One of the main characters in the Netflix original series, Luke Cage, is Willis Stryker, aka “Diamondback.” One of the things that is really interesting about Diamondback is that he really knows his Bible. In fact at one point he gives it to someone to read and you can see that it has been well read. There are highlights in different colors, underlining, circled words, and notes on every page. He has large portions of Scripture memorized, and can quote it on demand. His favorite song was “Son of a Preacher Man.” In fact he was the son of a Baptist pastor.
But growing up in church, being the son of a preacher, and all that Bible reading did not make him a Christian, or even a God-fearing man. Willis, in fact, is the big bad guy.
Diamondback may be fiction, but his charter illustrates an important biblical truth. The Pharisees had great biblical knowledge, grew up in the synagogue, had great portions of Scripture memorized, and spent a great deal of time studying the Bible. They may have been moral, but they were far from godly. At one point Jesus confronted them directly on this point, telling them,
You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life (John 5:39-40, NIV).
When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Satan used Scripture to tempt Him (Matthew 4:5-6). James says in 2:19 (NIV), You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
We are never told in Scripture to judge a person by their parents, by their habits, by their church attendance, or by their knowledge of the Bible. Jesus said, we will know a person as being godly, as being a Christian by their fruit, and that fruit is love. He told His disciples in John 13:34-35 (NIV), A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
If you had Christian parents, if you grew up in the church, if you read your Bible every day and you study, memorize it, and quote it, but don’t have love, you’re no better than Diamondback, no better off than the Pharisees, and have no knowledge that Satan doesn’t have.