BY PASTOR T.O. BANSO
“But if any person loves God, that person is known by God” (1 Cor. 8:3 NCV). The Greek word for known in that passage is ginosko (ghin-oce’-ko). It means to “know (absolutely) in a great variety of applications and with many implications” (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary). But it is important to note that the same word ginosko is used to express the idea of sexual relations between husband and wife. For example, Matt. 1:25 says Joseph did not know Mary till she had brought forth her firstborn Son, and he called His name JESUS. That means Joseph did not have sexual relations with Mary, and in human context, sexual relations take place in the closet not in the open.
There is a similar usage of “know” for sexual relations in the Old Testament. Gen. 4:25 says, “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and named him Seth.” (NKJV) Gen. 4:17 says, “And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch” (NKJV). The Hebrew word translated knew is yada meaning to “know (properly, to ascertain by seeing); used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially (including observation, care, recognition; and causatively, instruction, designation, punishment” (Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary). The Hebrew word yada is similar to the Greek version – both are used to mean sexual relations among others.
From the usage, we see that ginosko conveys the idea of intimacy. In the context of Joseph and Mary, it means sexual intimacy, and as used in 1 Cor. 8:3, it suggests intimacy between God and the lover of God. Does God intimately know you?
Matt 7:21-23 says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (NKJV). Take note of that phrase “I never knew you.” That means all the while they were full of supposed spiritual activities, laboring for God, God never knew them. How sad this could be that all their labour meant nothing to God! They were absorbed, engrossed in their self-serving activities and didn’t bother to do what would make God know them i-e have intimate relationship with them. They didn’t bother to know Him so He didn’t know them. There are those God used to know but He doesn’t know them again – they are no longer in communion with God though they could continue to be busy with the “work of God” without fellowship with the God of the work. They used to know God but now they are too busy doing “God’s work” that they don’t know the owner of the work they’re doing!
You must never mistake activities for God’s presence; busyness for God does not mean Heaven is pleased with you. His presence is not always in the wind, earthquake or fire but in a still small voice. “‘Go out and stand before me on the mountain,’ the LORD told him. And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave” (1 Kings 19:11-12 NLT). Be silent (be still) and know that He is God! (Ps 46:10). In quietness and confidence is your strength (Isa 30:15). Do you have time for relations (ginosko or yada) with God in your closet? Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly (Matt 6:4, 6, 18).
In Jesus’ reply to a question on if a few people would be saved, he said, “The door to heaven is narrow. Work hard to get in, because many will try to enter, but when the head of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. Then you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I do not know you.’ You will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you. Go away, all you who do evil.’ And there will be great weeping and gnashing of teeth, for you will see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets within the Kingdom of God, but you will be thrown out. Then people will come from all over the world to take their places in the Kingdom of God. And note this: Some who are despised now will be greatly honored then; and some who are greatly honored now will be despised then” (Luke 13:24-30 NLT). Did you see that phrase, “I don’t know you”? Actually in this case, the verb “know” there in Greek is eido meaning to see. These people who were shut outside thought familiarity with Jesus and his ministry – eating and drinking with him and awareness of his itinerary – was the same as salvation or personal relationship with him. But Jesus doesn’t see such people – he doesn’t know them. Church attendance, sowing seeds or financial contribution to a ministry, etc is not same as having personal relationship with Jesus.
Sacrifice is required
After many years of being saved and serving in the vineyard of God, Paul still had a hunger to know Christ. He said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil 3:10-11 NKJV). Again, the Greek word translated “know” in this scripture is ginosko, a word used for sexual relations.
If you read the preceding verses to Phil 3:10-11, you will see that Paul had to make sacrifice so as to be able to know Christ. He had to forgo certain credentials that others were celebrating but which he knew would hinder him from knowing Christ.
If you’ll know God and God will know you, if there will be intimacy between you and God, you must be ready to let go of certain things – some relationships, pleasure, busy schedule, etc. There will always be an opportunity cost – alternative forgone. And you’ll only do that if you appreciate the value of truly knowing God as opposed to merely making spurious claim; you must also appreciate the value of God knowing you. Do you place more value on knowing God and God knowing you than anything else? Hear Paul talk in Phil 3:3-10 about what he let go: “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; 6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith” (NKJV).
Desire more of God
For you to have an intimate relationship with God that will make God say, “I know (knew) him or her” it will always cost you something. The Bible calls Abraham the friend of God (2 Chron 20:7, James 2:23). But it cost him something.
In Gen 12:1, God told him to get out of his country, from his family and from his father’s house to a land that He would show him and verse 4 says Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him. Do not think it was easy for him. It might have been difficult but it was not impossible so he went. Abraham did not become a friend of God overnight; it cost him obedience to God in faith.
