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Shepherds Hill Homestead » Messages » Zeal Without Knowledge

Zeal Without Knowledge

Have you ever witnessed someone doing something exactly right and yet they still failed at what they were attempting? From out outsider’s point of view they looked like they knew what they were doing but the end result was failure. My message today is about just such a situation. Let’s begin today with a passage from the Old Testament.

This week my daily Bible reading took me through Second Chronicles chapter twenty five. I’ve been going through this Book and all of the Kings of Israel and Judah are documented here. Each one had his name recorded along side his devotion to God or else he was listed as doing evil in the sight of the Lord. A little known King named Amaziah was talked about here. Amaziah was listed a little differently than the other Kings. Instead of saying he walked in righteousness or stating that he did evil in the sight of the Lord it says something else. Verse two says that King Amaziah did what was right but not with a perfect heart. This made me stop to think. Is it really possible to do something right without actually doing it altogether right?

Maybe you remember taking math tests in school where you got the answer correctly but didn’t know how you arrived at that number. I certainly do. Somehow, I don’t think that Amaziah did this though. It says that his heart was not right even though his actions were. Before I expound on this further let’s look at another passage in the New Testament. We have been studying the Book of Acts in our mid-week Bible study and have learned that Paul was set on bringing his people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. All through this Book Paul is sent to the Gentiles but still can’t stop preaching to the Jews. Now turn with me to the Book of Romans chapter ten. Here Paul is speaking of his brethren the Jews. Again he states that his heart’s desire is that his people would be saved (v1). How sad it is that those we would dearly love to present the Gospel to are often the very ones we can’t reach.

Paul continues by saying that they (the Jews) have zeal for God but not according to knowledge (v2). Let’s think about that for a moment. Exactly what does this mean? The Greek word for zeal here means “excitement of mind” or “to have a zeal for defending something”. How can someone be zealous for something but not have knowledge of it? Let’s consider what he is speaking of. The Jews that Paul knew had served Jehovah for centuries. They were/are God’s chosen people. They followed certain laws and rituals that kept them God’s people. They kept the Law, continually celebrated the feasts, were circumcised etc. The leaders of the Jews in Paul’s day (Pharisees and Sadducees) had added to God’s law so much that it made it almost impossible to keep.

God had set the Law up as a school teacher to show right from wrong (Gal 3:24). By the time that Jesus arrived on the scene the Jews were far away from God. They were so far away that they expected Messiah to be a military ruler who would over throw the Roman government and put Israel back in control. When Jesus came and performed miracles right before their eyes they mocked and hated Him. They had such zeal for Jehovah that they murdered Jesus. It was like that old statement that they didn’t see the forest because all of the trees were in the way. Paul knew this zeal because he’d had it, too.

Paul was a Pharisee before Jesus met him on Damascus Road. He had such zeal that he murdered Christians. He was on the way to do even more harm to the Church when God stopped him. Imagine, serving God with such fervor that you are killing His people! Paul knew that the Jews were like this. They had a zeal for God and yet, didn’t even know Him. That, my friend, is what this is about; knowing Him. In the Old Testament King Amaziah followed all the right things but didn’t have his heart right. He probably had all the right rituals going on with sacrifices and prayer but his heart was not perfect. The Hebrew for “perfect” in that verse means whole. His whole heart was not in serving God.

There were many who did not serve God with their whole hearts in the Bible. A few weeks ago we looked at King Saul. He really believed he had done what he was supposed to. Instead of doing what God commanded he did some of it and wanted to offer sacrifices to make up the rest. Jesus had one disciple who followed half hearted. Judas Iscariot believed that Jesus was the military King of the Jews and he followed Him because he believed it would bring him gain. When he realized that Jesus was not going to challenge the Roman Government he made a move that (perhaps) he believed would cause it to happen. He sold out Jesus to them. He had done all the right things throughout his discipleship. He did not stand out as a half-hearted follower. The other disciples were all shaken when Jesus announced that one of them would betray Him. They didn’t even think of Judas. They assumed it could be they and asked Jesus if it was (Matt 26:21-22).

