I’ve heard it said in many sermons that “The bible will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from the bible.” In reading and meditating on Psalms 1, 19 and 2 Timothy 3, I have discovered this cliché statement to be truth. My life has often been a picture of this statement. I find that when I am practicing the spiritual discipline of reading and meditating on God’s word my resistance to temptation and sin is strong. On the converse, when there is unrepentant sin in my life I have found my desire to read God’s word waning. When I have been delighted in God’s word I have been blessed beyond measure. Meditating on scripture has had an immediate positive effect in my life where as when I don’t make time for God’s word, it too has had an immediate negative effect.
The first psalm is not very long but is packed with a powerful message. This short psalm exhorts us to delight in the law of God. Starting with a blessing for those who do not walk in the way of the wicked, it then goes on to say that those whose delight in the law of the Lord are like a tree. This tree is planted by a stream of water. This tree has a source of nutrition and substance. Because this tree has roots that can get plenty of water and food, this tree bears fruit in season. This tree does not have leafs that wither or fall but is green all year round. It is like the mighty oaks of the past in our faith, men who stood strong on biblical principles. Men like George Müller, Charles Spurgeon, and Jonathan Edwards. It reminds me of my father, who has always taught me that I must follow God and live by scripture. Something I noticed about this tree was that it bears fruit. Jesus also said that He is the vine and we are the branches. If we are to bear fruit, then we must be tapped into the vine. If I am to be the mighty oak tree or the branch of the vine, then I need to be sure I am connected to Jesus. Jesus is revealed to us through the scripture. I pray that I will delight in the scriptures of the Lord. I want to be the tree that does not wither. I want to take my place among the mighty oaks of the faith. The only way to do that is to be connected to the source of nutrition, God’s word.
Just as there are mighty trees planted firmly in the truth, there will be weeds that do not produce fruit and who will be consumed in the fire. 2 Timothy 3 begins with a warning about these weeds. In the last days there will be those who appear to be godly but who walk in the way of the sinner. We are seeing those days now. With the onset of the health and wealth churches we are seeing a me-centered theology. Just as Paul said, people will be lovers of self and money. The problem does not just stop with the prosperity gospel but it goes must deeper. Christians particularly in America have become overly materialistic. We also live in a culture that celebrates pride and boasting. I think much of the problem comes from a watered down theology and lack of true teaching of scripture.
Paul then goes on in 2 Timothy to exhort Timothy to continue in the scriptures. Paul is contrasting those who have gone after wicked and evil ways with those who follow the scriptures. The scriptures are God’s breathed way of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. Those who stray far from them will find themselves vulnerable to the temptations of Satan. Once again I have felt this truth in my life on more than one occasion. When I have let busyness or complacency cause me to neglect reading the bible, I have found my mind to be far more susceptible to lustful temptations or selfish thoughts. When I have let these thoughts take hold, it is almost as if I have become adverse to reading the bible.
Meditating on these scriptures over the past few weeks has helped my understanding of the truth that God’s word is a light illuminating my path and a sword fighting off evil. It is with the scriptures that I can gain a greater intimacy with God. If I will make God’s word a treasure in my heart then I too like David can say, “May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight.”