Recently my daughter’s family decided to have hobo dinners. For those that may not know what that that is – Hobo dinners are foil pack meals that usually contain hamburger, potatoes, and carrots. The foil pack is laid on the coals of a campfire to cook. In this case their campfire is built in a fire pit made of a shallow steel bowl resting on four legs. Rebekah, our daughter, dutifully warned two and a half year old Eli, to stay away from the fire pit because it was hot and he would be hurt if he touched it. Now, Eli took his mother’s warning to heart. A little while later Rebekah approached the fire pit to place the hobo dinners on the coals. Eli, very serious and frightened, warned his mother that she should not get any closer to the fire.
Like wisdom there is a knowledge gained through human learning and experience and spiritual knowledge imparted by the Holy Spirit. We are told in scripture that knowledge puffs up or makes one arrogant (1 Corinthians 8:1). This is not to denigrate knowledge but to put it in its proper place with love. Paul writes, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5, NASB95) We all have knowledge, we all know things, sometimes well, sometimes wrongly, sometimes deeply, sometimes incompletely. Most of us know that if we flip a light switch a lamp will produce light, a few understand how that happens, a select few intimately know the machinery of electrical generation and supply that makes it possible. Is the person with complete knowledge better than the one with simple knowledge? Not when it comes to flipping a light switch. But if the generator needs repair or adjustment the more knowledgeable person is desired. The Holy Spirit is knowledgeable way above and beyond our human knowledge. Like wisdom, the Spirit provides knowledge, when and as He wills. Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26, NASB95)
In Isaiah 11:1-2 knowledge is paired with the fear of the Lord. Likewise, Proverbs states, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7, NASB95) In our rational era this may not make sense. There are plenty of ways to gain knowledge without the fear of the Lord. True, but without the fear of the Lord it is impossible to rise above mechanical knowledge and answer the important questions we all share. Parents understand this. Who hasn’t had a three year old quiz them on why. Why is the sky blue? Why is it bedtime? Why? Why? Why? And many a parent, having reached the end of their rope, firmly state – “because I say so.” Even Jesus submitted Himself to the fear of the Lord. Jesus said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”” (John 12:49–50, NASB95) We all want answers but we also want to rationalize our sin. The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord will reveal answers and challenge our twisted logic if we allow it, but you can’t have one without the other. If we don’t submit to the Spirit about our sin; we won’t hear or understand His answers to the deep questions of life. As the psalmist wrote, “Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:3, NASB95)