Another thing this verse implies is that one can be both barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ. There is theoretical knowledge of Christ, such as one who studies world religions and Christianity among them, from a purely intellectual standpoint, and then there is the saving knowledge of Christ, which transforms an individual from the inward parts, and sanctifies them.
An intellectual curiosity, a theoretical knowledge, a tangential inquiry into the person and nature of Christ Jesus, is both barren and unfruitful if it does not lead to the truth of who Jesus is, what He did on the cross, and why He must be made Lord and King of one’s life.
Because the knowledge many possess is one which is both barren and unfruitful, they see Jesus as something less than He is, and as consequence retain not an ounce of the requisite reverence one must have for the Son of God.
Because reverence for Christ is lacking, so is the impetus to obey Him rather than our own wants when the two happen to diverge and go their separate ways. This is largely the reason we see so many aberrant teachings, doctrines, and practices within the church, and why so many people are utterly confused as to what their lives ought to be even though Jesus made it very plain and readily understood in His teachings.
Lack of reverence leads to absence of obedience, and absence of obedience ultimately leads to rebellion when we don’t like what God is asking of us, or when we think the Word of God is perhaps too harsh or too narrow for our taste.
A barren and unfruitful knowledge of Christ will, sooner or later, be evident in the actions, conduct, and thought process of the individual. I realize it’s popular nowadays to fake it until you make it, but you can’t fake intimacy with God, you can’t fake fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and you can’t fake a relationship with Christ Jesus. Yes, one can fake it for a day, a week, a month, a year, or for as long as the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and there is not a cloud of trouble in the sky, but once the storm clouds gather, once the sun stops shining, once the birds start falling from the sky, the obviousness of one’s unfruitful and barren knowledge of Christ will be evident to all.
When one’s knowledge of Christ is barren and unfruitful there will be no transformation within the heart of the individual. True knowledge of Christ produces fruit, it produces change, it produces repentance and humility and obedience and worshipfulness.
I hate to break it to you, but all the folks who raised their hands at a crusade at some point in their lives but never did anything to pursue Christ afterwards – all the while thinking themselves saved and sanctified – have a barren and unfruitful knowledge of Christ just as Peter said.
True knowledge of Jesus compels individuals to see their sinful nature and acknowledge their absolute need for a savior. When we look into the mirror of God’s Word, when we look into the mirror that is Jesus, we see the hideousness that sin made of us, and come to understand that in order to look different, in order to be more like Christ, change is mandatory, repentance is a must, and a righteous and holy walk are a given.
When there is no compulsion to, or necessity for transformation, when there is no urgency, hunger, and desire to know more of Jesus every day, then the knowledge of Christ we’ve acquired is barren and unfruitful. Not only does that knowledge not produce fruit, it is unable to produce fruit until our knowledge of Him goes deeper.
Before I start getting the hate mail again, I would urge you to grab a dictionary and look up the word ‘barren’.
My dictionary, albeit not the latest version of Webster’s but still good enough for a reference, tells me the word barren means infertile, sterile, arid, fruitless, unproductive, or without capacity to produce.
Since I still believe that every word in the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore the full meaning of the chosen verbiage must be acknowledged, I do believe Peter is saying that a superficial knowledge of Jesus makes one incapable of producing fruit. It makes them sterile, unproductive, something Jesus Himself said would have to be cut down and cast into the fire if not remedied.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.