When the Bible speaks, God speaks. But do we recognize this? Do we care enough about what God has said? Every Christian will tell you that they follow the teachings of Jesus. Many western Christians will also affirm that they believe the Bible. Yet, as western Christians we often struggle to distinguish ourselves from the world around us, and the primary reason for this is that while we say we believe in the Bible, we don’t give it the weight it should have and we don’t pay attention to it as we should. Its not enough to say we believe the Bible, we need to constantly check ourselves to see if we live what we say.
Here are six indicators that suggest we don’t regard scripture with the authority we say we do.
- We don’t value what God tells us He values. God has revealed to us in the Bible what he likes and hates (hint: holiness and righteousness vs evil and deceit). If we don’t value what God values, we will value something else. This is exactly what is referred to in Romans 1:21-23, “though they knew God… they exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image…” Rather thank loving what is good, we will love what God hates.
- We don’t hold to a biblical worldview. This is a very broad category, and means we don’t hold to a biblical model of God, man, sin, suffering, holiness and a host of nuances of these and other areas. If we don’t think rightly about man and rightly understand our greatest problems, neither will we be able to identify and solve these problems effectively. If we don’t hold to a right understanding of God, neither will we be able to worship Him as we should.
- We don’t consult the Bible enough. Ask many professing Christians how often they read their Bible and they will seldom say once a day. Yet, if God has told us what pleases Him, and revealed to us our greatest needs and solutions, why wouldn’t we consult this daily? If we say we follow Him, we must know His values and thoughts to be able to accurately reflect Him in our character.
- We don’t love His Word as we ought. The Psalmist spoke of treasuring up the Word (Ps 119:11), loving it (Ps 119:97, 113, 167) and meditating on it (Ps 119:97, Ps 1:2). It is not merely enough to know what God thinks, but our affections ought to be shaped, and this shaping should draw our affections to the means by which God does this work, His Word.
- We don’t interpret the Bible consistently. By reading and interpreting the Bible inconsistently, we undermine its ability to speak to us. The principles of interpretation of any text demand a consistent literal, grammatical and historical method of interpretation. By literal, we mean that we recognize figures of speech and symbols when the plain meaning of the text is not clear through a literal interpretation. The scriptures were not written so that we could each interpret it according to our own desires. They carry the authority of God who wrote them.
- We don’t apply the Bible diligently. If we read the Bible and don’t apply it, not only do we miss out on the benefits of its instruction, but we also reject God’s instruction to us personally. Not many things say, “I don’t care” better than consistently ignoring what someone who loves us tells us to do.
These six signs are not given to merely make our faults clear. We all do all of these at some points in our lives. The challenge is to stop ourselves and to ask ourselves where we are at fault and how we should correct. Let us take these six practical indicators to the Lord and ask Him to help us to identify areas where we can give more weight to what he says and less to what we tell ourselves.