Paul gives us a clear warning! He wants us to be aware that the world is full of many different messages that are trying to pull us away from God. In his letter to the Romans, he writes:
So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. 2 Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. (Romans 12)
Think about it this way. The world is trying to form you into something that is opposite of a “living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God.” Paul wants us to present our lives to God as a living sacrifice. However, he knows the world will get in the way. Therefore he tells us we must be “transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
Jesus gives us a wonderful picture of what this looks like. Matthew tells the story of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by the devil. Look at what Jesus uses to defeat the lies of the “world.”
Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. 2 After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.”
5 After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, 6 “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”
7 Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.”
8 Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 11 The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him. (Matthew 4)
Do you notice that Jesus responds to the devil each time with “it is written”? He is using scripture to respond to the lies the devil is being told. This is a great reason to study the Bible. When the world throws lies at us, it is great to be able to “renew our minds” with God’s truth.
The world may tell us the way to happiness is by doing what we want to do. However, Psalm 1 reminds us pursuing God is the way to true happiness. The world tells us there is no authority or absolute truth, and yet, Jesus reminds us,
Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)
The world is going to throw many things at us that sound really good. The devil is trying to lure us away from God by hurling lies our way. Knowing the scripture, being able to bring God’s truth to mind, is a powerful reason to study the Bible.
* scripture reference is from Common English Bible (CEB) unless otherwise noted.