Acts 17:30 | Ignorance or Holiness

Ignroance

If someone called me ignorant my initial reaction would be to throw up defensive shields and turn on my offensive arguments of war. However, the truth is that I am ignorant on a great many subjects. Yet to call someone ignorant does seem to be an insult in an age where information is literally at the fingertips of anyone with a connected device. At this point in life I may remain ignorant of a specific topic unless or until there is a need for me to be educated. This brings me to the book of Acts with one of the most interesting chapters where the apostle Paul makes a stop in Athens Greece. While on this stopover he is invited to speak to the Areopagus. The Areopagus was a location where a council of the most educated, likely wealthy, men and women of Athens gathered to “spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new” (Acts 17:21 ESV) This crowd is not ignorant. These are the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers that helped to build the foundation of western society that I materially benefit from today. Yet Paul addresses them and tells them that they have been ignorant.

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:29-31 ESV

The old saying “Ignorance is bliss” highlights the fact that being unaware of the complexity and realities of this short life people blissfully unaware of the impending dangers that lay ahead. The fact that ignorance about a topic or event may eventually get one into trouble in no way slows the trouble or prevents those events from unfolding. Paul tells us all that while we like to make God into an image of our own choosing God has revealed himself and will no longer overlook such ignorance. A day of impact and judgment has been set when the time of mercy and grace will end. At that moment God will call men and women both alive and dead to account. Paul uses a word for ignorance here that is not a general kind of ignorance. These people of Athens he is speaking to are not ignorant people. Paul calls them a special kind of ignorant ἄγνοια (agnoia). This is an ignorance of divine and moral knowledge. While for their time these people of Athens may have known about the physical world they were ignorant about the moral implications and the dead spiritual conditions that shadowed their minds. Much like the modern world of today.

17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ! Ephesians 4:17-20 ESV

Do not be ignorant Paul preaches to us today. Do not be ignorant of the moral and spiritual darkness of the land we live in. Repent, turn away, from that darkness. Flee from the selfish life of lust, sensuality, and greed. Do not be ignorant because God will hold against people a life impurity. Even more God has made the Bible, his revelations, available to a majority of people the world over. Ignorance is not an excuse because God will not overlook sin when that person has at their literal fingertips access to direct revelations about Christ and salvation.

Christ is the opposite of ignorance. He is the truth. He is the life. In him is found self-control, unselfish love, and a beating heart. This is what is learned when in Christ and how we become a new creation no longer darkened by ignorance of a former life.

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct 1 Peter 1:14-15 ESV

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