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When Bible Knowledge Isn’t Enough

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Knowledge is power. 

I can’t remember the first time I heard this phrase, but I most certainly believed it. Coming from a low-income family, living in some rough neighborhoods, I longed for life to be different. It’s likely because of the area I grew up in that education was pushed as the path to unlocking a better future and life than the one I was raised in. And I most certainly bought into what was being sold.

Because of that, I joined the after school program designed to help students prepare for college. This program was a large part of my life from middle school on through high school, and I can honestly say without this program college wouldn’t have been possible. Throughout my college career, the idea that knowledge can solve much of our world’s problems was subtly ingrained in my worldview. But it wasn’t only in college I was hearing this message. It was in my church, too.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. The temptation to trust in the power of knowledge rather than the power of God is sprinkled throughout the Bible.

In western culture, we’ve become more sophisticated in our lack of trust in God. Instead of fashioning our graven images out of wood and gold, we place an emphasis on education. No, we can’t relate to the Israelites’ outlandish ways of idol making. We are more sophisticated like the Greeks, who turned to philosophy.

Regardless of the way our lack of trust takes shape in our daily lives, we have to admit it’s presence. Even in our most noble efforts to educate ourselves and others for the sake of the Gospel, our desire is often to maintain control rather than truly trust that God can redeem this world.

Just like a fish, it’s hard to see clearly when the water you’re swimming in is all you’ve ever known. I’m not suggesting we throw out the use of knowledge and education, but we have to see the way we rely on it to do the work only God can do. What may seem harmless has a far greater impact than we can imagine.

‘If People Would Just Know Their Bible…’

I know this idea will make some a bit squeamish, but simply knowing your Bible better isn’t the answer to the world’s problems.

There are many Christians who look down on other believers because they don’t know their bible well enough or they attend a church that isn’t “preaching the word.” I think these statements are used far more than they ought to. They are often wielded at other Christians and churches carelessly. With that being said, the simple knowledge of Scripture is not the solution to the many struggles we face in our world.

After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, He went to the wilderness. It was during this time of prayer and fasting, Satan tempted Jesus to walk away from His mission. This scene reveals Satan’s knowledge of Scripture. He quotes Psalm 91:11-12 and Deuteronomy 6:16 to Jesus.

There are many reasons for Matthew highlighting this part of Jesus’ life, but what we can see is that simply knowing the Bible and memorizing Scripture isn’t what transforms lives. It’s the Holy Spirit working through the word of God in the hearts of people that brings about redemption and transformation.

To place a greater faith in the knowledge of scripture than the power of God to change lives is the opposite of what God intended his word to be.