“That Book in Your Hand”
There are many moral “authorities” in the world today. Whether it be that “I feel” that something is right or wrong, or “I think” it is moral, or “a minister said” something is ok, or even (amazing anyone would say this) “the government made it legal so it must be ok,” there are many standards of morality.
Of course, a standard of morality is pointless unless you actually set out to follow it, so a moral standard is only useful as a tool for purity. In this area, as well, there are many ‘authorities’ — self-improvement books, websites, programs, etc. Everyone wants to help you be a better person (and gain your money, your praise, or both in return).
As we look at the sufficiency of Scripture, we see that it is sufficient as more than merely a moral standard, but also an active agent in helping us to follow that standard. It is both our guide to purity, and a powerful tool in conforming us to that perfect standard of purity.
Sermons on the nature of the Bible (Bibliology):
- The inspiration of the Scriptures, their divine nature, from II Timothy 3:16.
- The moving of the Spirit in giving us the Scriptures, from II Peter 1:19-21.
- The inerrancy of God’s Word (its complete reliability).
- The preservation of God’s Word.
- The illumination of the Scriptures, the work of the Holy Spirit in helping us to understand spiritual truths.
- The perspicuity of Scripture — the Scriptures can be understood and rightly interpreted.
- The canon of Scripture — this wasn’t a sermon, but it belongs in this study on Bibliology
- The unity of Scripture — it is one Book by one Author with one unifying message.
In this ninth topic, the sufficiency of Scripture, we already looked at Psalm 19, perhaps one of the best texts for studying the topic, which describes the Scriptures as perfect and complete.
Our Guide to Holiness
6 Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
7 I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.
Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, deals extensively with God’s Word, using words like ‘commandments’ and ‘judgments’ to denote the Scriptures. It describes the Bible as our guide for righteous / holy living.
8 Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.
9 The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
In this passage, ‘covenant’ and ‘testimonies’ are clearly referring to what God has revealed in the Scriptures. When we keep His Word, we are learning the good and upright way. It is our guide for goodness and rightness, for justice and holiness.
As we’ve seen earlier in this study on “That Book in Your Hand,” the Scriptures come from God. Since God is the only One who is truly holy, and since He always speaks truth, we know that His Word is the true standard of purity and holiness. If God says something is good, it is good, and if He says it is not, it is not. It doesn’t matter what someone else thinks, says, or feels — the only thing that matters is what God says.
Furthermore, it is a complete guide. Look at Psalm 119:6 above. There is no fear of missing something you should have done, and being ashamed as a result, when you follow His Word. Psalm 25:9 says He will guide and teach His people. He doesn’t leave us looking for another guide, another teacher, to tell us right and wrong. Teachers and guides are only helpful when they help us understand the words of the True Guide and Teacher. He has done the real teaching by giving us His Word. It is a sufficient guide. Any teaching of moral standards which is not firmly grounded in His Word is not His teaching, and if it is not His teaching, it is not a reliable guide..
The Cleaner of Our Ways
9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
These verses tell us God’s Word is an active agent in cleaning up our lives. The more we pay attention to it, the more we put it in a treasured place in our heart, the greater its effect on our ways (the things we do). It isn’t merely an instruction manual, it has a power to keep us from sin.
The Discerner of Our Hearts
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Our real problem, of course, is not our ways, the things that we do. It goes deeper, into our sinful hearts. God’s Word helps here, too.
Jeremiah tells us that our heart is so deceitful and wicked that we don’t even understand the depths of our sin problem. Hebrews tells us, however, that God’s Word is sufficient to solve this problem. It discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. This is not talking about revealing those things to God — He already knows. It describes the work of the Word of God, as we read it and think on it, in revealing to us our hearts, the ways in which our wicked hearts have deceived us.
The purifying work of the Word of God in our lives goes deeper than our surface actions. It is sufficient to get right down to the heart of the problem.
We do not need self-help books, seminars, special programs, or anything else, for holiness. We need clear Biblical thinking, understanding the Word, and diligently “taking heed” to it — reading, learning, thinking on it, obeying it. The Bible is sufficient for purity.
More to come….