2 Peter 1
“For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)
Paul remonstrates, “Don’t you know?” (Rom. 6:16). His readers ought to know what happened when they came to Christ, and they ought to know how to live godly lives today – but maybe they do not. So Paul explains. In fact, the abundance of biblical teaching on the subject of sanctification implies that it is possible to be ignorant, that a person needs to learn what is right and wrong and how to do right.
But there is little direct teaching about the problem of ignorance, especially as a reason for one’s failure to live like a normal Christian. Perhaps the lack is because there is a moral responsibility for ignorance. A new believer may be excused for ignorance and spiritually infantile behavior (Heb. 5:11-6:3), but to continue in that condition is not only unnecessary but also wrong (2 Peter 1:5-9, 12-13, 15, 3:1-2). In other words, to some degree a person is responsible for their ignorance about their own sub-Christian condition, about God’s provision for successful Christian living, and about their own responsibility to appropriate that provision. If they were responding to the light they had, God would be providing all the information they need to keep progressing in a normal Christian life.
Having said this, however, I recognize that many Christians have never been exposed to teaching concerning the possibility and necessity of a life that overcomes our own inclination to wrong choices. They need to be enlightened. At the point of enlightenment, the root cause of failure becomes clear. If the root cause is primarily ignorance, there will be an immediate response to the new information. Accepting it and living by it. If, on the other hand, the true reason all along has been disobedience or unbelief, masquerading under the guise of ignorance, there will be resistance to any exhortation to repent or to trust God for a radically different quality of life. Because a common cause of failed expectations in the Christian life is ignorance of the possibilities and resources, God’s people need constant instruction. The more common and more basic the reason for failure, however, is unbelief.
Which is it for you? Ignorance about God’s standard and God’s provision? Pursue knowledge of God’s word and ways that you might respond in faith and live differently. Perhaps it is unbelief, you are not quite convinced God can really change your life. Or active rebellion. This cause for failure in the Christian life is easiest to identify. God is still available; He has not changed and He is capable of winning the conflict. No one who is deliberately rejecting the known will of God in one area of life can expect to receive His enabling to live supernaturally in other areas, a truth that most Christians who are actively rebellious know. Why not settle the issue now? What keeps you from becoming all God wants for you?