But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought
him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37 ESV)
And he said to them,“You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15 ESV)
It is possible, even likely, to know the truth inside and out, and yet not be a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. The example above points this out very clearly. Here is a very religious man who knew the right answers—he would have been the seminary student graduating with honors—but he placed himself above the Son of God and Scripture. He acted as a prosecuting attorney by putting the Lord to the test. He also sought to justify himself … “who is my neighbor?” All this demonstrates the religious leader’s insincerity, pride, and unbelief. His chief concern was not to be sure he was growing if faith and obedience. He just wanted to show off how much he knew.
The Puritan, Thomas Watson, powerfully summarized the difference between knowing and doing when he wrote: “Knowing God's will may make a man admired, but it is doing it that makes him blessed. …The bare knowledge of
God's will is inefficacious [unable to bring about a desired change; useless]; it does not better the heart. Knowledge alone is like a winter-sun, which has no heat or influence; it does not warm the affections, or purify the conscience. Judas was a great luminary, he knew God's will, but he was a traitor. Knowing without doing God's will, will make the case worse. It will heat hell the hotter. ‘That servant which knew his Lord's will,’ and did it not, ‘shall be beaten with many stripes’ (Luke 12: 47). Many a man's knowledge is a torch to light him to hell.”
It's very appropriate to ask ourselves, "What is the purpose of all these Bible studies and learning?" Are they actually helping us grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ or simply hardening our hearts in pride and stoking the flames of hell? Let's not fool ourselves "but be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving [ourselves]. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing" (James 1:22-25 ESV).