THE CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE
God gave us a mind that can receive knowledge.
But He wanted us to know what is useful and of benefit to us, and also what may be of use and benefit to others; whether individuals or groups.
However, the problem that faced man from the beginning was that he wanted to know everything, even to know evil. The first man knew only good, but when he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he knew also evil and thus caused harm to himself.
Be sure of the soundness of any knowledge you receive. Be sure of its benefit before accepting it.
Know also that knowledge is not a goal in itself but a
means for your benefit. So choose this kind of useful
Kinds of knowledge:
There is a sensuous knowledge which comes to
through senses. People know it by sight, touch, smell or hearing. Another kind of knowledge comes through the mind by study or inference.
Some knowledge is a kind of divine manifestation or divine revelation:
God reveals to His holy people what He wants them to
know. He does this through the Holy Spirit of which it is
said in the Book of Isaiah the Prophet, "the Spirit of
wisdom and understanding... the Spirit of knowledge"
This was the knowledge the Psalmist requested in his prayers : "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths" (Ps. 25:4).
It is the best knowledge of which we say in
the Liturgy of
St. Gregory, 'You have given me the ability to know
You'. Of this knowledge also the Lord Christ said in His
soliloquy with the Father, "And this is eternal life, that
they may know You, the only true God... " (John 17:3),
and also, "O righteous Father! The world has not known
You, but I have known You... " (John 17:25). In regards
to granting His disciples divine knowledge, "And I have
declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the
love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in
them" (John 17:26).
It is then the knowledge which leads to God's love and to God's dwelling in us.
A scientist is fond of seeking knowledge that gives an
idea, for example, about the moon and planets by
manufacturing very expensive spaceships, his fondness to
know God is much less. He becomes very happy when
he brings some stones from the moon or even some
photos, because these give some knowledge about nature
which is God's creation without enjoying God Himself.
The same can be said about many of the discoveries of
There is knowledge that comes from other sources.
It may come through books, newspapers, films, or other varied mass media. Knowledge may also come from friends or colleagues.
There is knowledge that comes through the devil.
The devil may cast such knowledge into the minds of people as he did with Eve. The devil may also give certain knowledge through a thought, a dream or through one of his supporters. The knowledge he gives may be false knowledge. It may also be true knowledge but the devil uses it for evil purposes.
A person may seek to obtain knowledge from the devil
through magic, calling up the dead or the spirits or by any
other means which the divine revelation prohibited,
"There shall not be found among you... Who practices
witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium,
or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who
do these things are an abomination to the Lord... "
King Saul was an example of those who fell into this sin when he sought knowledge from a woman who was a medium at En Dor (1 Sam. 28:7)
Other examples also are those who seek soothsayers,
palmists or clairvoyants, or those who read coffee cup,
call up spirits through hypnotism and the like; all of which
are described by God as "abominations of nations"
How do you know that such knowledge you obtain is truth and will not be used to lead you astray?
Know then that any information given to you
by the devil
is not freely given, nor without a wicked purpose to harm
you or to put you under his authority and leadership.
Another kind of knowledge is knowing yourself.
"Know yourself" is a wise saying by Socrates the Philosopher.
You can gain great benefits from knowing yourself.
When you know that you are dust and ash, you will be
humbled. When you are aware of your sins, you will be
regretful, repentful and contrite. When you know your nature and the wars within you, you will be able to overcome them. And when you know your talents, you will use them to glorify God.
There is also the knowledge of God's Holy Scriptures and Commandments.
St. Paul the Apostle said to his disciple St. Timothy,
"from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith... " (2 Tim. 3:15). This Scripture "is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).
Through knowing this Scripture, you will know the Lord's path and know how the saints walked it.
With such knowledge you will have wisdom and discernment.
You will know what is good for you and you will discern God's path from the devils deception and craftiness. And when you know this, "you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (1 Tim. 4:16).
Through this knowledge you will be able to
as St. John the Apostle said, "Do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because
many false prophets have gone out into the world"
(1 John 4:1).
Know others in order to know how to deal with them.
This applies to friendship, whether it be at work, socially, or within the family. You ought to know and be aware of the differing personalities and characters so that you may best know how to deal with each person. You should be aware of how to deal with adults, as well as understanding the nature of children.
Also, it is important to be aware of the psychology of,
say, the handicapped, the retarded, the orphaned, the
barren, and so on, so that you may best deal with each
Know God, and know that He sees you wherever
God knows your thoughts, your intentions, your desires
and your sins. If you know this, you will be ashamed of
every wicked thought or lustful desire. Put before you
the words which God repeats in all His messages to the
angels of the seven churches in Asia, "I know your works"
This knowledge is capable of bringing God's fear into your heart.
Be keen on knowing truth, and when you know it follow it.
How beautiful are the words of David the
Prophet in the
Psalm, "Open my eyes, that I may see ... Turn away my
eyes from looking at worthless things" (Ps. 119:18,37).
Try also to know the needs of people so that you may be able to provide for them.
Try to know the way of salvation, to walk its path and lead others onto the path as well.
Be aware of knowledge which may be beyond your spiritual level.
