In one sense, this is THE defining characteristic of a Christian. The ability to think properly about, and therefore apply properly to one’s life, the Holy Scriptures.
I’m toying with the idea of a regular blog post about Scripture reading and sanctification. More specifically, an open journal of sorts where I share some of the questions and ideas which I consider when reading the Bible. The intention would be to model a skill that is lacking in many Christians today, even in those who actually read their Bible daily.
Here’s a taster of the sorts of questions we should ask our self:
How does my life compare to each of the people I’m reading about?
Are the people I’m reading about good or bad (saved or unsaved)?
If they are saved, and a model of good, what can I learn from them?
If they are saved and are being sinful, what can I learn from them?
If they are unsaved, are there things they do which I do and which would confuse people who think I am a Christian?
What can I pray about right now with regard to the questions I’ve just asked?
What does the Bible say about how I can overcome specific situations mentioned which relate to me?
Let’s put that to use in a passage:
“Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them…” – Matthew 5:1-2
This is Jesus right at the beginning of the sermon on the mount. Even before the sermon we can learn lessons for our sanctification.
There are two people/groups here, Jesus and his disciples. Let’s look at Jesus first.
As I grow in character I become more like Jesus so maybe there is a goal to aim for here? Jesus is about to teach people the truth about spiritual things (the Kingdom of Heaven) which is for the purpose of their growth in understanding and godliness. Is this something I need to do? Thinking across all of scripture I think yes because we are expected to follow the great commission and to teach with doctrine. So how am I doing this? Am I doing this? I run a bible study at work and teach those students who want to know spiritual truth so that’s one example. And I talk about spiritual truth with my wife and we try to grow in knowledge and Christian character together so I think I’m doing this.
But while I’m thinking about this, can I do it better? Yes, I’m sure I can. That’s something to pray about and ask God for wisdom in what to do.
Now what about the disciples? They’ve gone to Jesus to hear from him and to learn from him. A non-christian wouldn’t do this, would they? I guess they would if they were interested in moralising and being boastful of their deeds because Jesus is clearly to most morally righteous person to learn from and to be like. So I have to be careful that I come to Jesus without great ideas of becoming great through him.