What makes Bible study (almost) worthless

Earlier this week I read an all-too-familiar news byline: another preacher got caught.

He was looking at pornography on his computer, then switching to his Bible software program to work on a sermon, then back to porn . . . all in the span of a few hours.

Are you shocked?

Unfortunately, you’ve probably seen too many headlines to be too surprised.

I don’t know this preacher, and I don’t know any of his circumstances, but I think I can guarantee one thing about his ministry: his Bible study was falling flat.

He may have been parsing Hebrew and Greek verbs, but he wasn’t connecting with the Author of the Scriptures.

I know that because of what James writes here:

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls (James 1:21).

Notice the way James connects removing sin from our lives with our reception of the word. The word doesn’t penetrate our hearts when our hearts are mired in sin.

I don’t want to cast too many stones at this preacher, because I know of too many times that my own Bible study has been hindered by some sin I’ve hung on to.

Maybe we can all relate to this in some way.

Have you been struggling in your devotional time?

Has the Bible seemed distant?

Has the word not really been touching your heart?

According to James, it might be because you’re ignoring some particular sin in your life.

In the verses just before this one, James was writing about anger—are you mad at someone right now? Are you bitter?

If so, your Bible study won’t do you much good.

It could be that we’re too interested in money and things; greed blinds us to the truths of Scripture.

Or it could be sexual sin, gossip, selfishness, or pride.

But here’s the point: the truths of Scripture won’t open up to us when we’re ignoring our sin.

I don’t think James is talking about the sin struggles that every Christian has; he’s talking about sins that we’re stubborn about . . . sins that we don’t confess.

So in our devotional time today, let’s ask God to use his Spirit and his word to reveal anything in us that might be putting a veil over Scripture.

It might be we’ll feel a wonderful sense of relief—and renewed vigor in our Bible study—simply by getting rid of something we’ve been ignoring.

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