Striving to do the right thing based on the instruction or even encouragement of someone or something else will, sooner or later, become tiresome. Trying to be good of your own effort makes it all about you and you have limitations. Even if/when you are able to master the big, public stuff like lying, cheating and stealing, what are you going to do about the deep, personal, heart-level stuff like pride, jealousy and greed?
Even the deepest darkness within us can be overcome with the Light, but we need the Light to be within us to overcome the darkness where it lives. We’ve got to get the Truth in us, not just around us. We need a takeover of our nature from the inside-out.
James 1:21 says, “So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.”
The word gets planted in us; it becomes part of us, when we receive it with humility. We don’t just know the word, we receive the word. We don’t just believe the word, we have it in us. We interact with the word in such a way that it overcomes our mind, will and emotions to become our nature.
This is the kind of Bible study we need. We need the word to be grafted into us so that it becomes part of us. Not just our heads, but our hearts. We need to study not just for knowledge, but in such a way that we are able to overcome the filth and evil in our lives. When people ask me how to study the Bible, I have a few suggestions:
- Teach it. Read it and then start to share it. Not in some unnatural way but in the flow of relationship. When you are living life, allow the Holy Spirit to remind you of what you read that morning and share with others, “I was reading this morning that . . . ” That puts the word in you as well as them.
- Serve others. He said that He would be hanging out where people are hungry, thirsty and broken. If you’ll intentionally seek out opportunities to interact with people who fit the profile of where Jesus said He would be, you’ll encounter the word in living form and it will provide depth to your understanding.
- Live it. The word is meant to be a community endeavor, not just an individual quiet time. Surround yourself with others that are in the same pursuit and talk about it real-time. Over a meal or in the flow of life, share what you are reading or questions from that reading and allow others to sharpen your understanding. Again, in a natural flow where iron sharpens iron.
Get it in you. Then it will come out of you. Then you won’t have to try so hard.