One who looks intently at the perfect law . . . not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does
While God has given us an infallible guide to life--His Word--the truth he wants us to follow for our freedom can be obscured by our bias and selfish indulgence. In the twentieth-century Western church, I see at least five major hindrances which affect our understanding and application of the Word of God.
First, there is a tendency to make doctrine an end in itself. Christian maturity is not understanding the principles of the Bible; Christian maturity is character. If what we come to accept as truth doesn't affect our love for God and man, something is radically wrong (1 Timothy 1:5). "Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies" (1 Corinthians 8:1).
Second, we can learn a lot about God from Scripture and not know Him at all. Before his conversion, Paul knew the law, but he didn't recognize God in Christ when he saw Him. We're not asked to fall in love with doctrine. We're asked to fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Third, we often encourage memorizing Scripture instead of thinking scripturally. Our model should be, "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). We are to incarnate the Word of God. We are to have our lives transformed by it, and our minds renewed by it.
Fourth, we often hear the Word and then don't do it. The will of God is thwarted by educating people beyond their obedience. Jesus taught: "If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them" (John 13:17).
Fifth, like the Pharisees, we tend to neglect the commandment of God and hold to the traditions of men (Mark 7:8). I believe this is one of the most serious problems affecting our churches today. Many seminary graduates are called as "new wine" (zealous to serve God according to the truth of His Word) to "old wineskin" churches (rooted in the traditions of men), and the results are disastrous for both.
Prayer: Lord, renew me today by Your Word. I want to grow in my love for You, not just the truth about You.
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