One of the greatest, current tragedies in the church today is the lack of transformational Bible study in the lives of its members. Have you ever wondered why the church can read and hear the Word of God and yet not be changed by it?
Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
If the Word of God is so powerful, then what is the problem? Why do we not see that life-changing power more often in our churches? Let’s make it personal. Why do we not see it more often in our own lives? Perhaps, the issue is not with the Bible at all. Maybe it is us. Maybe we are approaching the Bible with the wrong motive and attitude.
There is a very subtle sin that will creep in on us if we are not watchful. It is the sin of pride. This sin will affect every part of our lives—even, and perhaps especially—our Bible study. I am convinced that one of the most important ingredients for effective, transformational Bible study is… Humility.
Humility is the attitude of lowliness. Biblical humility esteems God and others before itself (Philippians 2:1-5). Humility is only a product of the Spirit of God in the Believer. Paul tells us in Romans 12:3, “For I say… to every man that is among you, not think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” Christ is the PERFECT example (and source) of true, Biblical humility (Philippians 2:5-11).
Humility is absolutely necessary for effective, transformational Bible study. If we acknowledge God in His rightful position, then we cannot help but understand that we are not Him. In Psalm 8:3-9 the Psalmist shows us what humility towards God should look like in the believer… “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
With Biblical humility comes the acceptance that God is the ultimate authority and that only God can change our hearts and minds—that God, and God alone, has the answers for which our hearts long.
Pride, on the other hand, is the attitude of superiority over others and over God. Simply put, pride is selfishness and self-focus and always thinks of itself before anyone else (people and God). Pride shows itself in many different ways and is at the heart of ALL sin.
In 1 John 2:16 we are told, “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.”
Notice in this verse, that all three things mentioned, “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” are all about us! What we want. What we desire. Pride is a total focus on self. Whether it is focusing on what we have, what we have accomplished and who we are, or what we don’t have, where we have failed and who we are not… Pride is always looking at self! Pride will taint our vision, so much so, that everything we see will be about us… how will this affect me, what does this mean for me, why did this happen to me, look at what I did, look what they did to me… etc.
24 Reasons Pride Will Kill Your Bible Study
- The prideful person will not place as much importance on the instruction of God as their own opinions.
- The prideful person studies the Bible only for knowledge, but not for transformation.
- The prideful person elevates their time, priorities, hobbies (etc.) above regular Bible study.
- The prideful person will only look at God’s Word with selfish eyes and therefore only read the Bible from their perspective.
- The prideful person cannot be used by God (Proverbs 3:34).
- The prideful person has an evil, idolatrous heart (Proverbs 8:13).
- The prideful person is not teachable, and therefore cannot be taught by the Holy Spirit.
- The prideful person uses their own reason, logic, and methods to navigate through life (Isaiah 55:8-9).
- The prideful person will trust their own heart (Jeremiah 17:9).
- The prideful person is easily offended by God and His Word and will respond with anger.
- The prideful person reads the Bible and thinks of others ‘needing to hear this’ but will not see the sin in their own hearts.
- The prideful person will apply the Bible with a to-do list rather than a sense of further dependence on God… this is called legalism.
- The prideful person is more concerned with their convenience than personal obedience.
- The prideful person will worship the god that they have created to fit their personal preferences and beliefs.
- The prideful person uses God’s Word as a weapon against those who don’t agree with them rather than a tool to share the Gospel and God’s grace.
- The prideful person goes to God’s Word to confirm ‘their belief’ rather than to seek the heart of God.
- The prideful person has no use for anything that stands in the way of their dreams and goals (that includes God and His Word).
- The prideful person shifts blame (to others, Satan, God) and refuses to take responsibility for their sin.
- The prideful person is content to live in their own reality (success or failure) instead of living for the purpose of the Gospel.
- The prideful person will not accept correction and usually responds to it with anger.
- The prideful person reads the Bible with a jaded, self-focused perspective.
- The prideful person refuses to Biblically repent of or acknowledge revealed sin.
- The prideful person justifies (excuses) their sin and/or compares their own ‘small’ sin to the ‘greater’ sins of others.
- The prideful person is an affront to the very character of God (James 4:6).
The Biblical Solution
James 1:19-20 says, “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
James offers 3 solutions to a prideful approach to the study (and application) of the scriptures.
1. Be Quick to Hear
James is telling the believer that we need to hear God’s Word. When we are confused, in moments of decision, in tough circumstances, need help in relationships… we should be quick to seek the answers in the Word of God. James is also telling us here, not to just hear God’s Word, but to listen with the intention of letting the Bible change and shape us. There needs to be a readiness to listen. The believer needs to pay close attention in order to get the message of God correct. In any field of knowledge, we learn by intentionally listening! The sincere, eager desire for learning God’s Word is one of surest marks of a Child of God. The word ‘quick’ could also allude to listening/hearing the Word of God often. We must pay careful attention to God’s Word, humbly hearing and studying it often and regularly.
2. Be Slow to Speak
Have you ever noticed that it is especially hard to speak and really listen at the same time? Believer, we cannot quickly hear while at the same time continually talk. If we are continually talking, then we cannot hear what God is wanting to say to us through His Word. We need to keep silent inside and out. We need to quiet our hearts and minds before the Lord. This is a display of humility in acknowledging that what we have to say is not nearly as important as what God wants to say to us. God wants to teach us, correct us, show us Who He is, and train us up into His likeness (2 Timothy 3:16-17)—and He cannot do that if will not be quiet before Him and hear His Word.
3. Be Slow to Wrath
While not adhering to the first two instructions is a show of pride, this final thought is a difficult reality if pride plagues our heart. When God confronts us with a sin or false belief, it can certainly be an affront to our pride and ego. However, James’ final instruction to us is that our response to God should be willing change. However difficult and painful it may be, it is the only appropriate response. A prideful heart will swell up with anger, and as we begin to swell up with this anger, we become more and more calloused to the Truth of God and His Word.
These three are all suggesting a humble approach to studying the Bible. It is intentionally being still and quiet before God, reading/studying and listening to His Word and allowing God to change, shape, and use us any way He sees fit. We must lay aside ourselves for the purposes of God.
In being faithful to the study and application of God’s Word, we must be sure that pride is not allowed to take root in our hearts.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my thoughts. And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24