This is the second lesson of our review of Matthew 1-7 in preparation for resumption of our Sunday evening study in Matthew at Mt. Freedom Baptist Church. In the previous lesson, we looked at my personal approach to the study and teaching of the Bible, and my strongly held belief that it is the very Word of God Almighty. In this lesson we will take a look at some of the reasons why we should study God’s Word.
To Draw Closer to God
BethPsalm 119:9-16 [ESV]
9How can a young man keep his way pure?
By guarding it according to your word.
10With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!
11I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.
12Blessed are you, O LORD;
teach me your statutes!
13With my lips I declare
all the rules of your mouth.
14In the way of your testimonies I delight
as much as in all riches.
15I will meditate on your precepts
and fix my eyes on your ways.
16I will delight in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.
Regular study of God’s Word as individuals, with our families at home, and with fellow believers in a small group or general congregational setting promotes a habit of continual reflection upon the nature of God, and fellowship with Him. Through study and reflection upon His Word, we gain greater insight and discernment of His will for our lives.
ASIDE – I am personally quite undisciplined in the areas of individual and family studies and devotions. This is why being invited to teach the Bible in a community setting is more beneficial for me than it is for my readers and listeners. Preparing to lead Bible studies forces me to study myself to my own great gain.
To Hear From God
God speaks to us in two different ways – by His Spirit, and by His Word.
When God’s Spirit speaks to us, He uses a variety of means depending upon whether He is speaking to us alone, or speaking through us to others. Paul wrote of various public vocal manifestations of God’s Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11…
- Utterance of knowledge
- Utterance of wisdom
- Interpretation of tongues
In addition God speaks to us privately by the still, small voice of His Spirit.
BEWARE – I can’t speak for anyone else, but I personally find that there are three distinct voices within me…
- The still, small voice of the Spirit of God
- My own thoughts
- The voice of the evil one
This is why John warned us not to trust everything we hear from our inner voices.
1Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.1 John 4:1-3 [ESV]
In order to discern among the spirits, God has given us His Word as a plumb line. If the word we hear from one of our inner voices does not align with the written Word of God we know and trust to be true, then the inner voice that is speaking is NOT the Spirit of God.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.Hebrews 4:12 [ESV]
To Enable Us to Recognize False Teaching
Law enforcement officials train to recognize counterfeit money by studying the real thing. Counterfeit Bible teaching is widespread in the world. Indeed it has been so ever since the serpent first deceived Eve in the Garden by calling God’s Word into question. Believers need to be able to recognize false Bible teaching not only so that we ourselves will not be deceived, but so that we can warn others.
3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.2 Timothy 4:3-4 [ESV]
In this, we need to follow the example set by the Berean Jews who gladly listened to the Gospel proclamations of Paul and Silas, but then compared what they had heard with God’s Word before taking the teachings to heart.
11Now these Jews [of Berea] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things [Paul’s and Silas’ teaching] were so.Acts 17:11 [ESV]
As a Weapon in Spiritual Warfare – The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Make no mistake. The enemy of our souls is intimately familiar with God’s Word. One of the great mysteries of the universe is how he can know God’s Word, and is able to access the throne of God, but still doesn’t recognize that he was defeated forever by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. This is actually a cautionary tale for us. Just as satan’s sinful pride blinds him to the Truth of the Gospel, so our own pride might blind us in various ways.
But I digress…
Satan’s modus operandi hasn’t changed since he first deceived Eve in the garden. First he calls God’s Word into question, and then he denies it. In this way, he uses God’s Word against us. For example, consider 1 Corinthians 5:17…
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.1 Corinthians 5:17 [ESV]
Many Christian recovery ministries use this verse as their motto. But what happens when a recovering addict stumbles back into their addiction habit once again? Immediately the enemy of our souls whispers into the poor wretched sinner’s thoughts something like – ‘I thought you were supposed to be a new creation in Christ. Yet here you are wallowing in the same old sin that He supposedly rescued you out of. You’re not a new creation at all. Jesus can’t save you. Nobody can. You might as well just go back to your old ways, and forget Jesus.’
Nowhere is the enemy’s arrogance more evident than in Luke 4:10-11, where we find the story of satan’s temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Taking advantage of Jesus’ weakened physical state after He had been fasting for forty days, satan tried all his old tricks hoping to draw Jesus to sin, and thus render Him unable to redeem mankind as the spotless Lamb of God. If Jesus had stumbled into sin, His righteousness would have been blemished, thus rendering His sacrifice on the cross moot. Satan knew this, and tempted Jesus three times. In the second instance, he even had the audacity to preach the Word of God to Jesus – the Word of God, incompletely quoting Psalm 91. In each of these three instances, Jesus responded to satan’s spiritual attack with God’s Word.
In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul writes of the spiritual armor provided by God for our use in combating our great enemy. All of the aspects of our spiritual armor are defensive in nature except one – the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.
14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.Ephesians 6:14-18 [ESV]
To Make Disciples We Must First Be Disciples
Before He ascended, Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all the nations.”
18And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.Matthew 28:18-20 [ESV]
But how can we possibly disciple (teach) others in what we ourselves do not know? We must study God’s Word to prepare ourselves for “every good work.”
16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:16-17 [ESV]