“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
While we are discussing the importance of knowing right doctrine before right duty, let’s see one way knowing the Bible helps us to walk worthy: it protects us from sin. From time to time you might hear people who have a fatalistic attitude toward sin saying, “I couldn’t help myself” or “The Devil made me do it.” Such excuses are foolish for Christians to make since God has given us the means to resist temptation.
The psalmist said, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). Without knowledge, we are defenseless and vulnerable. Knowing God’s truth—by study and by application—enables us to say no to sin and yes to righteousness. Anyone who puts his faith in Jesus Christ but who does not keep God’s Word constantly at the forefront of his mind will find himself entrapped in sin again and again.
Although we must know God’s Word to defend ourselves against sin and to obey God’s will, there is a danger. Once we know His truth, we are held accountable for what we know.
Second Peter 2:21 speaks of apostates, those who knew about Jesus Christ but returned to their former life without ever committing themselves to Him: “It would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.” James 4:17 says, “To one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
So not knowing is better than knowing and not obeying. What’s best, of course, is knowing the Word and obeying it, because it is our spiritual nourishment: “Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). For a Christian, neglecting the Word is spiritual starvation.
Suggestions for Prayer
Ask forgiveness for times you have known the right thing to do but have not done it.
For Further Study
• Read about a young man who gave in to temptation in Proverbs 7. Contrast him with Joseph in Genesis 39. What was the difference between them?
• Think about how Psalm 119:9 relates to them, and to you.
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,