Theme: The Liberty of Obedience
This week’s lessons stress the necessity of obedience if one is truly a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Luke 6:46-49
Over the last two days we looked at four Bible study methods. Today we begin by mentioning one more.
5. Study the Bible prayerfully (Dan. 9:1-3). 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 a 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. Before we begin we should pray. 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.” We must then study the passage for the day, and as we find something that pertains to us, we must stop again 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 specifics.
Suppose we do pursue regular, personal Bible study and prayer? 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 discover a dull monotony of life or at best a list of rules to follow duly; but those who have actually followed Christ find something different. They find freedom 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. Their belief must have been rudimentary since no one, not even the disciples, understood that He was eventually going to go to the cross to die and thus provide redemption for His people. Nevertheless, this was real faith, and Jesus wanted to encourage it. He said, “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 infuriated 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)? This was ridiculous, of course. For years the Jews had been slaves in Egypt. During the period of the judges there were at least seven occasions when the nation came under the domination of foreigners. There was the seventy-year-long Babylonian captivity. Even as they were talking to Jesus these people were watched by Roman soldiers and carried coins in their purses that showed Rome’s rule over Palestine. It was this that made them so sensitive and provoked the retort, “We. . . have never been slaves of anyone.”
But how did Jesus respond? He did not try to show that they were deluded in their thoughts about political freedom, although He might have done this. Instead, He spoke of bondage to sin and showed that true freedom consists in one’s escape from it through obedience to Him. “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). Freedom comes as we determine to follow Jesus, and that is the greatest freedom of all.
Why do you think prayer is the most neglected of Bible study methods?
Explain what Dr. Boice means by “the liberty of obedience.”
Application: Pick a portion of Scripture you would like to understand better and try to work through it using the principles you have learned this week.
For Further Study: We know from our own life the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. To see an example of this from the apostle Paul, download for free and listen to James Boice’s sermon, “When a Good Man Falls,” available from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. (Discount applied at checkout.)