Puffed Up Believers?

by Pastor John Fredericksen

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During a Sunday morning service, we had a dear saint get up and do something that made us cringe. He was expressing thanks for the preciousness of rightly dividing the Word of God. Unfortunately, he was doing so by comparing ourselves to a denomination, saying how foolish and incorrect they were in interpreting God’s Word. We’ve seen wild Tom Turkeys all puffed up, spreading their feathers and strutting their stuff to impress the ladies around them. Sadly, this was the impression our Christian friend was leaving with those who were visiting from the denomination he was ridiculing.

The knowledge that God has placed divisions in His Word is, indeed, precious. It helps us better understand truth in Scripture, and dissolves what otherwise would seem to be contradictions. But there are two dangers we should be keenly aware of and avoid.

The first is to search only for “knowledge” when we read God’s Word. Please don’t misunderstand what we are trying to say. The knowledge of sound doctrine, or information, from God’s Word is essential. Paul told the saints at Corinth that when he ministered to them, “what shall I profit you, except I speak to you…by knowledge…or by doctrine” (1 Cor. 14:6). He encouraged believers to “give attendance…to doctrine (1 Tim. 4:13), to be “nourished up in…good doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6) and to become skilled in sound doctrine (Titus 1:9; 2:1). But the trap that many fall into is thinking that information is all they should be looking for when studying God’s Word. When this happens, it only leaves us “puffed up” with pride. Our study will then, in effect, leave us worse off in pride and less pleasing to the Lord.

The second trap is failing to look for application to change our lives. Paul told the saints in Romans 6:17, “But God be thanked…ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” God is not impressed with how much we know, unless it shows itself in a transformed life of greater godliness. Therefore, after every time in the Scripture, we should always be able to answer the question: “So what difference does God want this information to make in my life today?” This is the most essential aspect of every Bible study. Demand of yourself, and anyone who teaches God’s Word, that this kind of application be made.

Let’s not be puffed up over how much doctrine we know. Let’s be transformed into lives of greater godliness!

To the Reader:

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