“You don’t know what you don’t know,” wrote Socrates. I think we all know just how true this is. For instance, 20 years ago I had no idea what issues of sanctification I would be struggling with today, and while by God’s grace I am making good progress in a lot of areas, there are (and this is what surprises me) new areas I knew nothing about before He revealed them to me. In fact, had I tried back then to predict what I would be battling now, I see that I would have been completely wrong. I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
I think the same is true for the believers living in Ephesus at the time Paul visits them in Acts 19:11-40. They are trusting in Jesus for their salvation from sin, but they are still mixed up in a variety of sinful lifestyle choices (their areas of sin range from generic “practices” or “sustained wicked doings” to specific “magic arts”). And while I obviously can’t say for sure, it’s my belief that they woke up in the morning on the day mentioned in verses 17-18 and thought they were doing pretty well in their devotion to Christ, and probably couldn’t imagine that there would be any major areas of sin needing to be dealt with. (Along the lines of “You don’t know what you don’t know,” I remember a friend who became a Christian in college and thought for a long time that living with someone and having pre-marital sex was okay. It wasn’t until someone pointed out the Biblical teaching that my friend realized this to be unacceptable behavior for a Christ-follower. My friend simply didn’t know!) But all of that changes for these first-century Christians when God deals with their hearts somewhere in the middle of these two verses!
A wise pastor used to say that we are all “better than some and worse than others.” How true that is. And what’s also true, as this passage points out, is that we are often unaware of the areas where we are deficient in our measuring up to the perfect and righteous standards of our holy God. Because of that, it’s so important that we remain sensitive to His working in our lives by letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16), by letting the word of God judge the thoughts and intentions of our heart (Hebrews 4:12), by asking the Holy Spirit to search us and show us those areas of our lives we do not know are areas of our lives (Psalm 139:23-24), and by doing what Pastor Jeremy is going to write about tomorrow.
Your assignment today is to pray for a sensitive heart that responds correctly when God gives you recognition into areas of your life needing attention and of which you were previously unaware. I know, I know, it takes courage sometimes to face new areas of growth, but God is a merciful revealer of these kinds of things.
Connection and Growth Pastor