Why Bible Study Can Change You
Nate Danser makes the case for why regular Bible study can powerfully change your life — even if you’re involved in sexual sin.
Nate, what specifically do you have in mind when you think of Bible study, as opposed to just Bible reading?
Well, before I get into answering that question, I want to say a couple of things about Bible study that I think will help people. I know that many people coming out of sexual sin are looking for some kind of a silver bullet. They want something where you just “put in a coin” and freedom comes out from the cosmic vending machine.
Bible study is not a silver bullet. And let me also say that the Bible should not be seen as a self-help manual for helping us overcome problems in our lives. The Lord obviously deeply wants to help us, but we should learn to approach it in a much deeper way than that.
We should see the Bible as being a very, very deep and rich source of truth, wisdom, and life. A surface reading of the Bible is not going to really allow us to get deep enough into the truth that the Bible has. No one becomes an expert in a subject by just reading a manual or an article for ten minutes a day. You barely scratch the surface if you do that.
I would like for you to talk about whether or not our attitude in approaching the Bible is important. Does it matter, or will the Bible just automatically benefit us as long as we clock in a certain amount of time?
I think it's extremely important. But on the other hand, we all have incorrect attitudes and those need to be changed. In many ways, we are who we are. Meaning, it’s important that we come to the Lord as we are and we allow Him to reveal things to us about ourselves that need to change. I would guess that that is the one attitude that definitely has to be there. That I'm willing to have the Lord show me things that need to be changed by Him. If we come to him in that way, then He can work.
We should be hungry for God, but we’re not always. We should be contrite over our sins, but we aren’t always. But if we have to be a certain way before we can come to the Lord, then we're all in trouble. But if we are willing to come to Him as we are and have Him start to take the lead for us in things, then He can teach us and mold us and shape us.
I especially believe this because what I've heard from people who have been in the faith a lot longer than I have is that this process never ends. That we never get to a place where "OK I'm good to go and now I possess everything I need to possess for the Christian life." It's always an issue of "I am falling short and I need Jesus."
OK, now as far as attitude, while we're still on that subject, where does repentance fit into all of this?
That's a good question because without repentance the Word of God will not have the intended effect. This is brought out to us very plainly in scripture. Now like I said, we have to come to God as we are, but we have to be willing for a process to take place in our lives where our hearts are dug up before our eyes; where we mourn for our sins; where we cry out to God for a new heart and a clean spirit and where we allow Him to lead us in His ways. If that doesn't happen, we can hear the word, we can read the word, we can have others tell us the word and it's not going to have the intended effect.
If you study the parable of the seed and the sower, the problem with the first three soils was a lack of repentance. That was the issue. Only those in the category of “good soil” had actually repented. But I do want to say that repentance happens in a relationship with Jesus. So please, don't stay away from the Bible until you have that experience of repentance. Go to the Bible and ask the Lord to reveal things to you. Begin to cry out to God. Ask Him for revelation and a contrite heart and a broken spirit, and God will lead you into that process of repentance.
So how will Bible study help someone who says "I'm ready for that. I'm ready to repent and ready to change," but they are just still overwhelmed because they're still addicted to sexual sin?
This one is tricky because when someone is dealing with sexual sin, it's often all they can focus on. That one issue dominates the way they look at everything, and they’re always trying to figure out "How do I get rid of this problem?
What I can say to someone who is just totally addicted to sexual sin is that if we will approach the Bible, not in terms of what the Bible can do for me; not in terms of what tips and techniques can the Bible give me, but come to it from God's standpoint where we are allowing God to change our minds, then we will begin to see that God brings freedom.
I can't give in depth some of the benefits that studying the Bible brings, but let me give just a few.
Number one, the Bible shows us how deeply we need the Lord. And, poverty of spirit is an essential element for finding freedom from sexual sin. When you approach the Bible with an open heart and open mind the Spirit will show you that you can do nothing, and that the life God has for you is one that you are incapable of producing for yourself. This will definitely help produce in you a deep need for him.
Number two, it gives you a window into reality. This is so needed because this world is just permeated with deception. The Bible is the only thing that tells us the truth--the pure truth. Jesus said, "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free." So, it leads us to truth.
