I’ve been led to look at my character, my sinful and selfish nature. For the next several posts (I’m not certain how many it will be yet), we’ll be looking into God’s Word at both His warnings and His wisdom to becoming more Christ-like. It seems natural to me to first begin with what God says about His Word. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1-5)

Walk into any bookstore and you will find a number of books purporting to tell you how to invest your money so as to get rich. Investing your money in these books makes the authors rich. But there are two questions you must ask about such books: First, is it reliable? Can I trust what the author is saying? Second, is it useful for me? The problem with most investment books is that they assume you have a big wad just waiting to be invested. That doesn’t help me. I need a book that speaks to where I’m at.

We all own a book that tells us how to invest our lives for maximum profit. This book has been proven to be totally reliable. No one has ever followed its life-investment strategy and been disappointed. And, the book is useful to every human being, right where they’re at. And yet, strangely, it sits neglected on our shelves while we read newspapers and watch television.

I’m talking, of course, about the Bible. It is a book that is totally reliable and useful for every person, in every country around the globe, no matter what his or her situation in life. It has never let anybody down. Millions down through the centuries have followed its life-investment strategy and found it to be completely satisfying regardless of the trials they have encountered. Most of us own several copies in different translations.

But the Bible is not a good luck charm. Having a copy in a prominent place in the house will not rub off on a family. Like any book, the Bible will profit you only if you read it, study it, and apply it to your life. As Christians, we have all received the deposit of truth. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” (2 Tim. 1:13-14) The Spirit of God is the Spirit of power who prepares us for action. He is the Spirit of love who enables us to respond to people in a way that produces healing and grace. He is the Spirit of a sound mind, enabling us to be purposeful in all that we do.

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul has been describing to Timothy the difficult times of the last days (3:1-9). He is addressing the question, How can a Christian survive and prosper in such an evil age? He reminds Timothy of the reliability and profitability of the Scriptures. We need it burned into our hearts so that we will apply it. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

God’s Word is the supreme and final source and standard of truth (Ps. 119:160John 17:17). It conveys to us God’s wisdom concerning the great questions of human existence: Is there a God? What is He like? How can we know Him? Who are we? Why are we on this planet? Why is there death and suffering? What lies beyond the grave? What does the future hold? How do I know right from wrong? These and many other questions are answered in the Bible from God’s all-knowing, authoritative perspective.

Furthermore there are principles and precepts in the Bible concerning all the practical matters we grapple with daily: How do I relate to my mate? How do I relate to others? How do I raise my children? How do I manage my money? How do I conduct my business? How do I make wise decisions? How should I think? How do I control my emotions, such as anger, depression, anxiety, and impulsiveness? How do I overcome temptation? The Bible speaks practically on these and many more matters.

The Bible is like the instruction manual you get when you buy a new computer. The manufacturer explains to you how to operate the equipment for maximum results. It would be foolish to spend a lot of money on a new computer and then ignore or, even worse, violate the manufacturer’s instructions. God created people. The Bible is His instruction manual on how to live for best results.

The fact that the Bible is profitable for teaching implies the necessity of studying it. God chose to communicate His truth in written form. One of the great tragedies of American Christianity is that the species, “pastor-theologian,” is almost extinct. Today pastors flock to church growth seminars that give proven methods for increasing church attendance and managing a growing church. As a result, pastors are not preaching God’s truth and God’s people are starving for the spiritual nourishment of the great doctrines of God’s Word. We desperately need to know the living God and to know ourselves as revealed in His Word of truth.

To do this you must expose yourself to Scripture from every source so that you can grasp its principles and understand how to apply it to your life. Obviously it is not a one-page instruction sheet. You don’t catch it by reading a few favorite texts now and then. You need to hear it taught by faithful expositors. You need to read it over and over, comparing Scripture with Scripture so that you have the balance of the whole counsel of God. You need to study it in more depth. You need to memorize key verses. And you need to meditate on God’s Word (think about it carefully) prayerfully.

The Bible has the power to expose sin in our lives and to convince us that we are in the wrong. It’s only by exposing your sin that you can then confess and forsake it and be careful to avoid it in the future. Also, we need convincing because we all tend to justify our sin and blame others for problems that our sin created. As Proverbs 19:3 says, A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord. If you’re not using the Bible to confront your own sin, then you’re not growing in righteousness as God would have you to do.

The Word doesn’t just point out where we’re wrong and leave us there. It also tells us how to get right with God, with others, and with ourselves. It helps restore us to the proper path of God’s ways. When we become aware of sin in our lives, it tells us how to confess it and appropriate God’s forgiveness. It tells us how to be reconciled with those we have wronged. It tells us how to overcome harmful habits, how to break off harmful alliances, and how to mend broken family relationships.

Once we’re back on the path, the Bible tells us how to stay there and make further progress. Just as parents work with their children over the years to train them in various social graces, morals, relational skills, and useful habits, so God, through His Word, trains us in all areas of life so that we can know what pleases Him.

No matter where you’re at, whether a babe in Christ or a mature saint, the Scriptures are useful in your life. But the final result is not so that we might live a happy, selfish life. Since God made you for His purpose, only His Word—not this world’s wisdom—is able to fit you for that purpose. The Bible will enable you to form a Christian world-view, so that you think and respond to all of life as God intends. There is no such thing as a mature man or woman of God apart from being strong in the Word of God. But maturity is not an end in itself.

We are to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” “Equipped” means to be furnished or supplied. You will have adequate resources to minister to others. It’s not mere theory—you have proven through experience in the crucible of life the truth of God’s commandments and principles in His Word. Thus you can confidently impart that truth to others, because you aren’t imparting your own ideas about life, but rather the very words of God, which you have applied to your life and proved reliable.

Each of us needs to let the Word confront our own selfishness, pride, anger, lust, greed, and abusive speech. We need to let the Word correct us and keep us on the path of righteous living in this wicked world. Then we can use the Word as God has used it in our lives to minister Christ to others.