1. Application

Seek Counsel from the LORD When Making Decisions

Joshua 9:1–27 (ESV)

1 As soon as all the kings who were beyond the Jordan in the hill country and in the lowland all along the coast of the Great Sea toward Lebanon, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, heard of this,

If I cannot trust my own heart and the Bible itself is being used and abused by so many different preachers, how am I going to make sure that I’m not being deceived by the devil into believing his lies (Ephesians 6:11)?

Read the Bible in the context of a true church community. As important as personal devotions are, we must together with other Christian believers read and think about what the Bible teaches. I need to listen to God’s Word in a place where my ideas and opinions can be challenged and corrected by others. I need to be part of a church family where other Christians will look out for me, question me, and discipline me if they see that my life is not in keeping with the truths of God’s Word. The decision about where you and your family will worship is one of the most important and significant decisions that you have to make. That’s why our confessions (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort) are so concerned about the need for Christians to join themselves to a true church—a church where the Word is being faithfully preached, where the sacraments are purely administered and where discipline is being exercised. We need to read and listen to God’s Word being preached in a true church community if we are to be guarded and kept from believing the devil's lies.

We must also be attentive to the lessons of history. Today, there is a strong tendency to think that we have nothing to learn from history, as though we are the first generation to read and think about what God’s Word teaches, and as though we interpret the Bible in a vacuum, without the assumptions and presuppositions of our world influencing our understanding. In order to guard us against such presumption we make use of confessions. Confessions bind us to the historical Christian faith—to the apostolic faith once for all delivered to the saints. They remind us of the ways in which our brothers and sisters have been led to interpret and understand the Bible in the past, so that we are not blown about by every wind and new doctrine of our age (Ephesians 4:14–15). They help to anchor our faith in the light which God the Holy Spirit has given to his church.

Community and history are important when we read the Bible, but they are no substitute for prayer. We really need help from the Lord. You and I are constantly being tempted, our minds are darkened and effected by sin. God the Holy Spirit needs to help us understand his Word. That’s one of the reasons why we pray before we read the Bible. Every single time, we need God’s help if we are to be kept from the devil's lies.