IGNORANTLY and UNBELIEF: These two words found in the last phrase of 1-Timothy 1:13 provides one of the greatest explanations of how one may obtain God’s mercy and why we do some of the dumb things we do. Paul tells Timothy, I “obtained mercy” because, in spite of what I have done, God knew my motives for these things better than I, and he forgave me anyway. At the same time Paul is making a confession to an underling, a student and a devoted friend, “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13) Old Testament scripture was ringing in his ears as he confessed his wrong doings and why he had done so many cruel things in times past.
Ignorantly, means: to operate in a state of ignorance; lacking knowledge or education in general on a specific subject, unaware of something, usually something of importance, an ignorant mistake. When Mr. Webster, the dictionary guy, defined ignorance he sure had Paul, as well as, Grady and many other Christians in mind. How often we say things, do things and even make accusations without knowledge or enough information that leads us to making an ignorant mistake. I have often said “guilt is a heavy burden to bear,” and it is, Paul knew this and was willing to confess to it as a warning to a fellow-servant of our savior, Jesus Christ. Gathering the courage to make such a confession to an underling, student or peer is courage indeed, but the power that it conveys to the witness of our confession is immeasurable.
Obviously, Timothy held Paul in high esteem, someone whom he respected greatly, the opposite of this is that “sometime we hold ourselves in too high-esteem.” Every one of us has great potential to be useful in kingdom work and God knows our potential better than we know it. Paul is the perfect example, having many faults, a record of criminal activity against Christians and great potential wrapped in one human figure, Paul caught the eye of God. One day on the road to Damascus, Jesus saw this person with great potential, filled with zeal for scriptural obedience and a pound of arrogant-unbelief tossed in for good measure. There he sat, riding on his high-horse, and what did Jesus do? He knocked Paul off his high-horse and put him down in the dirt, He does the same thing today to Christians like Paul, cruising around on our high-horses without a care in the world.
Neither God, nor the Son of God is cruel, mean or evil; both are quite kind and purposeful in their activities. You and I, like Paul, have potential and can serve in the fulfillment of divine purpose. Before we are enabled, counted faithful and/or put in the ministry we must receive the gift that is the mercy of God. God has to knock us down off our high-horses and put us in the dirt, to humble us before we are fit for kingdom work. We are familiar with the conversion of Paul, “who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious” to kingdom work. After he was lifted up, taken out of the dirt, placed where God wanted him to be and his eyes finally opened, he was able to do great things for the kingdom of God on earth.
Unbelief, means: a lack of spiritual or religious belief and/or an unwillingness to accept a particular belief. This is the second part of the cause (reason) for the things Paul confessed to, and we share his guilt. Professed and believing Christians, with some knowledge and a zeal for the word of God riding around on our high-horses, but have not come to the manifold wisdom of the knowledge of God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
Out of nowhere comes the mighty hand of the Lord, smacks us on the head and we find ourselves rolling around in the dirt, unable to see what has happened to us. Here’s what happened; (a) God knows your potential for kingdom work, (b) he is not going to let it go to waste, (c) when he wants to use you and your potential for his purposes, you are going to be used, and finally (d) He has to bring you down off your high-horse and put you in the dirt to prepare you for kingdom work.
The lesson in this passage of scripture is found in the legal principle that “ignorantia juris non excusat,” literally “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” It stands for the proposition that the law applies also to those who are unaware of it. Just in case no one has ever told you, the same proposition holds true for the Word of God! It does not matter where you were born, where you are going or even what you may have done, you must become familiar with the words, works and presence of the Living God. Through confession of our transgressions against God we are able to receive the mercy and prosperity promised in Proverbs 28:13.
We are enabled (empowered) to do these things because God has made provisions for us to receive the gifts of grace, mercy and healing through the blood-stained stripes of the His only begotten Son, Jesus Our Christ. We do not have to live and act ignorantly in unbelief; “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10) The choice is simple, live ignorantly and in unbelief or explore “the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Be blessed until the blessed call you blessed, and bless someone in Jesus’ name.
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ
- The Inconvenience of Divinely Revealed Truth (crt010304.wordpress.com)
- Paul, ‘Kicking Against the Goads’ (smoodock45.wordpress.com)