“…Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. (1Cor.8:1)
I feel that many people nowadays are sick. They are intoxicated with knowledge. Though it seems a light thing, I think it is not, it is a deadly if not a devastating decease, which can be compared with the bacteriological weapon, if you please.
First, I want to say a few words about Eve. Second, I want to add a few more on the nature of knowledge itself. Finally, I want to show the consequences of intoxication with knowledge and some ways to avoid it.
Eve lived in the garden of Eden. She and her husband had a blessed communion with God, took care of the garden and lacked absolutely nothing. They could have constant relationship with their Lord in the cool of the day. They could enjoy the nature. They could possibly have all the fun the first people could administering the Earth. Their freedom in God had almost no limits. The only thing that was prohibited was the tree of knowledge of Good and Evil. As I understand that knowledge was an independent knowledge of what is right or wrong without the help of God. That could have made people like God, but it wasn’t God’s will for them to do that shortcut. HE wanted people to have fellowship with Him. He wanted them to ask his advice for things. He wanted to be their God and them to be fully dependent on Him. Yet, as most of you know Eve was deceived by the serpent. She ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. Her eyes were opened. She gave some to Adam. His eyes were opened as well. They saw that they were naked and made some clothes for themselves. It wasn’t cold, they just felt shame for the first time. For the very first time, they got this message: “You are naked. It is wrong to be naked. You have to cover you nakedness. Do it now.” And so they did cover themselves with leaves. Some time later God came to search for Adam and Eve. He knew that the Fall had taken place. He knew how to make things right again. He had some better clothes for them out out of leather. Bible doesn’t tell us if God had to kill some animals for that, yet it could have taken place. God pronounced His judgment upon the serpent, Eve and Adam. He kicked them out of Eden. He put an angel to protect its entrance. Now man had to decide for himself what is Good and what is Evil. Relationship with God was broken. With this one sin, with this one intoxicating thought: “I am going to be like God knowing what is good and what is bad…” death entered into Adam and all his posterity. He could not any longer get eternal life. He could no longer have even possibility to eat from another tree – a tree of life. Now he was doomed to sweat and toil. Now he was doomed to pick all the thistles he could and have very unstable, fragmented conversations with God. Bible doesn’t say if Adam and Eve prayed to God. Yet it does say about their children Cain and Abel bringing sacrifices to Him. In a way that was some kind of fellowship. To Cain God could speak somehow directly both before and after fratricide. Seventh after Adam, namely Enoch walked before God and he was translated to God alive, for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. It also does not explicitly say in the Bible what Enoch did to please God, yet it is written briefly – “Enoch walked with God”. I think that included multiple conversations with God. I can speculate and guess that he refused to know anything separately from God and wished to ask God’s advice in all things. I could be dead wrong, but I dare to say that probably he prayed and had long conversations with God. Otherwise how could he write a prophetic book mentioned in the letter of Apostle Jude? Thus far we saw the entrance of sin into the world and the progress of intoxication with knowledge from Adam to Enoch. But still the question is – what is knowledge?
Knowledge is some sort of information, that can have diverse effects upon people. It can tell you how to live, to warn you of danger, to help you to live and be conscious of who you are, what you do, what you can do, what you can’t do. Knowledge is like a book, in which all words are hyper-linked. It goes from one stem to two, from two to four, and onwards to the gizzilionth possible probability of the events outcome. I know that some of you love and some of you hate math. It depends on how your brain is wired. But none of you (or us, excuse me) can say that you are immune to being intoxicated with knowledge. It seems that one molecule of it can blow us up in pride. Just look at little kids. They are little examples of that. One of my sons comes to me and asks: “Daddy, you’ve been to the store? What have you brought?” I tell him: “I brought some milk.” He says: “What are going to do with it?” I say: “”Porridge. Just a porridge.” He runs to the living room shouting proudly to other kids – I know what is for supper tonight! Porridge! It may seem such an innocent little thing. But is it?
Look how people treasure knowledge. From the early childhood we are told that to learn is better than to remain ignorant, out-of-school, uneducated person. It is almost a sin to remain blank as a white sheet of paper. You have to obey the system. You have to go to the day care center. They drag you through school even if you have some mental disorders. At least till the 10th grade. Why? They are sure that you have to get some “initial portion of knowledge” without which you will be a “misfit” in the society. Right? Afterward they leave you alone. Then you can have your way based on the primary backbone of knowledge you get. I omit many secondary things for now, but I will say this. A lot depends on what is written on the soul of child. If he is reared in an atheistic environment, if he is told that matter is all that is and there is no spirit or any world above – it is one way. And quite hopeless and deadly one. Yet many follow it. Many people who read hundreds of books, know opinions of all the philosophers, read all Routledge authors through and through, listened to 84 30 minute files on Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition, still find the void inside. That void, or whole or emptiness simply cannot be soothed with mere worldly wisdom, knowing “7 tips and tricks” and cracking the square root of 2. They travel through life thinking that yet another experience, yet another adventure, yet another knowledge byte shall help them in their bankruptcy. All in vain. Knowledge has the powerful ability to intoxicate, to opiate, to deceive one into thinking that he is in charge, while he is not, that he is God, while he is not, that he can do anything, while he can not.
