As I wrote about last week, the Christian life is not about saying an easy prayer and warming a seat in church. It’s about following Jesus and all that He taught while He walked the earth. It’s about setting aside the ways of the world and living your life in service of the King of Kings. But one might ask what exactly that means. And that is a good question–and one that I hope to answer in the coming weeks as we explore the topic of discipleship. With that in mind, let’s dive right into one a topic that is vital to building a solid foundation for the Christian life–the Word of God.
To start us off on this topic, take a look at Matthew 4:1–11. The passage tells the story of when Jesus was led by the Spirit of God into the wilderness to fast for 40 days. While there, Satan attempts to lure Jesus into several different traps that are designed to derail Jesus’ life and ministry. Of course, Jesus doesn’t give in. But what is important to note is that he also doesn’t challenge Satan with statements like “is that all you’ve got?” or “you’ve got nothing on me, devil!” Instead, Jesus responds in a far more powerful way. He quotes scripture that is directly related to the temptation. And when Satan tries to play the same game, Jesus continues to beat him by countering with scripture–until Jesus finally has enough and ends the battle. I think there are a couple of thoughts that we can take away from looking at this passage that will help us understand why we should put the effort into knowing what the Bible says.
The first thought is pretty easily grasped. Jesus uses God’s Word to defend against Satan’s attacks. In fact, the Word of God is referred to as the “sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6:17. This is part of a larger passage that talks of putting on the whole armor of God in order to remain strong in the faith, but the unique thing about the Bible being referred to as a sword is that it is the ONLY thing that Paul refers to in that passage that can be used as an offensive weapon in addition to defense. Taking this one step further, we see that Paul tells his young protege Timothy that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16). In other words, we can learn valuable lessons from Scripture–lessons that will eventually help us to conduct our lives in a way that honors God when the chips are down, as they were for Jesus in the passage in Matthew above. And that is a great segue into our next thought–that knowing scripture is vital to finding our way as we seek to honor God by following Jesus.
When you go on a road trip to a location you’ve never been to before, how likely are you to just jump in the car and go? Sure, there are a few adventurous souls that would do that, but if we have a destination in mind, we need to know how to get there. For instance, Jen, Tim and I were out in the Detroit area not long ago and had a day where we could explore the area and relax. With my family’s love of music and my love for bass guitar, we decided to visit the Motown Museum. Now we could have jumped in the car and drove–and we might have found it eventually. But we really wanted to get there–so we pulled out a cell phone, pulled up our map application and plugged in the address. 30 minutes later we were listening to Stevie Wonder waiting for our tour to begin. We already saw that the Bible is useful for training in righteousness. Psalm 119:105 also tells us that God’s Word (the Bible) is good for finding direction–and avoiding stumbling blocks as we travel. I think that Jesus replying to Satan with Scripture was not only His way of rebuffing Satan, but it also served as a good reminder to Him about how to conduct Himself in a righteous manner. And it’s a good reminder to us to do the same since this practice helps us live lives based on the contents of the Bible.
I could keep going on the value of knowing Scripture, but for the sake of brevity I will wrap it up with this thought. If we want to live like Jesus, we MUST base our lives on what He based His on–Scripture. It is vital for us to read the Bible regularly so that it becomes woven into the fabric of our lives as naturally as breathing oxygen is. As we start interacting with the Word on a regular basis by reading it and studying it, we begin to learn who God is and what His desire for us is. Over time, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, this head knowledge becomes heart knowledge, and we find ourselves living in a way that is wholly pleasing to our Lord.