how to live the Christian life you are choosing well. Peter says that “grace and peace (is ours) in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord” (2 Peter 1:2). We are commanded to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). And Colossians 1:10 instructs us “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (ESV).
However, we must realize that there are also those who “are always learning but never able to come to acknowledge the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Studying the Bible and accumulating knowledge all by itself can lead to spiritual dryness. If your head knowledge is not accompanied by a Spirit-led change in your life in response to God’s truth, that knowledge can actually cause you to stop growing. Beware of becoming so dependent on knowing things that you never work on actually applying to your life the things you have already learned. James warns, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
Watch this now: Godliness – letting the Father live His holiness through your daily life – is far more than just increasing in knowledge, even if that knowledge is all Biblical. Jesus said, “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). At first glance it may appear that Jesus is complementing these people for being in the Word. But notice carefully what He is saying. They were intent on learning and knowing the Scripture, yes. But their heart’s motivation was all wrong. Their focus was on gaining knowledge of the Word of God for the sake of knowledge itself. They wanted to appear to others as being very intellectual and well-learned in the Scripture. They placed such great value on their head knowledge that they totally missed the Son of God who was standing right before them. Jesus says, “these are the Scriptures that testify about me!”
They had a head knowledge of the Word of God but desperately lacked a heart relationship with the God of the Word. Godliness does not come simply from having an academic understanding of the Bible. Sure, you can know a lot of Biblical truths and principles; you can have a lot of passages of Scripture memorized and know Bible doctrine. But if you are not living those truths out in your daily life, if you are not practically applying the doctrine you know to be true, you are not glorifying God, period.
Peter says that God’s “divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). Since only God has the ability to help me glorify Him, and all that godliness comes only as King Me steps off the throne of my heart enabling me to truly grow in my intimate, relational knowledge of God. The key then to consistently and continuously being godly in my everyday living is to better understand what Peter means when he speaks of “knowledge.”
The word Peter uses is “epignosis,” a word that refers to a thorough participation on the part of the knower (you), with the object of knowledge (God). So, the real question here is not how familiar are you with the Bible; how well do you know God’s Word, but rather – how well do you truly know God as He has revealed Himself in His Word? The “knowledge” Peter is talking about has a powerful and lasting influence on the knower. In other words, the “knowledge” you have of God is so deep and clear that you are now able to actually comprehend it. It is no longer just a vague grasp of the subject, rather it is a thorough and exact understanding of its object.
God has given you everything you need to live a godly life, and it comes only as you grow in your knowledge – an ever deepening understanding – of Him. The end result of this kind of knowledge is a change in the way you think. Because you are now beginning to genuinely grow in your knowledge and understanding of who God is, you are now thinking about Him differently. Since your thinking has changed, there is a subsequent change in your behavior. What you are thinking is now becoming what you are doing. You are beginning to live out His godliness.
I will never be able to say, “I know Abraham Lincoln!” I can certainly accumulate a vast amount of interesting information about the 16th president of the United States and give you all sorts of interesting tidbits about his life and leadership, but I do not know him. At best I can say I know about him. To truly know him, I would have had to live during his lifetime, spent every day of his life under the same roof observing and conversing with him. That intimate level of experience would give me a more precise, clear, and exact knowledge of the man, Abraham Lincoln. Only then could I honestly say that I know him.
I do, however have an intimately clear and precise knowledge of my wonderful wife, Heather. Because I have lived with her for over 42 years, I have observed and experienced first-hand the things that make her both tick and get ticked. I’ve discovered those things that interest her, excite her, upset her, motive her, and inspire her. Therefore, I can honestly say that I know Heather Etner. And as a result, that intimate knowledge has had, and is continuing to have a direct impact on the things I say and do.
What I know to be true about Heather has forever changed the way I think about her. That, in turn, has changed the way I react and respond to her. Over the years I have grown to love her and deeply long to please her. The knowledge I have accumulated to date has had a powerful impact upon me, teaching me how to live my life in such a way as to honor and please her, motivating and inspiring her toward a closer walk with God. That, I submit, is the kind of “knowledge” that Peter is talking about.
Peter is saying that a deep, developing, increasingly intimate understanding of God is how we become equipped with everything we need to live a godly life. The more time I invest with God, the more I get to know Him. The more I know Him, the greater the impact – teaching me how to live my life in such a way as to always please Him, and creating within me a growing desire to live in a way that consistently glorifies Him. However, there is one rather significant problem we need to address here.
In Job 36:26 we read these words. “How great is God – beyond our understanding! The number of His years is past finding out.” You see, Scripture declares that God is beyond our ability to fully comprehend. We cannot ever be thoroughly acquainted with Him. To make things even more interesting, when Job says that God is beyond our understanding, he uses the imperfect tense. The imperfect tense expresses that which is incomplete and is not possible to ever complete without outside intervention and help. This means that, apart from God stepping in and helping us, our ability to truly know Him is and always will be incomplete and thus imperfect.
Job 11:7-9 asks the question, “Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens – what can you do? They are deeper than the depths of the grave – what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea.”
Job 37:23 declares, “The Almighty is beyond our reach.”
God is “the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.” (1 Timothy 6:15-16)
The bottom line is that it is impossible to know God on our own. In fact, Romans 3:11 tells us that there is no one who naturally seeks after God on their own. Add to that the fact that man is a sinner, and we see that it becomes absolutely necessary that if God is to be intimately known (which as we’ve seen is a prerequisite to godliness), He must be the one to start the process.
