When I was ten or eleven years old, my cousin and I went to the movies. After the show, my cousin said, “Come on, let’s go into the theater next door and watch that one too.” I told her I didn’t have enough money for another ticket. She grinned from ear to ear and said, “We already paid!”
She then showed me her ticket stub. It said clearly along the bottom, “Switching auditoriums is prohibited.” She went on to explain that “prohibited” means, “allowed.” My heart filled with delight, and I boldly walked into the theater and watched a second film.
It wasn’t until I got home and gleefully told my mom about the movies, we had seen that I discovered “prohibited” means, not allowed and that the word we were probably getting it mixed up with was the word “permitted.”
I was “innocent” in my heart. I truly believed the word prohibited meant “allowed,” and I believed the ticket was a free pass to a second film free of charge. But, according to the letter of the law, I was guilty. Had we been caught we would have been held accountable for what we had done—regardless of our ignorance.
Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” There are many “innocent” Christians out there, participating in all sorts of crimes against Yahweh—not because they are rebels, but because they have pastors and teachers and resources that are interpreting the words of Yahweh for them—much like my cousin was interpreting the words on my movie ticket for me.
My cousin loves me. She wasn’t a red devil on my shoulder trying to get me to do wrong. We were ten-year-old kids and the word “prohibited” was not yet in our limited vocabularies. So, instead of asking an adult or someone who worked at the theater, we allowed the word to mean what we believed (and wanted) it to mean.
The same thing happens on a much larger scale when Believers breeze through words and contexts in Scripture that we don’t understand. Maybe we will go the extra mile and look something up on an online Strong’s dictionary website—but even that is dangerous. Greek and Hebrew are rich, nuanced, multi-layered, complex languages. Imagine reading War and Peace in Russian with nothing but a Russian-English dictionary. Yes, we would figure out what a lot of the individual words meant—but not knowing anything about Russian grammar, sentence structure or cultural colloquialisms would put us at a severe disadvantage.
Furthermore, the Scripture writers were Semitic thinkers who wrote using objective, block logic—which creates another layer of complexity when read thousands of years later through the subjective, emotional filters of step-logic thinking English speakers.
Reading a One-Minute Bible or listening to a 5-minute audio devotional every morning would be like eating a handful of potato chips every morning and not eating again until the next day. The Word of Yahweh requires a lifetime of daily scrutiny, study, and application. Listening to praise music during a morning commute or listening to a short sermon once a week is not an adequate substitute for a daily walk with Christ, any more than a handful of potato chips would substitute for a balanced diet.
It is integral for us to have a personal relationship with Christ and the Word of Yahweh. We must learn to prayerfully ask questions and delve deep into Scripture to iron out areas of confusion and to come to terms with areas of personal conviction.
We must not perish for our lack of knowledge. The enemy of our soul is not merely trying to entice us into an auditorium to enjoy a two-for-the-price-of-one movie. He is after our souls and one major highway into our souls is by feeding us misinformation through poor Bible translations, shallow preaching, and ME-centered music and devotionals.
Christ did not die so we could “be happy”—He died so that the title deeds to our damned souls could be ripped from the grip of the adversary and be secured by His blood so that we might find eternal happiness both now, and in the life to come—but this eternal happiness cannot be secured apart from Christ.
This doesn’t mean Yahweh is indifferent to our earthly sorrows. By no means! I am merely saying that Yahweh is not going to strike out, rewrite, alter, or make exceptions to His Word if and when it inconveniences our life choices, our temporal, perceived happiness, or our “dreams.”
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to Yahweh. The Word calls us to, “Study to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15) and to “obey His commands.” 1 John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” We cannot simultaneously love Yahweh and be a rebel. With Christ in our hearts, we have what it takes to pursue a life of holiness—a life “set apart” from the world. With Christ in our hearts, we can handle the Truth.