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Right Doctrine Isn't Enough

(The following is the November 4 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read James 2 and pay close attention to verse 19.)

Knowing Bible doctrine is essential. Christians should be lifelong learners of Scripture. Through personal Bible study, listening to faithful preaching, learning opportunities at church, online resources, books, conversations with believers, and additional trusted sources of biblical truth and godly wisdom, we can continuously go deeper in our understanding of the Bible and our ability to live as Jesus’ followers. Regardless of what we already know, there is much more to learn.

Knowing doctrine is admirable and something we should pursue, but it doesn’t guarantee that we are Christian or Christlike. We honor God most by seeking him and conforming to his likeness. The Bible speaks in several places of the possibility of having sound doctrine but still falling short of God’s will. For example, Jesus condemned the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees repeatedly in Matthew 23. One of many accusations against them was that “on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:28). They knew God’s Word, but they didn’t live according to it.

The Bible gives examples of demons who know correct doctrine but don’t respond correctly in submission to God with that knowledge. The demons Jesus drove out of a man in Matthew 28:28-32 recognized Jesus as the Son of God, but they didn’t bow down to him as Lord. James confirms this possible separation between correct knowledge and behavior when he writes, “You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe – and they shudder” (v. 19).

Pursue biblical knowledge and godly wisdom, but never at the expense of pursuing Christ and becoming more like him.

Next Step:

Are you stronger at learning Bible knowledge or becoming more Christlike? How can you strike a healthier balance in those pursuits?

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