Satan Wants You Staying in Bible Study and Going to Church
by Erik Reynolds
(This is an edited synthesis of two articles that originally appeared on Erik Reynold's blog Reformed by Grace. )
If you are like me, you love the Bible. I love to be around other people discussing the Word, what it means, how it affects our lives, and everything about it. I recently watched a Francis Chan Sermon that truly convicted my heart. The link is right here, you won’t regret watching it. He brought me to a passage that many people might be familiar with, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.” (James 1:22-24, ESV)
Many of us spend an hour a week in a Bible Study, Home Group, or some other form of class that intends to be transformational but ends up being more information transfer. The problem with information transfer is it encourages us to read the Bible and study but doesn’t often encourage life change. The more time we spend in these studies focusing on ourselves is better for Satan because we aren’t doing what is the very study we are partaking. If we are content by just studying the Word and not doing what God exhorts us to do then we aren’t being transformed by the Gospel.
An hour in Bible Study is an hour that we are made more comfortable; unless that study is encouraging you to go out into the world and do what Jesus has called you to. If you’re in a study and the focus is on learning more information for the sake of learning more information, then you need a new Bible study. As I said above, I love studying God’s Word. I love His Word not because it makes me feel good but because it isn’t a feel good message, when I read the Scriptures I often feel stirred with a holy discontentment. I often feel convicted that I am not doing what God has called me to do. This discontentment is what our Bible studies should focus on, stirring our souls with the Scriptures. Why? God didn’t give us His Word to make us comfortable but to reveal Himself and His plan for His people. That plan is to spread His love and mercy throughout the world by sharing the Gospel, loving people, and meeting people’s needs.
If you are like me, then you go to church every Sunday. I love our church gatherings, I love to hear the babies crying, the men and women go around to shake hands and give hugs, I love being a part of corporate worship where as a church we offer up our collective praises to Jesus, and I love to hear God’s Word expressed by a knowledgeable man of God. However, if that’s where our Sunday morning ends then I think Satan is content with that.
Hear me out, I know many professing Christians who have been sitting in chairs or pews for 20+ years and are no more mature in their walk with Christ than the day they were saved. For some, I question whether they come to worship God or just make appearances. This is a sad commentary on the American church but it is a real phenomenon. Sometimes I long to be part of a community of persecuted Christians because then I at least know they are dedicated to serving God with all of their heart. If we come to church on Sundays and do nothing with what we learn then Satan is content. However, if we go to our Sunday morning gatherings as a church with a heart totally sold out to Jesus then we have no compulsion other than to serve Him when we leave.
I often fall victim to this sort of spiritual apathy. It’s not because my Preacher doesn’t know how to preach, it’s because I often forget how to listen and apply what I have learned. This is more of a flesh issue in my opinion. There is certainly a time for information transfer; I love to study theology, different doctrines, and ministry practices, memorize Scripture, etc. All of these things reveal more about our God and that’s awesome. However, I question our response to Matthew 22:37 if all we do is feed ourselves, “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” If we aren’t walking out what we believe to be true then I truly question whether we believe it at all or whether we love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. The church is on a decline, not because of the rise of Secular Humanism and atheism, but because the church isn’t living out what God has called us to be. We are often too content with our holy huddles that we forget to go out into the world and share the Gospel, with our words and deeds. Paul had to contend with moral corruption and a society that was pluralistic and pagan, we just don’t want to be like Paul because it would be too hard.
If we are followers of Jesus we need to live out our faith and be doers of the word (James 1:14). If Jesus had come down to Earth and talked all about what He was going to do and never did it then I would say we have some precedent to come to church, learn, and do nothing with it. Yet, if you are like me and believe that Jesus came to this Earth, lived a sinless life, died on the cross to atone for our sin, was raised to life three days later, and ascended into Heaven 40 days later, then we must put our money where our mouth is. We must live out our faith and not just on Sunday mornings.