The power of God’s Word reaches beyond its use as a weapon for spiritual warfare. Not only does it help us battle outside forces, but it strengthens us for the fight within. Not wanting to give Satan too much credit, wouldn’t you agree that many of our problems exist because of our own hearts’ struggles with sin? Psalm 119 touches on this several times:
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word…I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9,11)
“I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word. I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me….Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:101-102,104)
Discovering the God of the Scriptures allows us to see our sin in comparison with his standard, but I think more than that leads us into confession. Obedience alone won’t change our hearts, but to know the Bible is to know grace. Remember the first grace-gift of Bible study we talked about? It shades the rest of what we do in studying God’s Word. In studying, we find out what we do wrong, but we’re also pointed to the One who has done it all right for us. It’s the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4), and embracing good Bible study habits leads us to know better his kindness.
I think we know God’s Word helps us battle our sin, but do we really want it?
Are you desperate enough for his presence that you enter into the messy work of truth piercing your heart, convicting you of sin, and driving you deeper into God’s mercy? As a student of the Word, to what extent do you embrace the disciplines of meditation and memorization as aids in fighting your sinful nature and learning to walk in the Spirit?
One of my favorite things about Bible study is how it brings me back to the Lord when I’ve strayed. I can tell you that Hosea, Nehemiah, and Habakkuk are some of the dearest and most personally life-changing books I’ve studied, and I believe timing is a significant factor in how richly they impacted me. I look back at the times spent in those books and can pinpoint these three as having directly followed seasons of running away from God’s purpose for my life, and their lessons run deep in my soul. The time invested in those studies bridged my waywardness to his restoration, and they are precious to me for how they eased my return into his gracious embrace. I’m not sure why those studies had the greatest depth and impact, except that I think there’s something special about coming back to God’s heart and how Scripture helps us with that.
My personal testimony is that studying Scripture has renewed my heart when I needed to return near to Christ, and I love how studying God’s Word faithfully takes me there. It’s sweet the experience of his Word screaming grace to us, and I think we’re positioned to hear it better when we’ve realized how much we need and crave it. Repentance after wandering will do that for us.