The Bible: Does being an expert in the Bible make one expert in leading a better spiritual life?
If a person were an expert in the Bible, one would expect that person to be living the spiritual life advocated within its pages. Jesus of Nazareth was one such expert. In fact, the Rotherham translation reads:
No one, hath seen, God, at any time: An Only Begotten God, The One existing within the bosom of the Father, He, hath interpreted [him] (John 1:18).
Jesus of Nazareth declared that the Scriptures bore witness to Himself. Jesus also said that He came to fulfill the Scriptures. This is what an expert in the Scriptures does. If anybody is an expert in the Scriptures, they live life in the fullness of the joy that Jesus knew.
If the questioner were asking, does professing to be an expert in the Bible lead to a better spiritual life, then this is another matter all together.
Saul of Tarsus sat under the feet of Gamaliel. The Jews consider Gamaliel one of their greatest teachers of the Scriptures. In the days of Saul, a student would memorize the Scriptures until they could be quoted verbatim, much like Muslims students attending the Koran schools memorize the works of the prophet Mohammed and the Hadith today.
Saul of Tarsus excelled as a student beyond his peers. This suggests that he could quote the entire Old Testament writings and probably any other writings that were required to be learned by rote. Saul would have been honored as an outstanding student. He would have been considered expert in the Scriptures, having probably graduated from ten years or more of intense schooling and learned a wider range of philosophy based on the Scriptures than what is in the Old Testament. Yet Saul of Tarsus did not understand that he needed to know the Son of God. This is Old Testament teaching. Instead, Saul persecuted those who knew the Son of God, because the expertise he professed was merely knowledge of a philosophy of men’s doctrines and not the truth of life, even though he truly desired to do the will of God and honor Him.
The converted Saul of Tarsus, as the Apostle Paul writes, some twenty years after he had experienced his initial transformation within his own person, speaking of his former life and his new life:
The very commandment which promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, finding opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and by it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.
Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, working death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure.We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So then it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inmost self, but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[a] he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those
who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, indeed it cannot; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. (Romans 7:10-8:10 RSV)
The difference between the old Saul of Tarsus who transformed into the Apostle Paul was the power of the Holy Spirit and understanding the Ten Commandments that have been fulfilled on his own behalf. Although, he knew the commandments before his conversion, it was not until Paul was actually filled with the Spirit of God and his spirit was made alive that he was able to keep the commandments. Prior to that, he was failing. Most people who look to the Bible fail, it is not until they become spirit-filled and understand the Law of God that they are able to submit to
God’s law and experience the law of the Spirit of Life within and its accompanying peace of mind.
True biblical expertise is applied knowledge not theory; knowing Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rather than knowing about Him. This is why Jesus said that people put their trust in the Scriptures thinking that this is the answer, but if they desire life, they need to know Him (John 5:39-40). Many profess to know Lord Jesus Christ and then put their trust in their interpretation of the Bible, when that very book says that we are to put our trust in Him.