It’s possible to apply the Bible vigorously to your head and hands and still not end up in the right place. Just look at how many (ungodly) theologians and legalists abound in our day, and you’ll see what I mean.
So we must not miss the third sphere of application: the Heart.
In calling us to change, God’s ultimate purpose is to conform us to the image of Jesus (Rom 8:29). That’s a fancy way of saying he wants us to be like him.
It’s not enough to believe the truth. Unless you put it into practice, you remain only “not far from [but not yet in] the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:32-34, ESV).
It’s not enough to do good things. Unless you become a new person, your obedience remains filthy and worthless. “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Gal 6:15).
Therefore, as you seek to apply the Bible to your life, you ought always ask the question: “what kind of person does God want me to be?”
You can tackle this question in a few different ways:
- What do you desire or value, and what should you desire or value instead?
- What ungodly character traits should you turn from, and what Christ-like character traits can you imitate instead?
- How might you be relying on your performance, and how can you rely more on Christ’s performance?
- What are your greatest hopes? Is your bucket list too small compared to the Lord’s bucket list for you?
- Are the kind of person others should imitate? Why or why not, and what will you do about it?
Let’s practice once again with Luke 2:21. We’ve stated the main point as: “God sent Jesus to be born so he might save the lowly and rule them graciously. This brings him highest glory.” In light of that point, what sort of people ought we, who have hoped in Christ, to be?
Some inward Heart applications might be:
- I ought to live more for the God’s glory than my glory.
- I don’t need to get defensive about… (whatever someone tried to confront me on). It’s okay if my weakness is exposed. I need to grow at being more approachable.
- I can be honest about my struggles with my friends, spouse, church family and children.
- I must not look down on others for any reason. If God can save me, he can save anybody.
- I should love non-Christians and desire their salvation. Why do I struggle with this?
Some outward Heart applications might be:
- I should speak of God’s glory often, and call others to do the same.
- I’ll figure out why I’m ashamed to speak of Jesus in public. What do I value more than his glory?
- As I mentor younger Christians, I need to ask better questions to uncover what they value and desire in their sin struggles. Then I can help point them to the cross so they can repent and be made new.
- My children have a greater need to learn teachability than to learn any particular skill or behavior. Am I modeling such teachability as a parent and calling the children to imitate me?
- Since Jesus didn’t hide from his conflict with me, I will not run away from conflict with others. I will pursue it with grace, intending real reconciliation.
What other Heart applications from Luke 2 can you think of?