And Jesus answering said to them, Do you not therefore err, because you know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?
I. PRINCIPAL CAUSES OF RELIGIOUS ERROR.
1. Ignorance of Holy Scripture.
(1) Unaided human nature is prone to error. Bather might it be said that of itself human nature cannot possibly know the truth. We have but to remember the idola of which philosophy warns us, to perceive how much there is in the circumstances and very constitution of the human mind to interfere with the attainment of intellectual truth. Difficulties of this nature, however, may be practically overcome by diligence, candour, and careful study; and the phenomena of the senses will yield up the secret of their working to the educated thinker. But there are things beyond sense concerning which the methods of intellectual research can give us no information. The agnosticism of science concerning these things is therefore, as a whole, to be accepted as real. Were it not that there are moral as well as purely intellectual and constitutional causes for this ignorance, no fault need be found with it. But any view of mental error which omitted consideration of the fact of human depravity could not be considered adequate. The natural mind "loves darkness rather than light."
(2) Scripture is intended to correct human error. "The entrance of thy words giveth light" (Psalm 119:130). They reveal the existence, works, character, and purpose of God. By so doing they solve the mysteries attaching to human life and duty. They are the Word of God, anticipating and transcending the findings of the world's experience. This is done, not only by communicating what is above sensible perception, but by affording a discipline to the spiritual nature. "For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). "Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work" (2 Timothy in. 16). "Ye search the Scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me" (John 5:39).
2. Lack of spiritual experience. "Nor the power of God." This ignorance may consist partly in ignorance of the facts of the Divine history of mankind as recorded in Scripture; but it is chiefly due to absence of personal, experimental consciousness of God in the spiritual nature. It is the "darkness of the heart" which exaggerates and intensifies the effects of general ignorance. "The power of God" works its miracles in the inward as well as the outward life; in conversion, sanctification, communion, and providential grace.
II. IN WHOM THESE MAY EXIST. The Sadducees were, according to the standards of their day, educated men. With the letter of the books of Moses they were familiar (ver. 26); and they were most careful to preserve them from addition or intermixture.
1. Highly educated men may err in Divine things. "Thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes" (Matthew 11:25). Secular culture has not furnished an atom of the transcendental knowledge upon which religion is based; the Bible is not its product, nor can it be interpreted by it. Yet is not literature, art, or science to be discarded as a secondary aid to the interpretation of Scripture. If God does not require our knowledge, neither does he, as it has been finely said, require our ignorance.
2. There are many who know the letter of God's Word without knowing its spirit. Religious training may bestow an acquaintance with Scriptural history and doctrine and the chief outlines of moral duty, but it cannot ensure the inward knowledge of the heart. The interpretation of Scripture is only possible to those who are spiritually enlightened. Knowing the Bible externally may actually prove a hindrance to an inward knowledge of it, if it be made too much of, or imagined sufficient in itself. Superficial acquaintance with Biblical literature, doctrine, etc., "puffeth up;" and it requires the sternest and most frequent assaults ere its true character is exposed to itself.
III. HOW THEY ARE TO BE REMOVED.
1. The teaching of Christ; awakening a sense of inward need and repentance, and revealing the correspondence of the Word of God to the expanding and maturing spiritual consciousness.
2. The gift of the Holy Spirit; which takes of the things of God and reveals them to us. "Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man, whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Not least of the enlightening influence of the Holy Ghost is due to the purification of the heart. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God?