Bible Study Isn’t Self Discovery, Though That Can Happen

Flower OutlineAs women, we all too often settle for self-focused theology designed to stroke our egos and make us feel valued when we really need to be studying Scripture to learn Who the Lord is and how we can glorify Him.

In a very real sense, we’ve been trained to approach Bible Study with a degree of narcissism. So many books and conferences for women emphasize God’s love for us and how special we are to Him. Jesus, popular evangelical writers assure us, wants intimacy with us, sometimes even to the point of satisfying us romantically and/or sexually.

Hopefully most of us now see through that silliness. But if we wisely discard that false teaching, we sometimes fall for the more subtle idea that, by studying Scripture, we learn about ourselves.

As always, there’s a handy little proof-text used to substantiate the concept.

23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. ~~James 1:23-24 (ESV)

Those two verses clearly say that reading God’s Word shows us who we are. And in some respects, it does. Typically, of course, women’s ministries then minimize the many verses and passages that reveal our sinfulness in favor of highlighting the ones that explain who we become when the Holy Spirit transforms us.

It’s true, then, that studying the Bible can have the secondary effect of helping us understand ourselves. And we need a degree of both coming to terms with our sinfulness and embracing our new identities as daughters of the Most High in order to properly serve the Lord. So in that sense it’s altogether appropriate that studying Scripture should have self discovery as a by-product.

But all too often, women’s ministries make self discovery the chief end of Bible Study, almost making Christ an auxiliary to that end. And that’s a serious perversion of the reason we study God’s Word.

Our ultimate purpose in studying Scripture must be knowing Christ. Its pages reveal Who He is, what He has done and what He demands of His people. If we see ourselves in its doctrines, it’s only so that we can better serve and glorify Him.

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