It also gives us something to live for that's greater than ourselves. That is KEY to overcoming sexual sin and the Bible will help to expand your horizons. It will show you that there are things that are vastly more consequential than, if I could say it this way, our little lives.
Those are just a few ways the Bible helps us.
It seems like everything around us, the culture and even just the normal way we operate in the church these days hinders people from taking time in the Bible. So what at the outset might be a hindrance to studying the Bible this way?
Let me say first of all that, I'm not trying to give people an out, but I live at Pure Life. So, I know that every morning from 6:30 to 8:30 is dedicated to Bible study and prayer. It's just how we live life. Now, I am aware that this is not the reality for a lot of people. So, again, I'm not trying to give people an out, but I am trying to say that I'm not going to look down my nose at people because they say, "Man, I'm so busy." But they are going to have to make some tough decisions, they are going to have to figure out how to cut some things out of their life.
But if they'll see the need and the importance of it...and I think if they would just do it for a month or two, just do it, just carve out thirty minutes every morning to begin to study the Bible, they will begin to get a taste of the goodness of the Lord and that will give them a hunger for more. So I think the two things are, number one, just make time. Make time to study the Bible for thirty minutes. Every morning. And the second thing is, well, I know for me anyway, when I started studying the Bible I was almost immediately overwhelmed. Because, I started to realize how little I knew. It was like, "Where do I start?? But that is all part of the process. You just start off little by little. And the way I've thought about it is, let's say that I spend an hour a day studying the Bible. If I study the Bible for the next fifty years, then I think at the end of fifty years I will have a decently good grasp of what the Bible says and what it teaches and what it means and who God is and what his perspectives are on life.
We have to be in it for the long haul. If after a month of being in the Bible for 30 minutes a day we haven’t experienced some life-altering reality, we shouldn’t think, “Well, I guess it didn’t work.” Don’t think like that. Think about it like a long haul. Think like this: "I want to know the Bible well at the end of my life. That's where I'm going. That's where I'm headed." Having that long-term perspective will keep us from being discouraged at the outset. So I would say those are the two things. Make sure it’s a priority and don’t get discouraged.
OK, here are a few rapid-fire question and answers. What would you say to watch out for in Bible study?
OK, I already mentioned discouragement. Don't be discouraged because you don't know everything or because you have a lot of questions. But I would also caution people to keep from personalizing everything in the Bible, because I don't believe that the Bible was mainly written for me. It is written for me, and it's a blessing to me, but it's got more way more in mind then me and my life. It's got the entire scope of God's redemptive work and the revelation of God to man. The Bible is mostly about God and secondarily about us. Now obviously in our relationship with Him, who we are in our conduct and the way we think is extremely important to God, but I think our generation has put man way out in the forefront when it comes to the Bible when in reality, it's much more about the Lord.
And I would also just caution against dead, lifeless study where it's all about information or an academic mindset where I am compiling all this information so I can regurgitate it to all my friends so that they really see how much I know about the Bible. That’s not the point.
OK, and the last thing was, in a nutshell, how has this impacted your life? How have you seen your own life transformed by this?
When I came to the Lord back in 2008, my life was just a train wreck and the main thing I experienced was a lot of mental struggles. I dealt with a lot of darkness and a lot of spiritual oppression. It was very difficult for me to think straight and what I found was that in in the Word of God He began to put me back together again. He gave me, like I said before, he gave me something to live for that was greater than myself. He brought His own life into my soul and was renewing my mind and changing my heart. He was teaching me to live, not by what I see in the physical realm or leaning on my own understanding, but to put my faith in what He says. And these are lessons that I am still learning now.
He was bringing me out of the old nature and was helping me to learn to put on the new nature. He was removing the veil from my spiritual eyes and giving me a revelation of Himself. He was helping me to see other people as being more important than myself. And these are just things that would not have happened without me being in the secret place with Him. And I'm not saying these things happened just because I studied the Bible, but because the Bible drew me to Jesus. And because I came near to Jesus, these things happened and they would not have happened otherwise.
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