SANCTIFY THEM BY THE TRUTH; YOUR WORD IS TRUTH.
Jesus had defeated the work of Satan. He had “disarmed the powers and authorities” and “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). Christ’s sacrifice for our sins signaled the end of the story for the devil. Yet we still live in a fallen world, and until Christ returns and casts Satan into the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:1-15), we will face many hardships as we live out our stories on earth.
Just before Jesus departed this world to be with the Father, He prayed for all the believers, saying, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:15-17). God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light on our path (see Psalm 119:105). It is the only infallible truth that can set us free, serve as the basis for our sanctification, and protect us from deception.
The apostle Paul instructed Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In this passage, Paul explains the purpose for God’s Word. First, the written Word is “God-breathed,” or inspired, by the Lord. The Holy Spirit guided the men who wrote it so that their writings were without error (see 2 Peter 1:20-21).
God’s Word is also profitable for teaching. In making this statement, Paul was saying that the Bible is a source of authority for teaching—that it contains sound doctrine. The Word of God provides guidance for ethical instruction (see 1 Timothy 1:9-20) and enables believers to mature in Christ. A follower of Christ “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9).
When correctly taught and applied, the Word of God will rebuke, correct, train us to live righteously and thoroughly equip us for every good work. Sin will keep us from God’s Word, but God’s Word will keep us from sinning. His Word will rebuke us when we are wrong and correct us so we don’t do it again—all with the purpose of enabling us to live righteously. God never intended His Word to be discussed on a purely intellectual level and not put into practice. Rather, “the word of God is alive and active . . . it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The danger is thinking the word of God is profitable for teaching and training in competence, instead of training in righteousness. That bypasses the reproof and correction that is necessary for repentance. Information without transformation is malformation. People may become more knowledgeable when that happens, but not necessarily more mature. Scripture emphasizes being before doing, character before career, and maturity before ministry. We can’t be the people God created us to be unless His Word penetrates our hearts and transforms our lives. When that happens we become “God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
Review 2 Timothy 3:10-17. What kinds of trials did Paul face while serving the Lord? What promise does Paul make to Timothy about trials?
How can we be kept from the evil one?
In what ways will the Bible equip you to do the work of God?
How can you get beyond an intellectual knowledge of the Bible to total transformation?
In regard to the Church, the first concern of our Lord is that we be kept from evil. How well do you think you and others are equipped to stand against the evil forces?