We played this game at Bethel’s Adult Bible study last night – Bentley Fisher, our Chairman of Deacons smoked the competition, Michael Hollowell, our Pastor of Worship. The point of such a game? We’ve jumped into a study of Colossians, which Paul wrote in part to warn people about the cult of Gnosticism.
The Gnostics of Paul’s time were spreading the idea that there was a special revelation or spiritual kind of wisdom that would only be attained by those few enlightened souls who were privileged enough to understand it. This mystery, secret knowledge, or hidden wisdom was, according to their belief, the true path to eternal life in the highest sense. Jesus wasn’t eternally God but rather the highest ranking being in God’s angelic order. Our path is to ascend to His likeness by attaining deeper wisdom.
Hogwash. And Paul knew it.
After Paul’s personal greeting, he throws them this paragraph…
So we have continued praying for you ever since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you a complete understanding of what he wants to do in your lives, and we ask him to make you wise with spiritual wisdom…
~ Colossians 1:9 NLT
So far, the gnostic infiltrators are hanging with Paul’s words. They exalted wisdom as the highest virtue, after all, so Pauls’ affirmation of the value of having wisdom is quite agreeable. Paul continues…
Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and you will continually do good, kind things for others. All the while, you will learn to know God better and better.
~ Colossians 1:10 NLT
Ah, he lowers the boom. Live it! Many believers are filled with knowledge of God’s Word. We’ve memorized passages, learned the order of the books of the Bible, and can spit out Sunday School answers to your toughest questions. We’re smart! But… what good is the pursuit of wisdom without an intention of doing what we hear?
Gnostic thinking is alive and well. I see it across the blogosphere all the time – sites and businesses erected in the name of a supposed “law of attraction.” Think it, intend it, and it will come into your life because you’ll be attracting it with your thoughts and actions. One of the most popular books of the last few years was written to this end that there is a Secret that not everyone knows – just Oprah and a few others.
Here’s the bottom line for me, and I think for Paul as well… Any pursuit of wisdom that leads you toward a thoroughly biblical intimacy with God is a worthy pursuit. Any pursuit of wisdom that leads you to a distance or even outright denial of God or His power is a destructive distraction from hell itself.
So go study your Bible – I encourage it. But beware of the fact that most of us already know more than we’re doing. Knowledge puffs up if it isn’t applied. Live it!