Theme: Obedience Leading to Freedom
In this week’s lessons, we see that obedience, Bible study, and prayer lead to true freedom.
Scripture: Psalm 119:153-168
In yesterday’s study, we talked about the need to study the Bible daily, systematically, and comprehensively. Today we will look at two other necessary elements if you want to know God as he speaks to you through the Bible.
4. Study the Bible devotionally. Nothing is clearer in this psalm than the close, indissoluble link between knowledge of God and study of the Word of God, between loving God and loving the Bible.
There is a danger when we speak of daily, systematic and comprehensive study of the Bible of leading a person to think that such study is therefore mechanical and can be pursued in much the same manner as one would study a secular text in a university. That is not the case. In other books we study to become wise. In reading the Bible we study to know God, hear his voice and be changed by him as we grow in holiness.
And there is this, too. If we really want the Bible to become a part of us so that, by this means, the mind of Christ, which is expressed in the Bible, becomes our mind at least in part, then we must memorize important sections of Scripture. Our educational system does little to stress memorization today. But those who were educated a generation ago will testify that what they memorized then, whether simple verses or more complex passages from Shakespeare or another distinguished writer, have remained with them and have thereby become a part of what they are. That is what we need as Christians. We need to allow the Word of God to become a part of us. To have that happen we must memorize it.
Pat Williams, the general manager of the Orlando Magic basketball team, is a very busy man. He is always under pressure. Nevertheless, he spends twenty minutes a day in uninterrupted Bible study and in addition to that spends whatever time is necessary to memorize one verse of the Bible every day. He has memorized a verse a day for years, and he testifies that this is the single most important factor in his spiritual growth.
5. Study the Bible prayerfully. It is impossible to study the Bible devotionally without praying, since we are coming to God in Scripture and must communicate with him verbally if we do. But although prayer is part of a devotional study of Scripture, prayer is worth stressing for its own sake, if only because we so often neglect it. The best way to study the Bible is to encompass the study in prayer. It is what we looked at in last week’s study (“Using God’s Word in Prayer”).
Before we begin we should say, “Lord God, I am turning to your Word. I cannot understand it as I should. I need your Holy Spirit to instruct me and draw a proper response from me. What I understand I want to obey. Help me to do that for Jesus’ sake.” Then we must study the passage, and when we find something that pertains to our lives, we must stop and acknowledge that prayerfully. Without regular, personal Bible study and prayer, we are not really walking with Christ as his followers, and we are certainly not obeying him in specific areas.
Suppose we do pursue regular, personal Bible study? Suppose we do earnestly seek to know the mind of our Savior and obediently follow where he leads? What do we find then? Some would say that we plunge into a dull monotony of life or at best have a list of dull rules to follow, but those who actually follow Christ find something different. They find adventure with God and a deliverance from self, which is an amazing form of liberty.
Jesus taught this in his day. He had been expounding on the source of his teachings, and many who listened had believed on him. He told them, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31, 32). This angered some of his listeners. They replied, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” (v. 33). Jesus did not reply that they had actually been slaves to many foreign governments, though he could have. Instead, he spoke of bondage to sin and showed that true freedom consists in deliverance from sin through obedience. “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin….If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (vv. 34, 36). And so it is! True freedom comes as we determine to obey Jesus.
How can Bible study become mechanical? How can we keep it from becoming so?
What is true freedom?
We need to allow the Word of God to become a part of us. To have that happen, we must memorize it.
True freedom comes as we determine to obey Jesus.
Prayer: Pray for God to help you with obedience and Bible study.
Application: List the five elements of Bible study. Are any of the five either lacking in your study, or need to be improved upon?
For Further Study: Is there someone you know who could benefit from a careful study of the Psalms? Consider giving James Boice’s three-volume paperback set as a gift of encouragement to them. Perhaps you could even study the Psalms along with them, meeting regularly for discussion and prayer. Order your copy from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, and receive 25% off the regular price.