Abraham departed his country, from his family and from his father’s house when he was seventy-five years old, and twenty four years later God was still challenging him for more intimate relationship with him. Gen 17:1-3 says, “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, ‘I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.’ Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him” (NKJV). Abraham submitted to God. He didn’t say he had tried his best. Where are you in your walk with God? Are you more intimate with God now than when you started or the reverse is the case? Have you become complacent because it is now ten years or twenty years you started? After twenty-four years of Abraham’s walk with God, all he received from Him was a further challenge for more intimacy.
I never knew you
Let’s go back to Matt 7:21-23 which says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (NKJV) I want us to focus on that word “Lord.” According to Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary, the Greek word translated Lord is kurios (koo’-ree-os) which means “supreme in authority or controller.” The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database defines kurios as someone “to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding; master, lord.”
Those referred to in this scripture called him “Lord, Lord” but were not submitted to his authority. They merely called him “Lord, Lord” with their mouth but their hearts were far away from him. Jesus said, “Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matt 15:7-8, NKJV). Jesus actually quoted from Isa 29:13 which says, “Therefore the Lord said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men’” (NKJV).
These hypocrites in Matt 7:21-23 prophesied, cast out devils and did miracles in the name of the Lord. That means they were not outsiders like the seven sons of Sceva who attempted to cast out a demon in the name of Jesus whom Paul preached but the demon leapt on them and tore them naked. Acts 19:13-18 tells us the story: “Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, ‘We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?’ 16 Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (NKJV).
But no such scandal was recorded concerning these people Jesus talked about in Matt 7:21-23. Obviously, they were not outsiders; they had relationship with the Lord but they practiced lawlessness (Matt 7:23).They were not under his supreme authority; he was not their controller; they did not act as if they belonged to him and he had the power to make decisions concerning them; he wasn’t their Master or Lord therefore they did whatever they liked. They didn’t do his will; they did their own will. They didn’t cultivate intimacy to know His will and do it.
Jesus devoted himself to doing the will of his Father and obeying his commandments (John 6:38, 4:34 5:19, 14:31, 15:10, Matt 26:39). His followers ought to make doing the will of the Father their number one priority otherwise they will be pursuing their selfish agenda. No matter how great the work such a person claims to be doing for God, he or she will still receive from God the same verdict: I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!
The Lord knows those who are His
Back to 1 Cor 8:3. “But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him” (NKJV). John 5:42 says, “But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you” (NKJV). The Ephesian church was commended for her works but she was rebuked for leaving her first love (Rev 2:4-5). Jesus said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt 22:37-40 NKJV).
The question is: How do we love God? John 14:15 says, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (NLT).You love God by obeying His commandments or His Word. If you love Him; you’ll keep His commandments.
Luke 6:46 says, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (NKJV) Don’t forget the Greek word translated Lord is kurios (koo’-ree-os) which means “he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding; master, lord” or “supreme in authority or controller.” How can you claim that someone is your Lord i-e someone who owns you, someone supreme in authority over you or your controller and you won’t do what he says? Obviously he is not your Lord. Lordship demands recognition of and submission to his supreme authority. It is either He is Lord indeed or is not Lord at all. Those who call him “Lord, Lord” but do their own thing, not doing what He says are not known by him; he doesn’t know them intimately. They may just know about him but they can’t claim to be his bosom friends. John 15:14 says, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (KJV). Those who call him “Lord, Lord” but don’t obey his commands don’t love him. If they do, as we’ve seen in John 14:15, they’ll obey his commandments.
2 Tim 2:19 says, “Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity’” (NKJV). Does God know you? Please take note of that phrase in that scripture, “The Lord knows those who are His.” Again the Greek word translated knows in that phrase in this verse is ginosko which suggests intimacy. That means the Lord has intimate knowledge of those who are His. God has intimate relationship with those who are His. You may claim you know God but does God know you? Claiming to know God when He doesn’t know you is tantamount to name-dropping! Does God testify that He knows you? Paul wrote to the Galatians, “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?” (Gal 4:9-10 NKJV).
Conclusion: This year, love God enough to spend time with Him to hear worship Him, to learn at his feet and for Him to speak into your life, to lead you, to guide you, to correct you, to share with you His will so that you don’t go about doing your own will while thinking you’re serving Him.
Live your life with the understanding that He truly owns you. Let him be supreme in your life. Let him be your controller. Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture” (NKJV). Rev 4:11 says, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power. For you created everything, and it is for your pleasure that they exist and were created” (NLT).
If you’re not born again, you need to make yourself ready for eternity. I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things becoming all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523