Are we reading the Bible for ourselves? Do we know what it says? Or do we just know what the pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders tell us it says? Don’t get me wrong, these people can be a wonderful source of information about the Bible. But, are we seeking out the truth for ourselves and confirming that what we are being told is true or not? Because it’s important for us to know if what we’re being taught is from man or from God.
It’s easy to be swayed by a person’s opinion or bias and think that is what the Bible says about an issue or a way of living. Information can be easily manipulated to support a mindset. We need to make sure we are getting the whole picture and what the Word of God really says and not just the piece someone is using to support their position.
For instance, we can be taught that God loves the sinner. But are we also taught that God hates sin? Because if all we know is that God loves people, then we will probably never know to evaluate what should be changed in our lives or to tell other people how different their life could be if they repented of sin and truly let God make them new.
Or the reverse of this…
Are we only taught that God hates sin, and not how much God loves the sinner? Because without both we would fall into a very dangerous position of communicating and living out only how much God dislikes and hates, rather than the truth that He dislikes and hates evil, not people. If God’s position on sin was all we knew of Him, we would never know for ourselves or speak to others of how much He cares about us and why His hatred for sin is actually an incredibly good thing and a benefit to us all. We would never understand the blessing of love and safety there is in running to Him and letting Him judge our sin. Because without the knowledge of how much He loves us, His hatred of sin would only be seen as control, rather than a gift to us of freedom from evil. “Saved From What” is a post I wrote awhile back talking specifically about this issue.
There are so many issues like this in the Bible where one passage can be used or twisted to support a particular bent of teaching. If this is all we know, and we have no other passages to challenge these ideas, define their meanings, or balanced them out, then we can very quickly get off base in what God’s heart really is. Therefore, we need to know the Word for ourselves. So that in such moments we know all of what the Bible says and can be encouraged in who God really is, rather than being confused, or worse convinced, by an incorrect representation of Christ.
James 1:21 “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
Challenge: Be reading the Bible for yourself!