Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV
Burt likes to go to the City Park. He knows where the stray cats gather and he makes sure all ducks know when he arrives. He studies his opposition. He knows their routine and their positions within the park. He quietly observes and then moves forward on the prowl. He wants to make sure that every duck and swan is in the water before he leaves the area.
The King James Version of 2 Timothy 2:15 says to study to show yourself approved. Just as Burt studies his friends and foes in the park, we are to study the word of God. Psalm 119:11 tells us the psalmist hid the word in his heart that he might not sin against God. Peter writes in I Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”.
We study the scriptures so we can praise God in the good and bad times. We study the scriptures so they are hidden in our hearts and the Holy Spirit can bring them to our remembrance. We study to know God and his ways. We study because we desire to become more like Jesus. Timothy tells us when we do we will not be ashamed and we will handle the word correctly.
We do not want to take scripture out of context or misuse it. We might think it would be impossible to use the word of God incorrectly but two examples come to mind. First, in Genesis 3, the serpent twists God’s words to Eve. Adam and Eve had been told they could eat of any tree in the Garden of Eden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die. Satan asks Eve if God really said that? Surely, he didn’t mean you will die? God knows if you eat of the fruit of that tree you will be like God and know good and evil. Just enough doubt. Just enough twist to make it make sense to disobey God.
The second example, is when Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Satan hit Jesus with scripture. He told Jesus to jump off the temple because it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone”. Makes sense to me but Jesus replied with another scripture, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test”. Satan came back with more scriptures and two other temptations. He desired Jesus to bow and worship him but Jesus responded, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’
How are we to know the correct responses unless we study the scriptures? I tend to be filled with fear when I read of the temptations in scripture, wondering how I would respond. Instead of wondering and being fearful, I need to trust the one I have entrusted with my life. I need to fill my mind and heart with his word and be ready to share the hope that is within me with others. I need to present myself to God, a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
Away with you Satan! I belong to the one who was born of a virgin in a manger, lived without sin, and was about his father’s business while on earth. I belong to the one who suffered and died for me on a cross. I belong to the one who defeated death, hell, and the grave. I belong to the risen Lord!