Better Not to Know

Better Not to KnowText: 2 Peter 2:20-21

Some people say that “ignorance is bliss.” The Bible does not teach this, but it does say there can be times when it is better not to know something in certain circumstances. It is not that “not knowing” is to be preferred in every case, but knowing changes things. Knowing certain things affects our responsibility in a way that we cannot go back to what it was before. We will consider three such examples in this lesson.

Better Not to Know Sin (Romans 7:9-11)

  • Paul described a time when he did not know sin – sin is defined by the Law (Romans 7:7); knowledge gave sin an opportunity (Romans 7:8-11); knowing what is right and not doing it is sin (James 4:17)
  • Why were we better off before we knew? – not yet accountable to choose for ourselves (cf. Isaiah 7:16); therefore, we were “safe” and not guilty of sin (Romans 6:23); this is the state of childhood innocence (Matthew 18:3; 1 Corinthians 14:20)
  • What new responsibilities come with this knowledge? – must choose right from wrong (cf. Isaiah 7:16); must obtain the remedy for sin, forgiveness in Christ (Acts 2:37-38; 22:16)
  • Once we recognize our sin, we must not continue in it (Romans 6:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) – we must do what God has said to be forgiven of our sin (Acts 2:38; 8:22)

Better Not to Know of Questionable Circumstances (1 Corinthians 10:25-29)

  • Paul described the liberty to eat meat – already explained that eating meat sacrificed to idols was not wrong (1 Corinthians 8:4-8); if someone said it was sacrificed to idols, they were not to eat for the sake of the other’s conscience
  • Why were we better off before we knew? – able to freely exercise our liberty in Christ (2 Corinthians 3:17); this is not a license to sin (Jude 4), but freedom from the commandments/opinions of men (Colossians 2:20-23)
  • What new responsibilities come with this knowledge? – must consider the other’s conscience (1 Corinthians 8:9); one can sin by violating his conscience (Romans 14:23); we can be guilty of leading him to that (1 Corinthians 8:10-12)
  • Once we know a brother has a conscientious objection to a matter of liberty, we must abstain (1 Corinthians 10:31-33; 8:13) – a thing can be right/harmless in itself, but wrong if it causes another to stumble (Romans 14:13-16)

Better Not to Know the Way of Righteousness (2 Peter 2:20-22)

  • Peter described those who obeyed the gospel, but fell away – condition was worse than before they obeyed; before and after, they were not faithful to the Lord; but they were better off previously
  • Why were we better off before we knew? – after all, this is the way of salvation (Romans 1:16); there problem here is that we have rejected the way of righteousness (Hebrews 6:4-6); rejecting this after first accepting it leads to a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2)
  • What new responsibilities come with this knowledge? – must make a decision (Matthew 7:13-14); not that this is completely “new,” but it is more up to us than ever (cf. Hebrews 6:6)
  • Once we know the way of righteousness, we must continue in it (John 8:31; Revelation 2:10) – if we fall away, we must repent and return to the Lord (Acts 8:22; Revelation 2:5)


  • This lesson is not meant to promote the benefits of ignorance
  • Instead, it is about recognizing the responsibilities that come with knowledge – knowing sin, we must turn from it; knowing a brother’s doubts/weaknesses, we must take care with our liberties; knowing the way of righteousness, we must continue in it
  • We cannot decide to ignore these responsibilities or pretend like we never knew – ignorant or not, sin condemns us (cf. Romans 6:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:8); we need to make sure we are serving God as we know we should

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