Let’s read 2 Timothy 3:16-17:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Scripture is intended to be useful to us. We aren’t meant to read it and leave it.
If you pay careful attention to the progression in this passage, you will see that teaching is closely connected to the goal of conviction, and conviction is not an end within itself. Conviction should lead us to correction when we are off track in our lives.
As an illustration from my teen years, I recall how I once took my eyes off the road to grab a CD off of the passenger floorboard of my vehicle to play music with my fellow high school buddy who was in the car with me. As a result of my lack of focus, I drove my car into the opposite lane of oncoming traffic. My friend quickly said with great care and concern, “You are in the wrong lane!” My frizzy-haired head shot up over the steering wheel, and I suddenly became very “convicted” by her “teaching” that I indeed was in the wrong lane.
As I’m sure you can imagine, I corrected the trajectory of my course back into the right lane where head-on collisions and reckless driving citations are far less common.
Just as it would have been foolishly absurd for me not to adopt the necessary corrective measures to return my vehicle back to the right lane, it is spiritually foolish for us to receive proper teaching on our sin that brings us under the conviction of the Holy Spirit only to refuse to make the necessary course correction to get back on the straight and narrow path of righteousness.
The problem is that sin can make us spiritually blind to the dangers of “driving into oncoming traffic.” Here’s why: sin is deceptive in nature, it is pleasurable, and its dangers are almost always delayed consequences, rather than immediately negative reinforcements.
So, even with good Bible teaching, a person can still choose to coast in the wrong lane. We can willfully ignore the loving warnings begging for our response. For this reason, we should continue to pay attention when the Lord has taught us about the tragic costs of our sin in light of the glorious, freeing hope of the Gospel.
Our next step is to express conviction over our sin. If you don’t own it, you can’t get rid of it!
However, conviction over sin is still not going far enough in the process of change. Correction is of vital importance because mental assent that what God says is true is not sufficient to develop a stronger relationship with Him and to live with others in a God-honoring way.
It is through obedience that we show God that we love Him, and obedience requires regular correction of the old sinful patterns we have become habituated to in our flesh. Correction gets us back on course, and when we learn to stay there, we are finally enjoying the stage of training in righteousness.
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. (John 14:21, NASB)
Saving faith is “changing faith” in the sense that we cannot truly, truly believe what God says about Himself (and ourselves) and not recognize the need to love Him back through a life of obedience as our faith in the finished work of Jesus is proven real through our new habits of righteousness.
Scripture is our complete guide to living a life that is a proper response to a God who gave Himself completely to save us. And it works if you work it. Are you working it?