In a previous post we discussed the need to study the Bible more than just twice a week at the scheduled assemblies of the church. If one limits his or her Bible study to the times that the church is gathered, one’s Bible study has probably gone wrong. However, limited affiliation with the scriptures is not the only time that one’s effort to study the scriptures properly have failed. There are those of us that study the Bible throughout the week and perhaps even on a daily basis, but for one reason or another we are still not getting all that we should out of our study of the scriptures. To be effective in our study of the Bible we must read in order to gather the correct information and “handle the word of truth aright” (2 Tim. 2:15), but we must also study the scriptures for the necessary information to help us in the area of transformation as well (Rm. 12:2).
One can study the Bible from a purely scholastic and intellectual standpoint and have many facts from the Bible committed to memory; however if the student of the scriptures is not challenged to change his or her life and better align it with that of the Savior, then efforts in Bible study have gone wrong. When we come away from our study of the scriptures with facts that we feel are far distant principles that no longer apply to us or helpful moral suggestions that cannot really be lived out today, there has been an extreme misunderstanding and failure in our Bible study. In a more specific sense, what are some of the ways that we get Bible study wrong as it relates to our living out what we read and getting the information off of the pages and into our hearts? Let’s examine a few ways in which we can identify whether or not our Bible study has gone wrong as it relates to transformation.
Do you ever study the scriptures and still wrestle with the Devil’s weapon of worry? Why do we allow worry to overcome us as Christians though we have read many times of the care and providence God provides for his people? Maybe we have read the passages that discuss God’s love and care for us but we have not sincerely put these truths into our hearts. Perhaps it’s time we look back at passages like Matthew 6: 25-34, Philippians 4:6-7, and 1 Peter 5:7. Read these passages again and take refuge in God to fulfill the promises that he has vouched safe in his word. If we are overcome by worry although we have read and even professed our belief in God and his promises, perhaps our Bible study has gone wrong.
It is easy to often speak the “religious language” when surrounded by those of identical beliefs. However, even among those who study the Bible regularly, there is often a disconnect between the things that the scriptures teach about speech and the things that flow from the mouths of those who study the Bible. Do you ever find yourself saying less than Christ-like things to the individual that cut you off in traffic? Or do you snap at your spouse when you don’t feel like he or she is responding to you the way you like? Or what about the way we talk with those that we disagree with (yes, even those we disagree with about politics)? Maybe it’s time we go back and look at passages like Proverbs 18:21, Matthew 12:34-37, James 1:26, and be sobered by the truths connected to our tongues. If we let our tongues get out in front of what we know from the study of the scriptures, our Bible study has gone wrong.
Many people talk about love as it relates to Christianity but they often misunderstand the biblical concept of love. When we come away from our Bible study and we don’t have the love that Christ had for individuals in our hearts, our Bible study has gone wrong. Do you find yourself thinking the worst of people? Or judging others based on unfair assumptions (Matthew 7:1)? Though one may study the Bible daily, to be out of step with the love of Christ makes one’s efforts void. Do you fail to properly correct those that are in sin for fear of social awkwardness or hurting their feelings (Galatians 2:11-14, Ephesians 5:11)? How can I love my friends and not tell them when they are out of step with God, is this a loving response? If we get love wrong, we are definitely getting Bible study wrong.
We all need to become better students of the scriptures as God would have us to better know his will and how we should live (Ps. 119:103-105). Hopefully we can all examine ourselves and see whether or not we are failing in our Bible study due to a lack of application of the text to our lives. The Bible is full of information, but the scriptures are meant for far more than merely filling our heads with historical information, they are meant to transform us more into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). Let your study of the scriptures empower your faith in God, rid your heart of frantic worry and anxiety, purify you speech, and fill you with more love for your fellow man. God wants us to get Bible study right so that we might better understand him. Maybe all that has been said so far can be summed up best by James: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jas. 1:22).