I’m guilty! Pastors may actually be the guiltiest of all. We don’t intend to do it. We preach against it. But we do it sometimes anyway. At times, we’re guilty of substituting knowledge about God for a vital and intimate walk with God.
Paul opened his brief letter to Titus with these words, “Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness…” (1:1). He mentioned three things in a specific order that he was concerned about in the lives of those he was called to lead: faith, knowledge, and godliness. Faith to believe in Jesus is a gift from God that is intended to open our eyes to a deeper knowledge of the truth. This knowledge of the truth, an understanding of the gospel and the teachings of the Bible, is then intended to lead us to godliness.
Unfortunately, Christians sometimes either disregard the importance of a deeper knowledge of the truth, or they substitute that knowledge for godliness. I have known people who are unconcerned with doctrine. They just want to love God and worship Him. They are content with the knowledge they have about the Bible already. They think they know plenty. This kind of attitude leads to a shallow walk with Jesus. Although they love Him, they don’t really know Him. I have known others who long for greater knowledge about God so much that they are consumed. They have read it all. They know the Bible. They believe the study of the Scripture is the most important thing they can do, and they can argue the finer points of theology. The problem here is that all the knowledge in the world does not equal godliness. A person can have a deep knowledge of the truth but miss the point of all that knowledge. Knowledge of the truth is intended to lead us to greater godliness.
Since pastors are called to shepherd the flock of God by preaching the gospel, it comes natural to them to spend hours grappling with the Word of God. We study the Bible and we commit ourselves to know more about it than our church members. We depend on a deeper knowledge of the truth in order to lead others to know Jesus. Knowledge of the truth is a good thing, not just for pastors, but for all Christians. God’s people cannot walk with God unless we treasure the truth about God. We can’t walk with a God we don’t know. And the more we know Him, the deeper our walk with Him can be. But, Paul said he was deeply concerned that God’s people have a knowledge of the truth that LEADS to godliness, not substitutes for it. I am guilty at times of being content with knowing about Him more than walking with Him. Paul expands this thought in Titus 2:11-13. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” The grace of God that saves us is the same grace that teaches us the truth, and it’s that truth that leads us to deny godlessness and to live godly lives while we wait for Jesus to return. We cannot be content with knowledge. We are exhorted to deepen our understanding of the truth in a way that leads us to pursue godliness. When Jesus returns, may He find Christians who don’t just know about Him, but are walking with him.