Others choose another extreme. They desire to remain ignorant. Or they live in jungle and they are cut of from the “all-powerful” tentacles of Google. Let it be so. Yet Bible says that they even they know enough to be judged on the Judgment Day. The beginning of the Epistle of Romans, written by Apostle Paul tells us that they neglected the primary revelation of God through nature. They despised God. The didn’t wish to be thankful. They didn’t wish to even think of Him, to remain Him in their brains, in their knowledge. And so the rejecters of God were rejected and judged by God. All of them became idolaters. For what happens when a person stops worshiping the God who made him? He worships things. He worships the creation. He sins. He is curved upon himself as one theologian beautifully put it.
You see the knowledge intoxicated people so powerfully that both wise and ignorant sinners became “”wise in their own conceits”. Remember the words they tell you as you start witnessing the Gospel of Jesus to them: “Don’t teach me. I know everything. I am Orthodox. (or Catholic, or Lutheran or Atheist or whatever.)” You see this worldly “cocain” of knowledge led them to believe ridiculous, ungodly, blasphemous thoughts. Now they say I can exist separately from God. I didn’t hurt Him, and let Him not hurt me. He is not my enemy, and let Him never inquire into my state of affairs. It is my life. I’m gonna do it my way. And that is the essence of sin. That is the strongest possible intoxication with knowledge: believing that you can do something apart from God, better than God, wiser than God.
Hmm, you will smile, but is there a better way? Is there something better than knowledge? Is there something better than right usage of knowledge, helping dying people in Africa by your knowledge and skills, is there anything more noble and better than to give knowledge to those sitting in darkness? Yes, there is. It is the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most precious thing in the world. Apostle Paul could say: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8) The knowledge of Christ is the only thing that is truly worth knowing from our Heavenly Father’s perspective. And it is the knowledge of God through Jesus Christ that alone can save us from any form of intoxication with knowledge. The more we long to know Christ, the less we want to know anything else. You would say – that is close to fanaticism. The world is so full of wonderful things – just open National Geographic, or Scientific American – and voihla! So many things that are yet mysterious, attractive, unknown, picturesque, gorgeous, terrific. But let us go back to the Garden of Eden. The Lord gave all of the things to Adam and Eve in the very beginning of creation. They had to administer it wisely. They were allowed to “…have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen.1:28) And for a while they did it. Adam named all the animals. If God told that all of the creation was “good”, he probably liked it with Eve as well. But nonetheless I want to speculate, for I do not know for sure, that not the flowers, not the beasts, not even the beautiful Eve was the object of Adam’s affection, but the person of God. Those conversations in the coolness of the day had to mean a lot for man. There he probably asked what is the best way to take care of the Garden. There Adam probably told God how he felt, what he accomplished, asked advice for things and many other things. God intended to have that unbroken fellowship with His creatures. Yet Devil and sin crept in and destroyed that communion. Devil showed man an alternative way, another door through which man can take information without God’s help. And that led to the fall of all the humanity in Adam.
If we will think for a while – how stupid is that, to seek the knowledge without God’s help and guidance it is very sad indeed. While there are mysteries in God, mysteries in the Son of God, mystery of the Gospel, man still turns his face away from those and seeks pleasure in creature rather than in his Creator. Man decided to “google” himself to death by clicking, and clicking, and clicking and never really coming to any lasting satisfaction, or knowledge of God. He prides having all the knowledge on the tips of his fingers, but the true spiritual knowledge of God through Jesus Christ, the Sn of God has slipped away from him.
What can be done to alleviate the consequences of intoxication with knowledge? Well, I think that first the process of detoxification has to take place. For Apostle Paul that was 3 days of blindness. For you – it maybe 3 days, or a week without internet. Make it a priority. Put it high in your schedule. At this small thing try the Lord and He will show you how much He wants to bless you. Turn in fasting and prayer to Him and He will answer you. Plead with Him to reveal Christ to you and you will be amazed that in Christ’s presence everything fades away. Isn’t Christ wonderful? Isn’t He beautiful? Isn’t He mysterious enough to be known more and more each day? Christ is the best remedy from being intoxicated with the knowledge of this world and the “stuff” of this world. Come to Him and he will deliver you from all the anxiety, from all the vain hopes of this world, vain wisdom of this world, vain glory of this world and vain intoxication with knowledge. Only from him you will learn how to put down your pride and be clothed in humility. (Mathew 11:29)That much I wanted to say on intoxication with knowledge today. It is quite similar to what I started writing in Octoberlast year on 1Cor 8:1.