About this Job the Prophet said, "I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know" (Job 42:3).
Many people search theological matters beyond their spiritual level, so they deviate. Others search matters relating to the world of spirits and their thoughts lead them astray. You ought then to be humble. Search only matters that lead you to your salvation.
Some knowledge is very harmful like that in which our
father Adam and our mother Eve fell. It led them to lose
their innocence and simplicity and live in the dualism of
good and evil, truth and falsity, the lawful and the
unlawful. Their children lived and still live in this dualism
up to the present day.
True then are the words of the Wise Solomon
in the book
of Ecclesiastes, "For in much wisdom is much grief"
These words relate to the knowledge of harmful things
that are of no benefit to a person, but may actually cause
him harm. At times he may claim that such knowledge is
merely general knowledge, not realizing its danger!
Therefore one of the spiritual fathers said the following
beneficial words : 'Sometimes we make an effort to know
things for which we shall not be condemned on the Day
of Judgment for ignorance thereof . If we are not to be
condemned for not knowing these matters, how much
rather shall we be condemned for knowing things that are
harmful for us and that have a bad impact on us?'
Keep in mind the consequences of such harmful knowledge.
Whatever knowledge comes to your mind will
senses and feelings, and will affect your relationship with
others. Moreover, such knowledge will be stored in your
This knowledge will affect and influence your
subconscious in the form of suspicions, thoughts or
dreams. It will extend within you and outside to a great
extent and you may not be able to stop it or its harmful
Therefore we should use our intellect in accepting only matters which are of benefit to us and to others.
Many people wept and regretted knowledge which have been stored in their minds.
They wished they would have not known such things
whether by reading about it or experiencing through the
senses. They feel at a loss as to how to remove such
knowledge from their minds after it being implanted in
An example is those who fall into drug addiction, and are unable to get out of it.
Some kind of knowledge changes one's look to various matters and even to certain people.
Our mother Eve, after taking the harmful, deceitful knowledge from the serpent, changed her perception towards the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which was in the midst of the garden and which she perhaps was everyday.
After such knowledge, Eve "saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise" (Gen. 3:6).
After her perception towards the tree changed, lust
entered into her heart to eat of it. So, "she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate."
Another kind of harmful knowledge is doubt. A scientist once said, 'It is easy for doubt to enter one's mind. But it is difficult to cast it out.'
So, if you give an ear to someone who throws doubt in
your heart regarding a certain person, by making false
accusations, or if you indulge in reading harmful material
which might make you suspicious concerning your faith
or the Scriptures, you will have to exert much effort to
rid yourself of such suspicions. This doubtfulness might
last a long time, until God's grace visits you and relieves
you of your suspicions.
A person should, therefore, be careful in choosing the source of his knowledge.
Keep your mind pure and do not blot it with harmful
knowledge. Be very careful regarding what you read,
hear or see; and be careful in choosing the friends who
impart knowledge or bring you harmful experiences,
harmful information or inappropriate thoughts. Do not
let such knowledge abide in your mind except after being
completely assured of it and after ascertaining what is
true and what is false.
Do not think that thoughts are of no concern, for thoughts often bring forth many other thoughts.
One word which comes to your mind may, for example, produce a story or more. Know then that protecting oneself from a thought is much better than accepting it and later having to rid yourself of it.
Be very careful regarding the transfer of knowledge and thoughts.
Some harmful knowledge may come to you, and
turn transfer it to another and cause him harm. After
suffering from this knowledge, you try to rid yourself of
it, and by God's grace you do, however, what about the
other person you have relayed this harmful information
to? You will be condemned for the harm you caused to
the other person. In this case, your sin did not harmed
you but has harmed the person you transferred that
harmful knowledge to.
It is your past which follows you; the harmful knowledge you have spread, whether by speech, writing or other means.
Those who commit the sin of judging and
by conveying wrong things about them, or speaking
about their mistakes, will be tortured by their conscience
which may awaken them and reprove them for what they
This applies also to those who invent or spread rumours
for the intention of either harming others, or simply for sinful amusement. They speak about the secrets of other
people, and may even add their imagination to the story.
Knowledge of trivialities:
Your brain is like a computer with a certain capacity for collecting data.
So, you ought not occupy a large part of it with
trivialities which may hinder from storing useful things.
Keep only what you need or what is necessary for your life, and serves a useful purpose, and know that whatever you keep in your mind will certainly be revealed whether intentionally or unintentionally. There may be some information kept in your subconscience some years ago and you find them coming out unexpectedly on any occasion you are not prepared for.
Some use their minds in collecting futile and vain knowledge.
This may not be in itself a sin, but such knowledge occupies the mind with trivialities and distracts it from spiritual and theological matters.
It thus hinders the mind from positive work which builds your spiritual life and prevents the mind from useful contemplations.
These people may also transfer such trivial knowledge to others.
They transfer it through their conversation with others which is of no benefit. It is merely the wasting of time which can be used in other productive things.
I wish you would only occupy your mind with constructive knowledge which would help strengthen your personality, elevate your feelings and promote your spiritualities, and which will be useful to humanity or to the community in which you live.
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