In other words, our half hearted actions don’t always show as such. There are many people who sit on church pews each week who won’t go to heaven. Does that bother you? Jesus said that not everyone who called Him Lord would enter heaven (Matt 7:21). It’s not because He doesn’t deserve the title “Lord” because He does. He is King of Kings and Lord or Lords. The reason He said this is because there are many who claim to follow God through Jesus and yet don’t obey His voice. Many will join churches and say a prayer believing that this is all they need to do. When they walk outside the doors of the church they will go right back to their old lives and in the end will go to Hell. (read the parable of the four soils in Matthew chapter 8)

That’s right-saying a prayer one time and claiming to be a Christian  doesn’t make you one any more than going through a wedding ceremony and then walking out the door of the church never to see your spouse again. We can see how ridiculous the latter would be but for some reason we are tricked by the enemy into thinking we can say a quick prayer one time and get to heaven. Christianity is not a one-time thing. It is a life long relationship with Jesus Christ. We can even have a zeal and fervor for Christianity and be as lost as Judas. There are those who would murder abortionist doctors in the name of Christianity but by their actions they show that their hearts aren’t right. Many are on the gun-toting bandwagon these days just ready to blast anyone who crosses their path and threatens them. I would rather someone shoot me and send me to heaven than for me to have to shoot them and send them to Hell.

We have a problem in the church where patriotism is confused with Christianity. People are waving their flags and putting their love for their country ahead of their love for God. Don’t get me wrong-we need God back in our nation but I don’t know if it will happen. If it doesn’t are you still willing to serve God at the risk of defying your government? God wants a people who will put Him above all others. I can understand that. My wife doesn’t want me flirting with the women I work with. I don’t want her flirting with other men. Why would we think we can flirt with the world and still love God with all our hearts? Going through the motions like King Amaziah is not enough. We must love God with all of our heart, soul and body.

Many love Him on Sunday when the music is “just right”. They enjoy the message and truly believe that they are walking right in the path of God. They even give money when the offering plate comes around. When they leave they shake hands with the pastor and walk back into their old lives until the next week. They have never led anyone to Christ because they are still lost themselves. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 Paul explains to Timothy that the last days will be full or perilous times. Men will be become self centered and live for their flesh. They will be arrogant and proud. They will be loyal to no one but themselves. In verse five it says they will have a form of Godliness but deny the power of God.

Do you have a form of Godliness today or are you the real thing? Jesus told Nicodemus that he had to be born-again before he could enter the Kingdom of God. We have stopped preaching true salvation to others and have accepted that someone with mere mental ascent is really aright as long as they have peace about their life. We tell ourselves that we can’t judge others and instead of helping the blind to see we give them a pair of black glasses and a white cane.

Do you have a zeal for God without the true knowledge of Him? Often times we experience hurt from someone that we really thought loved us. We trust them and yet through selfish intentions they step all over our hearts. Maybe it was a parent or even a spouse. In this act we are conditioned to think we can’t trust God. Friend, if you really knew God you would be willing to do anything He ever asked of you. Everything He asks is something that would be for your good. There is nothing that He would ask you to give up that would not be replaced with something greater down the line. We need to know God so that this can happen! He is a loving God and cares for His children.          Don’t be afraid to give your entire life to Him. He will not let you down. There isn’t a single area of your life that you need to hold back on. Trust completely in Him today.

Prayer-Father, there are many who call themselves Christians but have never met You. They have not experienced Your love nor have they truly given up anything from their former life in being born-again. I pray that Your Holy Spirit would woo them today and call their name. May they hear Your voice clearly calling them to repentance and then act on the call. Set us apart as Your People today.

In Jesus’ Name-Amen

paul

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Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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2 Responses to "Zeal Without Knowledge"

  1. Michelle says:

    Thank you for speaking the truth. Our family recently left a church for preaching that a prayer prayed one time long ago will get you to heaven. It’s frightening that the gospel has been watered down in such a way. We can’t accept Jesus as Savior and not as King. It doesn’t work that way. He is both or neither one at all. Please pray for us as we search for a new church. It seems that not very many churches today embrace the true gospel. You mentioned mid-week Bible study. Is that something we can access? Would love to be a part of it. Thank you for being an encouragement to our family.

    1. Angelia Angelia says:

      Hi Michelle – just saw this comment and my heart goes out to you and your family. Yes, we will be UStreaming our Bible Study tonight at 6:30 Central Time. Not sure where you are but you can go to UStream http://www.ustream.tv/channel/shepherds-hill-homestead – if you click “Follow” it will send you notices of when we are about to have an event. We will be broadcasting Sunday mornings and Thursday night. Our prayers are with you!

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