Most decisions we make are run through the benefits grid, as in, “what’s in it for me?” Or, “how will this help me?” If you are offered a new job, an early question is, “what’s the benefits package?” When you consider a change in diet or exercise, you want to know, “how will this help me?” If unexpected changes are expected in your ministry or service, you might ask, “what’s the upside of this?”
We want to know the benefits of what we do. And it’s easy to approach Scripture in the same way. We might not say it this way, but often our approach to Scripture is something like, “I’d read and study more if it was more beneficial to me. I just don’t get it. I tried it and it didn’t work.”
The problem is that we’ve misunderstood the intent and purpose of Scripture. Scripture is not given to us in the same way a new detergent is — “it’s new and improved and if you use it your clothes will smell nice and everyone will like you!” Rather, Scripture is given to reveal to us the nature and person of God (and how we might have fellowship with Him), and to transform us into conformity to Christ.
Psalm 19 especially is helpful in understanding the work of the Word of God in our lives. What is the benefit of Scripture? Listen to what David says the benefits of God’s Word are:
- It restores the soul (v. 7). Literally, it “turns back life.” That is, the Word of God refreshes and transforms a life. It is Scripture that makes someone the person that God desires him to be. David says that this Word is perfect. Someone has noted that this means that, “There is nothing there which would lead men into error or sin; there is nothing essential for man to know which may not be found there.” So this word we have is perfectly suited to provide vigor and vitality to the weary one.
- It makes wise those who are not (v. 7). The one who is inexperienced and ignorant will find in the Word of God the skill he needs for living. Through the counsel of the Word of God, he will not only be educated about the purposes and priorities of life, but he will also be equipped to apply that knowledge to life circumstances.
- It gives joy to the heart (v. 8). Because the principles of God in His Word are right — there is a “right-ness” to Scripture, the one who acts uprightly in accord with God’s Word will find joy and contentment. There is satisfaction in intentionally conforming oneself to the truth of God.
- It gives light and sight to blind eyes (v. 8). We live in a world that is darkened and blind to the truth (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4). But when one is attentive to the commands of God, he will discover light to lead him to pure and righteous living. Scripture offers discernment in a world that is clouded and deluded in its judgments.
- It provides warning against sin and protection from presumptuous sin (vv. 11, 13). For the sake of “preserving a relationship,” many are afraid to confront, correct, or warn an individual about the dangers of sin. Scripture has no such fear; it is bold in its warnings against sin and temptation. And when one heeds the warnings, he is protected from the evil consequences of sin.
John MacArthur has rightly concluded that,
“There is no substitute for submission to Scripture. Your spiritual health depends on placing the utmost value on the Word of God and obeying it with an eager heart. If you think you can find answers to your spiritual problems through human counsel or worldly wisdom, you are forfeiting the most valuable and only reliable source of answers to the human dilemma. Don’t relinquish the sweet, satisfying riches of God’s Word for the bitter gall of this world’s folly.” [Our Sufficiency in Christ.]