[Image: Study, 2014, JA Van Devender]
2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Matthew 5:17 (NKJV)
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
In the words following the sermon passage Jesus goes on to say that not one "jot or tittle" of the law shall pass away until all has come about ("fulfilled" is not a good translation there). He says that anyone who breaks one of the least of the commandments shall be held accountable for it. It is interesting that Paul in his instructions to Timothy tells him that he should be diligent to show himself approved... he should study so that he may rightly divide the word of truth... and then he immediately points out why.... so that Timothy should not fall into sin... because everyone who "names Christ" must "depart from iniquity."
Somehow or another it has crept into Christian thinking that since sin has its origin in an inward disposition of the soul, that somehow, someway, it is dealt with spiritually and only spiritually. That sin in our lives is a persistent and insurmountable problem that we have to endure but since it reflects a spiritual deficiency, nothing really can be done about it. Furthermore, for those who do think that perhaps some gains can be made, that some slight improvements can be had, temporary as they may be, that it kind of 'just happens.' That we "walk with the Lord" in some spiritual garden and that we "just change"... no mess, no fuss... it's like a turtle falling off a log... sin, to some extent just melts away. These kinds of thinking are essentially defeatist and undermine the holiness of God's people in a serious manner.
Paul and Jesus both point us toward the law and say... "Look... look and learn... not one jot or tittle of it is going away... and you have to rightly discern what it teaches and you must strive against Satan with full expectation of victory over him... you must rightly divide the word of truth and recognize the power of the Holy Spirit working in and with your spirit and equipping you for your battle. You must understand that the "righteousness which exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees" is that same "true holiness, apart from which no man will see God." You must realize that repentance is change not defeat and that being born again means exactly that, you are a new man recreated in the image of God and the image of Christ and your life should reflect true holiness... holiness of mind, spirit and actions.
This is the new creation that God has instituted. This is the Gospel of the Kingdom which has come with power and authority and with bright light with which to illuminate the dark corners where the rats of sin try to hide.
We must study... to understand the righteousness of God so that we may live as righteous men and women before God as we trust in the righteousness of Christ imputed to us that has gained us this grace in which we stand.
The merit of Christ has established us in His Kingdom and guaranteed our eternal blessing. It has now been left to our charge to diligently bear witness to the righteousness of His Kingdom by waging victorious war against sin... wherever it shows up in our lives or in our encounters.
Study... so that we may show ourselves "approved" ... as those who have been "approved" and demonstrate that status of being the "approved ones" by our conduct and conversation.
This, along with our proclamation, is the witness of God's people.