Here’s the great news. God did just that! Otherwise, Peter would be lying as he says, “God’s divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him” (2 Peter 1:3). God has graciously chosen to reveal something of Himself to us through the Bible. As a result, we can intimately know our Sovereign Creator and Heavenly Father. You see, the Bible is the very Word of God. Paul writes that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). It came from the very mouth of the Almighty God Himself. Peter tells us that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
The purpose of this podcast is not to go into a theological discussion on the doctrine of Bibliology, but it is important to our miniseries that we understand that the Bible is God’s Word. It is God’s revelation of Himself to man. For the Christian to get to know the God of the Word we must be in the Word of God, for it is there that we discover who He is. And it is there that we find everything we need to live a godly life.
Furthermore, the Bible always tells us the truth, and it does so without error. Why is that so important? Consider this; if the Bible were to contain even just a few minor errors, we could never be sure that our understanding of God, Christ, Heaven, Hell, sin, and salvation is correct. The fact is, we are to live our Christian lives by the words from Scripture. You see, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). If even one word in the Bible is written in error, we should not trust any of it. Thankfully we can trust all of it because God who wrote it is Truth. God breathed out the Bible, therefore the Bible is true. All of it.
In John 17:17 Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” In Psalm 119:151 David writes, “Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true.” Then in verse 160 he says, “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” And in 2 Samuel 7:28 we read, “And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true.”
So, if you are going to be serious about living a life that glorifies God – a life that deeply and intimately understands God, you need to daily roll up your sleeves, grab your proverbial shovel and pick axe, and begin digging into the Word of God. That is where you are going to find your answers.
The Apostle Paul declared, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
And Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The Bible truly is the solid foundation upon which we must build godly lives.
Let’s take a moment here to review what we’ve learned over the last two episodes. Only God can give you what you need to live a godly life that honors and glorifies Him (2 Peter 1:3). His divine power has already provided you with everything you will ever need to live that godly life. He provided it all within His Word – the Bible. You will find everything you need to help you be godly as you open God’s Word, study it, and meditate on it. Then, as you grow in your knowledge of God and in an intimate relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit will use Scripture to teach and help you learn how to live a life that truly glorifies Him; a life that is genuinely godly.
If you have placed your faith in the finished work of Christ on Calvary, if you are a born-again believer, God has already given you a new mind, a new nature, and a new heart. You are fully equipped to live a godly life. I submit that in order for that to become a reality you need to quit trying to be godly. You cannot do it in your own power. None of us can. We don’t have the knowledge or ability to do it on our own. Only as we are yielded to and reliant upon the indwelling Holy Spirit, as He uses the Word of God to guide us (see John 16:13) will we become godly men and women whose daily lives truly glorify our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Daily investing time reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word is a vital component to living a life of integrity and godliness that glorifies Him.
We opened this miniseries with the story of Solomon’s personal endeavor to find meaning and purpose to his life. That journey ended up in frustration instead of fruitfulness. This is because the core of his search was entirely self-centered. His focus was on things that would make him feel good about himself instead of focusing on his relationship with God.
As we continue over the next few episodes, we will see that we were created for one primary purpose: to glorify God. When we fail to fulfill that purpose, we won’t find meaning. Lasting satisfaction and fulfillment will always be elusive. Life is not about you, it’s not about me – it’s about God. Let me close with these verses from Scripture:
“Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.” (Psalm 119:36)
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1 ESV)
“For those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” (Romans 2:8)
“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every evil practice.” (James 3:16)
OK. Let’s hit the pause button until next week’s episode as we continue our miniseries on How to Glorify God. In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about today’s study, or if you’re interested in learning more about The Pure Man Ministry, be sure to visit our website to see the multitude of resources we’ve made available to you – you can find our website at ThePurityCoach.com ".
One of those resources I would like to highlight for you here is my book entitled “Extreme Mind Makeover: How to transform sinful thoughts and habits into patterns of life pleasing to God,” available on Amazon.com. This book takes you on a journey through the Bible to examine what God has to say about how your thoughts, words, and actions influence and impact your heart.
You see, whom you choose to worship determines what you will think about. What you choose to think about determines what you do. What you choose to do determines the consequences that will result from those choices. When you are choosing to dethrone King Me and truly worship God, you are also training your mind to think godly thoughts. As a result, the things you say and do day in and day out will in turn be godly.
On the flip side, when you allow King Me to reign on the throne of your heart, your mind will tend to think sinful, fleshly, ungodly, King Me centered thoughts. The result (your daily attitudes and actions) will in turn be ungodly. So, how do I change the way I think? How do I change the things I do? How do I successfully and effectively guard my heart? This book, “Extreme Mind Makeover,” takes you into God’s Word to help you answer those questions.
If you have not yet subscribed to this Point of Purity Podcast, let me encourage you to do so today so you won’t miss any of our upcoming episodes!
So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, Certified Professional Mentor TM and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.
Please understand that your involvement in this program does not provide any guarantee on the part of Steve Etner, The Purity Coach or The Pure Man Ministry. In other words, we are coming alongside of you for the purpose of coaching you toward accountability and purity. I am not a professional counselor and I cannot guarantee you specified results. I am, however, a man who has been where you are and has seen God work in my life in a mighty way. This program is what changed me. And God has used this program to impact the hearts of countless men across the globe!
I'm here to encourage you, to challenge you, to pray with you, and to share with you what God has taught me. I look forward to coming alongside of you in this journey!