Ignorance Enjoined

From Ignorance Enjoined by Arthur W. Pink, 1947

The way of the wicked is as darkness—but the way of the righteous is as light—open and above-board. Truth courts investigation and challenges the closest scrutiny. Spiritists may prefer the darkened room, and the poor dupes of the Pope admire the secret confessional; but “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech” (Proverbs 1:20-21).

Nevertheless, there is an ignorance which is desirable and which serves as a protection to those who maintain it. There is an ignorance of which no Christian needs be ashamed, yes, one which the Holy Spirit has enjoined, and therefore is praiseworthy. “I want you to be wise about what is good—and simple about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

In the context, the apostle had warned the saints to be on their guard against false teachers, and to “avoid” those who propagated that which is “contrary to the doctrine which you have learned”: men who deceive the hearts of the simple (or unwary) “by good words and fair speeches,” but who “serve not our Lord” (Romans 16:17-18). It was not that Paul deemed them unestablished in the Faith, or unstable therein; rather, did he affirm “for your obedience [faith and practical response to the will of God, as it was made known to them by His messengers] is come abroad unto all men,” which commendation he supplemented with, “I am glad therefore on your behalf.” Yet being solicitous of their welfare with a godly jealousy, he added, “I want you to be wise about what is good—and simple about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

Your reception of the Gospel and responsiveness unto the truth is well known, and evil men are likely to take advantage of this: see to it then that your docility is coupled with prudence, and be watchful of those who would corrupt you. “I want you to be wise about what is good.” Let that be your all-absorbing quest: be intelligent —both in knowledge and practice—in the Word and ways of God, so that you are fitted to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

“And simple about what is evil.” “Simple” is here opposed to “wise,” and so must signify unknowing and unpracticed in the ways of sin. In the light of the preceding verses, the primary reference is to the evil doctrine of false teachers—be content to remain uninformed, unacquainted with anything that would pollute your faith. But in view of what immediately follows, “and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20), it obviously has a wider meaning: remain ignorant of everything which would defile your pure minds. Handley Moule renders it “uncontaminated” [by defiling knowledge] as to what is evil.” To appeal to your curiosity, to occupy your minds with what is foul, to get your hearts absorbed with evil rather than good—is one of the principal stratagems of the great Enemy.

This divine warning is much needed today. Let us point out a threefold application of “I want you to be…simple concerning evil.”

First, of doctrinal evil. There is a great deal of false teaching, often in a novel and attractive dress, now being disseminated both orally and by the printed page. Some of its leading promulgators have acquired a considerable reputation for their learning, originality, oratory, and pleasing personality. They draw big crowds, and some of God’s people—though they have been warned against their errors—determine to give these men a hearing; and often, the consequences are most injurious—in no case are they harmless.

It is to that spirit of inquisitiveness, that the devil applies his temptation, as it is against the exercise thereof we are expressly commanded “from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5). Not to do so is to parley with what is deadly for the soul. If you have begun to yield—then the divine Word is “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27); if you do not, disastrous will be the outcome. If unfallen Eve could be beguiled by lies—how much easier for you to be deceived if you deliberately expose yourself unto error! We should not even read error.

There are those who would be ashamed to be seen attending meetings where known error was taught, who nevertheless do not hesitate to peruse a book written by an errorist. Priding themselves that they are too well grounded in the Faith to be shaken—yet curious and desirous of ascertaining just what this man or this sect teaches, not a few purchase their pernicious literature; and to make it easier for them to do so, Satan often sends the purveyors of such to their door.

We have personally met more than one who was reared in orthodoxy, who bought or borrowed a “Christadelphian,” “Russellite,” or “Seventh-day Adventist” book, and later became an ardent supporter of their lies! The devil ensnares many in this way.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Ignorance Enjoined

  1. dawnmarie4

    Reblogged this on Take A Look.

  2. Amazing that this was written many years ago, but still holds true today. I am reminded of the children’s song, be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear!
    People have grown far too accepting of false teaching because they like the person who is doing the teaching, because that person seems nice or that person is from the same background as they are. If these false teachers can get you to relate to them in some way, pull your heart strings in some way they are in! Like the Orkin commercial where the roach comes to the door with the pizza!

    Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!

    That is pretty strong wording there, even if an angel from heaven preaches to you a contrary gospel, he or she is to be accursed.

    Matthew 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.

    Be on your guard, false teachers are abounding! There have always been false teachers but they are growing in number and they are getting more difficult to spot, they are crafty. We have to be prepare ourselves daily with the full armor of God so that we can recognize these false teachers, warn others about them and avoid them.

  3. This is SO timely! I am writing an article on the “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon. Someone posed the question, “How can you intelligently discuss the issue if you have not read the book?” (If you are unfamiliar with the series, it is wicked; just wicked in every sense of the word.) Pink articulated an apt response when he fell upon Scripture: ““I want you to be wise about what is good—and simple about what is evil” (Romans 16:19). Know the Word and you know what is good; know the Word and you can discern what is not. Excellent. Thank you SO much!

    • Teresa

      I am so sickened and saddened that Christian women are lining up to read “Fifty shades”. I love that quote by Pink….that is excellent!
      And you are so very welcome.

  4. This is so applicable today. Thanks for sharing this, Teresa.

  5. Found this courtesy of Dawnmarie. I believe I will follow this blog as well. While I have found it useful to be able to refute specific doctrines of false religions in an apologetics sense, I also agree that we need know nothing really, other than what is true, present that truth and allow God in his sovereignty apply it to hearts. We don’t need the literature of false religjons, although I have some on my shelf and it has been useful to be able to compare it side by side with scripture and allow it to ‘condemn itself’ in the light of what is true.

    • Teresa

      Hello Born4Battle! Thanks for stopping by! I agree we don’t need the “heretical book” section in our personal libraries, I have a few books that would certainly condemn themselves as you put it.

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