by Steven Chan
There are three main reasons why we need to study the Bible diligently, namely:-
1. for our Salvation;
2. for our Transformation and
3. for our Perfection
In an earlier article, we discussed 2 Tim 2:13-17 where the apostle Paul exhorted Christians to “continue in the things which we have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom we have learned them” because of the presence of deceivers who will mislead us as regards the way of righteousness. So we are to be diligent in studying the Scriptures because God has given them to us to guide and equip us for every good work. In his earlier epistle, the apostle Paul exhorted thus: “give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. … Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”(1 Tim 4:13-16). So if we continue in the doctrine, we will save ourselves and those who hear us. It is clearly evident then that we are to study the Scriptures diligently to ensure our salvation (as translated in NASB).
The second reason why we need to study the Scriptures is for our Transformation. In Rom 12:1-2, the apostle Paul by inspiration wrote thus: : “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom 12:1-2).
The Bible is unequivocal in declaring that Christians cannot behave like the world and that we must not become “conformed” to this world – i.e. think, talk and walk like the people of this world. If we are not to act like the world, then it behooves us to learn from God how He wants us to live. We cannot walk any which way we want to if we want to be found pleasing to God. James 4:4 declares: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” There is no middle ground in this: if one becomes a friend of the world, one effectively declares himself to be an enemy of God! This warning is further elaborated in 1 John 2:15-17: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” God’s Word clarifies what is meant by being a friend of the world or to love this world: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Some may be able to resist the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, but can they resist the ‘pride of life’ – things that the carnal people of this world crave, desire, or glorify or are proud of – such as possessions, prestige, worldly status, power or academic achievements or superior intellect. Please do not misunderstand – it does not mean that Christians cannot have the afore-stated – just that they are not things which are to be loved, craved or desired instead of subjecting them to the service of God. 1 Tim 6:17-19: “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”
But quite apart from the “love of the things in the world”, Christians are also required to be transformed in our mind as God’s Word renews our mind in such a way that we will know what is “good, perfect, acceptable” according to the will of God. According to 2 Cor 3:18, “but we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” As we BEHOLD the mirror of the Word of God (James 1:23-25), the GLORY of the Lord, we are “being TRANSFORMED” into the same image of His Son:-
- Rom 8:29: “for whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
- Gal 4:19: “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you”
This transformation requires us to “seek and set our minds on the things above” (Col 3:1-4) and to put away certain behaviour traits in our lives and replace them with a new pattern of behaviour:-
- Col 3:5-6: “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
- Col 3:8-9: “now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds”
- Col 3:10: “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him”
- Col 3:12-17: “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
Note: A similar list is provided in Gal 5:19-23 where the deeds of the flesh are to be replaced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Brethren, to facilitate this TRANSFORMATION of our lives, we need to diligently study the Word of God which is the MIRROR for our souls (James 1:21-27), so that we can know what we need to put off and what to put on – and be determined to make the required changes. Let us not forget that such transformation is not optional but necessary for our ultimate salvation: After exhorting Christians to put off the deeds of the flesh, the beloved apostle Paul warned thus: “of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21; see also I Cor 6:9-10; Eph 5:5-6; Rev 21:27; 22:15).
Do we realize that we NEED TO CHANGE our mind? From worldly thoughts to thoughts that are captive to Christ – 2 Cor 10:4-5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”
Are we diligently studying God’s Word in order to TRANSFORM our lives? Are our lives being transformed by the renewing of our minds?