As you study the Bible, keep in mind that your job isn’t finished until you figure out what God expects you to do based on what you’ve studied. We’ll talk more about this in a future lesson, but let’s take a quick look now at the need for obedience to God’s Word.
Study to Obey
We talked about meditation yesterday. One of the major Old Testament references about meditation was Joshua 1:8. It says:
“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” (Jos 1:8)
As you can see, God told Joshua to meditate on His Law so that he could do it. If you read the Bible every day and understand it thoroughly, but you don’t obey what you’ve read, you have failed. In the New Testament James made this same point:
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (Jam 1:22)
James said that believers who hear the Word, but don’t obey it are deceiving themselves. They think they are spiritual, but they’re not. The think they are pleasing God, but they’re not.
But what does God want me to do?
What God expects from you depends on the text you have read and your situation.
Paul gave Timothy a good explanation of the kinds of things God uses His Word to accomplish in our lives.
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (2Ti 3:15-17)
Here are seven goals of God’s Word:
1. Salvation. God wants to use His Word to save you. If you don’t know Jesus Christ as your Savior, God wants to convince you that you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23) He wants you to know that the penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23). He wants you to know that Jesus paid that penalty (Rom. 5:8). And He wants you to know that if you call on Him, He will save you (Rom. 10:9,10,13). Questions to ask:
- What does this passage teach me about salvation?
- Am I saved?
2. Doctrine. Doctrine is teaching. There are many things God wants you to know about Himself, yourself, the people around, the future, etc., that He makes known in His Word. Questions to ask:
- What has this passage taught me about God, others, and myself?
- Do I believe what God has said?
3. Reproof. When something is wrong in your life, God’s wants you to know about it. His Word tells you what you’re doing wrong. Questions to ask:
- Am I doing something that God wants me to stop doing?
- Am I failing to do something that God wants me to do?
- Will I repent?
4. Correction. One of the things I love about the Bible is that it helps me get back on my feet when I’ve stumbled. That’s what correction is. If reproof is, “You’re fat and out of shape,” then correction is, “Here’s a diet and exercise plan.” Questions to ask:
- What does this passage tell me about how to get back on my feet if I have stumbled?
- Will I walk the path of recovery that God has set before me?
5. Instruction in righteousness. God instructs family members how to do their part and get along with each other. He teaches us how to be the citizens and church members we should be. In all the important areas of life God teaches us how to live right. Questions to ask:
- What does this passage tell me about how to live right in the world?
- How can I do a better job of treating others right?
- Will I embrace this right way of living?
6. Perfection. God wants us to be complete – to have all He wants us to have and be all He wants us to be. God uses His Word to mature us. His truth helps us grow up. Questions to ask:
- According to this passage, in what way am I incomplete or lacking?
- According to this passage, in what way do I need to grow up?
7. Furnishing for good works. The Bible equips us to do God’s work in God’s ways. Question to ask:
- How can I use what I have read to serve God and others better?
- Will I plug this principle into my Christian service?
You have to apply God’s Word according to your specific situation. Don’t worry; I’m not saying that the Bible means whatever it means to you. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. John the Baptist had just told his audience that they needed to repent. Listen to what happened next:
“And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.” (Luk 3:10-14)
Three groups of hearers asked John what they were supposed to do. John gave each group a different answer – one that spoke to their unique situation. When you study the Bible, prayerfully seek ways to apply what you learn in your personal circumstances.
Points to Ponder
- Do you apply what you learn when you study the Bible?
- What can you do to become more of a doer of the Word?
Read More About It
Reread Ephesians 2 and try to spot which of God’s goals for Scripture apply to the various passages in the chapter. Then ask and answer the application questions we’ve discussed in that area.