Sometimes we know what to do, but we just don’t do it. Well, that was me this past weekend.
Last Saturday, my wife and I took our two youngest kids swimming. Before leaving, though, we made sure to get out the sunscreen to protect their young, fair skin.
As we were spraying the kids, I knew that I needed to put some on, too. However, a voice in the back of my head said, “No need. You won’t burn.”
Almost two hours at the pool and what happened to me? You guessed it: burned (just check out the video to see the results of my brilliance).
I knew what to do, but I just didn’t do it. As a result, I got burned.
This is the lesson God taught me when I read 2 Timothy 3 a while back (seems I might need to re-learn it again, too).
Here’s the passage:
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESV)
This passage is very familiar to those in seminary (or at least it should be). In these two verses Paul deals with the origins and nature of Scripture. Now, I won’t get into all the details in this post, but I do want to summarize it: the Bible is God’s word and benefits us in our lives.
Okay, I’ll explain a little more.
Scripture is Divine and Helps us Grow Spiritually
Paul begins by describing the origins and nature of Scripture: it is divine. Further, he applies this to “all Scripture.” So, what constitutes “all”?
In Paul’s time, they were still living and writing what we know as the New Testament. The only written Scripture they had at the time was what we know as the Old Testament. Thus, Paul was saying that the entire Old Testament is “breathed out by God.” Today, that would apply to the New Testament as well.
What does “breathed out by God” mean? This means it is divinely inspired.
Yeah, I know, that doesn’t explain it all. I won’t get into the details, but the short definition is that all Scripture contains the words God wants it to contain. This means that from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21 is God’s message to us and is divine.
Because the whole Bible is divine, that means it is true (inerrant) and trustworthy (infallible).
Next, Paul delves into the use of Scripture: it benefits us in our daily lives.
Paul says that Scripture is profitable, or beneficial, for teaching, reproof, correction, and training. In other words, all of Scripture helps us be more like Jesus. It shows us what we need to know, reveals when we’re wrong, and guides us in life.
The result of this training isn’t merely to gain knowledge. Rather, it’s so we can be transformed into the likeness of Christ, ready and able to do “every good work.” That is, to love God, love others, and engage in evangelistic ministry.
The question that lies before us now is what we should do with the Bible.
Simple: know what it says and do it.
Knowing is Easy, Doing is Hard
Remember when I said I knew I needed sunscreen, but didn’t put any on. We all have the same problem when it comes to Scripture.
I’m good at reading the Bible. According to YouVersion, I’ve read Scripture every day for at 13 consecutive weeks. Maybe you’ve read it for longer.
But none of that means anything if we don’t live it.
I’m good at reading the Bible. I’m good at learning it. I can memorize Scripture. I’m told I can even teach it. But if I don’t live it, everything else is merely academic.
So, how can we go from knowing the Bible to living it? While it can be difficult, there are ways to make it easier.
Three Steps to Living Out the Bible
I’d like to offer three steps to help us all begin living the Bible, not merely knowing or memorizing it. They are: read, pray, surrender.
Step 1: Read the Bible
This one is obvious. If we want to do what the Bible says, we have to read it.
How often do you read the Bible? On Sundays at church only? Every so often? Every day?
Notice I didn’t ask how much of the Bible you’ve read. That’s because it’s about quality, not quantity.
I recommend reading the Bible every day. If you have a smart phone, you can get the YouVersion app for free. Yes, free! Then you’ll have the Bible with you, and it even has a daily reading schedule.
Whether you use an app, website, or a physically bound book, the first step to living out Scripture is begin reading Scripture.
Step 2: Pray for God’s Help
Reading or memorizing the Bible is good, but it’s not enough. We read things all the time on social media, websites, books, emails, etc. But do we apply what we’ve learned to our lives and let that article change us? Unlikely.
We need to do more than read or memorize the Bible: we need to pray God teaches us, transforms us.
Before you read, ask God to show you what you need to know. Ask him to teach you something, even if it’s only a needed reminder.
When I do my daily readings, before I read the text, I usually ask God to show me the lesson he wants me to know. Now, I’ll admit that I’m not perfect at this: I have read before praying at times. But when I do, I pray afterwards. I do, though, want to pray before reading.
After the prayer, I read the passage. I then re-read it. Sometimes I read it a third time or more. I read Scripture until God shows me what he wants me to know.
There have been times I’ve read a passage a few times, but due to my mood, nothing seemed to stand out. I’ll then pray again that God would show me what I need to know regardless of how I feel.
He’s never disappointed! He’s always shown me something.
So, step two to living out Scripture is to pray for instruction. Whether you pray before, during, after, or all three — pray!
Step 3: Surrender to God
You’re reading the Bible. You’re praying for guidance and instruction. But there’s one more step to living out God’s word: submitting to him.
We cannot live a holy life on our own. We cannot do the good works of God and glorify him on our own. We’re ill-equippped. We lack in many things that prevents us from being able to fully accomplish all God wants from us.
We need divine help!
That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. He helps make Scripture clear. He serves as our conscience. He leads us to Christ. He helps us know God more. He prays for us (Rom 8:26). The Holy Spirit corrects us, guides us, teaches us, and empowers us.
We need the Holy Spirit!
In order to live out what God teaches us in Scripture, we must surrender to him. We must allow the Spirit to work through the Bible and in our lives.
Bringing it Home
The Bible is God’s message to us. It is reliable, trustworthy, and true. God uses Scripture to teach, guide, and correct us in our daily lives so that we are transformed to be more and more like Jesus.
This is something you probably already know. However, knowing and doing are two different things. We need to go beyond just knowing the Bible and begin doing what the Bible tells us.
In order to live out Scripture, there are three steps we should follow: read the Word, pray for guidance, and surrender to God.