When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (I Corinthians 13:11)
When we first come to the Lord, everything is wonderful. God seems so close to us, and it doesn’t take much to get our prayers answered. We can be foolish and careless, and make many mistakes, and God has mercy on us, but as we mature, things begin to change. God begins to require something of us. We have to learn to “live by faith” and put away the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), and as we continue to grow, we develop into a relationship that is centered on God’s plan for our lives, and less on our own.
These are stages that every believer will go through, and even more so if one is called to a five-fold ministry office (Ephesians 4:11-12), as the requirement and accountability is greater (James 3:1). We move in stages, from glory to glory; from infants to maturity as sons and daughters of God (II Corinthians 3:18). God desires to reveal Himself to us and invests His heart into it. He is not aloof to us because He is God, but rather He is sensitive, and cares deeply about our relationship with Him.
God is also jealous, and the closer we get to Him, the more sensitive He becomes to certain things, and the more He takes offenses personally. Sometimes we may think, “God doesn’t care what I think, because He’s God!” But that is not so; Moses was a man that was close to God, and delighted to know His ways, his heart (Psalm 103:7, Exodus 33:18) (See also Psalm 25:4). God revealed Himself to Moses in a very personal way, insomuch that there “arose not another prophet in Israel” who knew God intimately on this level (Deuteronomy 34:10). But even so, one transgression cost Moses the Promised Land, and because of this thing, he would never be permitted to enter.
Many have wondered, “Why was God so hard on Moses for one seemingly ‘small’ act of disobedience?” (Numbers 20:12, Deuteronomy 3:23-26) But it was much more than simple disobedience; God wasn’t angry with Moses because he “struck” the rock instead of “speaking” to it, or because he didn’t believe that God could perform the miracle of bringing forth water. It was more sinister than that, an insidious form of unbelief that destroys men’s souls.
Moses had seen God do miracle after miracle; He had met with God face to face, “as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11), and performed countless miracles in Egypt. He was a co-laborer with God in parting the Red Sea, and it is for certain that he had absolutely no problem believing that God could bring forth water out of a rock. But what he didn’t believe was that God was still able to bring him into the Promised Land.
You see, the people were so rebellious and hardhearted that Moses himself had lost heart. Because of their rebellion he didn’t see any way that God could ever fulfill His promise to bring them into the land, and he began to grow bitter toward the people, and even against the Lord. He nurtured this complaint until, for a moment, he didn’t care what God thought, or anyone else for that matter; “It’s over because of these rebels!” he thought in his heart. He hardened his heart against the Lord, and then blatantly provoked him to His face, and that before all of Israel. His actions bordered on Hebrews 10:29, and God took it very personally.
My friend, with knowledge comes responsibility, and accountability. We are accountable for what we know as believers; If God has revealed something of Himself to us, then we must apply it and incorporate it into our lives.
An atheist will claim that he does not believe in God, but yet God declares in His Word that He does not believe in atheists! (Romans 1:19-21, II Peter 3:5, II Timothy 4:3-4) An “atheist” is someone who, when knowledge was revealed to them, chose, by a sovereign act of their will, to turn away from what they knew to be true.
“Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God…” (Romans 1:21)
Knowledge from the heart of God is precious (I Samuel 3:1), and God doesn’t carelessly throw it around (Matthew 7:6). He will reveal Himself to those that seek after Him with all their hearts; but those that desire to push Him away will slip further into darkness.
“Well, it’s better to be ignorant, than to be accountable for so much!” someone might say (Matthew 25:24-25). But when Jesus revealed to His disciples the responsibility of marriage, and that they were not permitted to put away their wives for any reason but fornication (sexual sin), they cried out, “It’s better for a man not to get married then, Jesus!” (Matthew 19:10) (Paraphrased)
But what did Jesus say? He explained to them that there are benefits that come with marriage, benefits of which not all men can do without (Matthew 19:11). So there are benefits that come with knowledge, but also responsibility. Remember the man who buried his talent (Matthew 25:25-26). Jesus was a “hard man,” who required an account of stewardship.
We are encouraged to not allow the things that we have learned to slip, nor to be “forgetful hearers.” The salvation of the Lord has been revealed to us through His Word, and we must guard and protect it with all diligence!