God’s Guide for Our Lives: The Four Ways Scripture is Designed to Shape Us | 2 Timothy 3:16-17
As a parent, I hope that the discipline and teaching of my children are not being done in vain. One of the things that I fear most is that one day my kids could completely turn from how they were raised. I could have to face the harsh reality that they only followed the rules because they feared the consequences of their disobedience. It wasn't out of love but out of fear that they obeyed me.
As a pastor, my greatest fear is that the congregation is more afraid of going to hell than acting out of love for Jesus. It scares me to think that the people God has called me to serve may only be operating out of lip service to God because they desire to walk in heaven one day. I don't have the empirical data or ability to know the actual conditions of each induvial heart. However, like a parent to a child who knows nothing about how a child truly sees their upbringing, I hope that our heart desires God out of love more than out of fear.
The Bible tells us the four ways it is designed to equip us to maximize our walks with God. The Scripture that provides the outline for this post is 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
1. Scripture is designed to teach us.
As the dad of three kids, I have learned one important lesson. You have to teach your
kids how to be obedient. Even from a young age, their instincts are to be selfish. If you don’t believe me, you can come over any time and try to take a toy away from my daughter. Trust me, everything sweet and innocent about her will change in the blink of an eye. Kids are not born able to cognitively understand situations outside of their desires or process their actions' potential consequences. Parents have to teach their children the boundaries for how to live safely.
As Christians, we are not born desiring to live a life pleasing to God. Every single one of us is born into sin and can't help but serve ourselves first. We all must be taught what it means to live for God, which is Scripture's first role. Scripture is designed to teach us about God, how He created the world, how sin entered the world, and, ultimately, what He has done to free us from our sinful lives.
For these reasons, devoting time to learning the Bible is so important. How can we be taught if we don't know the material that God is trying to teach us? Becoming who God desires us to be means committing to learning what He wants to teach us. We need to have our eyes opened by God's Word if we ever want to leave the bondage of our sinful pasts.
2. Scripture is designed to rebuke us.
The hardest thing I have ever had to do as a dad is disciplining my kids. I would lie if I said I enjoy telling my kids no, or that they shouldn’t be doing something. I hate that feeling when my child is mad at me or begins to cry because of the discipline. However, without disciplining them, I am not reinforcing what I have taught them and asking them to change their behavior.
As Christians, we need Scripture to rebuke us when we act in sin. As we saw in the previous section, we are not born knowing how to please God. Therefore, we make sinful decisions and must be made aware when acting in opposition to God. Scripture not only teaches, but it also convicts us of the wrongdoings in our lives. Through this process, we can begin to desire God's way of living.
This process is likely going to be uncomfortable at times. Hebrews 12:11 talks about discipline this way, “No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those trained by it.” In the same way, I struggle to love disciplining my children; I also struggle to enjoy the discipline that comes when I read through the Bible. However, I know it is necessary to grow my walk with Jesus.
3. Scripture is designed to correct us.
Whenever I discipline my children, I hope it is the last time we must address the
subject. The goal is for my children to recognize what they have done wrong, admit their errors, and then commit themselves to avoid making a mistake in the future. I don't get pleasure from the interaction, and I look forward to the days when my children are obedient.
As Christians, Scripture's teaching and rebuking us is meant to lead us to correction. When we feel the conviction of our wrongdoing, it is not meant to condemn us; it is intended to lead us to repentance so that we can be made free (John 3:17). Scripture's correcting of us isn't to convince us of how evil we are, but to point us to our great need for the grace and mercy of God.
Often, I have heard people struggle with the word repentance. They feel as though it makes them feel broken and inadequate. However, the negative connotation doesn't begin to paint the picture of what it truly accomplishes. Repentance is an invitation from God to be given a clean slate by recognizing our shortcomings. Scripture is designed to lead us to repentance and affirm how faithful God is to forgive and restore those who come to Him in faith.
4. Scripture is designed to train us in righteousness.
Ultimately, I hope that my children's teaching, disciplining, and correcting lead them to grow up to recognize right from wrong and seek to live in a way that brings honor to God. I hope that they understand that the difficult times were to help them to be able to one day walk on their own. I want my children to be disciplined and to take pride in the decisions that they make with their lives. All while knowing that they will never get it all right, they are constantly growing as people.
Scripture does the same thing in our lives. We can grow our ability to live out righteousness through teaching, rebuking, and correcting. This process should enable us to live our lives with a greater priority on what brings God glory. By no means does this mean that we will be able to get every situation right, but it does mean that when we look back on our lives, we see growth from whom we used to be.
It is important to note that the righteousness we begin to display should be used to praise God for the work that He has done to save us. First and foremost, he never turned from us and left us in our sin, but instead designed the plan to bring Jesus into the world to rescue us from our sinful state through His death and resurrection. Then, ultimately, giving us this message through His divinely inspired Holy Word. We don’t have to wonder who God is or what He wants from us. It is all written for us in the Bible.
We will let the Word teach, rebuke, correct, and train us for righteousness. This will be uncomfortable sometimes, but if we trust the process, the work will not be done in vain. God has good results prepared for each of us to do (Ephesians 2:10). The question we need to answer is whether we are willing to commit to what needs to be done to maximize our effectiveness for the Kingdom. Are we willing to let Scripture teach, rebuke, correct, and train us for righteousness?